Project Planning

Home renovation ideas for 2019

If your ambitions for the year include completely overhauling your home, we’ve got some tips from the pros on how to action those home renovation ideas

Many homeowners have grand plans on how to transform their space – adding a loft conversion to accommodate an office, overhauling the kitchen and extending to add a sleek open-plan room, even converting a basement into a cool cinema room.

But while such plans can transform your lifestyle and add thousands to the value of your property, it is difficult to know where to start. Budget is often the crucial factor, but so too is the thorny issue of whether you will need planning permission, how to find a good company to implement it all, and whether you can realistically still live in the property while the work is undertaken.

The first step is thinking about what you want the new space to actually achieve. “You need to understand and have a good feel for how you use the house, and how you want to make it better,” says James Bernard of Plus Rooms. “Sometimes people come to me and say they want to extend out to ‘x’, but they haven’t actually considered what they want in the space. But this is the single most important thing to determine. Think about how the house works now and how it will work in the future, considering aspects such as how it will change the way people move through the house and access points into the new rooms.”

Sean Flaherty, from Flaherty Builders, adds: “Your primary focus should be what you want from your home now, and in the near future, so you can enjoy it after your build to the max, not necessarily what you may want to get from it in 15 years’ time.”

Project Planning

When you fully understand the scope of what you are trying to achieve and how it will impact the rest of the house, you can then bring in the professionals. Personal recommendations can be a good way to shortlist potential builders and architects, then ask to see previous projects and ideally speak to the customers.

It’s also important that builders understand the environment they are coming into. Ask if they will undertake preliminary tests. Some will conduct a soil survey and put cameras down the drains to uncover any potential problems before works even start.

Says James: “Ask how many projects the builder has on at the same time and try to understand how they choose the people they work with; what their quality control processes are. Check who the main points of contact are going to be and what areas of the project they think are the highest risk of extra cost; and whether there is anything they can recommend to mitigate that.

“Good planning and design is crucial – being a step ahead of the builder with your material choices equals a quick and successful build.” Sean Flaherty

“Ask for a detailed quotation, so, for example, we include architectural drawings, structural calculations and getting the permissions in place. This often means that the company is able to give a more accurate price from the beginning as they have more control over the process. Make sure the company is experienced in working in your area so when they give advice and quote this is based on solid information with realistic expectations on what they can get approval for.”

Concurs Tristan Coates of Cube Lofts: “It’s important to have a precise and full scope of works, with a clear payment structure plus retention payment, and make sure the work will have an insurance-backed guarantee. This helps the project run smoothly. Likewise with the clear payment structure – the retention payment is for the client’s benefit, allowing a period of time to pass for any issues that come to light after the build is complete.”

Project Planning

It’s also essential to allocate enough time before the build to think about how you want your interiors to look and behave such as any technology and home automation you may want, heating, flooring and where you want sinks and sockets, and even the final finish for the kitchen – a bespoke kitchen, for example, is likely to have a long lead time. These factors can hold up the build process.

Adds Sean: “Good planning and design is crucial – being a step ahead of the builder with your material choices equals a quick and successful build.”

As to whether you stay on site during the process depends on the extent of the work. James notes that it is possible to create a temporary upstairs kitchen and even add a lockable door to the bottom of the stairs giving you a secure private apartment during the works.