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Home renovations

Your Life
Thursday 27 September 2018
Whether building an extension, making your home ready for later life or simply updating aged fixtures and fittings, it’s smart to go into any building project with your eyes open. Renovating your home not only
makes it a nicer place to live but by choosing the right improvements, you may also add value.

Depending on the scale of the works, you might want to hire an architect to draw up your plans and use them, or a project manager, to oversee the day-to-day running of the project.
1. What work should I do?
  • If your property is old or in need of repair, maintenance should take priority over improvements
  • Ensure the basics are in place – wiring is sound, boilers are serviced, appliances are safe
  • Think about your insulation. There may be grants available to help you pay to upgrade it. Call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 to find out what you might be entitled to
2. The planning stage
  • If you want to build something new or make a major structural
change, you may need planning permission. To find that out and how to apply, visit www.gov.uk/planning-permission-england-wales
  • If your project involves significant structural changes, you might need a structural engineer to help you get Building Regulations approval 
3. Hiring tradespeople
  • Make a detailed list of everything you want done and be specific when asking for quotations
  • Get recommendations for tradespeople. Ask friends and family
  • Check online but do your own research too. Don’t rely on reviews
  • Get written quotes, inclusive of VAT, with a full breakdown of costs for work and materials
  • Once you have a budget, add an emergency fund for unexpected problems. Somewhere between 5% and 25% of the total budget is typical
4. Before work starts
  • Have a written, agreed set of completed works that mark the end of the project
  • Discuss potential delays and who would pay and be responsible for them
  • If you have specific house rules (don’t let the dog out, no boots indoors) make them known
  • Agree how and when payments will be made. Check that you’re paying for completed work
  • Get a timetable for the work
5. While work is ongoing
  • Get regular updates throughout the project and run a list of any outstanding jobs to be done
  • If stages need to be signed off before work continues, such as by your local building control department, make sure this is done
6. When works are finished
  • Make sure you have all the paperwork – certificates for work, instructions and warranties
Any issues? You can withhold a reasonable amount of money if there are problems that need fixing. If there’s anything you’re struggling to get resolved, the Citizens Advice Bureau can help

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Page last updated: Monday 12 November 2018