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Have you renovated your house? What worked well, and what didn't..

(59 Posts)
MmeLindor Mon 14-Jan-13 13:59:04

We are renovating the whole house, including

gas CH
fitted kitchen
bathroom (incl moving a wall)
guest WC
oak flooring
tiled flooring
paper and decorating
rewire
windows

Any top tips on getting exactly what we want? Any thing you have done and regretted, or not done and regretted?

Do we go for a company that offers several of these services, or individual tradesmen?

We had a joiner and plumber lined up but they have been SO unreliable, I am now looking into getting a company that does all.

Badvoc Mon 14-Jan-13 14:26:51

We regretted doing the loft room, but did every else you are doing and it was great.
We used a builder we knew...not the cheapest! - and he recommended other tradespeople to do the plumbing and electrics etc

GinAndSlimlinePlease Mon 14-Jan-13 14:30:33

Check the roof is sound and any damp problems sorted first!

<speaking from bitter and expensive experience>

Kahlua4me Mon 14-Jan-13 14:35:53

Find tradesmen through word of mouth rather than Internet. Ask to see previous work. Spend time talking with them to see if you will get along/see eye to eye so that they do what you are wanting rather than what they think. Also they can then advise on what will and won't work.

Personally I would go with individual trades, but ensure they all know what is happening so they can work together. Dh is an electrician and often works alongside other trades on a job.

MmeLindor Mon 14-Jan-13 15:46:35

Gin
The roof is sound, and no damp. It is not an old old house, but a 1970s council house, well built but very dated

Badvoc
No space to convert the attic, the roof is very low.

Kahlua
We have tried word of mouth, but finding it tricky to get reliable people. We have done a few little jobs already and have had to chase for quotes, chase to get them to come etc. V annoying.

The actual work will be done in one go - we are moving into my parents for a month or two - so they have to be reliable or we will have painters waiting for the plumbers to finish, who are waiting for the tilers to turn up ...

Mandy21 Mon 14-Jan-13 15:55:01

You've got me on a bad day but but 200% careful about the windows - we moved into a house in 2010 where the whole house had had new double glazing in 2007. Noticed it wasn't quite right last Christmas, fortunately had a guarantee with the deeds and had them all replaced / sealed again last February. Noticed again that we were having the problems again and we're going to have to have the whole frames / units replaced. Not sure whether the guarantee includes that - even if it does, am pretty sure it doesn't stretch to the re-decoration inside the house where its mouldy under the window sills, the made to measure roman blinds that are all mouldy, the extra heating costs etc.

We have a fully tiled kitchen - wouldn't have that again unless we had under-floor heating (but I've heard that can be really expensive to run / be a nightmare to get at if it goes wrong, so I probably wouldn't want that any way), we also had a fully tiled bathroom - all the walls and floor (again without under floor heating) - it was quite a big space - and it was always freezing despite having a v large radiator. Not a tiled floor fan!

OliviaPeacein2013Mumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 14-Jan-13 16:01:59

See this thread too and please note my point about being boring as you like for 4 months of my life that I'm never getting back.

NB we went for one general construction company who sourced the trades for us (and were happy to use them which makes things easier imo)
They also priced to "general finish" i.e. plaster and skirting but no decor/painting (we got a decorator to do as we are both crap at painting and time poor so thought it would be better to get it finished)
We are pleased but omg the convos about sinks etc <yawns>

MmeLindor Mon 14-Jan-13 16:16:42

Mandy
oh, what a nightmare. We are being incredibly fussy with the windows, so I really hope that doesn't happen.

We are probably going with German windows (well, Austrian actually) and a German kitchen, so hopeful that the quality will be good.

MmeLindor Mon 14-Jan-13 16:19:33

oh, will have a look at that one again. I skimmed it but it was full of people talking about 'retaining the original character of the house', which we are not really wanting.

It is a 1970s semi. The original character included orange kitchen units and flowerpower lino. smile

Yes, I am already boring people all over Europe with my worries about which windows, and HOW LONG can anyone talk about the value of x light switch compared to y light switch.

sommewhereelse Mon 14-Jan-13 16:23:53

Do you mind if I hijack to ask Badvoc why you regret having the loft space converted? It's something we are considering on our house. If we have funds after the new windows, new central heating, new bathroom....

Kahlua4me Mon 14-Jan-13 16:46:34

If there is nobody that has been recommended then I would go with one company.

Find one you like and discuss it all in detail, what they will and will not do etc.

Also, if you are staying at your parents and not in the house, try to go over there regularly to keep on top of it and see how it is progressing.

Badvoc Mon 14-Jan-13 17:14:43

It was just a wasted room for us really. Dh and boys had a train in there but that's all it was used for. I think quite often they tend to end up as heated and well lit storage.

MmeLindor Mon 14-Jan-13 19:00:25

Kahlua
My parent's house is two minutes away so I will be able to spend a lot of time at the house if necessary.

LittleMilla Mon 14-Jan-13 19:46:20

We're still doing work as we live here so phased. I'd recommend leaving carpets right up until the very last moment. And I'd also consider doing that in phases - I already regret the carpet we put in the sitting room as it's too light and marked already.

Our big project is coming up, so can't be too helpful.

Re trades I'd consider going with an all in company if you haven't met any decent trades. Do you have any mates who've had work done? Anyone on your parents' raised who've had work done. You really can't beat personal recs - how we've found everyone and they've all been so brill.

Good luck!!

stealthsquiggle Mon 14-Jan-13 20:15:52

If you are doing it all in one go, there will be lots of interdependencies. Given that you are having problems getting people to turn up, I would go for a single prime contractor on a fixed price. That way, when one trade not turning up leaves another one twiddling their thumbs, it is not your problem.

We did the first tranche of work with a prime contractor who recommended and brought in specialists. Almost all of those specialists were so good that we stayed in touch and I project-managed the next lot of work directly with them. (not a problem, as the first prime contractor was the kitchen fitter, so he wouldn't have been interested in the next project IYSWIM)

MmeLindor Mon 14-Jan-13 20:32:25

LittleM
We are only putting carpets upstairs, and that will be pretty much the last thing. Most of the work is downstairs, where we will have no carpets.

I have asked around, but we don't have many friends here yet, cause we only moved back last year. Just my family, and they haven't had work done in the past few years.

Stealth
yes, that is what I would like to have. I am happy to project manage things, but without reliable guys, it is really hard.

Our joiner was due to go to my parent's house today to install a loft ladder and he didn't turn up. Second time he's done that. He is an excellent joiner but terrible at keeping in touch, and today was the last straw.

stealthsquiggle Mon 14-Jan-13 22:26:57

I just looked at your list again. Even with my hard-won little black book of people who will turn up when you ask them to and do a good job (and work for me, rather than looking straight past me to DH), that would be a hard set of things to get in the right order. Windows, Heating are projects unto themselves, and need to be done before anything else as they will create havoc. Electricians need to be on board early on, but will be in and out throughout. General builder can do the wall moving and plumbing, but I would want to see their tiling elsewhere before deciding if that needs a specialist (that may be just my paranoia - 300+yo house with no straight lines or right angles means that plasterers and tilers have had to be masters of their art to get the finish I want, and they have been, but plenty aren't). If you get the right general builder they can do the oak flooring as well (engineered wood is especially easy to lay - we did that bit ourselves).

Electricians will probably want to contract direct with you as tey are higher up to food chain than (most) general builders, but you definitely need someone who knows and gets on with the main builder, so getting one person on board and then going with their recommendations is probably the way to go.

It's hard. We fell on our feet, big time, by starting with the kitchen and therefore exploiting the kitchen vendor's contact book.

MmeLindor Mon 14-Jan-13 23:16:08

Electrician is my cousin's husband so he will be able to pop in and out when needed.

Yes, am leaning towards one company as I can only imagine that there will be delays otherwise.

Tiler is the one I am most cautious of, and the plasterer - I agree they really have to be spot on.

Piemistress Mon 14-Jan-13 23:20:32

Just marking place as are doing same soon except windows! And planning a Sun room extensión, erk!

MmeLindor Mon 14-Jan-13 23:30:21

oh, I missed the porch off the list - although that will likely be done next year with the wood burning stove.

stealthsquiggle Mon 14-Jan-13 23:31:43

So if your electrician is sorted, can he not recommend the other trades based on people he has worked with before confused? "Our" tradespeople often seem to end up swapping cards so that they can put work each other's way...

stealthsquiggle Mon 14-Jan-13 23:33:12

Plasterers were the single hardest thing to find, for us - and they moaned lots about our walls, but did a beautiful job.

MmeLindor Mon 14-Jan-13 23:40:15

He is from slightly further away - about 30 mins drive - and is only doing it as a favour because he is family. Well, not as a favour, we do have to pay him smile but normally he wouldn't take a job here.

JollyGolightly Mon 14-Jan-13 23:59:40

We had need of an architect, who did the drawings, then project-managed the renovation for a percentage of the overall cost. He asked several local joinery firms to tender quotes and they subcontracted to the other trades. It worked for us because we were still living a long way away. We'd previously renovated a house while living in it, which was sheer hell.

Like you we went for wooden flooring downstairs (ours is.engineered oak) and carpets upstairs, so downstairs is indestructible and upstairs is shoeless hygienic loveliness. We also got some brilliant engineered.cork flooring for the bathrooms.
In the kitchen we had standard unit carcasses fitted, and the joiners made the doors to our specificaction, which were then spray painted our unusual colour choice. It was also designed to accommodate some free standing furniture we already owned. I love it, and could go.on but it's late and it hard to.type on my phone, hence the liberal scattering.of.full stops, sorry!

FogClearing Tue 15-Jan-13 00:13:12

The two times we used plasters they were very much wanting you to book them a day or two before you needed them and when you did they were busy and we had to wait.

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