Top Tips to Renovating a Property: Is it the Right Option for You?

Everywhere you turn on television nowadays, there’s a programme extolling the virtues of property renovation; two of the biggest being Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.  Without doubt, these TV series have inspired people to take on a property renovation project, but is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Whether you’re buying your property renovation project through a sales agent, an auction or even privately, more often than not it leads to endless headaches and sleepless nights!  So, if you’re thinking of renovating a property, here are our top tips to guide you in creating the home of your dreams.

Financing the purchase and renovation

Most people that purchase a renovation project do so with a mortgage, albeit sometimes a small one.  But be careful; not only will mortgage providers want their valuation surveys done, you may find that they won’t lend the full amount required to renovate the property.  Not only that, mortgage lenders tend not to lend to first-time-renovators on properties that are uninhabitable.  There is the option to borrow in the form of a loan from a bank or building society but again, they will want some form of valuation to ensure they will get their money back.

Get a building survey report

So, you’ve bought the property.  Now you need to find out just how structurally sound the building is before you start to plan budgets, hire tradespeople or even lift a hammer.  If the property renovations are more ‘cosmetic’ and internal, such as upgrading the kitchen and bathrooms, replacing carpets and painting, you may be in the position of being able to rely on surveys conducted by your mortgage lender.  However, if you believe there is more extensive, structural work that needs to be carried, get a full structural survey completed.  This will clearly detail the work that needs to be completed to make not only building sound, but also areas such as re-wiring, replacing roofs and gutters, any damp or rot, and viability of floors.

Set a realistic budget

How many times have you heard of a property renovation project going way over budget?  But it needn’t be like that.  Once you know what needs to be done, set budgets that are realistic and stick to them!  If you’re not sure how much areas of work are going to cost, call in the professionals and get quotes, more than one for comparison.  When it comes to the interior of your home, do your research.  Yes, that chandelier in the local interior design shop looks great, but can you get it cheaper online, at a different shop or even secondhand? Create a spreadsheet and keep it up-to-date with predicted and actual costs so that you always know where you are.

Don’t forget the unexpected costs

Any property renovation project has all the hallmarks of going over budget due to issues arising once work has started.  Make sure you allow for any unexpected costs.  10-15% of the project cost is a good guideline and should cover those nasty surprises that pop up.

Beware of any planning permissions or building regulations required

If you’re renovation project involves major changes to the property, such as extensions or knocking down walls, make sure you know where you stand in terms of building regulations and that you have secured the right permissions.  For major work to listed buildings, you will also need to seek permission from Historic England.

Create a Schedule of Works

It’s all in the planning.  Once you know the work that needs to be done, talk to your tradespeople and together, work out a Schedule of Works so that everyone involved in the project knows what should be done, and at what stage of the renovation.  There’s nothing worse than having to wait weeks for one bit of work to be completed that should have been done before another, such as plastering the walls before the re-wiring has started.

Renovate rather than replace

With some renovation projects, particularly if working to a tight budget, it’s not always necessary to replace items, such as doors and windows.  Often, renovating them is not only a more cost-effective solution but also retains the charm and history of the building.

Taking on a property renovation project is not for the faint-hearted and it can often throw up all sorts of unexpected issues.  However, for many people, it has been incredibly worthwhile and created their dream homes.

For more information about buying and selling a property and for a free valuation, contact us on 01483 285255 or email