There’s lots to bear in mind when it comes to planning a home renovation – and then there are all the problems that can crop up during the work itself! Here’s what we think are the most important things to consider for a successful property makeover.
Is planning permission required?
First things first – do you need planning permission for the work you want to do? Significant improvements to the interior and changes to the exterior might require you to apply for permission first. As this process can take a while, it’s a good idea to check with your local council what you need to do, if anything, for specific alterations. Also consider whether you need listed building or conservation area consent.
Only once you’ve received the relevant permissions from your local authority can you get on with actually renovating your home. Which brings us on to…
What’s your budget?
It’s vital you set a budget before you start contacting contractors – after all, you’re not going to know how much you can afford to pay them unless you stipulate the amount you can spend on the entire project beforehand.
Start with the amount of available cash you have, either from your disposable income or your savings, and then add anything you can afford on credit if you need more finance – e.g. credit cards, loans and remortgaging. It’s a good idea to create a financial buffer to account for unexpected costs, such as damage to the property, as well as to take out renovation insurance – as your existing home policy might not cover building work.
Next, you’ll have to set out how much you can shell out on each part of the project, from major building work to redecorating, electrical or plumbing work and any garden alterations. Remember that the cheapest materials aren’t always great quality, so take your time when shopping for new fittings and fixtures. Also bear in mind that the essential infrastructure of your home – like water pipes, boilers and wiring – needs to be able to withstand years of use, so always invest in good quality products in this area.
Now you can start getting quotes from contractors. Try to contact two or three different tradesmen for each type of work required and ensure you ask about their qualifications, experience and compliance with building regulations. This is where recommendations from friends and family can come in handy – never employ a contractor you know nothing about, and avoid anyone who wants upfront payment or to be paid on a day rate.
Where should you start?
As a rule, completing all exterior work first before moving indoors is a good idea. Leave the garden till last, though, in case your contractors need to use it to store materials or for other purposes. If possible, try to plan the project to minimise the number of times each tradesman needs to visit. So, if you have plumbing work that needs doing in both the kitchen and bathroom, see if your plumber can sort everything out in one go.
Be realistic when assessing how long the work will take. It’s rare for a renovation project to go off without a hitch, so allow extra time for any potential problems that might delay completion. If you’ve planned well and taken possible disasters into account, though, you’re likely to (eventually) end up with the home of your dreams!