renovation tips house project hollygoeslightly

If you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy watching all of those home and design programmes on TV, you’ll enjoy shows like Grand Designs and The Restoration Man and comment along as you watch other mad people renovating and building the homes of their dreams, saying things like “I wouldn’t do it like that” and “that’s a waste of money”. Because, you always think you know best and if you were to do it yourself, it’d be easy peasy.

Well I’m here to tell you that I admit I was wrong – one week in and it ain’t easy peasy! It’s not straight-forward and there are a ton of decisions that need to be made, in advance! So before I get into all the fun posts about design and interior inspo, I thought I’d pop a post up here about renovation tips. I’m sure this’ll become a series in #TheHouseProject, as we’ll learn things as we go along no doubt.

Renovation Tips – 10 things you need to know

For those of you that’d prefer to hear me talk through these points – I did go live on my Facebook page, so check it out.

1. Don’t underestimate the expense

Probably the most important of all the renovation tips! You can do all the budgeting and planning in the world, but costs appear OUT OF NOWHERE! I’ll go into these costs in more detail in some of my videos and other posts, but set yourself a decent contingency budget. We didn’t really do this, as in truth, we’re maxing out our budget on the renovation itself. We’ve got to find the cash for any hidden extras that come along the way. Not fun!

2. Make sure you’ve got planning permission

Going back to basics, you’re limited to the extension/renovation work you can do on a property if you don’t have planning permission. If you’re not sure, seek advice and get your planning application in as early as possible, as it can take 8-12 weeks to be processed and approved.

3. Think about how much you can do in one go and if you’d want to do any later

On our wish list for this renovation project, were two major things – the side and rear extension and the loft conversion. In an ideal world we wanted both done at once, because we knew that if we did the downstairs and got that looking the way we wanted, the last thing we’d then want was builders traipsing through the house at a later date to do the upstairs. BUT, we very nearly split the renovation into two projects because of budget (or lack thereof) so it’s worth considering if you’re stretching yourselves too much. TIP: seek planning permission for the whole works, so you don’t have to apply again separately.

4. Get drawings done!

This is part of the planning permission – you’ll want professional scaled drawings done of your planned extension and renovation works. They’ll get submitted with the planning permission, be used by your builders and will really help you visualise and walk-through your plans. These cost too – ours cost about £500.

5. Find a good builder and suppliers

This is definitely another of the most important renovation tips as it’s key to any renovation project, if you’re not doing it entirely yourselves (which we’re not!). Our budget allows us to get all of the structural work, extension and loft conversion, re-wiring, plumbing and first-fixing done by builders. They’ll take the house up to plaster and then we’ll be in charge of all the decorative work – the painting, the tiling the flooring etc. We’ll then reassess as the project as it goes along, but as money is tight, we’ll be doing the latter stages ourselves. But we are relying on our builders doing the mammoth bulk of the work and creating our vision. So far so good – we’ve established a great relationship and they understand what we want. TIP: A good builder should always be able to advise you and get trade discounts with key suppliers.

6. Think about re-sale value

This may or may not be crucial to your funding the project (if you’re re-mortgaged or have equity in the house etc). But it’s always best to consider how much your property is currently worth, how much you’re spending on it and how much it’ll be worth once the renovation is complete. If it’s your forever home (like we hope it’ll be – or at least our family home for a very long time), then it may not matter quite as much, but you want to know that you’re always leaving yourself with some equity and value in your home. ie. unless money is no object, don’t spend £300k on renovating a house that’ll only be worth £400k once it’s done.

7. How much do you want to do yourself?

This links into the previous point about builders. You may want or need to do some of the project yourself, but don’t underestimate how tough this is! It’s time-heavy and although may save you money, could also be costly in the long run, if the project over-runs. Basically time is money in these projects. The quicker you can do things, the cheaper it’s likely to be. We like to think we’ve got great vision, but we’re not DIY-ers, so had to be realistic and know we’d be spending a large chunk of our budget on getting the builders in.

8. Shopping around

Get more than one quote for a job or item, shop around, look in the sales, look online and go into stores. All of this will mean you get the best price you can at that time. And don’t be scared to negotiate or ask for cost-saving options – most people and suppliers want your business and will try to help if they can. So whether it’s a radiator or grouting for your tiles – don’t buy the first thing you see, as chances are, you’ll find it cheaper somewhere else!

9. Think outside the box

A renovation project is the perfect time and for some of us, probably the only time in our lives, where we’ll have free creative reign. So make the most of it. A renovation gives you the opportunity to create exactly what you want from your home. So think about that feature you’ve always wanted, or the way in which you wish you could interactive with your space. For us, the main thing about the house project, was to create the open-plan, social living space we’ve always dreamed-of. Don’t constrain yourself to creating a home that you think you SHOULD have. Do what you want…it’s yours.

10. Say hi to your neighbours!

Chances are, you’re going to seriously piss off some people by demolishing and building the house of your dreams. No one likes it when there’s building works happening on their doorstep, no one likes it when there’s builder’s vans  blocking their drive-ways. Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do about it, other than introducing yourself to said potentially-pissed-off-neighbour, appreciating their patience and possibly bribing with a bottle or two of wine along the way. But fundamentally, communication is key. If you know there’s going to be some seriously disruptive drilling going on one day, give your neighbours a heads-up, so they can plan to be out if they want to.

So those are just 10 of the renovation tips I’ve come-up with so far in #TheHouseProject. 10 after one week is a considerable amount don’t you think? I’m sure there’ll be plenty more as the weeks unfold, as I can imagine we’ve not thought of everything.

Do you have any renovation tips you can share with me? Perhaps you’re a little further down the line of your project and have some important advice…please, comment away!

I found this really useful article on the Telegraph online which covers some of what I’ve discussed here and more.