A report by the Centre for Ageing Better recently identified a range of property-related safety issues which impact the health of the over-55’s, costing the NHS up to £1.4 billion annually.
Approximately 700,000 of the 1.5 million homes failing the ‘decent homes’ test are occupied by the over-75’s, with the most common problems excessive cold, or trip hazards.
So, the report recommends keeping properties well insulated and in a good state of repair, updating kitchens and bathrooms exceeding their 20 or 30 year lifespan, and installing efficient, modern, heating – and perhaps replacing doors and windows or adding a stairlift – if older people are to retain their all-important independence. Regular checks on fire and smoke alarms are also key to safety.
Vital improvements can be overlooked when people have spent many years in what they regard as their ‘lifetime home’; they are also cautious about the cost of refurbishment.
Equity release could be the solution for funding alterations.
The first step would be to seek advice from specialists:
- A qualified surveyor’s report will assess a property’s condition and recommend a plan prioritising essential changes to meet modern safety standards. They would also provide a current valuation and an estimate of an uplift in value following improvements, which usually exceeds the actual investment costs;
- Invite quotations for the works from quality builders and suppliers, using specialist websites or friends’ recommendations to identify the best and most appropriate, reliable, contractors;
- Appoint a Project Manager – whether homeowner, a family member, surveyor or architect, to work with contractors, keeping track of the refurbishment plan and budget, allowing for contingencies whilst remembering that subsequent changes to an agreed strategy can result in significant extra costs;
- Before making any financial commitments, take the surveyor’s report, detailed plan and cost estimates to an Equity Release specialist adviser, who can discuss the most appropriate financial options to bring the property up to ‘decent home’ standard, protecting security and health into the long term without raiding modest savings.
Spending on improvements to a much-loved home is likely to be a sensible choice, compared with moving, which can consume thousands of pounds on legal and agents fees, as well as stamp duty and removal costs – a grand total potentially equivalent to refurbishing! A move can also be disruptive, especially for older people; leaving a supportive community means having to build new relationships, not always easy as one ages.
Contact our friendly, experienced, team at Premier Equity Release for an informal chat.