The pandemic has turbo-charged some people’s ambitions to move into their dream property, with the popularity of large countryside homes and houses by the sea having surged.
More than half (53%) of homeowners have brought forward their plans to find their ‘forever home’, according to Barclays Mortgages.
For many people, their idea of an ideal property isn’t an opulent mansion, however. Barclays’ research found that often, the imagined ‘perfect home’ is a detached property with at least three bedrooms, with one room spare to comfortably accommodate guests. Meanwhile, after having spent a lot of time cooped up indoors over the past year-and-a-half, a large garden is on many people’s wish-lists, along with a garage.
The research also found that, if they could afford it, people would typically be willing to spend over £450,000 on their dream home.
With house prices having hit a string of record highs recently however, the perfect properties may simply be beyond many buyers’ budgets.
If this is the case for you, you may still be able to find a property which has the potential to become a forever home. Or, you may find that your forever home is actually the property you’re already living in – and that it could be transformed to better suit your needs with a bit of time, imagination and, inevitably, some money.
If this is the case, you wouldn’t be alone – eight in 10 homeowners purchased a forever home that required work first, according to the Barclays Mortgages research.
To give you some ideas for how to create your forever home on a budget, here are some tips from architect Laura Jane Clark, a familiar face on TV property shows…
1. Stay focused
When creating your forever home on a budget, try to stick to your top priorities. Create a list of your absolute musts and also a wish-list. Items such as underfloor heating can be a great addition, but last-minute changes to your build can often have knock on effects on other choices and your budget. So plan ahead and have a few gorgeous images to keep you inspired along the way – but channel your energy and budget into the things you really want.
2. Improve your DIY skills
When renovating your home into your forever home, there’s nothing more affordable than brushing up your own DIY skills. This is not only cost-effective but can be a lot of fun, and lets you make the changes you want in the way you want them. Once you get started, you will be amazed at how much you can actually do.
3. Remember the smaller tasks
Although painting a wall or changing a door handle might not seem like a big change to you, making small changes over time like this can really add value to your home and make you fall in love with your property.
4. Add greenery
Whether real or faux, plants are a great way of adding some life and light into your home.
There are a range of plants you can choose from – from palms to cheese plants – that are affordable, brighten up a dark spot in your property, and can grow with your home.
5. Think outside the box
When you’re searching for a property, make sure you are looking at the house as a whole and the potential it has, rather than focusing on its kerb appeal or the current state it is in. Often, buying a house that needs work but has good ‘bones’ can get you a better deal.
6. Don’t rush
Renovating your home gradually will give you more time to funnel money into the budget. It will also pay off as you’ll have time to find out where the areas are that you naturally gravitate to, where the sunspots are and how the light falls throughout the day.
By living in your home for a while, you can work out the elements you want to keep and find what is lacking and allow your plans to take shape.
7. Consider how your needs will change in the longer term
Clark says she always wanted to find somewhere that was both walkable to a nursery school and a good coffee shop – but her desires have since changed, and a well stocked garden-centre now seems more appealing.
She suggests looking at how close you are to family and friends, outdoor spaces, transport links and local amenities. Location is crucial, again not just for right now but for what you might want and need in five, 10, 20 years’ time. All these factors add up to make a good home a forever one.