Home Renovation Guide

publication date: Jan 5, 2011
 | 
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books
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Home Renovation Guide


Renovating a home can be a fantastic thing to do, but it isn’t easy! You need a huge amount of skill and have to be able to deal with people during disputes that will inevitably occur, as well as be a good negotiator and have a meticulous attention to detail. You will also need to be able to have vision, keep a tight rein on timings and make sure you can stick to a budget. Finally, you need to make sure that unless you plan to live in the property forever, any renovation spend adds at least that value if not more to the property!

Guide to Home Renovation Skills

When renovating a property it is vital to work out what you can and can’t do. You might be in the trade and can carry out the electrics, but you’ll need specialists in to do anything with gas and/or glazing.

If you aren’t in the trade there are certain things you can’t touch such as major electrics, gas and glazing, so don’t even attempt it and make sure you get skilled people in that belong to associations like the Gas Safety Register or NIEIC or FENSA. If you don’t then the work might not be signed off and you may not get the building regulations signed off which could prevent you from selling the property in the future.

You will need skills in planning, research, budgeting and have the time to spend on these things, particularly if it’s a big renovation project that involves building an extension or ripping out and replacing central heating systems. If you have a full time job, then don’t take on the role of project management. A project manager has to be on site to oversee the work and solve problems as they arise.

You will also need to be patient, resolve disputes quickly (you need to avoid tradesmen walking off site in frustration) and make sure you can adapt your plans quickly, sometimes overnight to work out the best way forward.

Guide to Home Renovation Research

There are huge numbers of things you need to research before you can even brief someone to renovate your home. You need to write down a list of things that you want to do, then find out what needs permission and sign off from the local authority, eg building regulations, and what work you can do and what you have to pay someone else to do.

On top of this you have to spend hours if not days working out the right materials to use, the pros and cons of bricks versus stone or different types of tiles or standards of showers and taps.

Be mindful that as you renovate your property you might have an opportunity to put things in place such as insulation that could help keep you’re heating bills down. The cost of heating our homes is increasing and will continue to do so, so it’s vital to try and make changes to your property while re-decorating or extending your home.

Guide to Home Renovation Planning

When planning your renovation it is essential to understand what order things are carried out in. If you are gutting a home, when should you bring in the plumber – before or after the electrician? What are the timings to get planning through your local authority? How long will it take and what stages do you need to go through to get the essential building regulations?

What are the timings to order a kitchen, how long do you have to leave laminate flooring to acclimatise before it can be laid? All these questions are vital for the smooth running of your project. NEVER go on holiday part way through, it’ll be a complete disaster, so leave plenty of time either side.

Once you have your plans in place, then you have to be able to jiggle them around to take account of the weather, late delivery, accidents and people not turning up on site when you expect them to!

Guide to Home Renovation Budgeting
It’s vital to budget carefully for any home renovation as you can easily spend tens of thousands of pounds when thousands would do. Slick salesmen in the kitchen and bathroom industry will quickly send your budget sky high – don’t blame them, it’s their job, but it’s your job to make sure you just pay for what you actually need rather than the bells and whistles that will quickly add up!

When budgeting don’t forget you’ll need separate quotes from people for labour and materials so you can check out the material costs so you aren’t being charged 25-50% more. Often trades people will either charge you the actual costs OR they will add an extra 10-15% on for purchasing the materials and bringing them on-site.

Ideally if you are carrying out a big renovation, especially anything that involves roofs being worked on or walls taken down or plumbing, you’d be wise to check out specialist renovation insurance so if something goes drastically wrong, for a few hundred pounds you can protect your tens of thousands of pounds expenditure.

For more help renovating your home, make sure you don’t do it without our Renovating a Home Pack.

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