One of the biggest challenges older homeowners face is maintaining their property on a stretched retirement income when DIY becomes difficult.
Homes age just as our bodies do, and they take time and expense to remain in good condition.
Households headed by people aged between 50 and 74 spend almost a quarter of their housing expenditure on alterations and improvements such as central heating, double glazing or new kitchens, official figures show.
This is a higher proportion than among younger age groups and is a major burden for those onfixed retirement incomes.
One option is to downsize,but Paula Higgins, chief executive of The HomeOwners Alliance, said: “Don’t leave it too late. If you delay until you are 80, you may not have the energyor desire to integrate into a new community.”
Do your sums carefully as the sale may generate less than you hope, and your new property may be more expensive than you think. Bungalows are particularly pricey because of high demand from downsizers.
If you decide to stay put,find a handyman you can rely on to keep on top of maintenance and repairs.
Deborah Stone of maturethinking.co.uk, which advises companies on products and services for older people, said that if money is short, contact your local council to see if it will help with modifications or equipment: “This might be a loan, grant, labour, materials or advice, depending on your circumstances, available to homeowners and tenants.”
Visit Gov.uk to see if you are eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant, available to anyone with impaired vision, hearing or speech, a mental disorder or physical disability.
Contact your Home Improvement Agency, which gives advice and support to older homeowners who need repairs, home improvements, or to help with decorating or gardening. Find yours at FindMyHIA.org.uk.
Stone added thatTurn2Us.org.uk can help with access to grants, welfare benefits and other help.
A wide range of equipment and improvements can make life easier as you get older, Stone said:“Riser-recliner chairs, beds and bath seats can all help. Consider walk-in showersand wet rooms, downstairs bedrooms and raised toilets.”
Smoke alarms are essential, and you could also consider illuminated doorbells or large button controls.
Family members may have to give their parents a gentle nudge, or take control themselves. Stone added:“Older people can be reluctant to admit they need to adapt their own home against disability.”
If paying for work, checkout directories of trusted contractors such as CareHome.co.uk, Shop4Support.com or RatedPeople.com and always get a quote. Stone said: “If possible, get three so you can compare, and ask for a full breakdown of costs.”
Consider getting a fixed quote rather than an estimate to ensure costs don’t spiral out of control.
See if you need planning permission and ensure any builder has a public liability insurance certificate and obtain a copy. “Check with your buildings and contents insurance company in advance, as building work may affect your cover.”
If you’re disabled, any building work you do to adapt your home may be zero-rated for VAT.
Will Hale, chief executive of Key Retirement, said an equity release scheme is a popular way for pensioners to fund improvements.
This involves raising tax-free cash against your home, to be repaid from your property sale after you die: “Almost two-thirds of our customers reinvest some or all of the money to age-proof their houses