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Brits deck the halls with festive home improvement frenzy

With Brits expected to spend £4.5 billion shopping by the first Saturday of December, £29.6 Billion is set to be lavished on home improvements – not on presents under the tree – according to new research from AA Financial Services.

The new homeowner research dispels the myth that Brits wait until the summer months to improve their homes – as a festive DIY stampede is on the cards as people get their homes ready for family visits and entertaining over the festive season. Overall, almost half of homeowners (49%) are planning a home improvement project before Santa comes to town – and will draw an average of £2,339.46 from their savings to fund it, most people are raiding their nest eggs rather than borrowing money to fund their festive projectsConcluding its year-long study of the house moving and home improving habits of British adults, AA Financial Services asked a national representative sample of 2,038 UK homeowners what, if any, home improvement projects they planned before the end of the year, what they planned to spend – and where the money would come from.

The paint brushes and dust sheets will be out in force in the weeks ahead with 41% of homeowners planning some last-minute decorating before the tree goes up. At a time of year when gardeners are less in demand, 18% of respondents said they will be commissioning landscaping projects to get their garden and drive in shape for 2019. And for 12% of respondents, getting the kitchen upgraded was the top priority, even if it added to the domestic chaos during the Christmas countdown.

The average planned spend on work relating to an extension was £12,902 – with 15% spending more than £20,000. Plumbing and insulation work attracted significant spend for those getting their home ready for the winter chill. The research also gave an early indication that the evolving interest in electric cars will have a profound effect on home improvement spend in the future. Whilst only 3% of respondents said they planned to install an electric car charges in their property, the scale of spend was second only to major building projects (£3,479).

Improvements around the home are never cheap, especially at this time of year. When asked how they plan to fund home improvements, people were more likely to draw on their savings (49%) than to rely on finance (17%). Interestingly, those looking for unsecured finance were three times more likely to say they would max out their credit card rather than apply for a personal loan at a much more competitive APR.

Families, those with greater and varied pressures on their disposable income, were more likely to borrow to fund home improvements – with parents of bigger families (households with three or more children) more likely to rely on store finance.

David Searle, the AA’s Director of Financial Services commented: “The nation’s obsession with home improvements is no longer a seasonal past-time for the summer months. The trend for retail sales before Christmas could have an enduring impact not just on Christmas shopping but home improvements too.”

“For many homeowners, home improvement projects make sound financial sense as they can tangibly improve the value of a property.

“For those seeking finance, we highly recommend that people shop around for a good deal and consider the benefits of a competitively priced loan over a credit card. This will help mitigate against financial pain when January’s credit card bill hits the doormat and be less of a strain on monthly disposable income.

“Our research also suggests many people don’t want to turn to their bank for a loan. The good news here, is that there are many other lenders in the market. AA Financial Services offers a range of lending, savings and insurance products that can help people to lower the cost of running a home.