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Step-by-step guide to home renovations (part two)

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Mixed Photos: classic  by Plantation Shutters Ltd, Classic
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Renovating a property doesn’t come without its fair share of issues and draw-backs, which is why this sort of undertaking is best left to the professionals.

However, if you’re eyeing to style up an old building into something modern and glamorous (and safe and practical and liveable), keep in mind that there is a logical order in which renovation works.

So, scroll ahead to see phase two of how to plan a successful home renovation!

12. Fix gutter downpipes and decorate the exterior

While that scaffold is still up, replace, repair and fix all guttering, and fix brackets for the downpipes. 

This is also an opportunity to undertake any external decoration or staining of external joinery such as fascias and soffits, barge boards and windows, render and timber siding.

13. Drainage/landscaping and external works

Once the scaffold is down, it is time to connect up the external drains to the sewer or septic tank. While some prefer to undertake this work at the groundworks stage, this leaves the drains vulnerable to damage during building work, especially if they are exposed in the trenches around the building before backfilling.

Even though landscaping work to form the drive, paths, beds and lawns can be started at almost any time during the renovation project, it is important to protect the area from damage by building work.

14. First fix

Staircase - private house Modern corridor, hallway & stairs by Srl Modern

Now that the external building work is all but complete, you can shift your focus to the insides. Interior work can kick off as soon as the roof is covered. Start to build carcassing for any internal stud walls and add flooring grade chipboard or floorboards to joists. 

It is also common to fit any new staircases at the first fix stage, prior to plastering. Once the first fix carpentry is complete, any new first fix wiring and plumbing work can be undertaken, including soil pipes and drainage connections. 

When it comes to older properties, it’s an excellent idea to consider rewiring the entire property and to budget for this, as the Building Regulations now require all wiring to meet the current regulations – and electricians will also insist on this in order to certify their work.

15. Plastering out/screed floors

Modern walls & floors by Dynamic444 Modern

The time to re-plaster has come! Apply plasterboard/dry-lining to ceilings and any stud walls (tacking), and repair any damaged plasterwork/mouldings.

Any new floor screeds for the ground-floor will be laid at this point, usually after plastering to help keep it clean; however, some people like to screed and then plaster second to create a neat joint between plaster and floor. 

If you plan on laying underfloor heating, keep in mind that the pipes or cable elements will usually be laid after plastering, so that the manifolds can be fixed in place, but before screeding so that the pipes and elements are covered.

16. Leave the building to dry out

The plaster and any new screed need time to thoroughly dry out before you bring in any timber products. Depending on the time of year, this will take from two to six weeks—the longer it can be left, the less the danger of moisture-causing problems with second fix joinery and wooden floors. 

If you are on a tight deadline, go for dry lining instead of hard plaster, and opt for suspended timber floors instead of concrete.

17. Lay fixed flooring

Opinions differ on whether to lay fixed flooring (like flagstones and ceramic tiles) before kitchen and other fitted furniture and sanitaryware have been finalised. 

However, a popular recommendation is that it is best to first lay the floors from edge to edge, and then to fix kitchen units, fitted furniture and sanitaryware on top, as this helps to avoid many problems later and leaves flexibility for the future. 

This sort of flooring will certainly need to be laid before skirting and architrave can be fixed in place, as it will need to run underneath.

18. Second fix

Now it becomes time to connect the consumer unit and fit all light fittings, sockets, switches, phone and TV points and the extractor hood. 

Hang all doors and fix skirting, architrave, spindles and handrails. Install the bathroom fittings and connect the taps. Install the boiler and controls, and fit radiators. Fit the kitchen and complete any fitted furniture. Box in any pipes or soil stacks ready for the decorators. 

Now is also when the plumber and electrician need to commission the heating system.

19. Decorating/tiling/wooden floors/carpets

Sea House, Porth | Cornwall Eclectic style kitchen by Perfect Stays Eclectic

Once second fix is complete, it is time to prepare all of the surfaces for decorating by sanding and filling. It is recommended to start painting and staining only once all second fix work and preparation is complete to ensure the building is clean and dust free, or else it will be impossible to get a good finish.

Depending on design, any shower enclosures and doors can be fitted once tiling is complete. 

Finally, once decorating has been finalised, any soft floor coverings (such as vinyl and carpet) can be laid and the white goods such as the oven, hob, fridge and washing machine can be fitted.

20. Final clean and move in

Full Height Shutters for Velux Windows: classic  by Plantation Shutters Ltd, Classic
Plantation Shutters Ltd

Full Height Shutters for Velux Windows

Plantation Shutters Ltd

Now that all work has been completed, a decent clean-up is recommended before moving in. This is to remove any stray plaster, dust, materials and packaging, and protective coverings.

It is also time to get the windows spotless and fix up curtains and blinds.

21. Snagging


Since life isn’t fair, small problems will usually crop up over the following months. Fix these problems as they arise, or, if you used tradesmen, ask them back. However, expect that you will have to pay them for defects that are not their fault, such as plaster cracks. 

If you used a main contractor, you may have held back a retention of 2.5—5% on the final payment. This sum is released once they have returned and resolved any defects.

And lastly: that new house certainly cost a lot of time, money and effort, so be sure to enjoy it to the fullest! 

Missed the first few steps? Then backtrack to: Step-by-step guide to home renovations (part one).

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Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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