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Spending on home improvements in later life

Part of the Life Well Spent Report 2023

Most of us dream about having the ‘perfect’ home. But can people over 50 afford to make home improvements during a cost of living crisis? For the second year running, we asked more than 2,000 over 50s about their home renovations – what they’ve already done, what they plan to do, and what they’d do if money was no object...

How popular are home improvements with the over 50s?

Fewer over 50s are spending money on home improvements in 2023 – but only just. Almost 3 in 4 (74%) say they’ve spent money doing up their house in the last five years, compared to 76% in 2022.

Once again, painting and decorating is the most popular home improvement, with 54% of over 50s taking on a paintbrush (although this is 4% less than in 2022).

And just like last year, this is followed by new carpets or floors at 31% (also 4% down on 2022), and garden landscaping at 22% (4% down since 2022).

1 in 4 (26%) over 50s didn’t spend anything on home renovations at all – +2% since 2022.

How much are the over 50s spending on home improvements?

The priciest home renovations are still house extensions, although the average amount spent has gone down by almost £3,000 since last year. The average spent on an extension is now £29,015, compared to £32,000 in 2022.

Only 2% of over 50s have extended their home in the last five years (1% less than in 2022). Whereas 54% have spent money on painting and decorating, which costs just £473 by comparison (£56 less than in 2022).

The table below shows that over 50s are spending less on home renovations overall – albeit by a small percentage.

Average spend on home renovations by the over 50s

 Average spend (Change since 2022)% of over 50s spending on this (Change since 2022)
Extension£29,015 (-10%)2% (-1%)
Loft conversion*£9,4932% (n/a)
Conservatory£8,876 (-37%)2% (-2%)
Kitchen refitting£8,021 (+10%)14% (-2%)
Bathroom refitting£4,360 (+17%)17% (-1%)
Energy-saving renovations**£4,0616% (n/a)
Adaptations for reduced mobility£3,816 (+75%)3% (-1%)
Replacement windows/doors£3,746 (+11%)15% (+1%)
Roof repair/replacement*£3,38512% (n/a)
New/renovated garage£3,554 (+0%)2% (-1%)
Driveway repaving/extending£2,851 (-8%)5% (-3%)
Garden landscaping£1,923 (-4%)22% (-4%)
In-built storage solutions£1,367 (-16%)5% (-1%)
New/renovated outbuilding*£1,3339% (n/a)
New carpets/floors£1,060 (-1%)31% (-4%)
Painting/decorating£473 (-11%)54% (-4%)

*New addition to the 2023 survey

Improve your home, improve your happiness

Just like in 2022, spending money on home improvements makes people over 50 happier. 83% of people spending on home renovations report feeling happier as a result. Once again, a new extension gives the most happiness – with 9 in 10 (90%) over 50s saying their new extension made them happier (only 1% less than in 2022).

This is followed closely by garden landscaping at 89% (also 1% down). In fact, around 10% of over 50s name being outside in nature as one of the top three things that makes them happiest.

At 88% (+3%), a new bathroom has become the third home improvement to bring the most joy – although it’s closely followed by a new kitchen at 87% (-2%).

Home renovation% who claim renovation improved overall happiness (Change since 2022)
Extension*90% (-1%)
Garden landscaping89% (-1%)
Bathroom refitting88% (+3%)
Kitchen refitting87% (-2%)
In-built storage solutions85% (+2%)
Loft conversion*82% (n/a)
New carpets/floors79% (-3%)
New/renovated outbuilding**79% (n/a)
Conservatory*79% (-3%)
New/renovated garage*77% (+6%)
Painting/decorating75% (+0%)
Adaptations for reduced mobility*74% (-2%)
Driveway repaving/extending73% (+0%)
Replacement windows/doors72% (+5%)
Energy-saving renovations*64% (n/a)
Roof repair/replacemet*57% (n/a)

*New addition to 2023 survey

Are home improvements worth the money?

Almost 9 in 10 (86%) over 50s say their home renovations were worth the money – although this is down from 89% in 2022.

Just 3% wish they hadn’t made the renovations at all, and 1% wish they spent the money on different home improvements.

6% (down 1% from 2022) wish they’d spent more on higher quality materials or workmanship, and another 6% (+2%) wish they’d spent less on these.

Dream home improvements

If money was no object, people over 50 would most like to redo their kitchen. 36% name it as their dream renovation – just 1% less than last year.

Also the same as last year, new carpets or floors are next on the ‘dream renovations’ list at 35%, then painting and decorating at 34% (+3%).

A new bathroom follows closely at 32% (+1%), then garden landscaping at 28% (-1%).

Most don't think they'll be able to afford dream home renovations

Most over 50s say they expect their dream home renovations to cost about £35,000 on average – that’s over £5,000 more than last year.

But almost half (45%) think they won’t be able to afford it in their lifetimes (+2% since 2022). In fact, only 16% are confident they’ll be able to carry out their dream renovations at some point (-2%).

Interestingly, retirees are most likely to have confidence that they can afford their dream renovations, but also the most likely to think they wouldn’t be worth the money.

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Carol Vorderman smiling