With the housing market slowing and remortgages becoming more difficult to arrange, a lot of homeowners are rethinking their plans to move. So for those people who won’t be upgrading to a new home, here’s some info on obtaining grants to upgrade the home you’re already in.
Council funding for home repairs
Grant amounts and eligibility criteria vary according to the area that you live in, but in general up to £5,000 is available for improvements such as:
Replacing kitchens or bathrooms
Providing new windows, or repairing existing glass or frames
Solving damp problems
Lending criteria can be tough, and homeowners will usually have to be receiving certain benefits to qualify, but it’s worth chasing up your local council for further details just to be sure.
Here’s a tip: it’s best to apply for council grants as near as possible to the beginning of the financial year as that’s when their pot of money is fullest. Apply towards the end of the fiscal year and the pot may already be empty.
The home improvement agency for your area can also offer advice on help available and assistance with grant applications.
Disabled facilities grant
All local councils are required to provide assistance for disabled people to live independently in their own home. Grants of up to £30,000 (subject to means testing) cover areas such as:
Allowing access to the bathroom or kitchen
Ensuring that cooking facilities are at the right height
Moving light-switches or thermostats to the appropriate level
If you do not qualify for a grant, bear in mind that some adaption work, such as widening doorways or creating ramps, is VAT-free.
Energy efficiency assistance
Some councils will provide money to insulate lofts or cavity walls, and all utilities companies offer similar assistance to help make your home more energy efficient.
The Home Heat Helpline can offer advice for those struggling to pay utility bills. If you don’t qualify for help with your gas and electricity bills but are still keen to save money on utilities, try switching gas and electricity provider to see if you can make savings.
There are also several government bodies set up to offer assistance with installing a new heating system, or improving your existing system, for people who are on certain benefits. Up to £2,700 (or £5,000 for oil-fired central heating) is available from the following bodies:
Other home improvement tips
Live in a listed building?
Funds for Historic Buildings
can help you find money for improvements to your home. Don’t forget that many approved alterations will be exempt from VAT.
Don’t start work until you’ve investigated the grants available: money is rarely available retrospectively.
Saving money on your
home insurance will also free up money that could be used to improve your home.
Don’t forget to inform your
home insurance provider when you’ve got the builders in to ensure you have adequate buildings and contents insurance whilst onsite work is being carried out.