Your Guide - Renovating A House

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Renovating a house can be exciting and daunting in equal measures. It can feel quite overwhelming knowing where to start renovating a house; understanding things like when you need to engage with a builder and architect, what permissions you may need and how much it's going to cost. But the thought of transforming your home into something really special which could change the way that you and your family live, is so exciting.

We have put together our handy guide on renovating a house, perfect if you are thinking about carrying out a renovation project and don't know where to start.

A beautifully extended and renovated house by ARCHEA Architects


Where should you start renovating a house

We have outlined the high level stages of where you should start renovating a house below. For a detailed renovating a house step by step guide which is bespoke to your project, visit our checklist.

Step 1 - Getting started 

We always recommend that you try and live in your home before you start renovating it. This way you can work out things like how much extra space you need, what rooms you use the most and how the light works.

Consider what is important to you as part of the house renovation. Do you need a utility room? Would you like an open plan living space or prefer separate rooms? If you are renovating the bathroom, what is important in this space; if it's a small space then maybe you would like just a shower to make it spacious or would you rather have a family bathroom. Having a clear brief of what is important to both you and your family is important.

It's also worth at this stage to look at any constraints there are on your property; you can check on your local authority website on whether your home is in a green belt or conservation area. It's also worth checking in at this stage if there are any tree preservation orders or particular restrictions in the deeds of your property.

Step 2 - Design and applications

Depending on the scale of the project, the next stage is to find a local Architect or designer who can help with renovating a house.

If your project is straightforward in nature, such as renovating your bathroom or kitchen and you are not carrying out any structural work, then it's unlikely that you will need an Architect and can work directly with a kitchen or bathroom designer and your builder.

If you are extending or doing structural work then it's best to engage with an Architect (ARB) or Architectural Technologist (CIAT). An Architect (ARB) is the best option if you need your project to be design lead and are looking for creative ideas on the layout. If you have a clear idea and brief, then an Architectural Technologist (CIAT) is a good option, although many technologists can be skilled in design too. Both Architects and Architectural Technologists can help with drawings for your planning application, should you need it, and additional work such as project management of the build.

If you 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

Kitchen extension by Architect Your Home


You then need to apply for the necessary permissions that are required when renovating a house. The main consents that you should consider when renovating a house are:

Planning permission

  • Many projects when you are renovating a house are within permitted development but you will often need planning permission approved depending on the size, style and where your home is located (such as a conservation area). 
  • Read Your Guide - Planning Permission to find out more.

Building regulations

  • If you are doing structural work to your home then you will need to apply for building regulations approval, to ensure that the work meets a minimum standard.
  • You will need a structural engineer to carry out the calculations for the structural drawings. These are normally completed once you are happy with the designs and confident that they will be approved by planning.
  • Read Your Guide - Building Regulations to find out more.

Party wall act

  • In England & Wales, you may need to obtain a Party Wall Agreement from your neighbour(s), which normally applies to terraced and semi-detached properties but can apply to detached too.
  • Read Your Guide - Party Wall Agreement to find out more on how to serve notice to your neighbour(s).

Other applications that you may need to consider are things such as Listed Building Consent, your neighbours Right of Light or a Bat Survey. Your architect will be able to guide you on the relevant applications for your home.


Step 3 - Find a builder

Finding a good builder is such an important part of the process when renovating a house and we recommend that you find at least 3 builders to quote for your renovation. Although it's worth getting recommendations before you have finalised your plans, the best time to engage with a builder is when you have your plans confirmed. 

A builder will be able to provide a quote based on the structural engineers drawings and calculations. 

The cheapest builder will not necessarily be the best, so make sure you speak to references and visit their previous work. You should also ask to see their insurance documents as well as their trade memberships.

For a full list of what to chat your builder about, read our Expert Advice - Builder Questions.


After you have selected your builder then it's on to sourcing the products, either working with your builder on the timescales or let an Architect project manage the work. 

Kitchen extension by CCASA Architects



What is the cost of renovating a house?

The cost of renovating a house can vary significantly depending on the work that you are doing. The cost of renovating a house depends on so many factors including, if you are extending or not, the overall size of the renovation, which rooms you are renovating (a kitchen will cost far more than say a lounge), where you are based in the UK and the specification of finish. 

The place to get a high level idea of the cost of renovating a house is to check out our cost calculator. You can select the type of renovation, which rooms you are renovating, where in the country you live, the overall size and specification. Our cost calculator will give you a high level guide of the total cost, including VAT and professional fees.

Once you start working with your Builder and / or Architect, you will get a detailed and specific cost for renovating your house.

Kitchen remodel by UNFOLD Architecture & Design



What are your tips for renovating a house?

Allow yourself plenty of time to plan carefully

Although you may want to start the work as quickly as you can, we always advise that you take time to plan when you are renovating a house.

Take time choosing the big items such as the kitchen and bathroom and understand that lead times. 

Think through items such as the power sockets and lighting plan, as the builder will want to know where you want everything and it's unlikely that they will give you much notice.

Budget and have a contingency

It's so common to underestimate the cost of renovating a house. Costs such as professional fees, VAT and finishes are often not included in a renovator's original estimation. It's so important to go into the process knowing how much it will cost and have at least a 10% contingency set aside.

Future proof your home

If this is your forever home, make sure that the renovation works for both now and in the future. It may be that a playroom can be easily changed into a snug when your children are older. 

Rear extension by Ask My Architect


What are your renovating a house ideas

There are so many wonderful ideas when it comes to renovating a house, from knocking down a wall to create a large open plan kitchen, to carrying out a loft conversion to accommodate a growing family. Here are some of the most popular renovating a house ideas:

Remodel the current layout

Often your house will have enough floor space, it's just used in the wrong way. An internal remodel is a great idea when renovating a house, particularly if your current home is a warren of small unused rooms. An internal remodel will also work out cheaper than an extension, so it's worth considering your current layout in the first instance.

Loft conversion

One of the most straightforward ways to add floor space to your home is by carrying out a loft conversion. Loft conversions are often within permitted development and can be used to add an extra bedroom, bathroom or a study.

Garage conversion

Garage conversions are also a very cost effective way to add extra liveable space to your home, particularly if your current garage is in good condition. Garages are often used to dump unwanted items, so it's a great opportunity to clear it out and turn it into a habitable space.

Extension

Extensions come in so many different styles, from simple side returns which add width to your current kitchen, to large double storey extensions. Most homeowners take the opportunity to use the extension to create a large open plan living space which works well for a sociable home.

Published: October 12, 2020


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