Renovation Advice Before You Start Your Project







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If you are thinking about starting a renovation in the near future, then you want to make sure you renovation goes as smooth as it possibly can. 

Over the past few months we have chatted to some lovely renovators. Having recently finished their renovation projects, they share with us their advice for anyone about to start a project. We hope you find their tips as useful as we do!

If you are thinking about a renovation in the near future and need some help finding an architect or designer, we can match you with the most suitable ones for your project.

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1. Choose the right builder

Jen from @the.squiffy.mill renovated an old mill property into something really amazing. Not only does Jen have renovation experience from her own home, but she is also an experienced project manager, specialising in home renovations. 

"Don't be afraid to be a 'pest'. From the very start when you are finding a builder. You may not be lucky enough to have a personal recommendation, so does the builder have references? Can you go and visit previous jobs? Do they have good reviews online?" says Jen.  

"And then when they are on site, question and challenge as you see appropriate; Where is the timeline? Does that fitting have to be positioned there? When will they need to know your tile choice? You may feel like a pest, but it's the best way to keep it running smoothly and any good tradesperson won't have an issue with these questions."

A beautifully finished kitchen in the home of @the.squiffy.mill

We also got similar advice from @theottohouse, who stressed the importance of sourcing the perfect builder. 

"Get quotes from at least 3-5 tradesmen for every job. This may seem excessive but we found at least two wouldn’t even get back to us with prices and it’s always good to shop around...It is also best to get them booked as soon as you can because all of the good tradesmen have long lead times." 

We love the fun and vibrant lounge in @theottohouse

2. Don't compromise

There are things that you can save on or that won't matter to you in the long run, but there are some areas that you should invest in and make sure you are happy with the end result. For example, don't choose the cheapest tradesperson but look at who is experienced and you have excellent references from. If a job is not done properly then you will only have more issues and have to re-do it. 

We chatted to @barn.renovation who carried out a large conversion of a unique property. The family offered their advice when it comes to not compromising.

"If you are undertaking a big building project and you aren’t building savvy there are some non-negotiables including not going with the cheapest trades. We went with those with the best reputation."

Kitchen and snug area of @barn.conversion

The same goes for products and finishes, make sure you invest in good quality so that it lasts.

Cat who owns @ourvictoriandetached gave us some brilliant advice following her bold renovation. 

"Whilst it’s good to keep costs down, don’t compromise and settle for something you’re not happy with or you’ll end up doing it again. We did our bedroom firstly in a lovely dark green but it was spoiled as the walls were in such bad condition we ended up getting a plasterer in and totally redecorating after less than a year."

Fun bedroom in the home of @ourvictoriandetached

Anna from @dustanddaydreaming shared similar advice on furnishing your new home. 

"Invest in the finishes! It's so tempting to scrimp when you're still recovering from the huge renovation costs but people always notice the finishes! Little things like nice light switches can make a huge difference."

We love the open plan space in the home of @dustanddaydreaming

3. Go with your gut

It's great to draw inspiration from other homes but make sure you are true to your own style when choosing your kitchen, bathroom or designing your extension. Your style might be slightly different to the norm, but go with what you love as you will be living with the design for years to come. 

Danielle from @homefitforkings has the most unique period property and gave us great advice. 

"When making purchases, I followed my gut a lot, not over thinking things but if I was drawn to them, I listened to my instincts and went for them! Although our kitchen is dark grey with a white stone top which seems ‘on trend’ at the moment, we’ve had this industrial look in our previous homes. Follow what you love, rather than trends!"

The unique and amazing bathroom in the home of @homefitforkings

4. Take your time with big decisions

We always recommend that you live in your home before you renovate to really think about how you want to use the space. When you speak with an architect or kitchen designer, you will have clear ideas about what is important to you. 

Having carried out previous renovations, Emma from @lovinglinden made sure she lived in her house before deciding what she wanted to do.

"Try to live in the property for a while before doing anything major. Get the feel of the space and how you would like to use it. We promised ourselves we wouldn’t do anything rash when we moved in."

Stunning period hallway in the home of @lovinglinden

Taking time might feel like your finished home is only a dream, but you will be grateful that you took time over the big decisions.

Donna from @welcome_to_no.1 recommends not rushing the big decisions and finishes too. 

"My husband and I are very impatient by nature and we wanted everything done as quickly as possible, which led us to some rushed (and bad decisions). Take the time to get to know your style, what you like and don’t like."

Cosy diner in the home of @welcome_to_no.1

5. Know that your budget will never be enough

We always stress how important it is to draw up a detailed and realistic budget and keep a reign on those costs throughout the project.

You should always have a contingency as you are more than likely to come across work that you didn't foresee.

We chatted to Lisa from @sunny_inside_out_interiors, who renovated a large country home which inevitably came with complications.

"If you're considering a renovation that will mean taking apart a wall, floor or ceiling, always assume you'll find something unexpected that will take you over budget. There are always, unforeseen problems hidden (quite literally) in houses and it's best to have a contingency amount put aside so that when you finally do get to look behind the facade you're not left in a panic by what you see and need to fix."

The beautiful kitchen in the home of @sunny_inside_out_interiors

6. Plan, plan, plan!

Spending the time early on (even before you start chatting architects or builders) planning your renovation will make it so much easier throughout the build.

When the actual work begins, it is harder to change things. Builders will also need to make fairly quick decisions, or need products on site, so the more you have planned the easier it will be.

There will always be matters that are outwith your hands, but careful planning will make the curve-balls easier to deal with.

When we chatted to Lee from @lees.reno, one of his biggest pieces of advice is to spend plenty of time planning the detail. This hugely helped when he was renovating his bungalow.

"Don’t be afraid to day dream and research fixtures and fittings. There are so many decisions you’ll need to make that you won’t even have thought of, you’ll be grateful of the stuff you already have decided on!!!"

Beautiful kitchen extension from @lees.reno

Kier from the beautiful renovation @therhodeshome_ has similar advice on the planning of the fixtures and finishes.

"It’s never too early to start researching options for internal fixtures and fittings. You don’t need to purchase them but it’s good to have in your mind what you are wanting. Towards the end of the build, decisions from paint colours to light switches to flooring options come thick and fast and it can be quite overwhelming."

Huge renovation of @therhodeshome_ 

7. Keep calm and focus on the end goal

When you are in the middle of a renovation, it can be the most stressful time. You will be fed up with the mess, the disruption to your routine and having builders in your home everyday, (however lovely they may be!). There will be a turning point when things start to come together and you will slowly see your dream become a reality, like when your new shower is plumbed in or your flooring is laid. 

Kim, from the_home_kim_built, renovated a Victorian flat and shared this advice with us. 

"When you feel you can't deal with the stress anymore just remember why you're doing it. Look back on previous photos and take new ones and compare. There is no better feeling than when you see the progress you may have been missing under the stress, that will give you the extra jump-start you need."

Beautifully renovated lounge from @the_home_kim_built

8. Be flexible with the decisions

Remember that during the renovation, things will pop up that you hadn't planned for. It might be that really cold weather stops you rendering the property, your builders might end up behind schedule or you may need to move the plumbing. Whatever the case, try and keep calm and go into it expecting delays and challenges. 

We love the advice from @firststepontheladder following her rear extension. 

"I would say be flexible (with time and budget 😬). We had a fab builder but delays can still happen," says Amy. "Plan every single detail (plug sockets etc) well in advance but don’t be afraid to change your mind - we made some last minute changes that we’re so happy with now."

The amazing utility from @friststepontheladder

9. Go for it!

Very few people regret doing a renovation. It will be stressful and you might not ever want to repeat the process, however you will have a home that is completely yours. When we chatted to @inthedoghouse__, they were so positive about the experience and ready to embark on the next phase of the project.

"Defo go for a renovation project! It’s the best thing we did!"

The lovely renovated bathroom from inthedoghouse__

If you are thinking about a renovation in the near future and need some help finding an architect or designer, we can match you with the most suitable ones for your project.

Find an architect or designer

Published: July 14, 2021

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