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Handy tips to make your next project a victory

1. Have a clear vision
Before you even think about approaching a designer or choosing your perfect shade of paint, you need to know what style you want to create in your new surroundings. A successful renovator should spend time looking at other people’s houses, magazines, media sites and books to create boards with all their favourite looks.

This something that can be added to along the way when you come across new ideas. Keep it as a sacred scrapbook for your vision and share it with your designer once you’re ready.

2. Know what’s achievable
Once you’ve compiled the design structure of your ideas all in one place, you need to know what’s actually achievable for your property. You may well need planning permission, or to establish whether or not this can be achieved under permitted development.

All your ideas will still need to meet with Building Regulations. Listed buildings or houses in conservation areas have rules all of their own, so make sure you do your homework. The planningportal.co.uk is a good place to start!

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3. Call in the professionals
For larger projects, such as extensions, conversions or complete house renovations, successful renovators will consult an architect or designer. They should have the relevant knowledge, and be able to let you know if it can be achieved and if not, what is achievable.

In smaller renovations or internal reconfigurations, seek guidance from a trusted builder and consult a structural engineer. Similarly, specialist trades such as plumbers, kitchen fitters, and electricians can offer expert advice on specific areas of your project.

4. Get the council on your side
Keeping in touch with the council throughout a project is always a good idea. Any planning applications will have to go to the local authority, but you can get in touch before this stage to seek rough guidance on what will be accepted. Most councils will appreciate you seeking their opinion prior to any expensive plans being drawn up.

Remember, this doesn’t compose any agreements of approval and certainly doesn’t mean you don’t need to formally apply for permission. Your council can deal with building regulations approval, and can organise a building control officer to visit your property all the way through the process.

5. Set a realistic budget with a contingency
Calculate how much you want to invest into your home then add another 10% to that for a contingency. Be truthful as to what you can realistically achieve within that budget, this is key to any successful scheme. It’s a good idea to discuss this with your trades, as they may be able to guide you on where savings can be made. The sooner you decide on how much you want to spend on the fixtures, fittings and finishing touches the clearer this is for the build. It’s going to be hard but try to stick to your allotted amounts. Changes made to a design later on can be costly.

6. Appoint the right team
Successful renovators know that having the best team on board is key. You should start by putting together a tender document detailing exactly what work needs to be done and which trades are needed. Then, search locally for the people you need; ask friends and family for recommendations and look out for local established companies. A builder that’s been trading for many years means they are doing
something right.

It’s always a good idea to get 3 quotes, but remember; the cheapest isn’t always the best. Visit the builder’s previous work, and check out reviews before making any decision on which team to hire. Appoint trades you trust, who share your vision, work to your timescale (within reason), and your budget.

7. Call in Some Favours
If you know anyone who’s a builder or designer, ask for some free advice, maybe they can offer their services for mate’s rates.

Don’t be afraid to ask family or friends to help out when it comes to removing or storing furniture or even a bit of decorating. You can always repay the favour with a home cooked meal or a bottle of something! Don’t forget, if you’re asking others for help, be prepared to do your bit!

8. Establish a realistic timescale
A successful renovation will take time. Do plenty of research, finalise your designs, gather the correct permissions and find the right trades. Once these are all in place, then ask the professionals for a realistic timescale.

A well-managed project will always run more smoothly, but don’t be surprised if some unexpected dilemmas delay proceedings. Try and work out the best way to move forward as quickly as possible. Hurrying a renovation could result in unacceptable finishes, whereas dragging it on could incur additional costs. Work with your team and be honest about your expectations and don’t forget when you add extras to the programme, the job will take longer and the completion date will move.

9. Be heard
As well as setting a realistic budget, be up front about what you have to spend. This will prevent your trades providing you with ideas that are unreachable.

10. Move out or stay put?
On large renovations, the house will literally be a building site. No stone will go unturned. Remember to work into your budget costs for temporary accommodation for part or all of the build and stay close by, as you will need to keep check of the progress.

11. Communicate with your builders
Weekly meetings with your contractor or project manager should be factored into both your time plans to find out what’s been completed and what’s planned for the following week. This should ensure your trades are meeting the required deadlines.

12. Ask as many questions as needed
Just because you’re renovating your home doesn’t mean you have to become an expert in the field. It will pay to have a basic knowledge of technical terms, jargon and practices but not any more than that—after all, this is why you hire the experts. Take every opportunity to ask questions of any of the specialists. If you don’t understand it, ask.

13. Be prepared
Expect the unexpected and remember that time is money. Unforeseen incidents are terribly annoying and cause delays in the schedule or even break into your contingency. But if something goes wrong, the quicker you make a decision on a remedy, the better.

As the build progresses, you could be asked about anything from the size of gaps in-between the tiles to the depth of skirting…the list goes on! Do remember though; if you have a specific way you want something doing, then be clear from the offset.

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14. Stay focused on your dream
Experienced renovators know that changes to the design once work has started, especially structural, will cost extra. While some changes are unavoidable, try to determine any issues before construction commences.

15. Enjoy the process
After all this planning, decision making, cost calculating and possibly moving out of your own home, you’ll soon realise all the effort was worth it, as your dream home begins to take shape.

The last few weeks of the project will probably drag, especially as you’ll be itching to move back in. Hold your patience, and it will be worth it in the end.

Expert advice courtesy of Emma Jane Interiors – Hampshire and Northfield Property Solutions.

Emma Jane Interiors:
t. 07786 074465
w. www.emmajane-interiors.com
e. emma@emmajane-interiors.com

Northfield Property Solutions
t. 01425 483964
w. www.northfieldproperty.co.uk
e. info@northfieldproperty.co.uk

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