Fifth going green on home improvements

26 August 2022

  • Around two thirds of mortgage further advances go towards upgrading the home.
  • Over a quarter of Halifax personal loans taken for home improvements since 2020.
  • Seaside living tops dream home location of 4,600 surveyed.
  • Monochrome interior and artificial lawn amongst most off-putting interiors trends.


New findings from Halifax have shown that over a fifth of people making home improvements (22%) are doing so to improve energy efficiency, something that is becoming increasingly important as energy bills rise.

Kim Kinnaird, Halifax Mortgages Director said: “Improving the energy efficiency of your home can help reduce your bills and, as we head into colder months, keep you warmer. So, if you’re embarking on home improvements, it’s well worth making sure you’re thinking ‘green’ at the same time - even small changes can add up.

“Draft exclusion, better underlay, loft insulation, and double glazing can be done relatively easily with an immediate impact. Ground and air source heat pumps, or solar panels, are more expensive options that can bring real financial and environmental benefits over the long term.”

Halifax’s own data also shows that home improvements are popular reasons for loans and additional borrowing on a mortgage (known as a ‘further advance’).

In fact, the vast majority of people borrowing more on their mortgage are intending this to go on home improvements, including general home updates, buying consumer goods and making repairs, ranging between 64% and 70% of all agreed advances, since 2020. For unsecured personal loans, this proportion is smaller but still
significant, at consistently over a quarter of all personal loans.

To understand more about how funds for home improvements is being used, Halifax conducted a survey of over 4,600 people looking at spend on homes and gardens, people’s attitudes towards becoming greener and the new home must haves (and have nots!).

With well documented increases in the price of goods, alongside supply chain issues, making home improvements can be an expensive endeavor. Over four in ten (44%) people go to their general savings pot for home improvements (rather than using a specific amount set aside for sprucing up the home), but almost a fifth are turning to credit (18%) to fund, including personal loans, credit cards, Buy Now, Pay Later, or borrowing from family and friends.

While most people are measured in the amount they’d spend on their home in a given year – spending £5,000 or less – around a quarter would pay more than this.

More generally, one in ten (10%) are spending between £100 and £500 every month on home maintenance.


Graph showing the main reasons for home improvements. For my own enjoyment is top with 65%, followed by improve energey efficiency at 22%. The lowest column on the chart is need to make improvements ahead of someone coming to live with me which has 4%.

Building barriers

One potential issue, particularly for major improvements and structural work, is building regulations. Just under four in ten respondents (38%) thought that regulations were ‘confusing and difficult to navigate’ and a similar proportion (40%) said they wouldn’t know where to begin if they needed to look into them.

In fact, building regulations are just one issue Brits have had when trying to improve their homes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the cost of making improvements (34%) and availability of tradespeople (25%) were cited at the most common bumps in the road - according to the National Federation of Builders, building material prices have risen 35.6% since the start of the pandemic.

With these rising costs, many people are taking on their house jobs themselves, with over half of respondents (53%) saying that either they, or their partner, take on the bulk of DIY in the home.

Graph showing barriers experiences when embarking on home improvements. Top is cost of making the improvements with 34%, followed by availability of tradespeople with 25%, then availability of materials at 14%, then building regulations at 8%. Lastly, it's objectives from neighbours or councils with 4%.

Dream home, dream garden

Despite the popularity of home makeover and renovation shows, over half of people (56%) would only buy a home that needed little, or no, work. Structural problems – like cracks, subsidence or major damp and mould – were the most off-putting potential problems when house hunting, with 70% of people saying it would put them off buying a home.

Kim said: “If you’re looking to sell, it’s worth being aware of things that are most off-putting to potential buyers. It’s unsurprising that 70% of people don’t want to buy a home that needs major structural work but even adding an extension can be a bridge too far for some – almost four in ten say they’d shy away from this sort of work.”

In fact, there are certain types of properties that get the thumbs up from most house-hunters, with over a third of people (34%) saying their dream home is a large, modern detached with all the contemporary conveniences such as kitchen/diners and walk-in wardrobes.

Of course for many, keeping up appearances applies as much to the garden, as to the home. The most important garden related feature for people was real grass, as opposed to artificial grass or a paved garden (46%), followed by a large space for family gatherings (44%).


Kim said:“Grass comes out on top as the most important garden-related feature for people, with almost half of people saying they’d find an artificial lawn off-putting. A word of warning, for anyone planning to sell in the future - think twice about paving over any greenery – it remains a big no for over two fifths of people."

In fact, over a quarter (26%) of people said a beautiful garden would convince them to buy a house they would otherwise discount.

“We’re a practical nation, as the top two home ‘must haves’ are a good internet connection and energy efficiency. That’s not to say more discretionary things didn’t make the list – open plan living remains popular, with almost a quarter needing this from their home, and one in ten wanted space for a home cinema. The effect of the pandemic also came out strongly, with almost one in three now saying a study is required."

Home improvements are subject to changing trends and, while we might feel like we are living in the ‘age of influencers’, just one in 20 (5%) admit to being prompted to change something because of social media. But - look away now if monochrome is your thing – over a third of people (34%) chose the interior trend of all-grey or all-cream – as their least favourite.

When it comes to interior preferences, it seems taste varies by age.

Wood cladding exterior – chosen by around a third (30%) of people as one of their least favourite trends – was a particular problem for those aged over 55, with 45% of people in this age group disliking this particular style. This is in contrast to the youngest age group, of people aged 18 to 24, where only 16% indicated a dislike.

A dream home is only such if it’s in the perfect location, and the great British seaside comes top for where Brits would most like to own a home, with just under a fifth (17%) choosing the beach life.

Kim said: “It turns out most of us do like to be beside the seaside, with almost a fifth considering it the dream place to own a home. The average home by the sea costs £287,087 but there is great variation within this, with some coastal locations amongst the most expensive areas in the UK.”