So, you may ask, what sort of home improvements are we planning to do? Well, we haven't settled all of the details yet but here are the headlines:
1. Bathroom - knock down wall separating bathroom from toilet, replace the whole suite, tile etc.
2. Kitchen Extension - demolish temporary rear utility room, extend kitchen out into rear garden.
3. Dining Room Extension - replace existing rear bay window with full-width extension alongside (though not as deep as) kitchen extension.
4. Front Extension (idea only at this stage) - put 2-3ft extension onto front of house incorporating extension to living room and an enclosed porch.
5. Rear Garden - major landscaping in terms of levelling off slopes, building retaining walls, new beds etc.
6. Interior Decoration - redecorate living/dining room & two bedrooms.
There are a number of other smaller scale things we want to do as well but they probably don't merit a description at this stage.
All in all, that's a lot of work to pay for, and a lot of disruption to live with. Our original plan was to do it all at once and move out of the house for a while once the building work got to a particular stage (since the work would involve knocking through exterior walls in the two main ground floor rooms). That way we would hopefully take advantage of the VAT cut as mentioned previously.
In the last few days we've revised our approach a little. We're now going to leave the biggest expenses (2, 3 & 4 above) until next year as we want to start the work in early springtime, in order to give us a chance of it being finished before the summer is completely over, and we're probably not going to be in a position to do that this year. Also, with Cirrus going to school in September, we don't want to disrupt his home life too much. Even on the financial side this makes sense. Rather than spend the money on it this year and saving a few hundred quid on VAT, we can put it onto the mortgage and save over a thousand in interest before we're likely to be paying much of it out again.
We'll still look to do the bathroom and some of the garden and decorating jobs this year as they won't cause as much disruption, so we'll still save a bit on VAT but the rest of it can wait until we've decided exactly what we want and planned it properly. That way there's more chance of us being happy with the result.