When planning changes to your home – whether they are large or small – it pays to be prepared. You could be considering a loft conversion or extension, or perhaps a new bathroom or redecoration.
Here are some suggestions, tips and advice to help your project run smoothly.
1. Choose your project
You may have lots of ideas and plans for your home, but there is no need to do everything at once. Decide what is manageable and works around your other commitments. It might be that you decide some improvements aren’t necessary, or you can stage work over a few years.
2. Get it down on paper
If you are putting your time, effort and money into a home improvement plan, you want to get it right. Before you start, try to get your ideas down on paper. Describe what you want it to look like, write down colours, or simply sketch what is in your mind. Online tools such as Pinterest, and trips to DIY store can help with inspiration, and you can use software programs to play around with layouts and designs.
3. Research planning regulations
Some work might require planning approval. Often structural changes will require permission from the local council and could involve, for example, the Planning Office, the Environment Office or the Building Control Office. You may consider an architect to help with getting your plans right. They should be able to help with local building and safety regulations. You can also talk to your local planning officer who can offer advice before submitting your plans.
4. Work out your budget
You need to ensure that you have the funds to complete the work you require. Home improvements usually end up costing more than you think, so make sure you have at least 10% extra funds available for additional items or unforeseen circumstances. Going vastly over budget often means that your original target was unrealistic, so get prices for everything you need and want before starting any work. You may find that you need to readjust your ideal plan to accommodate budget, or wait a little while longer to be able to get everything you want.
5. Select your contractor
Make sure you get a few quotes from different contractors. Look for ones who are recommended by other customers. You can also check websites like CheckaTrade.com.
It is also advisable to check that anyone you use has the correct insurance cover, including public liability insurance and employer’s liability insurance where necessary. It is within your rights to check certificates are valid. Without the right insurances in place, if something goes wrong, you may have to pay for repairs and legal costs yourself.
6. Agree your contract
It is preferable to have a written contract which specifies agreed work to avoid any misunderstandings. Both you and the contractor need to agree exactly what work will be carried out, the cost and timescales. The types of materials that will be used should also be made clear. Remember, changing the scope of work once it has started can be expensive.
7. Schedule your work
If there are multiple stages to your house improvement, such as building work, electrical installation and decoration, make sure you schedule and coordinate the different contractors in the right order to avoid wasting or losing time. Remember some work might also be weather restrictive which could affect timescales.
8. Make sure you are covered
As well as ensuring your contractors have the right insurance, you also should contact your insurer to check your cover.
Ensure your policy will cover you during the work and after it is completed.
Particularly for major renovations, your home buildings and contents insurance cover level may need to be adjusted when the work is done.
Speak with your insurance broker so they can help you each step of the way.