Making the decision to undertake a home renovation project is a pretty major one. The process involves hundreds of decisions from major to minor and usually a fair amount of money, as well as a whole lot of upheaval and disruption. The process can certainly be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done any similar projects before or are first time buyers looking to move into and makeover an unloved property. There are many questions and uncertainties along the way, so making sure that you take the time to do your homework before jumping into the process is essential and can help you avoid some pretty serious mistakes. If you have a certain amount of vision, it’s easy to walk around a dated or run-down property and see it through rose-tinted glasses. You could change this, paint that, shift that wall, add that extension…and then it would be the home of your dreams, right? What this doesn’t take into account is the enormous physical, financial and emotional strain that big build project can take on you, things very rarely run to time or budget, unexpected complications are lying in wait around every corner, and the mental impact of essentially living on a building site (unless you are lucky enough to be able to live elsewhere while works are taking place) is considerable. Understanding what to expect and being as prepared as possible is key to deciding if you’re really ready for a home renovation…
Begin At The Beginning…With A List!
If you love a good list and have your list making app constantly at your fingertips, then you’ll be off to a great start for planning a home renovation. Preparation is all in making sure the basics are covered before you get started. If you’ve purchased a fixer-upper, then more than likely you have had a professional survey of the property carried out to secure a mortgage. The initial survey will give you an overview of the main structural issues, the drainage and other areas which may need work such as the roof. This will then indicate areas of concern where you may need to commission a specialist survey, such as any damp in the building. The survey will not cover everything which may need to be done, and you will need an experienced contractor on board who can give an informed opinion on matters which may affect planned renovation works specific to your property.
Know Your Home Issues
Knowledge really is power in this situation, so although it can be a little daunting to be faced by bad news about costly home repairs, you do need to understand what you’re getting into before committing to any works. If you’re purchasing a home with the intent to renovate, don’t be afraid to have a proper look into the place when you’re interested. Lift up the carpets, tap on the walls to see if there is any loose plaster, check any suspicious-looking cracks you can see, take a close look at the windows and the loft space, check the brickwork and pointing on the exterior and lookout for signs of damp and woodworm. Sometimes it can be really helpful to use a checklist of things to check when buying a house. Keep a list of your findings and what supporting jobs may need doing as part of a renovation project- this way you can keep track and also factor it in when working out costs and asking for estimates from builders. Be as thorough as possible – you may not know how to solve the issues at this point, but understanding what they are is the first step.
Prioritise And Budget
Once you know the full scope of works required, sort your list into categories (decorating, joinery, building etc). Rank each job in terms of importance for how livable it’s going to make your home. Lots of projects affect others in a home renovation, so you may want to seek some advice. Once you have your jobs ranked, aim to get quotes for the first five or so most urgent from local tradesmen and use a building works cost calculator to find a rough cost for the others to get an idea of budget. Shop around for your construction products to make sure you get the best deals – often the builder you choose might not shop around, although do ask about any trade prices they can access. Although it might feel tempting to just opt for a low price quote from a contractor, always be guided by feedback and reviews from past customers. It can be a false economy if you don’t opt for a tradesman who can deliver quality work. Balancing the budget as you go can be hard so always plan in a 20 per cent contingency margin to cover unexpected incidents. Good luck – the home of your dreams is just around the corner.