Julie Ann Haines

31 October 2014

A Welshman’s home is his castle – though a facelift or two wouldn’t go amiss!

Julie-Ann Haines, Customer Director at Principality Building Society, talks about the importance of the home and how happy Welsh people are with their home.

A Welshman’s home is his castle, or so the old adage goes, but is this really the case for homeowners in Wales? Are we a nation of happy homeowners, content with our dwellings and satisfied in our surroundings? Or are we all striving to improve our living quarters, aspiring to bigger and better things?

Our recent survey of 1000 homeowners suggests that Welsh homeowners aren’t averse to a little grand designs as 98.5% admitted to having improvements we’d like to make to our homes. Whether it’s increasing the size (29%), changing location (15%), improving the garden (15%) or changing the layout (13%), almost everyone has something they’d like to do to spruce up their humble abode.

While bigger jobs such as adding a few rooms or landscaping the garden are high on the wish lists, it seems Welsh homeowners are broadly satisfied with their interior decorating skills, with only 10% claiming they’d choose to change their décor.

It seems we’re not ones for flashy designs here in Wales, with 55% claiming our favourite room is painted in magnolia or neutral tones and only 8% believing that bright is best and favouring lively citrus colours.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems women are primarily responsible for Wales’ penchant for neutral décor as women take sole responsibility for interior design in nearly 41% of homes, compared to only 20% of homes where the man takes control of decorating.

Interestingly, gone are the days when the kitchen was the heart of the home as 57% of us claim to be most comfortable in our living rooms, followed by the master bedroom (15%) and the garden (11%). Only one in ten of us feel most comfortable in our kitchens.  

For those 98.5% of us who’d like to make improvements, finding the money to make these alterations can be a challenge. Most mortgages, however, do offer facilities which can help make these dreams become a reality.

Re-mortgaging your property is also an option to free up some cash for home improvements. A quick chat with a mortgage expert can help you evaluate your current mortgage product and explore options for potentially switching to a different deal. If the value of your property has risen since you arranged your mortgage, it might be that you can re-mortgage your home for a higher value than your previous mortgage and unlock some funds in the process. 

But what if money was no object? What out of this world home improvement would the people of Wales favour?

Asked what fantasy home improvement they’d make to their home if given a blank cheque, 30% claimed a swimming pool would top their shopping list – useful for our annual two weeks of sunshine! A home gym (12%), a hot tub (12%) and a cinema room (10%) were also popular choices, while some would really push the boat out and opt for something a little out of the ordinary. An internet enabled kitchen which did the grocery shopping, a full sized rugby pitch and a Star Trek ‘holodeck’ were among the more unique suggestions!

If done smartly, significant home improvements can increase a house’s value so you may be able to have that swimming pool you always wanted and recoup the cost when you eventually sell your home. Of course, some improvements are more likely to add value than others so it’s important to be shrewd with these decisions. You may not be able to convince a prospective buyer to pay a premium for that expensive ‘holodeck’ you had installed, for instance!

By staying on top of your financial situation, knowing your mortgage and exploring your options, that dream home improvement you always wanted might not be as out of the question as you may have thought.
Despite all this, 84% can confidently state that they wouldn’t swap their home with a neighbour’s – proof that a Welshman’s home is still very much his castle, even if we’d all like to give it a facelift or two!

Published: 31/10/2014