Bought a home which needs lots of work? Not sure where to start? This handy guide will give you the essential tools to kick-start your renovation project
With house prices climbing at what might feel like breakneck speed, the ‘doer-upper is fast becoming a more affordable option for many buyers.
In fact, in the last month, alone searches for ‘fixer upper’ have experienced a 230% increase according to MyJobQuote website.
If this is you, and you are about to take on a big project on your first step into homeownership, it’s likely you may be feeling rather overwhelmed and daunted by this process.
Here is some advice to help ensure you don’t make any mistakes in your new venture.
1. Do your research
Deciding what work you need to do is the easy bit – getting the right person to carry out the job is a little trickier.
Indeed, MyJobQuote said 40% of people in the UK admitted they had a bad experience with a tradesperson.
For a big building project, you may need an architect, builder, plumber, electrician, painter and decorator, carpenter…. The list goes on. There are a number of building firms out there that offer a project management service, and they will often use their own network of tradespeople to complete specialist jobs. This will obviously come at an additional cost.
Many people find tradespeople using word of mouth or recommendations. Others get as many builders and experts as possible to provide estimates and choose the most suitable firm for the job.
But Thomas Goodman building and construction expert at MyJobQuote advise that whatever route you take, you must ensure the credentials.
“Firstly, you must check prospective tradespeople’s accreditation,” he explained. “If they themselves, or the company they are registered to, do not have any sign of legitimacy then that should be a red flag.
“Look out for certification from the National Federation of Builders, Federation of Master Builders and TrustMark and ensure all plumbers are Gas Safe Registered.
“In addition, find the company number and registered business address. If they can’t give you this, then best to avoid this business.”
2. Don’t necessarily choose the cheapest quote
Thomas advises ‘shopping around’ and getting at least three – and up to five – quotes from potential tradespeople.
When all the quotes are in, compare them directly considering not only the price but also reviews of the company.
Thomas advised: “If you find, say, four of the five are within similar price ranges, but one is much cheaper, then you must try and resist temptation in booking that company straight away. Research more about the company, the tradespeople and read reviews about them.”
Often, the cheaper price can be a reflection of the quality of work, or may not factor in all the labour required.
“A reputable company will be able to offer a cost breakdown and explanation to support their pricing strategy,” he added.
3. Set a realistic budget
The advice when it comes to the budget is to set a healthy budget – as opposed to an unrealistic one. It might be tempting to splash out on that must-have flooring you spotted on Instagram, but can you find an alternative that offers the same look for less?
It’s easy to go over budget on a renovation project. Indeed, Thomas revealed two in five house renovators overspend by an average of 20%. But it can be avoided.
“Before starting any work, you should itemise all the costs involved and also, ideally, include a bit extra in case of an emergency. By doing this, you are avoiding yourself being halfway through a job and finding yourself out of money,” Thomas advised.
4. Buying your own materials
This is a great example of where communication with builders or tradespeople is crucial. Many people buy their own materials as a way of saving money and while this might seem the savvy route, it can cause problems.
For example, the materials may not arrive in time for the stage of the work in which they are required. Or they may not be suitable.
Thomas said: “You must also purchase the right amounts of the materials and ensure they arrive in good time for the builders. A risk with this is that if your materials do not arrive in time when the tradespeople turn up so they can’t start work, they will charge you a ‘standing time’ and leave.
“You will then need to pay for them to turn up another day, which means more money will be spent than you originally planned.”
Thomas advised, if you are only buying your own supplies to save money, you would be better off in allowing your tradespeople to buy the materials themselves. It will be one less thing for you to worry about.
5. Don’t rush!
The excitement of buying your first home and transforming it into your own, signature space can be quite intoxicating. But try not to let your eagerness make you hasty.
Indeed, rushing in can result in improper work and you may change your mind and realise something doesn’t look as nice as originally imagined.
Thomas revealed as many as 44% of home renovators said they were unhappy with the results of their work, which is estimated to be worth £4.9 billion in wasted money.
So, take your time to think over your plans, maybe even just ‘live’ in the space that’s already there for a few months and work out which things work and which don’t.
Also, discuss with your builders what will work logistically and aesthetically.
Thomas added: “A reputable builder will be honest and tell you whether your ideas will work on a day-to-day basis, and not just look nice.
“Changes in aesthetic are less detrimental than changes to the structure and floor plans, however, the cost of aesthetic work can still cost a lot more money.”