Things to know before renovating a home (Part 2) | homify
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Things to know before renovating a home (Part 2)

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Here we are with part two of our fantastic guide to everything you need to know before you commit to a home renovation, and we firmly believe that by the end of this article, you'll be equipped with all the knowledge you'll need to properly and soberly consider a project. 

Naturally, the process will be much easier if you have a team of contractors you've used before and already trust, but don't get carried away with the idea of buying a house that needs a lot of work until you've taken all the potential pitfalls into account. 

Ready to find out more? Then let's begin!

13. Cast your eyes up

modern  by homify, Modern

External Roof Blind Installation in Brentwood, Essex.


Never buy a house until you've inspected the roof.

If anything will put a stop on good progress and tightly controlled budgets, it's installing a new roof. Look for loose or missing tiles and ask questions.

14. Get a measured survey

​mansard loft conversion fulham Modern houses by homify Modern

​mansard loft conversion fulham


A measured survey is more detailed than a standard version, as lasers are used to get accurate measurements of everything. 

If your potential house is even just a few centimetres off, you'll know and can start to find out why.

15. Be prepared to head to the auctions

l-shaped loft conversion wimbledon Modern houses by homify Modern

l-shaped loft conversion wimbledon


A lot of dilapidated homes, which are ripe for renovation, are sold at auction so you need to not only brush up on your bidding etiquette, but also prepare yourself for battle.

If you've spotted a great value house, you'll have some serious competition, so set a budget and stick to it or your profits will be slashed.

16. Make a plan for your living arrangements

St. Mary Abbots Modern houses by Coupdeville Modern

St. Mary Abbots


If you definitely won't be able to live in your renovation property while it's being completed, plan ahead of time. 

You'll need at least a six-month tenancy somewhere else, but this can get very expensive. Try to scale back, put bulky furniture into storage and look for flats with just enough bedrooms.

17. Recognise the process will be hard

Private House - Holland Park Modern balcony, veranda & terrace by New Images Architects Modern
New Images Architects

Private House—Holland Park

New Images Architects

Whatever you do, don't go into a renovation project thinking it will be problem free and simple. 

There are always unforeseen circumstances and problems to deal with—you need to be sure you can handle the pressure.

18. Get to grips with VAT

Did you know that the standard 20% VAT that's added to any construction work bill doesn't apply if your chosen property  has been empty for more than two years? 

In that case, you should be charged just 5% so do your research!

19. Find out which windows you have to keep

Tantallon Road: modern  by Lambert&Sons, Modern

Tantallon Road


If you've chosen a heritage or period home to renovate, you might be at the mercy of stringent preservation codes. 

A lot of older houses have a mandate to keep a certain amount of original windows, so be sure before you replace them or you could face large fines and have to swap them back out.

20. Have insurance

​kitchen extension dulwich with flat roof and open brickwork Modern houses by homify Modern

​kitchen extension dulwich with flat roof and open brickwork


We hope it goes without saying that you need to have comprehensive insurance before you begin a renovation project, but we're telling you anyway just to be sure. 

If your contractors make a mistake that results in serious damage to your house, you need to know you're covered for a rebuild.

21. Hire a structural engineer

If your home is getting an extension, needs some structural repairs, or is being dramatically changed layout-wise, you need a structural engineer on your team. 

Think of them as the foundation of your project, as it's these professionals that will be able to prevent silly mistakes and serious damage to your home.

22. Consider having a warranty

Listed farmhouse buildings Country style houses by Hetreed Ross Architects Country
Hetreed Ross Architects

Listed farmhouse buildings

Hetreed Ross Architects

As well as insurance, you might want to speak to your contracting team about a warranty. 

Not all teams will offer this, but it would give you peace of mind to know the work carried out comes with a guarantee of quality and longevity, wouldn't it?

23. Beware of spiralling costs

Extension and Renovation, Surbiton KT6 Modern houses by TOTUS Modern

Extension and Renovation, Surbiton KT6


This is the main issue with renovation homes. 

Set yourself a realistic budget and always have a 10% contingency you can dip into if unexpected costs arise. Also, have an absolute limit you won't go over. Otherwise you could find yourself in negative equity.

24. Recognise you don't always need planning permission

Permitted Developments are definitely looking into, as these are planning permission-free home improvements you can make without paying any extra for the privilege of being told yes.

Things like interior redesigns and small extensions usually qualify!

For more advice on this, learn about: Improving a home without planning permission.

Would you be willing to take on a renovation project?
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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