Home ownership is something that many of us embark upon, but isn’t something that should be undertaken lightly. A house is likely to be the largest investment an average person will make in their lifetime and can be daunting whether the buyers are new or experienced to the process. Suffice to say, it can sometimes make sense to purchase an older home for the initial savings with the intention of renovation and upgrading later, if time and money allow. Many new homeowners take this route and, with the help offered these days, there’s no reason why buying a ‘fixer upper’ is anything other than a great investment, so long as you are prepared to invest time and money into your property. Upon doing this, hopefully you’ll have the favourable results of living in a house you’ve made your own as well as increasing its market value.

DIY V’s The Professionals

This is important and deserves to be discussed first. When endeavouring to perform any renovation on your home, firstly consider your skills to determine where your comfort level lies. Maybe you think you can handle changing the bathroom fixtures and some light plumbing, but find electrical work confounds you. Perhaps you’re an able carpenter and can frame walls, but lack confidence when it comes to dry walling. Consider the time it will take you, as an amateur, to complete the planned work and weigh that against the cost of hiring professionals. For instance, it might take you a month to fully upgrade your bathroom, but you don’t want to go without a fully-functioning bathroom for that long. A professional can likely complete the work much faster. If you do decide to do the work yourself, ensure you have the proper permits. Modern hardware stores are a great source of information for keen do-it-yourselfer’s, as well as providing the tools and materials you’ll need to get going. With some careful planning and an accurate assessment of your skills, your project will be off to a great start.

Small Things you can do on a Budget

There are small things that can be cheaply and easily done to update a home that might be older. Consider things like wall paint and baseboards to revitalise tired or out-dated rooms. You don’t necessarily need to completely renovate a bathroom or kitchen (which can be very expensive!). New fixtures and fittings go a long way to changing the look of either of these rooms, and cupboards can be painted even if they are a natural wood. Cupboard and drawer pulls are cheap and easy to install, quickly changing the look of the furniture. With many older homes, hardwood flooring may have been originally installed and then later covered up with carpet. A beautiful floor might already be installed and just in need of being uncovered. Also, window coverings in older homes really define a room, changing the curtains to a more modern style does wonders for updating a living space. All these things that can be achieved on a tight budget and with an average knowledge of home repair.


Lighting can go miles in revamping a variety of spaces. For the moderate handy-person, changing the fixtures and types of bulbs can be enough to breathe new life into a room. For those who are more ambitious, installing pot lights or ceiling mounted studio lighting might be a viable option. Lamps are a great accessory and can simply yet effectively change the style of a room. They can also be used as a selected focal point, whilst providing much needed ambience to any space. Light switches can be replaced, and, in some cases, dimmer switches can bring a different feel to a room. When it comes to lighting, you can be as complex or as simple as you feel comfortable with. There are options for all skill levels and budgets.

Doors and Windows

Perhaps one of the most important things to consider when buying an older house is the doors and windows. No matter the climate, good doors and windows aid in climate control and inefficient ones can mean greater heating and cooling costs. Modern windows and doors have triple panes, or more, and seal the home against external elements. For style, consider a modern improvement such as bi folding doors. These give a modern touch to any space and extremely functional and useful in opening up otherwise closed off spaces. With a bi folding door (Vufold have some stunning ranges), the back patio can be instantly opened up to the kitchen, creating a wide-open and free flowing area for entertaining. Good doors and windows that are installed correctly will do wonders for your home, both in style and climate control efficiency. For these types of installations, unless you’re highly skilled at DIY, it is recommended that a professional be involved in order to correctly seal the home against the elements.

Roof and Siding

Aside from doors and windows, the most expensive upgrade you can do is to the outside of your home. The cheapest option for exterior walls is paint, but be prepared to be renewing it again in a few years. Vinyl siding offers great durability and life in exchange for a higher cost. An additional attractive aspect of siding is the ability to put an extra thin layer of insulation between the siding and the outside wall, thus increasing the value of the home. This is a far superior option to gutting the inside and adding insulation to the interior walls. Roofing comes in many different styles, colours and types, from metal to cedar shake to asphalt and tile. A new roof can dramatically change the style of your home and, usually, the roof only needs to be done once or twice during the lifespan of the home.