Let’s be honest, when it comes to tales of extensions and loft conversions, home renovation horror stories abound! Destabilised, frustrated and stressed are words well used when describing building and renovation projects. So, the question is: “Can you avoid building renovation blues, or are building projects and horror a match made in The Underworld?” Our five tips for avoiding home renovation horror stories should set you on the right track.
Firstly, I think it’s important to note that committing a huge amount of your hard-earned cash to a project that rips apart your home and disrupts the way you live is never going to make you feel fantastic. However, careful preparation, robust tendering and realistic expectations can all help make your project run smoothly, without you losing your hair, your temper or too much sleep! Follow our top tips to turn your house into your dream home without it becoming a nightmare.
Home renovation tip 1: Meet your prospective building contractors first
I think the best advice I can give to you is to plan, prepare and research. Before you ask building contractors to tender, meet them. Sounds simple but consider this; what if you tender to 3 builders you have never met and then you wait for their quotes, meet them and hate them all? Back to square one and time lost that can never be replaced. Depending on the size of your project you could be spending a year with your builder. You need to like them and feel that you can have open communication should you have any issues or worries. Your relationship with your building contractor and their staff is paramount and not to be underestimated.
Once you’ve met them and have a short list that you would be happy to work with on one of the biggest projects you’re likely to undertake in your personal life, check out their references and insurance policies before you ask them to tender.
Home renovation tip 2: Dig into the detail of your extension or home renovation
Next thing is to provide full drawings and details for your tender. Cover off any grey areas and provide electrical and lighting schedules and plans. This is an area that historically can go over budget. Get prices for your big-ticket purchases before you start, for example glazing, sanitary ware and kitchen. When I say prices, I mean real prices, no assumptions. The idea is to try and cover off every detail and every prospective purchase.
Home renovation tip 3: Check out your services – are they adequate for your new build or home extension?
Depending on the scale of your project, you may need new services. It stands to reason that if you are going to expand the size of your home the current services may not be up to the job. Can you imagine the pain of tepid showers in your snazzy new build or having to allow half an hour to fill a bath in your new extension? If being able to iron and cook at the same time is high on your priority list, check with your building contractor’s electrician that you will have enough power. Factor necessary new services into your budget as they can be a big expense.
Home renovation tip 4: Be realistic about living in a home renovation project
Again, depending on the scale of your project, is it realistic to remain on what will become a building site? Let me say it again: your home will become a building site. I’m not saying that to scare you, but most people underestimate how stressful this can be. Think hard, be realistic and communicate with your chosen building contractor about the practicalities and insurance issues.
Depending on the length of your home renovation project and the amount of anticipated disruption, it may be worth exploring alternatives, such as moving into rented accommodation, and factoring this into your project. If this is not affordable, being realistic about what you are letting yourself in for will go some way to enabling you to live through it.
Home renovation tip 5: Set a realistic budget
So, you have detailed your building project, covered off the grey areas, checked the suitability of services, worked out a budget for rental and storage (if required) and you are ready to go. One word left: “contingency”. Always, always have a realistic contingency for your renovation or extension and resist the temptation to spend it on fancy finishes. Our advice is to pretend that money doesn’t exist; pack it away for a rainy day and forget about it. If that rainy day doesn’t come, you have a bonus. With our five tips for avoiding home renovation horror stories, we hope you’ll enjoy your building project process.
Good luck with your project!