How to Avoid Common Renovation Mistakes

With more people taking on renovation projects, there is an ever-increasing need to be aware of the common pitfalls and how to avoid them. Too many people embark on a project without doing enough research, hiring the wrong people or underestimating the amount they are likely to spend. Remember: Once you start on a renovation project, there is no going back! Here are some of most common mistakes that renovators make:

1. Not Doing The Groundwork Before Buying

Before you buy any property you MUST get a survey done.Brickwork showing severe subsidence A classic mistake is to purchase a property, begin work and then realise that there is a severe damp problem, acute structural defects or a terrible case of subsidence. If you leave it until after purchase to find out about these issues, a chunk of your renovation budget will end up being spent on rectifying these problems.

2. Underestimating Your Costs

Renovating a property is expensive. Remember to always over-budget as there is a good chance that it will cost more than you anticipate. Often a problem will only show up after work has begun or an item will be forgotten and added to the expenditure at a later date. Sometimes you may even change your mind about an aspect of the project and alter a specification or part of the design. Be prepared to add 10 – 20% extra to your budget and don’t be surprised if you spend it. Also, be sure that you have included everything in your budget plan and shop around for quotes. Alternatively, get a builder’s estimate which should be fairly accurate.

3. Taking On Too Much Yourself

A renovation project can become a nightmare if you take on too much of the work yourself, especially if you don’t already have the right skills or have insufficient time. Although taking on some of the work yourself will cut costs, you may end up slowing down the project or completing the work so poorly that it needs rectifying taking double the time and money.

4. Hiring The Wrong Workmen

Cowboy builder with tool boxEveryone knows a story about a cowboy builder – don’t let your renovation project become the victim of one. Remember that cheap is not always best. Make sure you do your research carefully.

Get references and talk to previous clients to find out how happy they are with the work carried out. If a builder doesn’t seem to understand what you are aiming for, it’s unlikely you’ll be happy with the results.

5. Unsafe Alterations

Rushing into a renovation project without considering the structural stability of your property is a disaster. It stands to reason that if you remove roof timbers, load-bearing walls or chimney breasts without compensating for their removal you are setting yourself up for long term problems. Stuck doors and windows, warped floors or even collapse of part of your property are possible consequences. Make sure you speak to a qualified and experienced builder who can advise on how to compensate for the removal of structural components.

6. Ignoring Regulations

There is no point in embarking on your renovation project without first applying for the correct Planning Permissions and/or complying with Building Regulations. Eventually, you will get caught out and if a retrospective application fails, you will have to undo all the renovation work you have done. Altering a listed building without the correct permissions is even more serious as it is a criminal offence. Make sure you check what permissions and regulations are required before starting work and apply well in advance.

7. Poor Design

Failure to come up with a good design for your renovation is a recipe for disaster and could even cause your planning permission to be denied. A poor design leads to wasted space, can add to costs and cause delay in the works due to lack of detail or errors. Spend the time and money on hiring a good architect to come up with a design that you are happy with and that maximises your property’s potential.

8. Incorrect Alterations To Period Homes

Don’t remove period features from an older property, replacing them with modern alternatives often just looks wrong. To retain the character (and value) of a period home, consider repairing damaged features before replacing them as an authentic replica can be very expensive. Aim to preserve period windows, doors and floorboards. Another problem that often occurs in period homes is that incorrect materials are often used that cause structural damage to traditional building materials. Also, you should ensure any materials used on period buildings are visually in line with the character of the property. Adding pebbledashing or stone cladding to a period property is not the right aesthetic.

Choosing the correct materials and contractors to carry out your project are key to avoiding the major pitfalls of renovation. Don’t scrimp on the essentials – remember a home has to last a lifetime so invest wisely.

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