25 April 2016

Home Improvements - The big divide

When it comes to home improvements we’re split on how best to spend our hard earned cash.

According to spending figures from Nationwide Credit Cards, from January to December 2015 Nationwide lent a total of £627 million across 6.5 million credit card transactions, averaging £100 per home improvement spend. This is in line with the research findings, as those surveyed said the average level of spending on their last home improvement job was £114.

According to Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, Nationwide’s Head of Policy for Mortgages and Savings, “This is a peak time of the year for people to spend money on their homes. This could be either investing in a large-scale project to increase floor space and add value to their homes, which may mean additional borrowing. Or, they may make relatively cosmetic changes, making sure they are on top of maintenance and updating their homes with lower levels of spending.”

Man Cave Vs Kitchen Diner?

The research also showed that the top-rated fantasy home improvements overall were:


  • a large open-plan kitchen-diner with 17%
  • a loft conversion with 16%
  • a separate garden room or studio with 14%

Unsurprisingly, one in five (21%) of men said their top home improvement would be a ‘Man Cave’ or super-sized shed with extras such as a gym against only six per cent of women wanting a similar thing. However, women opted overwhelmingly for the big kitchen-diner with 21 per cent voting for it against 12 per cent of men.

Have a go hero’s

Andrew also commented that “Our data suggests that people aspire to large-scale projects, such as large kitchens or loft conversion, which we know can add significant value. According to recent Nationwide’s figures, a ten per cent increase in floor area brings an average five per cent increase in property value, the equivalent of £10,000 for the average property. However, people also feel it is important to regularly refresh the appearance of their homes to make it their own – or to reflect their changing needs.”

The research showed that:


  • More than a third (37%) said they would give most basic home improvement jobs a go
  • 7 per cent said they would attempt all kinds of DIY job, including building work.

Again, there was a gender divide:


  • One in ten men (11%) said they would attempt anything, big or small against three per cent of women
  • 45 per cent of men would happily embark on non-building jobs, as opposed to only 29 per cent of women.

Laugh or cry?

DIY projects can lead to all sorts of issues in the home but surprisingly not all of them are about punctured pipes or bad paintwork.


  • One in seven (15%) of those surveyed reported that botched DIY around the home had affected their relationship
  • Two per cent said it had helped to end their relationship entirely
  • Almost a quarter (23%) said that it had instead become the subject of laughter rather than emotional disaster.

An expert opinion

Home interiors expert Julia Kendell, the designer on television’s DIY SOS and 60 Minute Makeover and who also runs her own interior design company, said:

“We have a strong emotional connection to our homes and it is no wonder that we are prepared to invest significant sums into creating a space that provides for our wellbeing and everyday enjoyment. We also have strong opinions about our DIY and decoration likes and dislikes and will spend much time and energy planning layouts, design schemes and accessorising.”

“It’s perhaps not surprising that if a much anticipated home improvement doesn’t go according to plan, or achieve the desired end result, it can lead to domestic disharmony and a huge sense of disappointment. It’s good to note, however, that research suggests we tend to laugh off and learn from DIY disasters rather than take them to heart.”

The research also showed that:


  • 23 per cent of those interviewed would also sacrifice having a baby or more children to put their house in order
  • Men far less likely than women to give up the latest home technology (47% against 27% of women) or a new car (28% of men versus 20% of women).

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