House Modernisation

publication date: Jul 23, 2014
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books
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Modernising your home and how best to deal with those inevitable hiccups along the way

Modernising your home is something that we see every day on television with ’60 Minute Makeover’ or ‘Changing Rooms’. Both give you the impression that it is easy to modernise your home and you can do it ‘on a budget’. Unfortunately, house modernisation is rarely as easy as the tv programmes suggest! It takes research, planning, careful execution and often means you will need to deal with some crisis along the way.

To start your research on house modernisation, it is essential to sit down and make a list of everything that you want to do to the home. A list which says ‘replace the kitchen’ however isn’t really detailed enough. What you need to do is write down a list of what you want from the new kitchen. For example:-

  1. Are you replacing your kitchen ‘like for like’ ie exactly the same number of cupboards, sink etc in the same position?

  2. Do you want a complete change in kitchen layout, add a dishwasher when there isn’t one there already, this will cost you more as you are likely to incur extra plumbing and electrical charges for new drainage and sockets?

  3. Are you replacing the floor?

  4. Do you need to redecorate the kitchen?

  5. Do you need to move anything such as a radiator or a window? 

Once you have carried out your research, it’s then time to plan what, when and how you will modernise your home. For example, you need to think through your timings. You may want to fit the kitchen within the next six weeks, but if it’s a bespoke kitchen it may take 12 weeks to have it produced for you. Make sure too that you are not due to be on holiday or really busy at work as you must be at home when the work is done, unless you know and trust the people working on your home.

Careful execution of your home modernisation means you need to be incredibly organised and on top of the work that’s being done to your home. Communication is usually the big reason why things go wrong when modernising your home. This often happens because we think its ‘OK’ to leave 
builders and trades people to get on with the job, which isn’t always the best idea.

There are hundreds of decisions that need to be made during the day when working on a project, so it is much better that you are there all day or can pop back or be available on the phone at a moment’s notice if the people modernising your home need you to make a key decision.

Finally, any work on your gas, electrics, windows, drains or major structural work is likely to need 
building regulations if not planning. If you don’t get the right certificates from your tradesmen, then it’s likely that you will have difficulty selling your home later on and be in breach of the local authority rules and regulations. 

How to Cost Renovation Projects
All renovation projects have to be carefully budgeted for, otherwise labour and material costs will quickly spiral out of control and your project may even never get finished. So it’s essential to ensure you know how to cost renovation and home improvements so that your changes are successful from start to finish.

First, you should write down and draw a plan of the area where you want to make the changes – and do this all before you ask a builder or other tradesmen to quote for the work. Make a note of key items such as the location of the fuse box and stopcock. Also note on the plan where windows, heating, doors, electrical sockets, lights and pipes are.

Secondly, set up a budget template sheet, either on a computer or just on paper – but do write it down.  Make sure you list all the materials you know you’ll need as well as likely labour costs.

Once you have your list, check out the costs of everything with every tradesperson you ask to quote, but also so that you can check how much materials would cost you if you bought them yourself. Don’t just go to local DIY stores, visit and talk to the local builders or plumbers merchants too and go on-line.

Then keep a master list of each job eg electrics, extension, plumbing etc and then break down the costs by materials and labour. This way you can pick and choose which tradesperson you want to do which job, depending on their price and how sure you are that they can carry out a quality job.

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All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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