How to plan your renovation

Find out what to consider when starting your renovation project

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If you need help with starting your renovation project, find out what to consider with this expert advice.

Firstly, it’s important to allow plenty of time before any building work begins,’ says Hugo Tugman, founder of Architect Your Home. ‘I usually describe this phase as having four “hurdles” to clear before your project can start.

Initial steps

  • Outline design: How does the finished project need to work/look?
  • Planning: Does the renovation work require planning permission? Look at alternatives, including the scope of permitted development.
  • Building regulations: Factor in structural and construction design.
  • Tendering: This is the process of three or four builders submitting fixed prices for your project.’

Get planning permission

Planning permission should be addressed early on, taking into account any designations, such as Conservation Areas and listed buildings. A significant number of projects won’t need it, including internal improvements that don’t affect the external look of the building, such as creating a kitchen-diner, and small extensions (see ‘For a simple kitchen extension where full permission may not be required, expect these four stages to take 10-14 weeks, but for larger or more complex renovation projects, from four months to a year,’ Hugo adds.

Timescale and order of works

‘Allowing a suitable time frame for each part of a project is key,’ says Hugo. ‘There are shortcuts, but most of these run associated risks in terms of cost, quality and longer delays than if all were well planned. At tender stage it is important to agree not just the price but the timeline with your builder. Their most important job is managing the process, co-ordinating trades and suppliers, and scheduling the work, but there may be items within the timeline that are priorities to you, so tell the builder this up front.’

A schedule will ensure that disruption and duplication is minimised, and help to avoid extra costs or delays. Without one, the whole process can become chaotic, with tradespeople overlapping and jobs that could have been carried out simultaneously done separately.

‘A builder, architect or structural engineer will be able to advise on the order,’ says Hugo. ‘For example, they will be wary of structural alterations beneath a recently completed bathroom, which could result in minor movement and cracks in newly tiled spaces.’

Prepare your budget

Running out of cash can cause delays and additional costs on a renovation project, so having a clear picture of the relative costs of the different aspects will help you to assess where to allocate a limited budget and prioritise essential works. Once design plans are in place and finishes specified, you can begin to allocate funds. Variables are likely to occur, however, making it crucial to have a contingency fund. As a rough guide, this should be 20 per cent of the budget for large jobs, and 10-15 per cent for small jobs.

Photograph: iStock