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Are there grants available for home improvements?

Carrying out home improvements can be costly. There are a number of grants and schemes available; check which ones are relevant to you and your home improvement work.

Getting someone else to fund your home improvements sounds like a dream come true. There are grants available for home improvements but they are subject to strict criteria. The majority of grants are issued by the local council (with the exception of energy saving grants) and, because each council runs its grants schemes slightly differently, you should always look into what’s available in your area.

When considering a home improvement grant or scheme, it’s important to bear in mind that they are usually means tested.

What sorts of grants are available?

Renovation grants: if private landlords and homeowners are unable to fund work to bring property up to 'decent home' condition, councils will provide grants or loans. A decent home, as defined by the government, is a property that is in a good state of repair, has a reasonably modern kitchen and bathroom, has central heating, is well insulated and poses no serious safety hazard to the occupants.

These loans will be means tested. They are targeted at those most in need; the criteria will vary between councils but households with children, the elderly, long-term sick or disabled will usually be prioritised. If you have sufficient income or savings to undertake the work, you are unlikely to qualify.

For further information, visit:

www.gov.uk/browse/housing-local-services - England and Wales
www.scotland.gov.uk - Scotland
www.nihe.gov.uk - Northern Ireland

Disabled facility grants: these are available for people who need to adapt their property to cater for their disability and to allow them to remain within their home. You are someone living in the property must be disabled to qualify. Landlords can also apply for funding if they have a disabled tenant. Funding can be accessed for a variety of adaptations, for example:

  • widening doors and installing ramps
  • improving access to rooms and facilities - eg by installing stairlifts or a downstairs bathroom
  • providing a suitable heating system
  • adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use

For further information, visit the government website.

Energy Saving grants: if you are planning energy saving improvements, such as loft and cavity wall insulation, energy efficient appliances, new boilers, and low carbon products you may be eligible. The government has stopped funding through the Green Deal but some providers may still be financing grants themselves. You can find out more on the government website.

If you're based in England or Wales you can contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 or for more information about the available grants and funding. Home Energy Scotland covers north of the border on 0808 808 2282, with separate information on energy saving grants and loans.

Historic buildings: grants are available for major work and structural repair to listed buildings. There are separate sites for the different countries in the UK. For further information on:

How else can I fund my project?

Of course, if you don’t qualify for any of the grants or schemes outlined above, there are a number of other ways in which you can fund your home improvement projects…

Mortgage: If you have a mortgage on the property, you may be able to increase your mortgage to release some additional funds for your home improvement project. Although this was once incredibly easy to do, in the current economic climate, it can be relatively difficult (and expensive) to increase your mortgage.

For further information…

●      Search websites such as www.switchwithwhich.co.uk and www.moneysupermarket.co.uk to find the best deals.

●      Contact an independent financial adviser (IFA) to ensure you have the right mortgage for your long-term needs. Check out www.unbiased.co.uk

Savings: If you’re lucky enough to have savings behind you, this can potentially be the most straightforward way to fund your project. Bear in mind, you will need to have enough to cover any unexpected expenses.

Loans: A home improvement loan can help you to cover the costs of the work on your property. There are two different types of loan available and the type you choose will depend upon the amount you need to borrow, whether or not you own the property and your financial circumstances.

  • Secured Loan – A secured loan is secured against the value of your home and is usually the cheapest way to take out a loan. If you are unable to keep up the repayments on your loan, the lender can insist that you sell the property. Secured loans can be made up to 125% of the value of the property, including any mortgage that you already owe.
  • Unsecured Loan – This type of loan involves taking out a loan with no guarantee to the lender that you will pay back the money.
  • Credit – There are a range of credit options available including buy-now-pay-later, interest free options, and credit cards and overdrafts.

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