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Home renovation - any tips?

(29 Posts)
milward Sun 28-May-06 20:31:57

Thinking of buying a house that needs complete renovation: - roof, pipes, radiators, windows, dampness probs, has no kitchen - loads more to do as well!!

Anyone done this type of project? Any tips or websites I could check out?

We're getting a quote from an architect & builder on the project. Never done this before - and need to learn fast!

bluebear Sun 28-May-06 21:02:38

We've done a lot of work on our house - moved walls, new plumbing, radiators, wiring, kitchen, floors, front door...we used builders occasionally, but dh did the bulk of it himself...We have a big DIY book bought from WHSmith which actually covered most of it (and dh has heaps of confidence, which really helped).

Is the house big enough for you to move around it as the work goes on (or are you able to not live there for weeks at a time?) - we did a lot of living in 2 rooms, one for sleeping and one for kitchen/living (plug in electic cooker, fridge somewhere, bit of old worktop for kettle and a cheap IKEA shelf unit for food etc) - it's feasible, but not fun after the first 12 months :O

I've got to go and chase the children back to bed, I'll have a think and post again later.

moondog Sun 28-May-06 21:35:12

We did it (with architect and builder)
Very chaotic,but good fun.
No children then though.

morningpaper Sun 28-May-06 21:46:40

get quote

double it

but another house

milward Sun 28-May-06 21:50:03

Thanks bluebear.

The house is just down the road from where we live - so we'll stay here until the big work is finished. We plan to get the house water tight & insulated first.

The roof needs to be redone, the outside wall dampness & cracks tackled. The radiators need to be changed downstairs as they're too small for the room size and the water pipes to the radiators need to be changed to modern insulated pipes & then put into the walls and the wall replastered. The jobs continue!! - window frames restored if possible. Plus no kitchen!!! There's a room that will be the kitchen & a room that will be the bathroom with the bathroom pipe connections close by.The wooden floors need sanding, filling & varnishing throughout.

Sounds like you've done loads of work - the same jobs that we're thinking of tackling if we go for the house. What was the worst?

My dh will be able to do some of the work - but he only has some weekends & so we'll have to use builders for all the big jobs. Never done this before and hope that I'll be able to manage them & be sure that all is going to plan! There seems so much to organise - from the house structure to decorating - I've only ever made curtains before!!! so it's a big step

milward Sun 28-May-06 21:52:42

Moondog - I've got 4 kids to run after so the house project would be a 5th child!

Morning paper - lol - this is what my dh has been doing! Looking at the houses that would equal this one plus the work!!

bluebear Sun 28-May-06 23:11:29

Fantastic that you don't have to live in it yet! (There's a wreck for sale just opposite our house and we would love to buy it and renovate it..but just can't face living in another one, and can't afford to run 2 houses).
Worst thing is the amazing dust you get from 1) ceilings coming down - loads of gross thick black muck, and 2) anglegrinding (cutting through plaster) for any reason - e.g. putting in channels for cables.
We spent a long time planning what we wanted, drew out rooms to scale and made paper furniture to scale, then moved it around, checking for number of electrical sockets, length of radiator (we replaced some single radiators with shorter double radiators to give us more wall space), how doors on furniture or in kitchen would open, etc. The planning is very important. Once you know what you want where you need to make sure you can both communicate well with, and trust, your builder - we had a few quotes which were cheaper but the builder didn't want to do it the way we wanted but by a cheaper or easier way (eg. wanted to put in a saniflo loo in downstairs WC, but we wanted to pay more and get a proper plumbed in one)..wait until you find a builder that is on your wave length! (took us 9 months and although we still had some problems, most things were smooth). When we had big jobs to do eg. creating our utility room involved knocking down a downstairs bathroom, putting in new windows and patio doors and building new partition wall, plus new boiler, and changes to the lighting circuit, we employed a project manager/builder - he was able to keep the work flowing and got all the different tradesmen in at the right times...for other, more bitty things, dh did it himself (he can do carpentry and plumbing, and does electrics but we get an electrician to check them and sign them off - he can't plaster large areas (yet ) and we saved up all the plastering until we had enough for a plasterer to do in one day - saves a lot of money.
Since we lived in our house we had to phase the work, phase 1 was the bedrooms (we all slept in loft room then), phase 2 was the utility and kitchen (we created a kitchen area in one of the receptions and the kids got their own bedroom at last), phase 3 was the reception rooms and downstairs loo (we moved into one of the bedrooms and lived upstairs for a year), we have now got use of kitchen and receptions and all but one bedroom, just need to finish off downstairs wc and re-wire remaining bedroom..then re-carpet because there is ingrained unshiftable dirt in most carpetted areas....and then we start on the garden
I was 5 months pg with dd when this began, and she is now 2 and a half yrs, we also have an older ds who is very knowledgable about building work now.
At times it has been terribly depressing, and felt that it would never end, also was worrying 'destroying' what was our biggest asset (dh was made redundant at one point and we couldn't have sold the house in the state it was in), but it has been worth it in the end. Good luck.
If you decide to go for it and need someone to whinge about the dust to, I'm here!

milward Mon 29-May-06 08:55:51

Thanks bluebear - happy you got through the work. Good tips on the planning. I hope we get the house as I've seen lots of other people looking at it - plus some prefessional developer have been round. We're taking longer to put an offer in as we have to cost before we take the risk. Will keep you posted xxx Wishing you all the best for the remaining jobs!

zippitippitoes Mon 29-May-06 09:05:06

I think there are two certainties it will cost more than you ever imagined and it will take longer too.

You may also wish that you had done things differently by the time you finished

moondog Mon 29-May-06 10:30:00

Milward,you're very brave.
It is stressful without the kids...

milward Mon 29-May-06 23:34:06

Thanks Zippi & Moondog. Have a meeting tomorrow with the architect & builder. Will get a cost estimate & from this we'll see if we can do it.

redsky Mon 29-May-06 23:54:53

I wish you luck milward! We bought our house last Sept and it needs all the things yours does. We bought the house last Sept, employed the surveyor/architect/project manager straight away and tomorrow the builders start!!!! Can't believe it has taken so long to finalise the plans/get planning permission/ appoint the bulders etc. Meanwhile estimate of costs have already risen from £170K last September to £230K now! I'm already wishing I'd never set eyes on the place.

On one hand it is the most desirable, characterful gorgeous Victorian cottage i've ever seen - with an orchard garden and a well, and a bit of spare land we could sell off for development one day. On the other hand it could be a complete and utter disaster for us financially. It will take every penny of our savings,pensions and earnings so it is a huge gamble. My only consolation is that most of our money is inherited from dh's family and if i hadn't persuaded dh to invest in this house he would have frittered it on endless 'business schemes' none of which (in our 25 years together) have ever amounted to anything.

I'll post again tomorrow if the builders fail to even show up - or deposit a token ladder then disappear!

singledadofthree Tue 30-May-06 00:02:26

looks like you're going the right way with the architect. havent read it all but you must be certain of the structure and foundations. trees are a real problem if close to building. basically get a realistic costing for all the major work - add at least 20% - compare that to its final max value - is it worth doing?
if so , go for it, is hard work but great fun, i've done a few for other people and will get to do my own some day.

milward Tue 30-May-06 12:23:04

Gosh redsky hope you get off to a good start! Sounds a lovely property. Look forward to hearing how you get on with the work.

Thanks singledadofthree - good point on the cost & value. We've started to look at houses that would equal the amount paid for this one! But the location & character are the sticking points for us.

Will report back after the meeting this afternoon on the costs & development options..........Looks so easy on the tv programmes!

FioFio Tue 30-May-06 12:24:00

Message deleted

noddyholder Tue 30-May-06 12:28:27

Am doing it atm and am living in one room with make do kitchen and its hassley but we do enjoy it.not the first time so do know what to expect.I usually do the drawings myself and get a really good builder Don't just use any builder as I have also been stung in that way.I would say that doubling the quote is not far off!Don't buy any fancy bits until the structure is as you want it and don't compromise your vision as builders will try and get the easiest option for themselves.We are living in absolute chaos but have a powerful hot shower in a derelict bathroom and comfy beds to fall into at the end of the day.Kitchen fitters are in this week and I feel we've turned a corner Definitely worth doing if you want to put your mark on a place Good luck and let us know how it goes xx

milward Tue 30-May-06 22:25:09

Noggyholder - sounds like things are going well. Good luck with the new kitchen - enjoy!

FioFio - would be the most sensible option - but just love the house. Ruled by my heart here!

Had the meeting with the builder & architect. The roof needs to be completely redone & insulated. There is a long beam around 7metres in room on the top floor - this is unstable & needs to be replaced. They spoke about the options & they'll get back with the most cost effect solution!

The kitchen & tv room should be knocked into one family room area - good idea & the roof space above the kitchen developed into an office room. Great suggestions but we don't have the means for this so will wait to do this work.

Now just waiting for the cost estimate for everything else, which we'll get next week!!! - hoping it will be ok. DH called up the sellers to see if they'll be open to price discussion - they hadn't foresen the roof & beam work so once they've read the architects report they might discuss.

Hope it works out!

anniemac Wed 31-May-06 15:10:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

anniemac Wed 31-May-06 15:14:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

milward Wed 31-May-06 21:24:36

Thanks anniemac. Hadn't thought of rubbish disposal!! Good advice as well - had been thinking of trying to conserve a side annexe but it would better to just rebuild it. For us the finance is really tight - having to redo the roof & structural beam will mean not having some of the decoration work done. dh & I are not clued up on all the work yet & today I got a big renovation guide to read through.

Good luck with your next project

neena28 Wed 31-May-06 21:30:14

Agree with everything that's been said, we had a budget and didn't go over it thanks to no major probs and being semi in the business anyway. If you have no connection to renovating/ building etc be very careful though, costs can easily spiral and a couple of things we nearly did on the advice of the architect turns out not to be acceptable to the building inspector, so be very careful!

BUT it is good fun and if you think you can handle it and afford it, do it.

We spent 12 months doing our barn from a proper heap to the beautiful house we now have and I wouldn't change a thing....I love it soooo much.

neena28 Wed 31-May-06 21:38:52

Agree about the building inspector, ours was lovely and really helped so get him on side from the start.

Also make sure you are on site every single day at least once, builders don't always follow drawings or listen and what you think you said clearly they can completely misunderstand. They are also buggers for making a ten minute trip to get something into a 2 hour trip. If you can get a list of what they will need and get it every couple of days.

Make sure that everyone has a job to do each day, one if it's a nice day and one if it's wet. Otherwise a wet day can make everything grind to a halt.

Also go to TRavis Perkins/ EH Smith/builders merchants and see one of their account managers to open an account. We saved about 30% on everything we bought as we did this first thing. Well worth asking as they do everything from sand to gutter brackets to basic magnolia paint!


Do try and find out if things like proper underfloor heating are possible. We have apexed ceiling in every room and without it we would have cold ankles! Ask about everything then do what you like/ can afford.

Get Homebuilders and Renovators magazine a couple of times, back is great for addresses and info and their shows are quite useful if there is one near you.

Give me a shout if you wanna chat, trust me have been there and got the t-shirt!

And Good Luck!

milward Wed 31-May-06 21:49:14

neena28 - thanks. I'll be the one following up the work on site - so good tips for wet day work. Your barn must be lovely.

I have to organise for a second quote for the big work - just hope it'll be in budget & then we can put an offer in for the house confident we can achieve what needs to be done.

neena28 Wed 31-May-06 22:11:17

In the magazine I suggested there is normally a table thing that you can use to work out the square meter cost. Worth a look.

Make sure you budget for a good 20% contingency on top of any quote.

Norwich and peterborough building society do the best renovators mortgages we found, must companies won't touch you with a brage pole.

Also don't pay anyone the full amount up front, you won't see them for months!! Also when we find the next we have decided to have a clause in all the contracts that we will withold the final 10% of payment until 1 month after completion cos it's hard to get people back if there is a problem after they feel they have 'finished'.

anniemac Thu 01-Jun-06 09:48:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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