There’s nothing so rewarding as a job that we’ve completed ourselves, even if it is a bit beyond the scope of our capabilities. It’s easy to cast a critical eye over a tradesman’s efforts, and pick it to bits, but we can happily live with the tile that cracked (just as we were laying the last one), and the over-painting (as we rushed to finish the job before midnight), just because we did it ourselves! With small-scale jobs, it’s easier to overlook the imperfections, but when it gets to the point that you need to add or move a wall, or even to add a room to your property because your family is growing at a rate of knots, then you need to think really carefully about how much of the work you undertake yourself. After all, a renovation done too quickly and cheaply may always look just that way! Here are some helpful tips when undertaking your renovation.
1. Work from plans
You’re bound to run into a few stumbling blocks along the way, as more often than not there’ll be an obstacle you weren’t expecting. If you renovate without plans then there’s a danger of your decisions looking more like shortcuts. Effective plans will ensure time and money are spent wisely, with the order of work being logical and time/cost efficient. Agree on materials and finishes before you start and make sure your plans are finalized in time for the start date of works. As you may be on a tight schedule, it can be difficult to be flexible, particularly if the finish date is time sensitive, so make sure your time scale is realistic. Be sure to purchase a sound insurance policy to cover for all eventualities throughout the build.
2. Do your homework
When collecting quotes, make sure that you know what you’ll be getting for your money – exactly what is and what isn’t included. Pick a contractor that you’ll feel comfortable with – you could be spending a great deal of time with this person. Ask for any important information to be followed up in writing – an email is fine – just so that it’s there in black and white should there be any dispute in the future. And remember that you need to factor in a contingency budget (this is usually between 15-20% of the total) for unforeseen expenses.
3. Go back to basics
When adding rooms it’s important to get the basics right; make sure there are enough power points and that the lighting is going to be adequate. Be sure that any glazing is energy efficient. It would be dangerous to try and take care of electrical work yourself so hire a reputable tradesman for this, and perhaps another to take care of plastering – décor is well within your grasp, but it’s so much more difficult than it looks to get a smooth finish!
4. Keep it simple
Don’t be too elaborate with your design ideas. Simple can often be the most sensible choice, and money saved on expensive fittings can be put to good use on new furniture. It would be madness to blow your budget on an expensive design only for there to be nothing left to furnish it!
5. Stay classic
What may be the height of fashion today could well be out in a few months! Children of the 70s and 80s can probably identify with this. Avocado bathroom suites ring any bells? Make sensible and classic choices when it comes to your fixtures and fittings and your finished project will stay current forever. If you really want something on trend, then a feature wall that can be easily and affordably changed every couple of years may be just the idea. Soft furnishings can be updated easily too.
6. Be (tastefully!) sympathetic
Try to make sure that any renovating you do is in keeping with your property’s original character. For instance, you’d never make the mistake of adding fake beams to a room in a new build. Would you?!