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What’s wrong with Britain’s homes?

We reveal what Which? members would most like to improve about their houses, and what you need to consider before kicking off popular projects

What’s wrong with Britain’s homes?

Improving the number and positions of electrical sockets is the most sought-after home update amongst Which? members, and more than 60% would like to update their homes’ tech systems.

In January 2018, we asked 1,366 Which? members what they would most like to change about their homes, if money was no object.

While 20% of the homeowners we asked didn’t want to change anything at all, the rest were most keen to update their homes’ electric and technological capabilities, with the desire for better gadgets and tech fueling three of the top five spots.

Watch the video below to find out the five updates at the top of the wishlist, or scroll down for the top 10.

As well as better cabling, wiring and sockets, decent storage space and better room layouts are also covetable improvements for many homeowners across the country.

Those of you living in Victorian or Edwardian properties (built between 1837-1910) are the most likely to want to make changes to your home, suggesting that older properties aren’t particularly well suited to modern life. Some 85% of people in these homes have improvements they’d like to make, including moving, changing or adding windows, adding extra bedrooms or bathrooms and modernising outdated plumbing systems.

If you’re keen to modernise your home, find a recommended trader in your area by visiting Which? Trusted Traders. Anyone listed on our site has had their business practices, terms and conditions and references from previous clients checked by us, to help take the worry out of choosing a trader.

Ready to kick off one of these popular projects? Read on to find out more about what you need to consider.

Improving the electrics in your home

If you want to reconfigure your home’s sockets and cabling so that it suits your lifestyle, you’ll need to employ a qualified electrician. But what do you need to look out for? Here are three key top tips:

  1. Ensure any work you have done is carried out by someone who is suitably qualified under Part P regulations. A Part-P-registered ‘competent person’ can sign off work themselves and give you the relevant paperwork, without having to involve Building Control.
  2. Ideally, use an electrician who is registered with one of the government-approved schemes run by trade bodies.
  3. If your builders are using subcontractors for electrical work, make sure you’ve seen their documentation, rather than assuming it has been checked.

All Which? Trusted Traders endorsed electricians have the necessary qualifications to carry out electrical work.

Read more about the questions you should ask, and how to check their work, in our dedicated guide to employing an electrician.


Upgrading your central heating system

Some 19% of owner-occupied homes in the UK have standard boilers, according to the government’s English Housing Survey (2016-2017).

These are less efficient than condensing boilers, which were made mandatory to fit when updating a central-heating system in the mid-2000s. In 2001, only 2% of homes had a condensing boiler, but by 2016 this had increased dramatically to 63%.

Replacing an old boiler with a new condensing one could cost as much as £1,440. But this price varies, depending on:

  • What type of heating system you’re changing from and to
  • Whether it’ll be placed in the same position or moved
  • How much you want or need to change other parts of your heating system, such as radiators, in the rest of your house.

Visit our full advice guide for more on the cost of installing a boiler. Then, choose a reliable model from our boiler reviews, based on the testimonials of hundreds of boiler owners and heating engineers, and head to Which? Trusted Traders to find a vetted heating engineer.

Family warm in home

Adding and replacing windows and doors

Some 15% of the people we surveyed would like to change or add more windows, and 12% want to add glass doors. For many, particularly those in older properties, these updates will involve adding double glazing, which can make a huge difference to the insulation and comfort of your home.

The percentage of people in England with full double glazing has grown from 71% in 2008 to 83% in 2016, according to the English Housing Survey.

A new, double-glazed window can cost as much as £3,095, depending on its type, size and location. But this is for one single window – it’s usually cheaper to get a number installed at once.

Find out how to save money when replacing your windows and how we rate well-known double glazing companies, including Anglian and Safestyle, in our guide to the best and worst double glazing companies.

Extending your home

Some 9% of people would like to make their home bigger, either with an extension, conservatory or loft conversion.

If you’re considering major building work to your home, you’ll need to think about getting planning permission and making sure your project adheres to building regulations. Certain types of conservatories and loft conversions don’t require permission, which will help to reduce the cost and time it will take to complete.

Visit our guides to step-by-step conservatories and loft conversion building regulations and planning permission for all you need to know.

Modern extension on old building

Renovating kitchens and bathrooms

Some 4% of people would like to update or replace their bathroom or kitchen, or add an extra bathroom.

If you’re thinking of renovating either of these rooms, take a look at our kitchen and bathroom reviews of big-name brands, including B&Q, Bathstore, Benchmarx, Homebase, Ikea, John Lewis and Victoria Plum.

We’ve found big disparities between the companies – for kitchens, the top brand achieved a customer score of 90% and the bottom just 56%. For bathrooms, the highest rating was 82% and lowest 52%.

What would you most like to change about your home?

Do you agree with our members? Tell us which of these alterations you’d like to make to your own home in the poll below:


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