September 4, 2019

10 Things To Consider Before You Renovate

Renovating your home is so rewarding and massively transformational. Who doesn’t want a project house! I’m going to share 10 things to consider before you renovate from planning to dealing with builders. With so many benefits whether it is increasing your standard of living or creating more space, I’ve got you covered! There’s a downloadable Renovation Guide at the bottom of this post and a video.

1. Prioritise your areas before you consider to renovate

So you have bought your new house and know it needs work or you just have the itch to renovate. You have a million ideas buzzing around and you want to do it all! If your budget allows for that, great skip this step! If not, this is where you will need to start prioritising.

Think about what aspects of your home really need work from a structurally perspective. That should be a priority above anything else. This could be anything from, leaking pipes, new windows etc. Then consider the rooms with the biggest wear/high traffic such as kitchen and bathrooms. It is a good idea to run your list past the builder who may suggest certain areas first/last.

Work your way through your renovation list prioritising with this list in mind:

  1. Structural work
  2. High traffic areas (kitchen, bathrooms, hallway)
  3. Nice to haves

Before and after pictures on a renovation project I designed and worked on in Battersea, London

2. Budget

Now that you are clear on the areas you want to renovate its time to think about a budget. A good way of getting an idea is to get quotes from tradesmen and architects. Most builders will be happy to make a site visit and give you a quote for free. I recommend tendering for three quotes. Figuring out your budget is absolutely crucial and one of the top 10 things to consider before you renovate.

Remember cheap doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best value either. Work with a reputable builder who you like and get along with. Even if that means paying a little bit more and do your own background checks. Your project may face some issues and you will need to be on good terms with the builder to get them resolved!

Once you have your budget, think about a contingency surplus you can dip into when you have setbacks such as burst pipes, circuits blown etc. Including an emergency injection now gives you peace of mind. This is something people tend to forget and then when things do go wrong panic mode strikes so it’s better to be prepared.

Don’t forget the interiors

Finally think about how much you want to spend on the interiors. A lot of people run out of money at this point not great if you have tonnes of space but nowhere to sit! Things to consider when deciding an interiors budget:

  • What, when, how, who will use the space/furniture
  • Size of the space
  • Whether you want budget or high-end interiors
  • Purchasing items on finance as an option
  • Take a trip to showrooms and get a feel for the quality and materials and compare them to your budget. Is the budget realistic for the materials you want?

3. Time

This one is quite obvious but there are a few things you should know when project planning. A renovation project takes time to complete especially if you are working on several areas altogether. When speaking to your builder it is important to get realistic timelines from them often builders may shorten timelines to lull you into a false hope so set deadlines with them.

Create your own project plan in a spreadsheet and keep track of the builder’s deliverables vs timelines agreed. Note any slippage or delays.

Look at your diary for the upcoming year is there anything that needs your full attention like getting married or having a new baby? I highly recommend you to not do a renovation project during a major life event!

If you are having walls knocked out you will need to have windows and doors open for ventilation and to get rid of dust and dirt from your home. Think about whether you mind having your house windows and doors open during winter or in summer.

So many miss the boat on renovating in summer it is better to have your home open to the elements in summer than it is on a cold wet day.

4. Working with an architect

No. 4 out of 10 things to consider before you renovate is working with an architect. If your renovation requires architectural drawings, planning permission etc you will need to factor this for your project and timelines. Grade II listed buildings also have a lengthier process.

An architect will give you structural knowledge and what can be changed physically. Ensure you know how many revisions are included in their package and whether they will be dealing with your local planning permission office directly.

Be mindful of how they design the space for you, ensure your needs are met and not compromised. Be wary of ideas which sound great on paper or are aesthetically pleasing but actually don’t have any functional purpose.

Don’t settle for something if you are not happy with it! If you’re still not sure to get another professional involved. I had a client who was building a new home and was feeling stuck with the architect’s plans after several revisions. I helped her by working out what she valued most and what was important to her.

5. Accommodation & Lifestyle changes

Renovation projects can literally turn your world upside down and that can have a massive impact on your lifestyle and mental health. Getting organised now will help reduce your stress levels further down the line.

Start thinking about how you are going to live in your home whilst the work is being carried out. Do you need to find alternative accommodation for a period of time? You might need to rent for a few months or move in with your parents if you’re brave enough! The impact to your lifestyle will be especially prudent if you have children.

If you are able to stay at home whilst the builders work, think about how you will be able to cook, bathe, relax? If any of those are affected consider allocating one room where you can get away from it all.

6. Mental state

So you might be wondering why this is no. 6 of 10 things to consider before you renovate. However fun renovating seems initially it is a long process and sometimes clients are not mentally prepared for all the upheaval.

That’s not to say all renovation projects are stressful however you do need to be mentally prepared when things do go wrong and to approach it without the monkey inside.

This can be challenging especially if it costs you more money. If this is the case this is where the contingency injection I spoke about will come in handy.

We all deal with challenges differently and having the right support around you is going to help you get you through it all. Call on a friend and ask to pop in for a chat or dinner this seriously works wonders! Take your mind off things and being in a house that feels homely can help ground you and stop you losing your shit!

7. Prepare your house top to bottom

It goes without saying, but you’d be amazed at the amount of things that get damaged in a renovation project because stuff was just left out. There’s no harm in going to town and covering up furniture, laying down dust sheets, you get the idea!

This is the point before the renovation where it starts to feel very real and exciting! But also completely anti homely. So you may want to think about having that one room that feels like home.

8. Think about your interior designs before you renovate

“Interior design really?” I hear you say, OK hear me out! Get working on your designs before or whilst your project is running to help you complete the project. By the time people think about interior design they have run out of money or lose motivation.

If you are going to work on the designs yourself heres a few things you can do:

  • Mood boarding images, colours, textures
  • Collecting samples
  • Visiting showrooms

If you’re thinking of hiring a designer get them involved earlier in the project rather than when the builders have left. You’re more likely to finish your project when a designer is accountable for delivering the design. Someone who will keep you going when you have run out of steam!

9. Have regular meetings with your builder

Totally common sense right?! However, I’ve heard of people going on holiday with a set of instructions for their tradesmen only to come back to find a complete mess of the job!

It’s important to have regular contact with the builder and keep an eye on what’s going on. It’s better to catch a potential mistake before it happens and save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

I once carried out a site visit and found out the builder planned to carpet the entire living room however it was designed for hardwood flooring luckily I caught the error in time and was quickly corrected.

10. Take precautions for dust before you renovate

Last but not least of 10 things to consider before you renovate is dust. You’ll be amazed at how much dust travels to every nook of your home so do take precaution. This especially applies to asthmatics who can find it difficult to be in a home filled with dust.

If you are asthmatic ask your builder to give you the heads up when they are about to rip apart the house so you can take measures e.g. leave the house for a while, ask the builders to air the house or get an air purifier.

So there you have it, 10 things to consider before you renovate, I hope this guide has been helpful for you? Feel free to download your free Renovation Guide and get started on your project.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you have a renovation project? Sign up below for your free Renovation Guide and Checklist.

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