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PLEASE share your home renovation tips- I need your sage advice

(37 Posts)
Apatite1 Sat 18-Oct-14 18:09:43

Hi everyone

I'm a complete newbie in the scary world of home improvements.

We are hoping to build a two storey extension and completely change the internal layout of a house. It's a dilapated 60s box right now.

We haven't hired an architect yet.

I would be very grateful for all your tips on how to do this as painlessly as possible, and on a tight budget. Our dream house will need £300k plus (which tbh this house isn't worth spending that much on): we have a third of this plus contingency unless I win the lottery or pull off that diamond heist . We need to cut corners all over, I've started looking for ex display kitchens, bathrooms etc already.

I'm looking for advice on everything from what to ask an architect, to what to put into a building contract, down to where to get door handles from. If would be great to hear from experts like noddyholder and PigletJohn, I'm out of my comfort zone by a considerable distance here!

I'm happy to answer any questions you have and it would be great to collate a thread of useful tips for others to refer to in future.

If you found great service with any companies, including builders in south east london, please share your thoughts.

Thanks to you all in advance!

Apatite dazed and confused

MAM48 Sat 18-Oct-14 20:22:14

Hi Apatite I am going to watch this thread as also just starting to plan a two storey extension to side with a single to rear. Hope to create a huge downstairs Family Room with new kitchen and extend family bath and Bed3.
I have an Edwardian semi.

Just finalising plans with Architect and hope to submit planning in next few weeks.

Same budget as you and trying hard NOT to get carried away with Pinterest at least until planning is agreed (fingers crossed)

My one piece of advice to date is decide what you want layout wise ASAP I have been undecided on layout etc and this is driving Architect fees up and up. Have now done so and feel a lot more confident!!

Apatite1 Sat 18-Oct-14 21:00:37

MAM: that's a valuable point, I haven't thought about layout yet, and didn't realise it would put fees up. Stick around, it's probably going to be slow as it's Saturday night and everyone's out getting a life but I'm on call and stuck at home. Your project sounds pretty extensive: will you be living on site?

I have one thing to add: I never knew bathroom fixtures could ever be so overwhelming nor so expensive! I had a fiddle around with 6k shower heads last weekend. shock everything I liked was £2k and up. Yeah, that's not happening on our budget. I only have vague ideas of what we want to spend on kitchens and bathrooms, and not lots will be left after things like fixing the roof, UFH and clearing the knotweed (thankfully a small patch). Gah! I think our budget may be wildly optimistic. sad

SASASI Sat 18-Oct-14 23:37:49

Following...plans have been submitted & hoping to start renovations in new year. Converting a 60 yr old 3 bed bungalow to include an ensuite, larger kitchen, utility, dining & living area plus garage & gardening.

Not a clue where to start, won't get detailed drawings until verbal permission is granted so can't start pricing kitchens or anything yet & I see myself already getting carried away!

Tyranasaurus Sun 19-Oct-14 08:09:18

Re layout- start making a list of all the things you do (or would like to do) in your house, currently and for the foreseeable future. Keep it realistic, you may want to host fabulous dinner parties but are more of a takeaway in front of the TV person. E.g. informal dining area for 4, somewhere to do laundry with access to washing line, space to work from home, ....

Once you have a list of spaces you need you can start moving them about. Maybe use a bubble diagram- so just sticking an appropriately sized and shaped blob on your plan. Think about where the light is and which areas you'd like near each other.

Once you have a good idea of approximately where you want everything I'd say it's a good time to bring the professionals in, they can help you in terms of structural stuff, where to put door and windows, sizes etc.

MAM48 Sun 19-Oct-14 09:31:19

Re moving out - I think we are going to Have to as I work from home 2/3 days week and on conf calls a lot so cannot imagine it will be a quiet environment! Also think it will be less stressful?

My thoughts are if I have to 'pack up' stuff for storage and pay those fees I may as well just short term rent a nearby flat. Realistically I know this is going to take 6 months and the thought of living amongst all the dust and noise does not bear thinking about - downside is the rent will need to be budget for - I HATE SPREADSHEETS

Apatite1 Sun 19-Oct-14 20:16:56

I'm using your "blob" method tyranasaurus, thanks!

I'd go MAM if I were you, apparently the dust gets everywhere and builders will have to work around you being there and this can slow them down (they have to clean up after themselves and leave the place habitable, which will take up time they could be building instead) We won't be living there, so they can work like fury.

I'm bumping this up for more ideas!

LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Oct-14 09:00:20

It's hard to know how much you can spend on fixtures without knowing the size of your extension. The budget does found tight.

The thing that saved us the most time is that we decided what we wanted and made no changes once building work starts. Changes once you've hired a builder are the easiest way to destroy your budget so be duress and take your time before starting

Apatite1 Thu 23-Oct-14 15:47:04

Bumping. Thanks LondonGirl I hear what you are saying about not making changes mid building. I've upped budget to £150k as well, as we need roof repairs too. The extension will be about 800-1000 ft depending on what we gain permission for. It's a big job on a not so big budget. We can increase the pot, but I was hoping not to have to borrow and do this with savings alone. I'm meeting another architect today. The most frustrating thing is not knowing how much this will end up costing, even after building has begun. I find that really hard to wrap my head around.

How's everyone else doing?

MAM48 Sat 25-Oct-14 00:27:19

Planning went in for permission this week!

Had neighbors round last weekend and went through plans with both couples no objections brought up - all seems bit too easy at the moment...(hmm)

Apatite1 Sat 25-Oct-14 21:47:13

Ah, good luck MAM! how big is your extension? Are you having a new kitchen, bathrooms etc etc? Just being nosey ignore me if you like grin

We've found our architect. Er, that's about it.

MAM48 Sun 26-Oct-14 08:05:53

Extension is fairly big. Having a two storey side extension with a single storey rear. Think the total is 30 sqm? DH sorts the tech stuff out because I am useless

Yes to new kitchen (see my other post) Yes to new bathroom (this is last on the list and if the budget runs out we are going to leave it empty for a few months til the funds replenish as have quite new en-suite that can be used)

Good that you have found your architect, first step underway for you then! If I can share my experience here it is that I was expecting mine to more or less decide everything for the layout, not the case, we had to come up with the requirements and he told me what could/could not work. Was a drawn out process - entirely our fault not his the man has the patience of a saint

Apatite1 Sun 26-Oct-14 10:20:58

That sounds like a big extension MAM! I'll be talking kitchens with you later. Have you already been around the kitchen showrooms? I went last week to get a feel for prices and all the ones I liked were £50k plus. Serves me right for going to wigmore street. I thoroughly enjoyed it though, it was kitchen heaven.

I'll try and be ultra decisive about the layout. I usually am about things but who knows I might not be here. It's a huge decision. And I'm making 90% of all the decisions as husband is too busy at work and I'm part time.

Marmitelover55 Sun 26-Oct-14 11:26:10

We lived in our house during our extension (16 and 1/2 weeks). My husband also works from home/often on conference calls too. Glad we stayed though as could keep a close eye on things/be on hand to make decisions as and when etc. We somehow managed without putting anything into storage. The work finished at the end of July and we love out new space. Ours is only single story extension and knock through of existing rooms. We have ended up with a new kitchen, dining area, large "snug" (as the architect calls it), utility room and study area. All in all we spent about £95k, but this includes furnishings, new tv and a lovely painting too shock

Apatite1 Sun 26-Oct-14 15:05:36

Thanks for the info marmite, v helpful. I think we may need to double our budget: we need to buy all new furniture (our ikea stuff has fallen apart), new driveway and garden so I think our initial budget was very unrealistic.

AryaUnderfoot Sun 26-Oct-14 16:08:28

Can I join?

We started our two-storey side extension at the end of September. We are adding two bedrooms upstairs and a family room downstairs (no kitchens/bathrooms so fairly simple). We are having to lose one of the upstairs bedrooms to access the new rooms, so it will become an open plan landing/office space so DH and I can work from home without killing each other in the dining room any more.

We employed a designer/project manager who helped us put together a really detailed design document that we could use to get a fixed price spec. The only complicated bit was that we had to create another parking space for planning permission to go from a 3-bed to 4.

Builders started on the 24th September and have just put in the final lift of the scaffolding ready for the final blockwork and roof. Our house (1970s boring box) is tile hung on the first floor so just blockwork which was really quick to put up.

Getting hold of bricks at the moment is a bit of a problem for most builders - they are in quite short supply apparently!

Apatite1 Sun 26-Oct-14 23:20:47

Course you can join! Have you found you've been sticking to your budget so far? Are you having to match your bricks or use reclaimed bricks? Have you had to budget for new furniture? How did you create another parking place? Just being nosey grin

AryaUnderfoot Mon 27-Oct-14 09:18:26

Our original budget/guestimate was woefully inadequate and we had to increase it considerably. We've also suffered from the inevitable 'project creep' - things like having all the gutters and facia (sp?) boards replaced with UPVC ones. We're also having the hall/stairs/landing re-plastered as someone in the dim and distant past decided it would be a great idea to 'texture' the walls with Artex (yuk).

We did, however, decide on all the 'extras' in advance so these were included in the tender document that went out to the builders. Hence, we know exactly what the final budget for the build will be. We do have a budget for furniture, but not much. Our house suffers from severe furniture overcrowding, so we will mainly just be spreading out the stuff we already have. The hard flooring in the family room and landing are part of the building contract, so we've just (haha) got to carpet the stairs, landing, bedrooms and office space.

Bricks were a real issue and the extension definitely looks different. Although the colour match on the bricks is pretty good, the new bricks just look too 'new' and regularly shaped/spaced. The bricklayer blended in with some bricks that were reclaimed from the garden wall that's been taken down for the extension, so the join between bits of the building don't look too bad.

Our house is on a corner plot but the house itself faces sideways in the plot. So, although it's a side extension, the new bit is being built towards the road. That part of the garden was originally enclosed in a brick wall. We've 'lost' this section of garden as the bit that isn't going to be built on will form the new drive. The council weren't very happy about the layout of the parking space (at 90 degrees to the road and not 'independently accessible') but we managed to get the planning permission through without too much hassle.

I will keep you updated!

AryaUnderfoot Mon 27-Oct-14 09:24:47

One thing that I found really useful was browsing through planning applications on our council's website. All the applications are online and I spent ages going back through applications in the local area and seeing what things the council did/didn't like. It was also really useful to find the names/details of architects and building designers as their details were usually included on the plans and drawings.

Apatite1 Fri 07-Nov-14 14:11:32

How are things going for you guys?

Our project is going to be a lot more expensive than we thought, but we will just have to suck it up....

MAM48 Fri 07-Nov-14 15:17:29

Hi Apatite, all good here thanks and same as you the budget is increasing day by day! Planning still going through so trying not to get too carried away just yet.

I have finally decided on my kitchen though - tis lovely! It is by Ewe and part of their Intuo brand.

Have you drawn plans up yet?

Apatite1 Fri 07-Nov-14 15:48:13

Hi mam! No we are still running feasibility studies, but the budget has tripled. Still, it's still way less than buying the same size house in London that wouldn't need any work. I'm hoping we are doing the right thing here, but we are hoping to stay here for at least a decade.

You're well ahead of me in the process.

I'm loving the look of the ewe kitchens, it'll look amazing!

AryaUnderfoot Fri 07-Nov-14 18:08:39

Our project is zooming along at a snail's pace. sad

The main roof trusses (sp?) and gable end are done, we're just waiting for the roofers to come and do their stuff, as well as having the fascias and guttering replaced.

We've cleared the living room and DD's bedroom today as a friend was available with a box trailer and sodding great big Merc to help us shift everything to a storage unit. Our kids are now officially sharing a bedroom, and Santa is under very strict instructions to only bring small presents this year!

Apatite1 Fri 07-Nov-14 18:53:33

Gah, so frustrating when it doesn't move quickly Arya! I hope it picks up soon. Do you have time penalties if the builders go over schedule?

AryaUnderfoot Fri 07-Nov-14 20:00:10

I'm not sure if we have time penalties - DH sorted out all the contract stuff. TBH, they are still ahead of schedule. I'm just a bit impatient and don't like seeing the project progressing in big bursts of loads of progress followed by days with no-one on site. I suppose it's the nature of a project like this that's going on in November!

We now have to budget for a new living room carpet as well. We moved the furnitre out today and it will not be going back in the same places (some will go in the family room). Our 10 year-old carpet has not worn at all well and has faded/marked terribly. It's either a new carpet or a rug that's almost the size of the room!

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