How to renovate your home and garden at the same time

Invest time and money in tackling multiple projects at once and you’ll reap the benefits financially and personally, plus get a better design, says Greg Toon

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The house and garden are often considered projects that need to be tackled separately. However, the best design often comes from a cohesive approach. By considering views and indoor/outdoor spaces, you can renovate your garden to complement and enhance your house, and vice versa.

The same can be said of projects inside: tackling separate projects may well be due to budget constraints, but it’s also regularly done to renovate in smaller, less complex and more manageable chunks. I’d argue this is the wrong approach – here are some of my reasons why you should renovate all in one go:

Making it all work

If you do renovate in more than one area of your home, a good main contractor will organise each part efficiently. If project managing yourself, sequence trades so that they are in sync, and use common sense – you don’t want glazing being installed for one part when sandblasting or rendering is taking place elsewhere, for example.

Small projects can be as time-consuming to plan, and while it might inconvenience you to live on site, once the build is over you can enjoy the house without plans for future work looming.

Only deal with mess once

Anyone who’s tackled a home transformation will tell you that the build up of dust, building materials and months of general untidiness can cause extreme disruption to day-to-day life, especially if you live on site. While doing two or more projects simultaneously – such as a kitchen extension and garden makeover – will cause lots of mess, you’ll be thankful of being able to deal with this in one go.

Do two projects together and you only have to tackle the unglamorous side of tidying up once. This means you can avoid traipsing soil and debris, or dragging materials, through a newly refurbished kitchen or living space.

Save money

You’ll make net cost savings by doing two or more projects at once rather than completing each on a piecemeal basis. Buy materials in bulk and negotiate discounts with your supplier for buying larger quantities.

Agree with your chosen trades that they’ll work on both areas during the same timeframe and decide on a fair price for the whole project, rather than in two parts. By hiring the same trades for the entire works, you’ll also reduce the need for one area to be ‘made good’ after works in the adjacent area have been done, meaning each should have the same quality finish.

Create a cohesive design

Most of us will have viewed houses that have previously had multiple alterations, which in today’s market, can pose design challenges. In my experience, the vast majority of these homes have lost their all-important flow, and need these design mistakes undoing to improve the property for modern family life.

By tackling a whole area – such as the ground floor and garden – together, you’ll reap the benefits of a scheme with a sense of flow inside and through to the garden. Try to think beyond your first ideas: you may initially only want to create a utility next to the kitchen by extending into a side return, but it may make sense to consider the space as a whole and redesign with these elements as part of a larger concept.

Ensure planning permission and regulation compliance

Always be aware of the knock-on effect of any decisions to alter the structure or layout of your property. There are many regulations and planning restrictions that may apply to different types of projects, subject to where you live and the property type, that could impact other spaces within the house or limit what can be done in future (see planning portal for planning rules that apply in your area).

An example is a loft conversion that results in three or more storeys, which will be subject to fire controls. If you don’t have a hallway, you’ll need to provide a fire-protected route to a ground-floor exit door, so consider how this will impact the layout and ensure you make necessary amendments in conjunction with the loft works to avoid compromising the ground-floor space. This, in turn, could affect how your house flows through to the outside, so always think of the bigger picture.

Future proof your design

Always prepare an overall design concept for the property, to help keep a clear end goal in mind. You can then pick and choose which parts to do first without compromising or ending up with an ad-hoc feel to the house.