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How £1,000  or US$1,800 can transform your home


For many Black Britons and African Americans, the meteoric rise in house prices may be slowing down, so if you want to maximise the value of your house it makes less sense to go splashing out. So how can you make your house stand out from the crowd on a budget of £1,000 or less than $2,000?

Paint it White 
Whatever your personal taste, however refined and subtle, the buyer won’t like it. Go for a blank canvas onto which potential buyers can project their own tastes. Blank canvasses tend to be white – or, at a pinch, white with a hint of beige.

Paint your frames 
Windows are important – the ones of opportunity and the actual windows made of wood, which rots and needs repainting every few years to make it look like you take an interest in the infrastructure of the building.

Hire a skip 

If your house is on the market, it is a good time to sort out all your stuff. Sorting through your possessions mountain as if you were preparing to go on the run is probably a good approach. You will shortly be paying a removal firm to transport unwanted clutter from one place to another, which is a meaningless waste of time and resources.

Most importantly, those warped tennis rackets and tins of hardened paint in your cupboard under the stairs are actively putting off buyers. Cubbyholes like that can be cleared out, brightened up and remarketed as potential home-office space.


Invest in shelving 
Things you can’t bear to throw away need to be stored properly. Shelving solutions are widely available on the high street, or from IKEA, and at a fraction of the price it would cost you to make them.


Get lights 
A few well-chosen, free-standing lamps can transform a room by giving the impression of wall lighting without all that fiddly rewiring.


Get mirrors 
A one-metre square block of mirror mounted on a 18mm piece of MDF can double the size of a room. Don’t bother with a frame, but do bother to chain it to the wall so it doesn’t fall down and break.


Do the garden (a bit) 
Expensive garden makeovers do not add value to your home. When people catch sight of that £25,000 ($45,000) sunken garden room with disco lights designed by Diarmuid Thingy, they just calculate how much it is going to cost to fill it in. 

Better to simply tidy up a bit, pull some weeds and turn over any flowerbeds with a garden fork. If you have a small lawn in very poor condition it may be worth returfing. Simply unroll, butt the pieces together like a furry jigsaw, and cut awkward corners with garden scissors or a carving knife.




               A little tidying up could add value to your house


Attract Butterflies 
Butterflies make a good impression. You just need brightly coloured flowers, with a good mix between cultivated and wild flowers, including nettles and thistles. Butterfly-friendly plants include azalea, bee balm, delphinium, dill, oregano, sweet pea, snapdragon, marigold, sage, sunflowers, chrysanthemum and fuchsia. Large swathes of colour rather than isolated plants make it easier for them to find your garden. Use insecticides sparingly.


Get a window box 
Urban flat dwellers need not despair. Window boxes can make a big difference, even if they only provide a fringe of foliage along the window sill. Choose your box with care as big terracotta ones can look clunky and small ones twee. Go for galvanised steel for unarguably urban chic, and fill it with usable herbs for the kitchen window.


Although £1,000 won’t go far towards a new suite or a radical restructuring, it will buy grout, which could liven up the space between the tiles no end. Rake out the existing brown stuff and apply the new grout (available in a range of colours) with a ‘squeegee’ or alternatively get some ‘grout reviver’, which you simply apply, over the old grout, making it all look like new.


New taps 
Modern taps can haul an otherwise lacklustre piece of sanitaryware into the world of 21st-century dreams. Make sure that the tap you choose is compatible with your Imperial plumbing. If you are changing the taps yourself, you will need to get some ‘mole grips’ and an adjustable spanner.


Cross-top taps tend to have a grub screw (tiny, larvae-shaped screw holding the handle on) underneath the disc in the middle of the handle. Be warned; grub screws like to jump down plugholes, so put the plug in before you operate. 


Hold the tap steady with your mole grips while you unscrew the body of the tap with the adjustable spanner. This stops you cracking the sink. Once disassembled, it’s easy to see how you slot in the washer and put everything back together. Don’t forget to turn the water off before you begin or your carefully planned project to increase the value of your home will shift rapidly into reverse.


Depending on how long you (and possibly the previous occupants) have left it, limescale deposits can vary from a vague beige coating to stalactite formations capable of gashing your hands as you run them under the tap. 

This can easily be remedied with a variety of limescale-removing chemicals. My favourite is the mousse, which puffs up and wipes off after a few minutes, leaving everything gleaming. More serious cases, however, will have to resort to something stronger, like Hagesan Blue, a dangerously strong acid. Wear gloves. 


Taps can be changed (see above), as can worktops. Even if you have an integral sink or hob, putting in a new worktop should only take a weekend. Usually held in with a few screws, worktops can be cut using a handsaw or a jigsaw, as it’s basically chipboard coated with plastic.


Bear in mind there may be redecorating issues, including a bead of mastic around the joins, and don’t go for anything radical like actual granite – which could eat your whole budget for a single square metre – but something very plain and simple makes a better impression than a than a stained, worn or damaged worktop.     


With thanks to Interactive Investors where this piece first appeared     


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