Starting a home refurb project is extremely overwhelming. I can already feel that “Reno fatigue” and not a single spade has gone in the ground. Whilst I’ve already lost days and weeks to research, scrolling Pinterest, trying to figure out what my home decor taste is and finalising budgets the real fun hasn’t even started yet. As we embark on a full house refurb on our Victorian terrace I’m sharing snippets of our journey along the way. First up is the invaluable amount of advice sent in about what we absolutely should consider and what we should avoid. Read on for the most recommended Do’s and Don’ts in a home refurb.
Do your research, get testimonials from previous clients, visit sites they’ve worked on before. If people love the work done on their homes they’ll gladly open their doors and show it off (Covid rules permitting). If the work is good you’ll get people always happy to promote their builder / tradespeople.
Keep Track of Spending/Budget:
Keep a detailed spreadsheet of every single penny spent. Know what dates your builder needs payment if you’re on a payment plan. Weigh up what costs can go on interest free finance – kitchen, bathroom etc. so you can part with immediate cash to builder. Have a set budget and be ruthless about decision making in order to only spend what you can afford.
Have Every Detail Written In A contract:
Agree in writing the time frame so your builder knows your expectations on works to be completed.
Stick to the schedule of works. Know when you need to order certain materials, bathroom suites, paint, etc.. If your builder hasn’t agreed to supply it then it is your responsibly to get it ordered and arriving on time for the project to stick to the agreed timeframe. Don’t let the project run away with itself. Factor in a buffer timeframe and order everything earlier than when you anticipate you’ll need it.
Plan Everything Before Starting
Before the spade goes in the ground know exactly what you want. Have everything agreed with the builder and be sure with your design decisions. It costs a lot of money to start changing design details halfway through the build. Make sure work is done in the correct order so you don’t have to re-do any work which adds additional costs and is a complete waste of time and energy. Really consider how you use a kitchen and think about what cupboard storage you want at eye level, consider the efficient design of triangle movement of sink, fridge and stove. Pay attention to where you need your storage to be in a kitchen. Plan. Plan. Plan.
Look Out For Deals:
Use Black Friday, Christmas Sales, January Sales, Spring Sales for offers on items. Every penny you save in a build adds up when you are spending tens of thousands.
Invest in Appliances:
You will never regret investing in the best appliances you can afford from hot water taps to zoned temperature controlled fridges to extractor fan integrated hobs. They will stand the test of time, look sleeker and make your life so. much. easier!
Add MORE Plug Sockets!
Add more sockets than you think you’ll ever need. Carefully map out each room and think about where low lighting needs to be plugged in, each side of beds in the bedrooms, on the island for power, splash back, hallway socket for hoover etc. Have usb outlets on frequently used sockets too.
Consider Light Switches Placement:
Consider where your light switches need to be / hang doors to open correctly with light switches easily visible / accessible. GET DIMMER SWITCHES!
Allow For More Storage
Plan for lots of storage. Even if you don’t feel like you’ll fill the cupboards now there will be a time that you will. Hidden wardrobes, nooks, additional shelving, understairs cupboards etc.. wherever an opportunity for more storage, take it!
Opt for the most smart appliances you can afford – smart speakers, smart heating, integrated sound system, smart washer drier that can be switched on by wifi on your phone, zoned temperature system in refrigerator. Not only are all these super handy but a lot of the time they are also more environmentally friendly only using energy when necessary.
Allow For Emergency Fund:
Factor in up to 20% more as building works usually overrun budgets. If this isn’t possible then start deciding now where in the build you’re willing to wait and do works later on jobs you can no longer afford immediately. To avoid costs running high agree a fixed price with your builder at the beginning, this is more rigid and less room for flexibility if you want additional sockets added etc but it means you’ll be able to pay your bill at the end.
Maximise Utility Space:
A closed door. A dumping ground haven. A space where all your house messiness secrets stay firmly behind that door and your guests never need to see. You’ll cherish this room more than you ever knew possible so make it as big as the space allows.
A luxury for sure, if budget allows then underfloor heating in the kitchen and bathrooms is heaven.
If budget allows soundproof the walls and ceilings. If the floorboards are coming up or walls are being added this is an easy task for builders. Soundproofing allows rooms to be quieter where children may be sleeping, it also means you never have to worry about annoying the neighbours when your dog barks or you want to blast your favourite anthems whilst cooking up a storm in your brand new kitchen!
Different spaces require different lighting. Avoid too many overhead spot lights making the space feel clinical and unwelcoming. Go for low lighting in different areas of the room to layer the light and create warmth. Aim for each zone to have at least 4 different lighting options.
Live in the Space First:
Before starting the building work get a feel for how you use the space, what needs to be changed, where light needs to be added etc..
Consider The Outside:
Outdoors sockets at the front of the house for the hoover to clean the car, christmas lights and even to charge an electric vehicle. A hose pipe plumbed in at the door to wash the car and rinse off the dogs muddy paws and walking boots before going inside.
Wire In Multiple Wifi Spots:
Not just one router, especially if you’re building into the attic. You want fast internet connection with everyone working from home these days so make sure the wifi engineer provides a second router at the other end of the house.
Don’t Scrimp On The Cost Of Good Labourers:
Good tradespeople are worth their weight in gold. You only realise this once someone makes a dogs dinner of your home, and believe me you never want to learn the hard way. Always spend as much as you can afford to on labourers with good reputations, good testimonials and a good portfolio pack.
Don’t Go For Just Aesthetics:
Think about function primarily and then consider the design. Think more about what cleans well instead of what looks nice. Consider if there’s enough cupboard storage before opting for open shelving.
Go on a waitlist with a reputable builder before opting for second best. Don’t rush to finish the job if the timeframe isn’t realistic. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Don’t Follow Trends That Are Really Current:
Go for timeless. Go for styles that suit the period the property was built. Go for design and style YOU like and not what social media or home magazines are telling you are current trends. Whilst you want a trendy house, going for timeless style will always pay off.
Don’t Rush The Important Rooms:
Take time to plan the most important rooms. Whether that’s the communal rooms, the office you spend most of your day in, your bathroom.. How will you use the space? How can the room function at its best? Spend more time and money getting these rooms to cater exactly to your needs.
Don’t Have Small Tiles:
It’s a living nightmare to clean the dirty grout. If you have your heart set on it go for a darker grout that doesn’t change in colour as much. It’ll also cost you a small fortune in tilers fees.