When it comes to adding value to your house, there's the stuff of dreams - converting your basement into your own personal spa with pool and steam room - and the more realistic home improvement ideas, like pulling up stained carpets and toning down the colour of your walls.
Budget-friendly changes - including simple DIY ideas - can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your home, not to mention add value to your property, making it more attractive to prospective buyers.
"Doing your own DIY is wonderfully satisfying and it can be a lot of fun. There’s nothing to be afraid of if you prepare in the right way and give things the proper amount of thought," says DIY expert and Checkatrade ambassador Craig Phillips.
"These days there are thousands of videos on the web, demonstrating how to tackle just about any task you can think of. Do your research, use the best possible kit for your budget, prep with care, take your time and most of all have fun – the rewards will be plain to see."
He recommends investing in a few key tools before you begin: a durable tape measure, a quality hammer with a weight you’re comfortable with, a good handsaw, a set square, a spirit level, sanding blocks for prep and finishing, a cordless combination drill driver and sharp pencils. And don't forget a sturdy toolbox to hold it all.
Before you start pulling up the floorboards, though - think about the motivation behind making over your house. If you're looking to improve your chances of selling, minor cosmetic changes can make a world of difference.
"You need to differentiate what will add value and what will add saleability," says Mark Hayward, managing director of The National Association of Estate Agents.
"Adding value is when you invest in the property and are going to add at least the cost of what you’ve just done, and ideally more.
"Saleability is when the house is de-cluttered, clean and devoid of dogs, cats and children when being viewed. Don’t overpersonalise your house in terms of furniture - find something universally appealing. To see an example, go look at a show home at an upmarket new homes developer – they will be furnished to sell."
Check out these easy home improvement ideas to add value to your house...
1. Fix the floors
According to a poll of estate agents carried out by Wickes in 2015, good-quality flooring was found to add £2,500 to the value of a house. Engineered wood flooring (installed by a professional) can set you back thousands of pounds, but there are plenty of online tutorials and step-by-step guides to help you install DIY laminate or wooden flooring in your home.
Tiles are an easy way to add colour, texture and print to your home. They can also help to create a more polished, elegant feel in spaces like your kitchen or bathroom.
Want to tile yourself? Here's what to do:
"First of all, I’d suggest building your confidence by having a go at a small area like a kitchen splashback," advises Craig Phillips.
"Check before you proceed but the chances are it’s already level from the original fitting. Find and start from the area’s centre point and you’ll have an equal cut at each end – just get that first tile spot on and you should be OK.
"Serrated trowels are great for making sure you spread the adhesive evenly and the tiles are all therefore flush. Only attack very small areas in one hit or else you may find the adhesive goes hard before you get to it and we don’t want that. For the same reason, carefully wipe off any excess adhesive before it sets.
"Talk to your tile retailer as much as you can, especially about the best spacers for your particular tile. Depending on the size or style of tile you pick, a slightly narrower or wider gap gives a better effect. Once you’re done, leave a good 24 hours for everything to dry nicely before you remove the spacers and go for the grouting stage – again, just do smallish areas at a time so you don’t get caught out as it dries.
"You might want to consider rectangular tiles, as they’re really coming back into vogue again and give a nice brickwork effect. Start from the centre again and stagger the second course exactly halfway along the tile. Take your time, be as precise as you can and you won’t go far wrong. You’ll find the end result very rewarding."
3. Paint the walls
Forget about your desire to make the walls of your home a reflection of your personality - your best bet when it comes to making your house look its best is to paint your walls a neutral colour. This is also important for those viewing your home, who may find it hard to imagine the space as a blank canvas when they're staring at a sea of yellow woodchip wallpaper.
"We recently moved house and I kept thinking I didn’t understand why people didn’t paint their walls a pale colour," says Pereen D'Avoine, founding director of London-based architecture firm Russian for Fish .
"Your space immediately looks bigger, brighter and cleaner - a lick of paint can hide a thousand sins."
If you're looking to do the job yourself, Craig Phillips advises devoting some time to prep, first readying the surface with sanding blocks and some sugar soap, and masking up door handles, sills and anything else you don’t want to splatter. You can stick to a traditional paintbrush and roller, or try a spraypaint unit to save time and get an even finish without brush marks.
4. Replace kitchen cupboards
While getting a brand new kitchen installed can look amazing, costs will quickly soar into the tens of thousands of pounds. There are less expensive ways to make your existing kitchen look brand new, like replacing cupboard doors and worktops.
"In an old kitchen, the carcass might be completely fine," says Pereen D'Avoine. "We'll often use an off-the-shelf carcass and put bespoke doors on it. You can get it made in a particular colour you can’t find in the shops which gives an edge of bespoke to it."
Swapping out kitchen taps or cupboard handles is another way to give the heart of the home a new lease on life.
5. Use a darker grout on tiles
When it comes to bathrooms, you want things that are going to stay clean and not stain, so D'Avoine recommends using a slightly darker grout on tiles to keep them looking fresh and to avoid the grubby, mouldy look (and many an afternoon spent on your hands and knees, manically scrubbing at the tiles with bleach and a toothbrush).
6. Spruce up your back garden
Showing your home to prospective buyers is all about presentation, emphasises Mark Hayward. Which means it has to look as good on the outside as it does inside.
Transforming a front garden is a relatively cheap way to give your home a boost with simple planting and gravel. Similarly, the back garden can be significantly improved with new stonework and a re-turfed lawn.
7. Replace your front door
Front door looking shabby or over 10 years old? Time to get a new one. "You're after that clean, quality look," says Hayward.
Changing the carpeting in your home is an easy and relatively cheap way to give your place a spruce-up. It's also an absolute essential if your carpets are old, dirty, or the colour of vomit.
We're serious: hideous carpeting is a major factor in scaring away potential buyers. According to Wickes' survey, 61 percent of house-hunters said stained carpets were their biggest turn-off, with a further 53 percent expressing a dislike of "1970s-style" carpeting.
9. Mirrors, mirrors on the wall
If you can't add light and space to your home with a loft conversion or kitchen extension, then cheat. Hang mirrors opposite windows to maximise the impact of the natural lighting and add space to a cramped hall with a mirror on either side of the wall.
Another clever trick from the pros? "Picking what you spend money on can lift the whole room," says D'Avoine. "We often will mix a couple of more expensive pieces of furniture and team it with a mirror unit on the wall from Bathstore."