Home renovations can be one of the most challenging but ultimately most rewarding projects you are likely to undertake. If not carefully planned and budgeted for, things can go wrong. So what are some of the most common mistakes, and how can you avoid them? From selecting the right property to considering the time, costs and permissions involved, we’ve put together our top tips to bear in mind for your next home renovation project.
Choosing the right property or project
If you are purchasing a property to renovate, make sure that you have fully researched the area – either for yourself or its rental potential. There may be local regulations or planning restrictions in place, so do get in touch with the local council as well as having a full structural survey done. If you are already in your home, consider whether the project will add to your home’s resale value. Unless you plan to stay-put for the long term, think about whether bespoke renovations or complete open plan living will appeal to buyers in your area. Knowing your market and selecting the right project for the right property will ensure that you don’t lose out long term.
Miscalculations on costs
All too often, renovations are undertaken before a thorough costing has been carried out. Whilst there will always be unexpected issues thrown up by any building project, make sure to discuss your plans with experts in as much detail as possible. Surveyors, architects, interior designers and trusted building contractors will give you a reliable indication of what your budget will allow. In addition, don’t get carried away with high-end finishes before major structural works have been completed – as you never know what’s down the line. If you are trying to keep spending to a minimum, existing garage or loft spaces are both great candidates for renovation, adding up to 10% to the value of your home at comparatively low expense.
Getting your timings wrong
If you are working to an extremely tight deadline, this can cause problems. Don’t try to rush things too much, as this might result in poor quality finishes and disagreements with your builders. Add 20% to any estimated timings, and even more if you are undertaking a complex project or renovating an older building. To give an indication of how long common renovations can take, the Federation of Master Builders state that an average home extension or loft conversion can take up to seven months, with new kitchens or bathrooms, removing interior walls to create open-plan spaces or complete interior design projects usually completed within five months.
Too much DIY
Whilst it might be tempting to undertake a lot of the work yourself – thinking it will save you money and time – do factor in your own skills and limitations. If you are a complete novice, consider starting small-scale and working up to more complex jobs on future renovation projects. If something goes wrong, you may not be covered under your insurance. So if in doubt, get the experts in. Architects, builders, plumbers and electricians train for years for good reason, and will make sure that your renovation project is completed safely and professionally.
Hiring the right contractor
One of the most serious mistakes can be hiring the wrong building contractor for your project. Make sure that you have researched your builder thoroughly before agreeing to the job, asking for references and speaking to previous clients. Renovations can turn into a nightmare if builders and tradespeople fail to do a professional job, so don’t just automatically go with the cheapest quote. Ensure that a clear contract and pricing structure is established in advance, with contracts setting out responsibilities. This should avoid any disagreements further down the line, especially regarding timings, finishes and costs.
Too much help from friends and family
This may seem counter-intuitive, but if you wouldn’t trust an unqualified, inexperienced tradesperson with your home – don’t put friends or family in the same position! Similarly to undertaking too much DIY, many renovators believe that using friends will save money and time. Even if they have some prior personal experience with renovation projects, if something goes wrong you can void your insurance or be left with liability claims. Whether you are thinking of living in the property or renting it out, keeping work to a high professional standard is crucial.
Ignoring planning and paperwork
There are some projects that may not need planning permission. Under Permitted Development Rights, building to the highest point on your existing roof, small side extensions or installing glazed windows on upper elevations may all be allowed. It is always advisable to check with your local planning department, as well as remembering that you’ll need to inform neighbours under the Party Wall Act and get Building Regulations approval. Gaining retrospective planning permission is a complex and time-consuming task (with no guarantee of success) – so it’s best to get your paperwork signed-off before beginning any renovations.
Being aware of the most common issues with renovation projects – from a lack of budgeting and scheduling to getting the wrong help and ignoring that all-important paperwork – will help you navigate this occasionally tough yet worthwhile process. Bear these considerations in mind and your home renovation project will be off to the best possible start.