Renovating A House: Where To Start?

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Home renovations can be one of the best ways to turn a property into somewhere you want to live or to turn a profit, but it can take time to know where to start. Get your new home renovation work wrong, and you could be looking at a world of stress and costly mistakes.

Join us as we delve into all aspects of home renovations and how you can renovate a property without all the stress.

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How Do You Renovate A House?

When it comes to renovating your house, you should ensure you have an exact idea of the square footage of your property, as this will help you create a more accurate cost valuation.

 What Types Of Home Renovations Are There?How Long Does It Take To Renovate? How Much Does It Cost To Renovate?
 An Entire Property Renovation 16-24 Weeks£70,000+
 Single-Storey Extension8-16 Weeks£1,500-£2,500 per square metre.
 Multi-Storey Extension8-16 Weeks£2,500-£3,500 per square metre.
 Conservatory Build2-3 Weeks£1,100-£2,500 per square metre.
 Loft Conversion7-12 Weeks£45,000
 Kitchen Remodelling4-10 Weeks£10,000+
 Bathroom Refurbishment3-6 Weeks£6,000
 Basement Conversion8-20 Weeks£800-£1,500 per square metre.
 Garage Conversion4-6 Weeks£10,000+
 Garden Landscaping8-12 Weeks£4,000+

Renovating A House: Where To Start?

Before you start renovating any property, it’s vital that you understand that planning is a fundamental part of home renovations. Staying on top of your budget, finances, and contractors will ensure the process is as streamlined as possible.

It is important to note that property renovation will always be different, and problems will always arise. So having plans to deal with this will help you in the future.

Here is an general guide to renovating a house:

1. Why Budget & Finance Is Essential

Before you start a home renovation project, the first thing to do is speak to a financial advisor or mortgage broker who will help you find the best way to fund any properties.

Make sure you buy a property as cheaply as possible, giving yourself the best chance of adding considerable value.

It would help if you also considered how long it will take to renovate the property, as when it comes to building work, time is money.

If you purchase an old building in need of lots of TLC, then you will most definitely run into gremlins, so it’s vital that you have contingencies in place.

If you’re looking to renovate on a budget then you should consider if you wish to complete the home renovation yourself (DIY renovation) or hire contractors and professionals.

Typical Home Renovation Costs

How much you spend will ultimately depend on how much work you plan to do. A simple bathroom renovation will be far less expensive than a multi-storey renovation and all these costs will differ significantly depending on the contractors you use.

Your total budget should be a combination of the amount you are able to spend, your contingency and enough money to cover the finishes at the end of the project.

2. How To Find The Right Property

Finding a property to renovate is different from finding your dream home, as you will look for the potential in a building instead of buying the complete package. It’s a tricky line to walk, and you’ll need to find a property that will work for you once you’ve finished the home renovation.

Plenty of properties on Rightmove and Zoopla need renovation, or you could contact an estate agent who can match you with a property in your local area.

When you are searching for the right property for you, you should always consider a property which has good potential, meaning it has the following:

  • Decent & generic-sized rooms.
  • Potential to extend or convert if you wish to expand in the future — you should look at outside spaces and weigh up the potential.
  • Look at neighbouring properties to see what renovations have worked or not worked and how you can improve them on your property.
  • Heating, Electrics and Water are already installed, especially if you wish to move into the building site as you approach winter.
  • Period features that add character to the building, like chimney breasts, alcoves, stained glass windows and original cornices.
  • Use Zoopla or Rightmove to research the most recent sale prices in the local area.
  • Have a professional survey done; this will check for structural issues like subsidence, dampness or drainage issues.
  • Obtain a building report that will tell you the construction methods used throughout the house.
  • Get a measured survey which will provide detailed drawings of the property layout, which you will need for planning permission.

Making Sure You Have The Right Property

Once you find a property, weighing up its pros and cons, you should ensure you have hired an experienced contractor for your viewing, apply for an entire building survey, understand the ceiling price, and research neighbour’s houses in the area.

Experienced Contractor

An experienced contractor will check your property for structural issues before you place your offer, as any problems may help you with your offer.

They will also give you a ballpark figure on how much work time and money the renovations will take and how easy/difficult it will be to receive planning approval.

Building Survey

To have the best possible overview of the property before starting your home renovation journey, you should complete a full building survey. This will give you insight into lurking gremlins and help you negotiate with the property sellers.

You can buy the property for less and put more into the renovation by negotiating any remedial work off the original asking price.

Ceiling Price

It would help if you always were cautious of whether or not you’ll make a return on your investment when you eventually sell the property – be that as soon as you renovate, or in 40 years.

If this property is your forever home and you don’t see yourself moving out for the rest of your life, then it can be okay to go over the ceiling price, but we would warn on the side of caution as anything could happen in the future. Always be continuous on how much money you’re investing into this property.

Being Smart

You should find out if any plans for the property are legal or feasible at this stage, instead of buying the property and waiting until much later.

By working with general contractors, architects, structural engineers or your local planning office at this stage, you will be able to get a good overview as to if your plans are possible.

Research Neighbouring Properties

If you’re buying in an area with plenty of similar neighbouring properties, they will usually have similar footprints to yours, which can help you determine whether a loft or garage conversion is feasible.

The same goes for any property developments like driveway installations or double-storey extensions; if your neighbours have done it, you should also receive planning permission.

3. How Do You Attain Planning Permission For A Home Renovation?

We recommend finding a property that has outline or full planning permission already, but if you can’t, you may be able to receive it after you have bought the property.

Outline planning permission is when the local planning department is aware of a proposed renovation to a property and has agreed in principle but is waiting for further plans.

Alternatively, you can find properties where work can be completed under Permitted Development, where you can carry out the following:

  • Single-Storey Conversions.
  • Loft Conversions.
  • Conservatories.
  • New Kitchens Remodels.
  • New Bathroom Development.
  • Porches.
  • Decking.
  • Basement Developments.
  • Parking.

There are, however, some size and scale limitations on things like extensions. You will need building regulation approvals for any structural work or electrical installations.

4. Why Should You Design Your Space?

Once you have acquired a property that suits your requirements, you must plan and design how you want it to look.

We recommend taking any before photographs of the property now before it has been stripped back to its bare bones. This will mean you can show real progress throughout the entire process.

If your property has any periodic features, you should turn these into focal points around the property as it retains character within the property. As the homeowner, you’ll be able to have complete choice over whether you want to keep or disregard the original features.

Designing Your Space

We recommend that you have your go at drawing up designs and layouts for the property, even if you have an architect coming. This step will help you bridge the gap between your imagination and the work that needs to be completed by the contractors.

If you are creating this property for yourself, your future family or a tenant, it’s essential to develop a strong vision as early as possible because you need to know the style of the property as a bare minimum before you start ordering parts and paints.

It would help if you were thinking about three things for every room in your property; light, storage, and practicality. The interior design should also be considered, but this should come later down the line.

Try to think of this design stage as about creating space rather than all the items in the area.

Builds & Architects

You should contact an architect and interior designer to plan your home renovation at this stage.

Some home renovators will decide to use an architect or designer on a piecemeal basis to reserve funds, but by working holistically with them, you will have constant communication and far less stress.

Working With Architects

When looking for an architect, you should look for someone who specialises in the type of properties you have bought or what designs you want to create. This will allow you to find an architect within your budget and an architect who is passionate about your property type.

Working With Builders

We would recommend that you contact multiple builders in the area and receive quotes from them, this will help you gauge how expensive it will be and what range you can expect — you could at this stage decide on a building firm if it suits you.

Some building firms are being snowed under at the moment with workloads, so hiring for new jobs is impossible.

Sometimes, you will have to prove how your build will benefit them. This could be in the form of advertising on your blog, raving reviews or taking progress pictures for them.

But ensuring you have the right building firm will be the make or break of your property renovation, so don’t just choose the first one that offers you a quote.

To protect yourself and the building, you should ensure that you have JCT contracts in place with any building firm, architect or designer to ensure you are covered.

Once you have builders, you should create a set work schedule so everyone involved knows what to expect.

Creating Designs

By using the expertise of architects, designers and builders, you can create a great understanding of what furniture, appliances, lights etc., will suit the space. You can plan a room and recognise if your dreams are feasible, even before the first nail goes in.

If you become stuck on home renovation ideas, we would recommend visiting Pinterest where you can create boards with different vibes to your home.

We would recommend that you try and stick to one theme, as this will create cohesion across the property.

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5. How To Create A Schedule Of Works For A Home Renovation

A work schedule lists every job that needs to be done during your renovation project, listed in order. It is also a loose binding contract between you and your building firm.

The schedule of work helps ensure that everything remains on track and within budget. They are created between the property owner, designers and architects rather than cost consultants or quantity surveyors.

A Schedule of Works will outline specifications, information, locations and sizes of each room and what work needs to be completed there. If a designer has created the results, they will usually be accompanied by drawings or 3D renders.

For reference, most home renovations will usually be carried out in this order:

  1. Strip out and Remove.
  2. Structural Work – Floors, ceilings, walls.
  3. First Fix Work – Plumbing, Heating, Wiring.
  4. Plastering, Flooring.
  5. Second Fix Work – Plumbing, Heating, Wiring.
  6. Bathroom, Kitchen Remodelling.
  7. Decoration.

The schedule will allow any contractors to plan and acquire materials and workforce to complete each task by the set deadline and ensure a streamlined workflow. All assignments must be adequately detailed, as they may leave you open to a claim by the building contractor.

To avoid any confusion between yourself and contractors, we would recommend using a Gantt chart that is easily accessible by all parties involved. This could be created on a platform like Monday or Asana, or you can find free Gantt chart creators online.

When you’re renovating with multiple different teams, designers, contractors and architects, it can be chaotic at the best of times, which is why having a project management tool like Monday or Asana is so beneficial.

They will allow all teams in the house renovation project to see exactly what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and why there are any hold ups in the pipeline.

Scheduling Products For Home Renovations

Before the build begins, one of the most time-consuming periods can be when you and your designers are sourcing products like tiles, taps and worktops etc.

You don’t need to purchase all the products now. Otherwise, your property will turn into a warehouse, and there won’t be any space to work!

We recommend creating a schedule of products as well as works, this should be used along with the schedule of works and waiting times on the product website. Ensure that all products have arrived before the applicable work begins.

Mortgage Requirements For Home Renovations

Part of your mortgage requirements may mean proving that your property is on schedule using a Schedule of Works.

The mortgage lender will ask a property valuer to assess whether the works completed have added value to the property as was initially promised.

6. How Does The Work Process Work?

After you have created your Schedule of Work, you can begin to work on the property.

To run a successful home renovation, you must have excellent communication skills with any workers you have on the property. This will help alleviate stress, manage the team and reduce outgoing costs effectively.

Once the property has been stripped back and ready for the work you wish to be completed, like having an extension built or a bathroom remodelled, then your building firm will move on to what’s known as first fix jobs:

  • Removing or adding internal walls.
  • Adding door linings.
  • Adding floors.
  • Adding window frames and units.
  • Fitting plumbing structures like soil pipes and drainage connections.
  • Fitting items that will sit behind plastered walls, like ducts, alarms and wiring for heating thermostats.

After the first fix stage is complete, and your property’s walls are ready to be plastered and floors screed, then the second fix jobs will be completed:

  • Fitting light fittings, sockets, TV, and phone points.
  • Door hanging and fixing architraves.
  • Bathroom and kitchen fitting installations.
  • Fitting all radiators, boiler system and controls.
  • Installation of the kitchen.
  • Boxing in and plastering any exposed pipework.

7. What Is Snagging During A Home Renovation?

Every home after a major renovation will need recovery time in order to see if there are any issues with the initial building work. In that recovery time, some of the newly plastered walls may crack, and there may be minor leaks, heating system issues or decorative scrapes.

The building firm should honour any snagging issues and return to rectify them after the house has settled for a few weeks or months at no extra cost.

You can hire an external snagging surveyor who will list everything that needs rectification and help negotiate this with the building firm.

What Should You Consider When Renovating A Property?

Whether you are starting the home renovation journey or already knees deep, there are still many variables you need to factor in, from the condition of the property to avoid costly surprises:

The Age Of The Property

Most, if not all, serious home renovations will take place in older properties, which tend to have far more gremlins lurking in the walls, which can be very costly to amend.

To find the exact age of your property, you can check your local authority, your Title deeds or on the HM Land Registry – which holds records of all land in England and Wales.

Consider Original Features

As we mentioned earlier, periodic features often carry plenty of character within a property, and you will need to decide whether you wish to keep or remove these early on in the process.

Periodic features can often add value to a property which can be great for property flippers, one great way of turning these features into focal points is by refurbishing them.

Bare Bones

Before the first fixes can be done, the first port of call is to strip a building back to its bare bones, but this can be expensive if the property is extensive. To get around this, you should look at the property’s existing features and how you could better utilise them in your designs.

For example, you could repurpose hidden wooden structural beams and expose them instead.

Avoiding Costly Surprises

When you complete a home renovation, you will almost definitely encounter an issue on the property, from Japanese Knotweed to minor leaks. To ensure you are prepared, we would recommend following these steps:

Create A Healthy Contingency

Unless you run an extremely tight ship, you must access funds above what you already set. Having a contingency of 10-20% higher than your overall budget will allow you a little wiggle room.

Make Sure You Know How Much

Please don’t make the mistake of buying a home when you have no idea how much it takes to renovate.

You should also factor in your finishing costs, not just the structural ones. The budget you set should be from start to finish.

Plan, Plan, Plan

When you are renovating any property, it’s vital that you have plans in place just in case your original plan falls flat.

If you are new to home renovations, we recommend doing a property room by room, instead of taking the entire build all at once. This will minimise risks and issues and help you manage the workers more efficiently.

Access To Your Property

Most home renovations require heavy machinery, so before any work begins, you must establish with your builder how they will get their heavy machinery onto the property site.

You will also need to negotiate with neighbours about access to their land or accidental damages that occur.

Accommodation Costs

Living in a building site can be mentally and physically draining, so many take to living with family, friends and even hotels! It would help if you determined which suits you and your needs and how much this will cost.

How To Bring Costs Down

It would help if you carried out any suggestions from surveys, as it will bring down costs later down the line. This could include removing asbestos or completing remedial works on the drains.

By completing these, you can save yourself from plenty of stress in years to come, as these create issues for you and your family.

Buying a new property and renovating it can seem like an extremely daunting process, but you must always remember that your ideal home is waiting to be unveiled at the end.

The home renovation process won’t just add more living space and pretty architecture, it will also enhance the energy efficiency of the property and make it less draughty.

Most period properties or houses built before 1960 will not be built to modern regulations and so transforming your home now will create masses of potential for the future.

By renovating an old property you will increase the value of your home, create a space with a new lease of life, and hopefully a home you love.

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Tom is a Digital Content Writer passionate about sustainable property & property trends. Regardless of the subject, he will always write blogs of the best calibre. Read more about Tom here.

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About Tom Condon 127 Articles
Tom is a Digital Content Writer passionate about sustainable property & property trends. Regardless of the subject, he will always write blogs of the best calibre. Read more about Tom here.

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