The Dos and Don’ts of Renovation

Whether you want to create more space in your home, increase the value of the property or fix up worn structures, when it comes to renovations there’s a number of dos and don’ts to consider.

If you’re an existing homeowner and wanting to upsize, it isn’t that straight forward—there are a great deal of costs from legal and estate agent fees to removal fees, and you could end up facing a larger mortgage and stamp duty costs.

Many people chose to renovate instead of move, as increasing the size of your home can also increase the value if you do come to sell in the future—in fact, recent research by ratedpeople.com showed that bigger rooms were the most important criteria for people looking to buy a house. In addition, peer-to-peer lender Zopa has found that home improvements can add nearly £30,000 to a property’s value.

Whatever your renovation goals are, consider the following:

DO: Make a plan

It sounds obvious, but having a detailed plan is very important when it comes to renovation. Work out a realistic plan of what you’re going to do, and what is most important. Plan a realistic budget, and allow another 10-15 percent contingency fund for any unforeseen costs (it’s almost unheard of that a person will set a realistic budget for a project!). Once you have set your budget, create detailed plans—plans on paper are easier to stick to and implement. Plan a schedule that accounts for each step of the project.

DO: Be flexible

Be prepared to adjust your plans as you go along, as each home renovation will present unique challenges. Contractors will be able to give you a rough time of how long works will take to be completed, but there will always be hiccups, so be prepared for delays.

See also: Doing It Yourself

DO: Look within

If you’re looking to create space, consider whether you can increase the potential space inside your property by changing the internal layout, instead of having various extensions built. Removing or moving internal walls can make a substantial difference, at a much smaller cost than an extension. Just be sure that by removing a wall, you aren’t damaging the structure of the house and that the wall isn’t load bearing.

DON’T: Be afraid of change

Houses can of course evolve with the times, and just because you live in a certain type of property doesn’t mean you are limited to sticking with what already exists. For example, an ultramodern kitchen can work well in a Victorian house in some cases.

DON’T: Skip permission

Some renovations require planning permission. For example, if you’re thinking of converting your front garden into a driveway (which is quite popular in areas where parking is scarce), you need planning permission in order to concrete over the flowerbeds. If you choose to make home improvements without a planning permission, this could be counted as an illegal change which could affect the value of your property. Dean Sanderson, managing director of Manchester-based estate agents, Sanderson James, says: “If a property has had illegal changes made to it, new buyers will have to factor in the cost of rectifying the problem.” Visit planning portal.gov.uk to see what renovations require permission.

DON’T: Sacrifice

There are certain elements that are always desirable to future buyers—gardens are sought after, especially in urban areas. Building an extension that eats into the majority of your garden space can actually reduce the value of your home. It’s important to get the balance right, and not extend for the sake of it. This applies to bedrooms, too—if you’re considering losing a bedroom to create an extra bathroom or a study, this can also devalue your house in the future.

See also: Going for a Kitchen Makeover?

Which home improvements add most value?

Top home improvements Return on investment Profit Average costs
Conservatory 108 percent £5,750 £5,300
Garden 88 percent £4,000 £4,550
Exterior 75 percent £4,500 £6,000
Extension 71 percent £14,000 £19,750

Hire the Professionals

Small renovations can turn into big disasters if you over estimate your DIY abilities, and according to Halifax Home Insurance, more than a third of us begin DIY projects but don’t end up completing them. If you’re hiring tradesmen to finish the job (or start it from scratch), here’s our handy checklist:

✓ ✓ Ask friends and acquaintances for recommendations—word of mouth is quite reliable in this instance, and even better if you’ve used a tradesman before and been pleased with their work, they may have good contacts they can put you in touch with.

✓ ✓ Check your property’s documents as the former owners could have used a tradesman previously.

✓ ✓ Call around to get a few quotes (at least three) and make sure you compare these. Note that depending on the job, this will just be a general ballpark figure and not a definitive price. Don’t always focus on cost as you might be settling for someone who doesn’t have the necessary qualifications for the job.

✓ ✓ Check the credentials of the tradesmen you’ve booked. Ask for references of previous customers.

✓ ✓ Make sure you have a contract. It’s difficult to prove what was agreed and when without one.  

X     Don’t pay money upfront. Some tradesmen will request 50 percent before they’ve even arrived at your home. If a tradesperson wants to be assured that they will be paid, use an escrow service so both parties are covered. 

X      Don’t use cold callers. If they knock on your door offering work, don’t be tempted as this is how rogue traders operate. 

    Don’t always use fitting services offered. You might be able to find a better deal by finding your own fitter for a kitchen or a bathroom. 

X     Don’t panic! If something goes wrong and you urgently require assistance, do your research and ensure you don’t end up with a bigger problem.

For more information check out Moneywise.

See also: Renovation Rules: A Guide to Renovating you Property

See also: Is it Worth Investing in Window Films

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