Renovation rules: A guide to renovating your property

Renovations, if done right, are an excellent way to add permanent value to your home, or make a profit on an older property. Read our guide to renovating your property and you could make a fortune on your home.

Whether you’re a budding property developer, or a homeowner who wants to increase the value of your home, undergoing renovation work can be a very profitable endeavor indeed. But before you begin, don’t get bogged down in all the rules and regulations –
Celebrity Angels provides an overview of everything you need to know about implementing a successful renovation.

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Budgeting for all costs

Set yourself a budget early on and stick to it. It makes sense to get a steer from your local estate agent before you begin planning to ensure you are making changes that will actually add value to your home. And that the cost will be less than or equal to the amount it adds onto its value. Whether you are employing builders or embarking on a DIY project, home renovations quite often end up going over budget. It’s worth building in some contingency funding to safeguard any over spending from affecting the whole project
–around 15 – 20 per cent of the total cost is a good guideline. This amount can cover unforeseen hiccups such as problems with the house that need urgent attention. One of the most common causes of over spending is upgrading to higher-priced fixtures and fittings than you originally budgeted for, so once you have chosen your price range, be careful not to go overboard with your purchases. A great way to cut costs – if you have the time and energy – is by doing the decorating yourself; you could actually save around £8,000 on the typical house. Other cost-saving methods include putting your project out to tender, guaranteeing the lowest price, or exercising your negotiation skills. In this current economic climate,
building contractors in many areas are short of work and may be willing to give you a good price. “For major renovations or extensions it is always wise to get a professional Quantity Surveyor involved early on to ensure you
put together a realistic budget for the job,” says Charlie Laing, of Charlie Laing Cost & Project Management. “They can help you pull together a full specification for the works, so that the brief is clear from the outset and nothing is missing. Our experience is that investing a few hundreds of pounds in professional advice up front can save thousands of pounds later on in the project.”

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Asking for permission

Anything involving the creation of a new building, extensive changes to an existing one, or changing the use of your building, will usually require consent from the local planning authority (LPA) through making a successful planning application. This depends on the size of the project and the level of Permitted Development (PD) rights afforded to or still remaining on a property. If in any doubt about whether you need planning permission – ask! If you do the work without getting permission, you can be served an ‘enforcement notice’, ordering you to undo all those changes you have made. It is illegal to ignore an enforcement notice, but you can appeal against it. The material considerations taken into account in deciding a planning application can include the layout and density of the building, design, appearance and materials, government policy, nature and listed building conservation, previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions) and loss of light or overshadowing.

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Getting the right people

Now that you have the permission to build and the budget in which to do it, the next stage is bringing those plans to life. You might already have enlisted the help of an architect to help with planning permission, design and building regulations, but
architects can also help with choosing builders and staying within your budget. In any case, you must make sure you are dealing with professionals. Rogue tradesmen are more common than you think, in fact one in five Britons have been victims of a botched job, which could end up costing over £1,500 to repair. Do get recommendations from friends as well, but you should also do your own research into a firm and make sure they are registered with a trade body such as the National Federation of Builders or Federation of Master Builders. Get at least three quotes for the total job, not for a day rate, but beware of going for the lowest quote, if its considerably cheaper there may be a reason why, i.e. something crucial may not be included. If in doubt about whether the quotes are
reasonable in relation to the work you want done, enlist the help of a website such as CheckYourPrice.com, which will give you a better idea. Make sure you draw up a contract in plain English, signed by both parties before the work begins. Free, ready-to-download
contracts are available from the Federation of Master Builders. Finally, don’t pay up front, only when the job is completed. You may have to pay a deposit for some specialist materials but make sure you hold onto the bulk of your money until the
project is finished and you’re satisfied with the level of quality and workmanship involved.

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See also: Choosing the Right Builder

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