The cost of moving house is becoming increasingly expensive in the UK. In fact, the average deposit put down is now £33,127 (Halifax). In London, deposits are much higher, at £188,916 (Zoopla), three times the figure paid in 2008. So, it’s no wonder homeowners are deciding to stay put. This may be bad news for the housing market, but it provides lots of opportunities for home improvement business owners.
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Once people get on the housing ladder, most of them keep on spending. According to research, the average UK household spends approximately £32 a week on repairs, maintenance and alterations (The Office for National Statistics Family Spending Survey). This made up £27 billion of Britain’s £150 billion of construction activity in 2016.
The great news is that the trend for home improvement shows no signs of slowing down. Barbour’s ABI Home Improvers Report 2017 demonstrated an increase in homeowners requesting planning permission; a rise of six percent from 2016. Kitchen fittings and attic and garage conversions are among the top home improvements made to optimise a home’s value, according to Zoopla.
What does this work involve?
Depending on the type of home improvement business you work in or for, you could be carrying out a number of different jobs. From being an all-round handyperson to specialising in one trade, or managing a home improvement company from the comfort of your own home, there are plenty of opportunities in this sector.
Here are some of the tasks tradespeople complete every day:
- Fitting kitchens and bathrooms
- Painting and decorating
- Replacing doors, windows and locks
- Installing fire, carbon monoxide and burglar alarms
- Fixing electrics, replacing fuses
- Plumbing, unblocking drains and fixing leaking taps
- Basic DIY – e.g. assembling furniture and putting up shelves and picture frames
- Gardening, laying turf and servicing guttering
This isn’t an exhaustive list and many companies choose to specialise in a far more niche area. If you want to start your own business, take the time to consider your own skillset and the sorts of trades you’d be willing to learn if you plan to get your hands dirty yourself.
What qualifications will I need?
Of course, this depends on the type of work you’ll be doing. If you’re setting up a company from scratch and planning to take a managerial role, you’ll probably need industry experience and great business acumen. If you’re joining a franchise as a manager, you can afford to be a little less experienced. But if you plan to be a home improvement technician, you’ll need to have the key skills required to carry out tasks to a high standard.
There are no specific qualifications needed to become a tradesperson, but you are more likely to get a better job or secure higher numbers of clients if you can prove your skillset. Qualifications from official bodies will give you credibility and should lead to a higher income.
There are several roads you could go down if you want to gain certification. BTEC and NVQ qualifications will provide you with key skills in specific areas. For example, the NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Building Maintenance Multi-trade Repair and Refurbishment Operations will give you the know-how to carry out a number of jobs within the home. If you know what area you want to specialise in, you could work towards a more specific qualification, in gas safety or electrics, for example.
City & Guilds is a popular organisation providing a wide range of vocational courses, not only in home improvement, but across many different sectors. Alternatively, you could apply for an apprenticeship. That way, you’ll get hands-on experience in a real work environment.
Whichever route you take, you will need to have several core attributes if you’re to succeed as a home repair technician. You must have great time-management and organisational skills and be able to complete a job to a high standard and within a specified time frame. This will involve working under pressure and, often, with someone watching you. You should be able to solve problems efficiently and be approachable and friendly. Many of these attributes can be honed over time, so you should keep them at the front of your mind and make sure you’re in the best position to become a tradesperson.
Home improvement franchise opportunities
If you want to own a franchise, taking advantage of the UK’s passion for home improvement could lead to great business opportunities. Here are just some of the home improvement franchises that are available for investment:
All Trades Network
Established in 2002, All Trades is a national building repair network that services the insurance industry as well as individual property owners. When disaster strikes, All Trades Network can restore homes and businesses back to their former glory. Experienced and qualified local tradespeople offer services from decorating and tiling to fire and water damage to help put the affected property back together again.
Owning a franchise with All Trades Network will see you take responsibility for managing a team of tradesman and ensuring that customers receive a first-class service. So, if you have good business skills, are a confident communicator and can build and maintain relationships, then this could be the franchise opportunity for you.
To become a franchisee, you’ll need to invest £35,000. Once on board, you'll serve as a contracts manager, so some experience in finance and real estate is preferred but not a necessity. What’s more important is that franchisees are dedicated and passionate, and continue to maintain the quality that All Trades Network is recognised for.
Value Doors is the biggest UPVC door-fitting network in the UK and is set to continue growing at a rapid pace. For a relatively low-cost investment of 10,000, you’ll have the opportunity to own a franchise with this nationally recognised brand within your exclusive area.
This is one of the best business opportunities for franchisees that want to play a hands-on role in their franchise. You'll be given the tools you need to fit UPVC doors, and you'll have your van branded so you can generate more business while you're out on the road.
The Value Doors concept allows you to earn as much or as little as you want, depending on how many hours you want to commit to a week. It’s simple; the more doors you fit, the more profit you'll make. There's no need to have any previous experience either – you just need business acumen, self-motivation and commitment to succeed.
Mr Handyman is a globally recognised and trusted brand that was established in 1996. Since then, it has catered to the home improvement needs of thousands of households. The franchise model is effective and successful, with over 500 franchisees enjoying the benefits of the brand around the world.
Owning a franchise with Mr Handyman will see you undertake a managerial role. Rather than improving your customers' homes yourself, you'll be responsible for managing and deploying technicians to meet their needs. So, whether your customers need a carpenter, plumber or other specialist, you’ll find the right technician for the job.
The initial investment required to become a franchisee is £25,000. You’ll also need additional working capital of £35,000. Mr Handyman is looking for franchisees who are motivated and committed to maintaining the brand's quality service.
Granite Transformations specialise in fitting tiles over existing kitchen or bathroom surfaces to update the look for a more affordable and less messy alternative to a new kitchen or bathroom. The tiles are made from the finest quality Italian granite, so it’s no surprise that this is one of the home improvement franchises that is growing at a rapid pace.
There are also many options for franchisees to invest in. Whether you want to open your very own showroom, convert your existing retail store, or start with a smaller display at your local garden centre, there’s a package to suit every ambition and budget.
For a concession showroom franchise, you’ll need to invest £25,000 plus expenses. For a larger retail showroom located in a shopping centre or high-street, the package costs £42,000. Alternatively, for those who already have an existing home improvement store but want to trade under the Granite Transformations licence, the cost is £17,500.
Furniture Clinic is made up of experts in the leather cleaning and restoration industry. For more than a decade, it has produced products for cleaning, protecting, repairing and restoring leather items.
This is one of the best business opportunities for those who want to take advantage of the freedom and flexibility that comes from being a franchisee. Furniture Clinic allows its franchisees to start a mobile repair service and then grow by hiring employees, renting workshop space and purchasing extra vehicles when the time comes.
You’ll also have the opportunity to become a multi-unit franchisee by buying franchises in surrounding territories. This way, you can grow your business by increasing the size of your territory and accessing a wider market.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©