Serial renovator Tracey Petherick continues her three-part series on home-build survival tactics, with good-to-know tips on housekeeping, moving rooms and working to a budget.
Housekeeping ground rules
If you’re living in the property during the works, unless you enjoy making endless cups of tea and coffee, show your builders where everything is and tell them to help themselves. I worked this out on the 16th cup of day 1. There is also a discussion to be had over toilet facilities. I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say renting a Portaloo might be the best investment you ever made.
Moving rooms around (aka Having an open mind)
For our loft conversion we had architect drawings for a single massive bedroom, but after our interior designer diplomatically pointed out that, “you could, er, stick a wall in here,” we ended up with two good sized spare rooms – one for guests and one as an office.
Similarly, during our full house renovation, our interior designer and I scratched our chins for quite a while over the master bedroom’s ensuite bathroom. At first it felt reckless to knock the whole thing down and rebuild it on the other side of the room, but it made such a difference to the usable space in the bedroom it was well worth it. And it’s especially fun if you’re allowed a go on the sledge hammer. (Shh, don’t tell the Health and Safety Officer.)
Accessorise in advance
Big decisions – like which kitchen you want – are always going to be made in advance, but smaller features and accessories are often left to the last minute. Door handles? Curtains and blinds? You don’t want to find yourself making quick decisions and ending up with ill-fitting ready-made blinds. You need to cogitate and consider the options. Let’s face it, one of the best bits of any renovation is choosing the trimmings.
This is when interior designers and project managers really come into their own. Not only do they have creative ideas and an eye for style, they’re also the ones who will keep this stuff on your radar, right from the start, so that you’re making these decisions in plenty of time.
Also – bonus – when you finally move back in, you’ll find yourself gazing affectionately at the bathroom tap, thinking, “Hello old friend, I remember choosing you, all those moons ago…”
Blowing the budget, and how not to
Everybody thinks they’ll be the ones who remember all the elements that are required for their renovation. Nobody thinks they’ll be like those people on Grand Designs who go £80,000 over budget. But there’s a reason why everybody – literally, everybody – goes over budget. It’s because there are so many aspects of a build to factor in. The basic quotes from architects, builders, kitchen companies and bathroom suppliers are just the tip of the budgeting iceberg. I might be a teensy bit biased, but investing in a project manager is worth every penny. They will consider every aspect of your build and give you a complete estimate with no surprises. The bottom line might look bigger, but at least you know it’s realistic.