Tips on renovating your property
If you’re considering renovation work for your property, maybe for your first project, we have put together our top 10 tips for things to keep in mind.
Tips on renovating your property
1 – Plan Ahead
Even if your project doesn’t require planning permission, which you need to get in place before you start, it’s definitely a good idea to get your plans straight ahead of time.
This will include following through with some of the tips shown below.
Unless you’re planning to take the project on yourself, one of the first stages in the process will be to speak to some contractors to get an idea of cost and timescale. Sometimes it’s still worth speaking with an expert, especially for an area like a kitchen or a bathroom, as they can help you make the best use of the space, before leaving you to complete the project for yourself. While this will add to the budget to begin with, it may save you time and money in the long run. If you’re getting someone in to do it all, you’ll be tasked with choosing the company best suited to make your project come alive.
It’s worth checking with any potential companies now to see what insurance they have in place. This gives you a better picture of what you need to get arranged.
It’s also better in the early stages to think about you, your family, and your belongings. Will you move out, stay with family, or remain in the property throughout?
2 – Set a suitable budget
It’s very easy to get carried away when it comes to renovations, and it’s almost expected that large projects will always go over-budget, either due to unforseen circumstances, or from deciding to upgrade to a higher level of fit and finish when building materials.
A realistic budget should have some contingency on top for additional costs out-of-the-blue, so you want to aim to spend under budget if possible. Having a figure in mind allows you to stay on-track throughout. You can divide up room-by-room if you’re planning to work on multiple areas of the house, which should stop you from over-spending in one particular area, and make sure you don’t run out of money before the work is done.
It’s also to remember what the purpose of the renovation is. If this is an investment property, either to rent out to tenants or to sell on afterwards, it is better to opt for neutral colours with wider appeal, and the additional cost for high-end fixtures and fittings are more than likely going to cut into the profits rather than adding equivilent value into the final sale price.
3 – Measure, Measure, Cut
Taking accurate measurements, and double-checking them at least once before you cut (literally) or before you make any purchases is key to making sure that you get materials that are fit for the property, and fit for purpose. Having to re-order materials is not only expensive, especially if you can’t return something you’ve already tried to make fit, but it can delay the project no-end if they aren’t readily available or are on special order.
It is worth recording the position of plumbing pipes, electrical outlets, and any other points of interest. This will make sense with tip number 7.
Getting this right first time, and producing an accurate diagram helps you with buying the right amount of materials, the right size furniture, and make sure any appliances and electrical items can reach.
4 – Protect other areas from damage
It’s always a surprise how messy a renovations project can be, with debris from the works themselves, and from dust that gets shaken loose from elsewhere. Plus in the rooms being worked on, paint, paste and plaster can damage carpets, curtains and furniture if you don’t protect them effectively, or move them out of harm’s way. If you’re planning to replace carpets and flooring, it’s probably worth leaving those jobs until last. Drips, spillage and dust are less of a concern, as they’ll be gone when you take up the old carpets later.
It’s worth remembering that if debris needs to be disposed of, it will probably have to be carried through the house to the outside, so everything en route is potentially at risk, and should be kept as protected as possible. It’s even more important if you live in a building with communal areas, as any damage sustained to those impact your neighbours as well.
Wherever you’re preparing food, whether it be in your kitchen or in a makeshift cooking area, the last thing you’ll want is dust hanging around. It’s worth figuring out how you’re going to isolate it before any work starts, rather than finding this out the hard way.
5 – Consider storage
It’s now more possible than ever to be creative when it comes to storage, and it’s worth thinking about solutions that can not only save space, but give you more places to tuck things away too.
If you’re taking a large amount of your contents out for the work, you may be starting to realise just how spacious your house really is, and could continue to be once works take place. Adding extra storage helps reduce clutter, which will make the impact of your renovation work even bigger, and last for longer.
Drawers built into a staircase, cupboards built around sinks and baths, hidden drawers in kitchen cabinets and places to hang objects on walls are just a few of the options, but sites such as Pinterest are a great place to get inspiration and come up with ideas.
6 – If you’re working on a kitchen or bathroom – Have a stop-gap in place
Renovations to a kitchen or bathroom, especially if they are the only cooking or washing areas in the property, can cause major disruption to a family home. This, along with delays that tend to follow a renovation project, can be a nightmare without a backup plan in place.
If your kitchen is out of action, then it may be possible to set up a temporary cooking area in another room. An electric hob or camping stove paired with your existing kitchen appliances can allow you to provide a variety of meals, and since a lot of renovations projects tend to take place over the spring and summer, it’s the perfect excuse to have a few more barbeques.
A sink can be repurposed for a short period of time – For example you could brush your teeth in the kitchen sink, or wash up in the bathroom sink, but you may want to reduce the amount as much as possible. This could include making use of ‘one-pot’ cooking for most meals, or possibly using disposable plates and cutlery for the time being.
If you need access to a bath or shower, maybe a friend, family member or neighbour (or a combination of all three) may be able to let you use their facilities for a short period. As an alternative, a local gym or leisure centre probably has shower facilities. Plus, it’s a perfect opportunity to get the family a membership and start a new fitness regime.
7 – If dealing with plumbing, keep the same layout
Another kitchen and bathroom specific tip – It saves time and money if you keep sinks, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers etc. in the same place as they are before. Having to move the plumbing around can be done, but usually this is a time-consuming task, and may mean lifting the floor or damaging a wall to get access to the pipework. Of course if your plan is to entirely remodel the room anyway, this may not be much of an inconvenience for you, but as per the tip above, getting your kitchen or bathroom back in action could well be priority number one.
Depending on the fitting, you may be able to make relatively easy switches, such as putting a washing machine where the dishwasher is and vice versa. This probably won’tcreate any more space, but it may make the layout more practical for your needs.
8 – Install enough lighting
The worst thing after spending a lot of money on a renovation, is to find you can’t see it in it’s full glory, and much like the storage we referred to earlier, it’s easier than ever to get creative with your lighting.
The market also has a wealth of energy-saving, long-lasting options available so you don’t have to take up much of your valuable storage space keeping a selection of spare bulbs around.
It’s worth remembering that the colour scheme has an effect on lighting, and how that shows up. A black-and-white palette is modern and striking, and keeps costs down if you don’t have to purchase a wide array of paint. This is a great option for landlords and investors.
9 – Consider your windows
As well as artificial light, it’s also worth considering natural lighting when designing your project. While period properties have a certain charm and appeal, they tend to restrict natural light inside, which can be undesirable for some. While you may have to change your design and your budget, consider fitting large windows. Natural light is a great feature, and generally buyers like to be able to see the outside world from within their home. You could paint the frames of the windows a shade lighter than the rest of the room to really maximise the effect.
10 – Tell your insurance company
It is a condition of virtually every insurance policy that you let them know before any renovations take place. If you don’t, not only are you breaching your contract with them, they may restrict, or even refuse cover in the event of a claim.
Tell your insurance company before work starts, and give them as much notice as you can. This gives them time to get everything arranged and if they really can’t help you, gives you enough notice to arrange something suitable.
Not only does this save you from situations where you may be left uninsured, they may be able to organise some cover you hadn’t thought about arranging.
Bonus Tip – Speak to us!
As a specialist renovations insurer, GSI Insurance Services (Southern) Ltd. are well placed to insure your project, whatever you choose to do. Give us a call on 0800 612 9376 or click “Get a Quote” to complete our online form.
Need some more information?
Why not read one of our other renovation insurance guides?
- Renovation Insurance
- What does renovation insurance cover?
- I’m redecorating – Do I need specialist insurance?
- Renovation insurance or unoccupied insurance?
- Subsidence cover during renovations
- How can I renovate my home?
- When do I need renovations insurance?
- JCT Contracts and Renovations Insurance
- Renovation Insurance Guide
- Renovation Insurance FAQs
- Case Study – Renovations in the UK in 2020