Amongst the architecture and interior design community, horror stories circulate about renovations gone wrong which is why we have put this article together to help you avoid any common errors from the outset of your project.
Have a read through our top tips on how to avoid any home improvement disasters.
1 – Have a Solid Plan
This is a very common error we see in the architecture and interior design community – people start home improvements without having any idea of what they actually want or need from their renovation. Often, this results in spaces that are rarely ever used (along with a large invoice!)
At CDD, we always recommend our clients write a list of priorities for the project from the very beginning. These could include:
- Maximising on glazing to allow more natural light into the property
- Adding bedrooms for a growing family
- Reconfiguring spaces to create more open plan areas
- Increasing storage space in the property
Before you proceed, ask yourself will these improvements make my home more functional and add some form of value to my property?
If you can’t really say, “Yes” to either of the above questions, perhaps take a step back and revaluate. Or, alternatively, consult a professional such as a local architect or interior designer to give their perspective on your ideas.
2 – Is your budget in line with what you are looking to achieve?
A mistake we see time and time again is that people aren’t realistic with what they can afford when it comes to home improvements. There are often costs for services and materials that are not budgeted for and clients run out of funds quicker than they expect.
There are some scary outcomes of this; clients have been forced to move and abandon the project or live in an unfinished home that looks like a construction site for the years to come. Managing your finances and creating a backup plan are our top tips when it comes to renovations.
Discuss the project with your architect or designer and ask for help when it comes to managing the financials of the works. Architects often provide project management as part of or as an additional fee, which could be a good investment to make sure the project stays on course.
3 – Have a high-quality set of drawings for your renovation
Invest in a high-quality set of drawings carried out by a professional – this will help you more than you can imagine during the renovation works.
Without a good set of drawings, you could end up making some really terrible and costly decisions.
A scenario where drawings can be a saviour is when it comes to ordering products that have a long lead-time such as tiles. Having an accurate set of drawings can tell you how much you need to purchase and help avoid delays or worse, the product going out of stock in the middle of construction going on.
An architect or interior designer can put together an accurate drawing set of both the existing condition of the property and your proposal. These can be used by anyone working on the project, such as your kitchen or bathroom designer making sure that nobody goes on a tangent!
4 – Get a builder you can trust
We see this time and time again; people don’t do enough research before picking a builder!
It is very easy to get swayed by the price you see at the bottom of a quotation and get sucked in to clever marketing tactics. There are so many “Cowboy Builders” out there looking to make quick money while carrying out a poor job.
You need to be careful as to who you pick to help with your home renovation works, as your builder is one of the most important figures in the whole project.
We always recommend getting quotes from at least three different builders and also carry out some background research on their previous work before going ahead. Even (if possible) visiting one of their previous projects will give you an idea of their standard and assist you in making a choice.
Make sure you check the insurance and references of the potential builder and get a building contract in place before any works start!
Alternatively, if you are using an architect as your Contract Administrator, they will hunt for the best builder for the job, assessing their experience and putting in place a building contract to ensure the job goes as smooth as possible. This will make the process easier for you and give you some peace of mind that you are getting the best person for the job.
5 – Ensure you have permission to carry out your renovation
Making sure that you have the correct permission to carry out your works is one of the most important tips we have.
Not all projects will need statutory consent but you must check if you need planning permission and building regulations approval before any works go ahead.
There are quite a few stages to go through before you can go full steam ahead.
While this can get a little frustrating, there are many stories where projects have been built without the right permissions and have been forced to be torn down by the Council. A tragic mistake to witness where time and money simply goes down the drain.
Also, don’t forget about Party Wall Agreements with adjoining buildings if the project will have an impact on your party wall with your neighbour(s).
An architect or design professional can help you get the advice you need on planning permission and make the process relatively stress-free as they will handle the paperwork for you.
To give you an initial understanding, have a read through some of the articles we have written on this blog, where we unpack the different types of permissions you might need depending on your location if the building is listed or in a conservation area (etc.)
Any questions, please feel free to get in touch with a member of the CDD team using the form below!