• Are kitchens or bathrooms a better investment?
  • Discover how to minimise renovation disruption 
  • We look at some of the benefits of installing a new kitchen or bathroom

The home renovation projects that are left until last – kitchens and bathrooms – have gained a reputation for being disruptive and expensive. However, if you’re contemplating either, it helps to decide which is a better option for you in the long term by considering the impact it will have on your lifestyle.

Are kitchens or bathrooms a better investment?

The increase in property value you can expect to see depends on what’s replaced – even though kitchens and bathrooms are generally both good investments. However, it’s best to refit for your own needs rather than a potential buyer’s. 

“Kitchens and bathrooms are such individual spaces that people want to be able to personalise them,” explains Ed Foster, Country House Buying Agent at Middleton Advisors. “The best advice would be to leave them to allow a new owner to adapt to their own tastes.”

Estimates vary on how much return kitchens and bathrooms provide, with a survey by Move With Us estimating that a new kitchen adds around 5% to the price of a house, while an additional bathroom could provide the same amount, depending on the bathroom’s accessories.

Research by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), meanwhile, found that a third of estate agents believe that enlarging the kitchen was the best way to boost a property’s price. 

Also, a new kitchen could add appeal whereas a bathroom may not have the same impact.

“A good kitchen can sell a house, while a bathroom is an easier and cheaper job to do for an incoming purchaser,” comments Rory McGougan, Director, Hanover Private Office. “That said, there is more risk in spending money on a kitchen that people might not like, which is minimised in a bathroom.”

“A modern, efficient kitchen is one of the single greatest money-makers there is, but en-suites are also value boosters,” adds Tim Roe, Chief Customer Officer at Rated People.

How to minimise disruption 

Kitchens take longer to fit than a bathroom and there may be delays for building work while worktops are being template, or plumbing, gas and electric services moved. A simple remove and refit can take up to six days according to a survey of kitchen fitters by Which? depending on the size of the kitchen.

Plan ahead to make the refit easier – have some cooking facilities elsewhere in the house (e.g. a microwave and portable hob) so you don’t have to survive on takeaways and opt for disposable plates over having to wash up in a basin, sometimes without the luxury of hot water.

Bathrooms are an easier job, taking on average between a couple of days and a week, depending on how big the room is and if it’s being tiled, according to a survey of bathroom fitters by Which?.

Moving the soil pipe will increase the fitting time and cost. Again, planning ahead is key, so arrange to shower at a friend’s house or at the gym, and ask your plumber to keep the loo plumbed in while the refit is in progress.

Benefits of a new kitchen or bathroom

There are other advantages to upgrading. In the bathroom, WCs and brassware that are designed to use less water could see you saving if you’re on a meter, while a new shower could also reduce energy use.

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that a water-efficient showerhead could save a four-person household around £67 a year on gas for water heating, as well as a further £100 on water bills with a meter.

Replacing your kitchen appliances is another way to save. Mark Kelly, Marketing Manager at AppliancesDirect.co.uk, says that their recent survey estimated that by swapping models that are around 15 years old for new kit you can save up to 51% of the energy used for chilling and cooking food, and for doing laundry.

To DIY, or not to DIY

If you feel confident with a tool belt on, or a paintbrush in your hand, you might consider doing your own DIY renovation – or at least part of it, such as tiling the floor, painting the wall or fitting bathroom accessories.

‘Doing it yourself’ can save you a lot of money, but its best to stay within your comfort zone. If you don’t feel comfortable doing a task, then don’t – Yes, you can watch an instructional video on YouTube, but you’re probably better off leaving it to the professionals.

One mistake could end up costing you even more than the whole renovation if you don’t have the right accidental damage cover on your home insurance: DIY blunders cost Brits £67 million in 2014 alone, according to a survey from LV=, with 2 million botching a job between 2009 and 2014.

Renovating a room in your house is always disruptive, especially if its one you use every day – like your kitchen and bathroom, for example – but by planning ahead and designing the space you want, you can not only add value to your property but also save money on your bills.

For more of Rachel’s interiors tips, follow her on Twitter @RachelOgden_.