How to survive a Renovation – Part 3

In the final instalment of our series on surviving a big build, Tracey Petherick talks people, paint and perseverance.

Project manager on-site mid construction

Your project manager will fight your corner so your ideas become reality

Challenge the builders

Sometimes – only sometimes – your builder might pretend something can’t be done, just because they think it’s rather a lot of effort.

When our bi-fold doors were fitted, we decided we would like a recessed curtain track – so our voiles would glide effortlessly across, flush to the ceiling (like at the Sanderson Hotel). We asked our builder at the time – in the days before we had a project manager – if he could do this and he sucked air through his gritted teeth and shook his head.

My husband persevered. “What, not even if you do it like this…?” he ventured, launching into a detailed explanation. “Oh yeah. Alright then,” said the builder, and duly fitted the (highly recommended) curtain track.

Fortunately, if you have a project manager fighting your corner, you may never need to engage in such tedious discussions. They will.

Voile curtains with plant shadows

Getting your dream voile curtains may require perseverance

Paint politics

There’s no denying that the likes of Farrow & Ball and Little Greene do give a superb finish. Rich and vibrant or deep and chalky, with fabulous colour palettes to choose from. But (whisper it) you can save a lot of money by using trade paint that’s matched to a designer colour chart.

In our lounge we wanted the deep dark Hague Blue so we went for the real deal from Farrow & Ball on the walls. But the ceiling…the ceiling is a trade brand ‘inspired by’ Wimborne White that we got for a fraction of the price.

Top tip – even if you’re planning to use trade paints in place of the expensive stuff, it makes sense to get genuine sample pots. In my experience, the sample pots of ‘matched’ paint aren’t as accurate as the full size ones. Don’t ask me why.

Sample paint pots

Use original designer paint samples when colour matching with trade paints.

Make time for meetings

I’m not suggesting you gather your renovation team around a boardroom table, but you do need to factor in the unfathomable amount of time it takes to discuss what you want, where you want it and when it needs to be done.

A good designer or project manager will have programmed that time in, from the start.

However, I can’t count the number of long – and, I grant you, productive – conversations I’ve had while balancing on the beams of a floorless room. Or the number of times I’ve “just popped by to see how things are going”, only to end up in an hour-long chat about tiles.

It makes sense to plan meetings with contractors to make sure you are all on the same page. Even better, if you’ve appointed a project manager, they will make sure you are meeting on a regular basis to keep everything in check. Which will do wonders for your time management. And sanity.

Client and Project Manager discussing plans

Make time to discuss what you want and when it needs to be done.

Work with people you trust

One final piece of advice – make sure your interior designer or project manager is someone you actually like. It doesn’t matter how good they are at their job, if you don’t feel comfortable with them it’s not going to work. Ideally, you want to hire someone you can see yourself having a glass of wine with. Then, when your builder’s foot comes through your bedroom ceiling (which I’ve since discovered is rather common) you can crack open a bottle together and see the funny side. Probably…