Q Our question is a simple one: should we pay off our mortgage or use our savings to improve the house?
We recently sold a separate property that I used for work and cannot decide what to do with the proceeds of the sale. Our home would certainly benefit from some improvements (we live in a wet and windy rural location). However, with the increase in costs of construction and supplies, we are concerned that this is not the time to undertake such work. In light of the expected increase in interest rates and continued rise in the cost of living, what do you think is the best choice?
The savings from clearing the mortgage are minimal and it would take us many years to build up such a nest egg again. My wife and I are going back and forth with this almost daily.
A If your house is in need of essential repairs to make it weatherproof, now most definitely is the right time to get on with the work, whatever the price. The main reason for this is that under your buildings insurance you have a responsibility to keep your property in a good state of repair. If you don’t and something happens to your house – the roof is blown off in a storm because you have not kept it in good condition, for example – your insurance won’t cover you for the costs of repairing it. Keeping your property up to scratch also makes it a more comfortable place to live and can reduce what you have to spend on heating.
However, if the home improvements are more desirable than essential, I would be tempted to get a quote for the work before making a decision. It may well be that the proceeds from selling your work premises can go towards both home improvements and reducing your mortgage. On a more serious note, you may need to put some of the proceeds towards paying any capital gains tax due, which needs to happen within 60 days of selling the property. You’ll need to set up a capital gains tax account on the HM Revenue and Customs website.