With the UK housing market showing clear signs of cooling, a lot of people will be thinking about improving their existing property rather than moving to a new one. You might be considering improving the fabric of your home to make it more habitable or energy efficiency measures to save money over the longer term.
But money may be tight. So, what grants or other forms of financial help are available if you want to improve your home?
Many local authorities continue to offer different forms of financial help for people who want to improve their property. Every local authority is different and each of them will have their own rules and guidelines about grants or loans.
These rules must not discriminate against householders on the grounds of disability, age, race, gender, whether they are pregnant or existing parents, religion or sexual orientation. Some local authorities will have other rules preventing other types of discrimination.
In general, the financial help available to householders from local authorities falls into the following categories:
- Money for adaptations, improvements, or repairs. This financial help can come in the form of either grants or loans or it could be by providing you with the labour, tools or materials to carry out improvements. Some local authorities will maintain a list of approved contractors who can carry out building work while others may be able to help you with a free or cheap survey. Most building control departments in district or borough councils will be able to help you with advice.
- Some local councils are prepared to help you buy a new property if it decides that the cost of repairs to yours would be too high or that a new home would significantly improve your quality of life.
- Provide a grant or loan if your home has been demolished or the council decides that it is unfit for human habitation and orders its demolition.
Grants for disabled people
Your local authority may be able to give you a Disabled Facilities Grant towards the cost of adapting your home if you, or someone living in it, is disabled.
You can get up to £30,000 in England, £36,000 in Wales and up to £25,000 in Northern Ireland. These grants are not available in Scotland.
Other home improvement grants
If you are on a low income, elderly or disabled, the Home Improvement Agency (HIA) may be able to provide help to repair, improve or adapt your home to improve your quality of life. The HIA has about 200 offices around the country and you can find the list on its website at www.foundations.uk.com.
As well as financial help for improvements, the HIA can provide money for energy-efficiency measures and repairs.
The charity, Turn2Us has a large section on its website to help householders find home improvement or repair grants and a list of other charities which might be able to provide help with decorating, new furniture or household expenses. Most of these grants depend on individual circumstances.
There is a wide range of grants available to increase a home’s energy efficiency and many of these are provided by central government through an approved list of utility suppliers. A lot of these – but not all – are for disabled or elderly people and those on low incomes.
While the cost of a new boiler can be very high – sometimes as much as £2,500 – fitting an energy-efficient boiler can save you up to £400 a year.
There are grants available through the Energy Saving Trust for cavity wall insulation as well as insulation for your loft. Figures from the trust show that fitting 270mm of insulation in your loft could save you between £135 and £240 a year on your energy bills.
Help with safety measures
The major charity for the elderly, Age UK, runs a local handyperson service across most of the country which provides names of security-checked individuals who are approved to visit the homes of elderly people to carry out small repairs, installation of grab rails and security improvements to doors and windows.
The fees each person charges vary according to region but these are usually between £5 and £25 an hour depending upon the work specified. You can get more information from Age UK on 0800 169 65 65.
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