How can we improve our ex-council house? | homify

How can we improve our ex-council house?

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
homify Classic style houses
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When it comes to the housing market, an ex-council house (otherwise known as an ex-local authority property) has a bit of a bad reputation: a lot of potential home buyers don’t even consider them. But with the shortage of affordable properties and houses in the UK, ex-council homes are starting to become a premium to buy.

In the end it all comes down to personal preference. The truth is that each local-authority property is different and it's up to you to judge the area and decide whether it’s a good investment or not. 

But if you happen to stumble across a house from council that’s in a relatively nice location with a promising space and plot size, yet presents an ugly and drab appearance, then you’re in luck – for here is where you can start to play interior designer / decorator and have it spruced up to your heart’s content. And, as always, homify is here to assist you with your council house renovation. 

1. Value for money

Just a normal London home! homify Classic style houses

Just a normal London home!


First of all, ex-council houses are generally a lot better value for money than regular properties. And, if you do your homework, you will definitely discover a hidden gem somewhere that offers more room and a better location than you might have hoped for. 

In a lot of cases, buying an ex-council house is the only way to upgrade from a small flat. In actual fact, a lot of ex-council estates are starting to slowly fill up with first-time buyers eager to get on the property ladder any way they can.

And if you’re worried about struggling to sell the house later on, don’t think that just because it’s an ex-council house you won’t make any money. In the end it is all about looks and location.

2. Moving into an ex-council house

Getting a mortgage for an ex-council house might not be as smooth or easy as it would be for a normal property; however, if the house is in a good location and is surrounded by other properties that are also ex-council, the mortgage process might just proceed quite easily. 

But be sure to check out a few elements before moving into an ex-council house, such as who owns the block of flats and what are their policies on renovations, if it’s in an area that you want to live in, whether you mind sharing your street with council residents, etc.

But like we said, it’s all about looks and location, so let’s see how you can upgrade your ex-council house’s look.

3. Improve the kerb appeal

No need to accept that brick look (or whatever other material they used) of your ex-council house. Spruce it up by cladding it in a different material, such as timber panels or stone (you may need some professional architectural help for this).

In fact, numerous ex-council houses in the UK flaunt a typical 1950s style, which makes sense why so many people would opt for a council house renovation. 

In addition, a decent paint job can also make a big difference to how you (and others) perceive that house. It might even brighten up the entire street. 

Consider treating the roof to new tiles to really make that new look stand out.

4. Change the garage

Not using the garage? Don’t let it disappear behind a mountain of dust and nothingness; turn it into something useful like a kitchen, guest bedroom, storage space, etc.

5. Wow your windows

Highgate TG Studio
TG Studio


TG Studio

Ex-council houses tend to have very plain, bare-faced fronts, which means that styling up the windows will already be a huge improvement. 

Add windows that are high-spec and have a detailed look, like Georgian windows in a crisp white tone. Or how about losing a window or two altogether and replacing them with French doors?

6. Doll up your doors

In addition to painting your front door, you can also do a lot of other things to it which will complement your house’s look, such as ripping it off and replacing it with an entire new one! 

Or how about adding a quaint little canopy above it for a really cute façade?  

And while you’re at it, style up those interior doors as well.

7. More space

Want to add more space to your house? A rear- or side extension ought to do it! This way you not only gain an extra room or two, but will also impress potential buyers when the day comes that you want to sell and move someplace else.

8. Spruce up the front garden

Don’t accept that garden as is; plant some trees, flowers and shrubs for a fresh and lush look – just don’t let it hide too much of your house’s front side. 

homify hint: Lush hedges are far better options than cheap wood fences, and can go a long way in making a house (even an entire neighbourhood) seem more classy.

9. Improve the garden

STYLISH GARDEN LOUNGE WARCO Bodenbeläge Garden Accessories & decoration
WARCO Bodenbeläge


WARCO Bodenbeläge

Don’t spend your entire budget on the front garden and neglect the back. Some rose bushes, a garden path, and perhaps a water feature can also add some striking beauty. And if you have the space for a few stylish loungers, then why not?

Just be sure to commit yourself to keeping that garden looking elegant and neat – or hire a professional gardening service.

10. Change the interior look

Highgate TG Studio
TG Studio


TG Studio

Fortunately wallpaper is never permanent, which means you can easily get rid of your ex-council houses’ hideous walls if they don’t do it for you. 

Other popular options to help you move away from a typical 1950s council house design for a more contemporary look include redoing the floors (think hardwood flooring, sleek tiles, elegant carpets, etc.) and repainting the inside surfaces – and don’t neglect the ceiling. 

11. Upgrade your storage

Kitchen TG Studio Modern kitchen
TG Studio


TG Studio

A functional home is a happy one; thus, treat yourself to some clever storage spaces, like built-in shelves or floating wall shelves.

And what about that space underneath the staircase? Is there room left for a kitchen pantry? Ever heard of double-duty furniture pieces?

12. More power to you

Full House Renovation with Crittall Extension, London HollandGreen Modern bathroom

Full House Renovation with Crittall Extension, London


Rewire the entire house and/or update the plumbing. If a house works easily and comfortably, then it definitely makes a difference to how you feel about it. 

Your new ex-council house: The pros

As mentioned, cost is a big advantage when it comes to buying an ex-council house. This not only makes it a more affordable option, but also expands your location options (seeing as many old council houses are located in more upmarket areas). 

But space is also a great factor to consider, since your average 1950s council house design presents far more legroom than modern, newly built structures (especially in London). 

And what about those wishing to get a foot in the property door? Landlords have found ex-council houses to be a great source of income, as many tenants (particularly the younger ones) dream about living centrally. In fact, it is estimated that about one-third of these properties sold in the 1980s are owned by private landlords today. 

Your new ex-council house: The prices

The Christmas House Fraher and Findlay Classic style houses
Fraher and Findlay

The Christmas House

Fraher and Findlay

According to research, purchasing an old house from council can cost along the region of £396,317. Now, compare that to a newly built, one-bedroom London flat which works out to about £679,671. The difference in pricing? A cool £283,000, or 52%.

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