Your Guide to Renovating Your Home


Renovating your home is a big step. It’s exciting, to be sure, but it’s a pretty daunting prospect with the costs and planning that are involved. It’s important to remember to plan each step carefully, from budget to boiler, before you get the ball rolling.  

Planning Your Renovation

The key to a successful renovation lies in thorough planning. Take the time to carefully consider your goals and options before you start knocking down walls or choosing paint colours.

Assess Your Needs and Wants

Start by making a list of what you hope to achieve with your renovation:

  • Are you looking to create more space?
  • Do you need to improve energy efficiency?
  • Is updating the style of your home a priority?

Prioritise these goals based on your budget and the potential return on investment.

Research and Inspiration

Gather ideas for your renovation by browsing home improvement magazines and websites. Visit home shows and exhibitions and look at properties similar to yours for inspiration. Create a scrapbook or digital mood board to collate your ideas and help communicate your vision to professionals.

Set a Realistic Budget

Determine how much you can afford to spend on your renovation. Get rough estimates for the work you want to do. Include a contingency fund of at least 10-20% for unexpected costs. Consider financing options if necessary, such as remortgaging or home improvement loans.

Obtaining Necessary Permissions

Before you start any work, you must ensure you have the necessary permissions in place.

Planning Permission

Check whether you need planning permission for your renovation. Many internal renovations don’t require planning permission. Extensions and major alterations may need approval. Special rules apply to listed buildings and properties in conservation areas. Consult your local council’s planning department or the Planning Portal website for guidance.

Building Regulations

Most renovation work must comply with building regulations:

  • This ensures the safety and energy efficiency of your property
  • You may need to submit plans and have inspections during the work

Contact your local council’s building control department for advice.

Party Wall Agreements

You may need a party wall agreement with your neighbours if your renovation involves work on a shared wall, chimney, or boundary. This protects both parties and outlines the work to be done.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) provides information on party wall procedures.

Hiring Professionals

You’ll likely need to hire professionals for your renovation project unless you’re an experienced DIYer.

Architects and Designers

They can help turn your ideas into practical plans, and their expertise can add value and avoid costly mistakes. Look for professionals registered with RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) or BIID (British Institute of Interior Design).

Builders and Contractors

Choose your builder or contractor carefully. Get recommendations from friends or use trusted trade associations and obtain at least three detailed quotes. Check references and previous work, and make sure they have proper insurance and qualifications. The Federation of Master Builders can help you find reputable builders in your area.

Managing the Budget

Keeping your renovation on budget requires careful monitoring and decision-making throughout the project.

Cost Tracking

Set up a system to track all expenses. Use a spreadsheet or budgeting app, keep all receipts and invoices, and regularly compare actual costs to your budget.

Prioritising Spending

Be prepared to make tough decisions. Identify areas where you can save if costs start to escalate. Focus on structural improvements over cosmetic changes and consider doing some work yourself to save money.

Dealing with Unexpected Costs

Have a plan for dealing with surprises. Use your contingency fund wisely and be prepared to scale back on less essential elements if necessary. Communicate openly with your contractor about any cost increases.

The Renovation Process

Understanding the typical stages of a renovation can help you prepare for what’s to come.

Demolition and Structural Work

This phase can be messy and disruptive. Prepare for noise and dust. Secure valuable items and protect surfaces and be flexible, as unexpected issues often arise during this stage

Plumbing and Electrical Work

Essential services are updated or installed:

  • This work needs to be done by certified professionals
  • It may require living without water or electricity for short periods

Insulation and Drywall

The bones of your new spaces take shape:

  • Proper insulation is crucial for energy efficiency
  • Consider soundproofing between rooms if needed

Painting and Finishing

The final touches bring your vision to life:

  • Choose durable, high-quality finishes
  • Consider hiring professionals for a polished result

Don’t Forget About The Boiler

Amidst the excitement of visible changes, it’s easy to overlook essential systems like your boiler. However, your heating system plays a crucial role in your home’s comfort and efficiency.

Assessing Your Current System

Evaluate your existing boiler:

  • How old is it? Boilers over 10-15 years old may be due for replacement
  • Is it energy-efficient? Older models can be significantly less efficient.
  • Does it meet your home’s heating needs, especially after renovation?

Upgrading Options

Consider upgrading to a more efficient model:

  • Modern condensing boilers can be up to 90% efficient
  • Look for boilers with an ERP A-rating for the best efficiency
  • Consider renewable options like heat pumps for long-term savings

Proper Sizing

Ensure your new or existing boiler is properly sized for your renovated home:

  • Renovations can change your heating requirements
  • An oversized boiler can be inefficient and costly to run
  • An undersized boiler may struggle to heat your home adequately

Professional Installation

Always use a Gas Safe registered engineer for any boiler work:

  • They can advise on the best system for your needs
  • Proper installation is crucial for safety and efficiency
  • Regular servicing can extend the life of your boiler

Boiler Central has plenty of expert advice to help you choose the perfect new boiler for your home. They also offer finance options for your new boiler, and they can install it the next day.

Living Through a Renovation

Renovating while living in your home can be challenging but is often necessary.

Creating a Liveable Space

Designate areas for daily living. Set up a temporary kitchen if yours is being renovated and create a clean, dust-free zone for sleeping and relaxing. Consider renting storage space for furniture and belongings.

Managing Dust and Debris

Protect your home and health. Use plastic sheeting to seal off work areas and invest in air purifiers to improve air quality. Clean regularly to prevent dust build-up.

Maintaining a Routine

Try to maintain some normality. Stick to regular mealtimes and sleep schedules and take breaks from the chaos by getting out of the house. You need to be open with your family about challenges and expectations.

Eco-Friendly Renovation Considerations

Incorporating eco-friendly elements into your renovation can reduce your environmental impact and save money in the long run.

Energy Efficiency

Improve your home’s energy performance:

  • Upgrade insulation in walls, floors, and roofs
  • Install double or triple-glazing
  • Choose energy-efficient appliances and lighting

Water Conservation

Reduce water usage with smart choices:

  • Install low-flow taps and showerheads
  • Choose dual-flush toilets
  • Consider a greywater recycling system

Sustainable Materials

Look for environmentally friendly materials:

  • Use reclaimed or recycled materials where possible
  • Choose FSC-certified wood products
  • Look for low-VOC paints and finishes

The Green Building Council provides resources on sustainable home improvements.

Adding Value to Your Property

While personal enjoyment should be the primary goal, considering resale value is wise.

High-Value Improvements

Focus on renovations that typically add the most value:

  • Kitchen and bathroom upgrades
  • Adding an extra bathroom
  • Creating open-plan living spaces
  • Converting lofts or basements

Avoid Over-Personalisation

Strike a balance between personal taste and broad appeal. Choose neutral colours for major features and avoid overly niche or trendy designs. Focus on quality finishes that will stand the test of time.

Kerb Appeal

Don’t neglect the exterior of your home. Refresh the façade with painting or cleaning and improve landscaping and outdoor spaces. Make sure windows and doors are in good condition.

Dealing with Renovation Stress

Renovation can be a stressful process. Taking care of your mental health is so important in crunch times like these.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Understand that things may not go perfectly. Delays and unexpected issues are common so be prepared to make compromises. It can help to focus on the end goal when things get tough.

Taking Breaks

Don’t let the renovation consume your life. Schedule regular breaks from the project and plan activities away from the house. Stay in touch with your friends and make sure you’re staying sociable.

Seeking Support

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Lean on friends and family for support. Consider joining renovation support groups or forums and get professional help if stress becomes overwhelming.

Dealing with Period Features

Preserving and enhancing period features can add character and value to your home when you’re renovating an older property.

Identifying Original Features

Take time to understand what’s original. Research the architectural style of your property and look for hidden features behind modern additions. Talk to a conservation officer if your property is listed.

Restoration Techniques

Learn about appropriate restoration methods. Use traditional materials and techniques where possible. Consider hiring specialists for delicate restoration work and try to balance preservation with modern comfort and efficiency. It’s still your home, not a museum!

Enhancing Period Charm

Incorporate period-appropriate additions. You can source reclaimed materials for authenticity and choose fixtures and fittings that complement the era of your home. You could even think about reinstating lost features like fireplaces.

Smart Home Integration

Incorporating smart technology can enhance comfort, efficiency, and security in your renovated home.

Install smart thermostats for zone-based heating control. Use smart meters to monitor energy usage. Integrate renewable energy systems with smart controls.

Enhance home security with smart technology. Install smart doorbells with video capabilities and use smart locks for keyless entry. Set up smart alarm systems with remote monitoring.

Install smart lighting systems for mood and energy savings. Choose smart appliances that can be controlled remotely. Think about voice-activated assistants for hands-free control.

Managing Waste and Recycling

Responsible waste management is crucial during a renovation project.

Waste Reduction Strategies

Minimise waste from the outset. Accurately measure materials to reduce offcuts and choose products with minimal packaging. Think about hiring tools instead of buying them where you can.

Recycling and Reuse

Maximise recycling opportunities. Separate waste streams (wood, metal, plastics, etc.) and donate usable materials to local recycling centres or charities

Proper Disposal

Ensure hazardous materials are disposed of correctly. Use licensed waste carriers for removal. Be aware of regulations regarding asbestos and other hazardous materials. Consider hiring a skip for larger renovation projects.

The Environmental Services Association provides guidance on responsible waste management in construction and renovation.

Accessibility and Future-Proofing

Consider making your renovation work for the long term by incorporating accessibility features and future-proofing your home.

Universal Design Principles

Implement design features that work for all. Install wider doorways and corridors. Create step-free access where possible and think about height-adjustable kitchen worktops.

Adaptable Spaces

Design rooms that can change with your needs. Use movable partitions for flexible living spaces and install blocking in walls for future grab bars. Think about a ground-floor room that could become a bedroom if needed.

Technology Considerations

Plan for future technological needs. Install plenty of electrical outlets and USB ports and think about structured wiring for future smart home upgrades. Plan for good Wi-Fi coverage throughout the house because the chances of someone working from home are high.

Enjoy and Maintain

Finally, enjoy your newly renovated space! Take time to appreciate the transformation before you set up a maintenance schedule to keep your home in top condition.

Final Thoughts

Renovating your home is a massive undertaking, but with careful planning, realistic expectations, and the right support, it’s so rewarding. The key to success lies in thorough preparation, clear communication, and flexibility, whether you’re updating a single room or overhauling your entire property.

Remember that every renovation is unique, and challenges are part of the process. Stay focused on your goals, be prepared to make decisions and compromises along the way, and don’t lose sight of the amazing transformation you’re creating.


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