Did you know that Brits spent £110.3bn on home improvements during the course of the pandemic? Three Melan Magazine readers share their experience of renovating their home during the lockdowns.

renovations
“…over-40-year-old Black women are once again among the group of comfortable homeowners improving their dwellings.”

While many industries were forced to shut down during the pandemic, the home building and renovations industry saw a stratospheric rise no doubt due to homeowners who were confined to their homes for weeks on end, realising that their living quarters was not up to scratch anymore. While many homeowners decided to move to more spacious and scenic areas, many more still decided to stay put and instead improve and expand their homes instead.

New research by Powered Now, a field service management software for the trades, shows that Brits spent a whopping £110.3bn on home improvements during the course of the pandemic. What’s more, the research has been able to drill down deep to discover the type of home improvement projects undertaken in the past year; these range from traditional kitchen replacements, to building home-gyms no doubt caused by the number of gyms forced to close as a result of the lockdown.

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It turns out that more than 1.5 million of us hired a tradesperson to build an outhouse, while a further 818,000 commissioned tradespeople to build an extension to their homes.

It comes as no surprise that over-40-year-old Black women are once again among the group of comfortable homeowners improving their dwellings. We spoke to three Melan Magazine readers who were among the hordes who decided that rather than moving, they would take on the challenge of extending their living quarters.

Home improvements and renovations can be a costly endeavour, but it is an opportunity to design your living space to your exact requirements, something all three readers would agree with.

Read on to learn more about our readers motivations for embarking on home improvements, how much they spent and what they think about the results.


renovations in lockdown
“We also took the opportunity to install the kitchen of our dreams.”
(Image – stock shot, illustration purposes only)

 

Name:

Safiat Momoh

Age:

48

Where do you live?

Greater London (Dagenham)

How much did you spend on your house refurbishment?

£100,000

What works did you have done?

We pretty much rebuilt a large proportion of our home. We reorganised the ground floor, resituating the ground floor bathroom/cloakroom to another, more convenient area. We therefore completely renovated our living room and the ground floor bathroom/cloakroom. The improvements included stripping the walls, ceilings, replastering and painting, new floors, the works.

We also took the opportunity to install the kitchen of our dreams. We extended the floor space by a good six metres and bought a whole new, modern kitchen with all new appliances.

Upstairs we renovated the family bathroom and added two new bedrooms, giving my grownup children / family much needed additional space.

We also transformed an old shed at the back of the garden into a studio flat, which is extremely useful.

How long did the project take?

Surprisingly it took six months, much longer than we had anticipated.

What was the most challenging aspect of the refurb?

By far it was having to live in our home whilst the work was being done. Also, the refurb went way over our estimated budget which created some challenges because some aspects had to be left out.

What changes are you happiest with?

I now have a much larger living room and I’m so happy with my kitchen even though I’m a lazy cook.

Why did you decide to renovate rather than move?

We thought about moving but the properties we could afford were too far away and we considered the logistics with regards to travelling to work and other journeys. Also, we have two children in university and the younger two are in secondary schools, so we decided to extend and add value to the property. Moving would have been a major hassle, which I was not ready for at the time.

 

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renovations in lockdown
“Home improvements and renovations can be a costly endeavour, but it is an opportunity to design your living space to your exact requirements”(Image – stock shot, illustration purposes only)

 

Name:

Abi Abidekun

Age:

49

Where do you live?

Greater London (Becontree)

How much did you spend on your house refurbishment?

£18,000

What works did you have done?

We had a brand-new kitchen fitted and redecorated our dining area and hallway.

How long did the project take?

The works took about five weeks to complete.

What was the most challenging aspect of the refurb?

The most challenging part for me was not being able to cook fresh food and trying to avoid the constant flow of workmen in my home all at the same time. For hubby, it was trying to work from home through all of the noise of the building works. However, the worst part was the daily mess. Though the workmen cleared up after themselves it was never good enough for me.

What changes are you happiest with?

I’m thrilled with my new kitchen. It’s beautiful!

Why did you decide to renovate rather than move?

We decided to renovate because I think our kids are getting to the stage where they will start leaving home soon. Moving now would possibly mean buying a bigger property but that may not be such a good idea in the next five years when the kids will have flown the coop.

 

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renovations in lockdown
“Many homeowners decided to move to more spacious and scenic areas, many more still decided to stay put and instead improve and expand their homes instead”
(Image – stock shot, illustration purposes only)

Name:

Bisola Ogunyemi

Age:

45

Where do you live?

Wescliff On Sea, Southend

How much did you spend on your house refurbishment?

Just over £200,000!

What works did you have done?

We literally rebuilt the house! We extended backwards into the garden, to the side of the property. We also converted the loft into a habitable space. The rooms we worked on were the family lounge, the study, downstairs cloakroom, a new family bathroom, master bedroom and en-suite in the loft and a new utility room.

How long did the project take?

The works took a whole year from start to finish!

What was the most challenging aspect of the refurb?

It was the length of time it took to complete the project, due to disruptions caused by COVID. Also, toward the end of the project, our builder started dragging his feet about concluding the work, which was a shame as initially he was quite competent, we felt.

We also experienced challenges around making decisions about materials, décor and other finishing aspects. We had to make decisions based on costs of materials; does expensive mean better or can cheaper items do the job just as well?

What changes are you happiest with?

I am thrilled with the whole house! But if pressed, I would say that having a new utility room/space is especially great, as I have carved out a space to run my own business from there too.

Why did you decide to renovate rather than move?

We actually moved house during the lockdown to be closer to our children’s secondary schools, but the house we bought needed a lot of work. We knew going in that we would do a lot of work to the house for it to align to our lifestyle.

renovations in lockdown
An impressive “818,000 commissioned tradespeople to build an extension to their homes”
(Image – stock shot, illustration purposes only)

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