Get those jobs done with a little help from DIY guru Julia Gray. This week: a look at some of the best investments you can make to improve your home with your budget

You do home improvements to make your home more suited to your lifestyle and taste, but unless it's your forever home, you may also be interested in what would make it more sellable and valuable when you come to sell.

Often, the home improvements that most appeal to buyers are also the ones that make your home more enjoyable to live in, which is good news all round.

Adding living space is one of the best ways to improve your home and increase its value.

If you've outgrown your home and you can make it bigger by building an extension or converting the loft, cellar or garage, doing the work is often more economical than moving to a larger property and gives you an opportunity to create living space tailored to you and your family.

However, be careful not to extend your home in the wrong way.

For example, if you're converting the loft to create an extra bedroom and there isn't enough living space downstairs to support the total number of bedrooms, you'll be making the house too top heavy.

In areas where parking space is limited, having off-street parking makes parking the car a lot easier, as well as adding value to your home and making it easier to sell.

However, investing in off-street parking is often only worth doing in some areas - usually expensive urban ones.

You may need planning permission from your local council to convert your front garden to off-street parking, and some councils are cracking down on this, as hard driveways aren't good for drainage.

Click on the interactive house at for information on what you can do without having to apply for planning.

If you're concerned about resale, it pays to ask local estate agents whether the work you're considering is advisable.

They should know if you'd be spending more than the finished article would be worth and if you'd be spending your money on the wrong home improvements.

Modernising a home stuck in a different decade is always going to add value and make it more sellable and nicer to live in, but what should you concentrate on if you can't afford to do everything at once?

Central heating, preferably with a modern condensing boiler, is a must these days, especially if you're thinking about selling your home.

Homes without central heating are often chilly, and installing a new boiler and radiators is an expensive and disruptive job, so it's not something many buyers will be prepared to take on.

It's often said that the rooms that most sell homes are the kitchen and bathroom and, again, this is because replacing them is expensive and disruptive - it's not easy being without either while they're being updated.

Day to day, replacing a dated kitchen or bathroom with a modern one will make a big difference to your life, and you can fit a new one inexpensively if you have to, although it's not hard to splash the cash.

En-suite bathrooms are another good way to add value and make your home life easier, especially if you have kids.

You should have at least one bathroom for every three bedrooms, but when everyone's getting ready in the morning, there can be a lot of pressure on that one bathroom.

This is when an en suite for the main bedroom is a godsend. It's also useful to have a bathroom on every floor where there are bedrooms, so, for example, loft-conversion bedrooms with a bathroom are usually more valuable and useful than those without.

Few of us would update a bathroom without installing a shower, because most people shower in the morning when rushing to get ready, and this illustrates how our changing lifestyles affect home-improvement trends.

Another illustration of this is open-plan living - where once separate dining rooms and kitchens were popular, now the trend is for open-plan kitchen-diners/family rooms where the whole family can be together.

Totally open-plan living space isn't necessarily advantageous for sale or day-to-day living, though, as having a formal sitting room/quiet room as well as a family room works well for families. So get out your sledgehammer, but don't go mad with it.

Products of the week

If you want an easy way to treat rusty metal, give Hammerite Kurust (£8.49 for 250ml, Halfords) a go.

It's a liquid, so covering a large area quickly with it is easy, and it works in a matter of minutes, turning rust bluey black so it's no longer a problem.

You just paint the Kurust on, work it in and leave it to do its magic - the treated metal can be painted after three hours.

Alternatively, skip straight to the painting stage with Hammerite Direct To Rust Metal Paint (from £7.98 for 250ml, B&Q).

As the name says, you can apply it straight to rusty metal without treating the rust, priming or undercoating first, so it's a real timesaver.

It's touch-dry in an hour or so and comes in three finishes (satin, smooth and hammered) and lots of different colours. Use it indoors and out - it's brilliant!

How-to tip

Creating storage space is one home improvement always worth doing. If you've run out of possibilities indoors, how about expanding outdoors?

Having a storage shed, workshop or log cabin in your garden is cheaper and more convenient than renting a storage unit.

Screwfix ( has a big range of garden buildings, ideal if you're looking for an Easter weekend DIY project.