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How do you start a building project and how much of it do you do?

(7 Posts)
TheVeryHungryPreggo Tue 10-Feb-15 01:24:40

DH and I are not doers; of the two of us I'm the more handy one but that just means I can put up pictures, TV brackets and coat hooks and my drill doesn't get out very often. We tend to run out of steam after a few months or don't know what we want, or end up moving to somewhere new before works get started or finished. BUT while house hunting for a new home, we have found somewhere that is a bit of a fixer-upper and has potential. But we don't know where to start! It is very dark and very dated inside having been in the family for nearly 40 years.

It would need loft extension, rear extension or new windows/patio doors, old crappy extension possibly need to be demolished, rewiring, a couple of partition walls knocked through, one load bearing wall opened up (I know you need to put it in a steel beam to do this), new kitchen, new bathrooms, existing bathrooms rearranged, new floors, tiling and wallpaper stripped, and garden patio or decking laid. Grass looked a bit patchy (but it is only February) so might need to be reseeded.

Anyway. Once we sell our home we will have the resources to do the work up front and live somewhere else for 6 months before moving in if necessary. We think we might be better at projects you do first rather than as you go along! And with a house like that, it's pretty obvious what needs doing even just from photos. So here are my questions:

Do you go for an architect or a builder? Where do you go for recommendations?

What point do you start the process? Would you bring your builder along with you to a house viewing before you buy it? Would you buy it subject to planning if planning was needed? Or do you wait until it's yours and get started in case it all falls through and you're out of pocket?

How do you know where to get things you want? I want fireplaces replaced with the remote control ones (easy), new floors (not so easy) and possibly will need new stair railings (impossible). Who fits all these things? Just one builder who project manages or do you have to recruit your plumber/electrician etc separately?

Where do you go to look at floors underfoot so you get a good idea which one you want? When you go to buy bathrooms is there somewhere you can look at the wall and floor decor too so you just go - yep, I want that one, all of it - rather than just the porcelain suite and having to choose the rest yourself without knowing how the whole thing will look? As for kitchens I have a friend who has just done one and that seems fairly straightforward. I've seen an IKEA one I like anyway and I know they will fit it.

How do you choose paint? How do you know what it's going to look like on a wall and if it will go with your carpet? Is it ok to go round your friends' houses and say "I like that grey and that white, tell me where you got it?" and then copy it?

How do you even pick new radiators? Is there a radiator shop?!

Sorry for all the questions. I'm really clueless, but this house has caught my imagination and for probably the first time ever I think I know what needs doing and have a vision of what could be - it's just that I'm stumped when it comes to how to achieve it!

TrevaronGirl Tue 10-Feb-15 11:37:29

Sounds like quite a project! My advice would be to speak to a few Architects in the first instance.

(Not an advert for my services but...) I usually allow around an hour or so (free) to sit down with a potential client, discuss the property, their aspirations and needs and explore some possibilities. If the coffee and cake is really good I might stretch the time!

Many architects will be happy to do this - although I am not sure how many do what I sometimes feel compelled to do which is to talk myself out of a possible commission and suggest instead they consider moving because I honestly felt the work would not be in their best interests!

TheVeryHungryPreggo Tue 10-Feb-15 11:54:53

Thank you, that's a good idea. I do know an architect who would do that, I instructed him to do a planning change for our flat but the freeholders started seeing pound signs and decided their agreement was worth £200k (I don't think so!) so we decided to sell instead and buy our own freehold property.

Maybe I will give him a call, I also know he lives closer to our new area...

TheVeryHungryPreggo Tue 10-Feb-15 12:07:46

I've started a Pinterest board for bathrooms and kitchens, I think I'm starting to get a feel for what I like and want. Maybe that will make doing these parts easier?

123rd Tue 10-Feb-15 16:36:22

Wow you sound vey similar to us! We moved in around a year ago. We have had to do some work on one bathroom and one bedroom( Because they were disgustinghmm) but now we are attempting a major extension.
We originally got a builder to come round before we offered on the house , just for a ball park,would it be possible kind of quote. And since then we had chats with two architects. One, we preferred so have gone with him for drawings. This is quite a process. We worked thru I think about 4 proper drafts...but we are paying for it so I want it to be right!
We received planning permission but can't go out for any certain quotes yet as we need the exact dimensions for the SJR.
I'm dreading all of it...but I know loads of people of have done similar and they all say its worth it.

123rd Tue 10-Feb-15 17:00:38

Also, we do have a builder in mind-if his quote isn't ridiculous ! And he will project manage it all. For fitting you need to trawl the internet-as pp said Pinterest is fab. I've got loads of ideas from there. And then I can show the kitchen designer person what sort of thing I'm after.
I totally expect to go to magnet/b&q/Wickes and get them To design for me ...then go and buy it somewhere elsewink

TheVeryHungryPreggo Tue 10-Feb-15 19:23:42

Thanks 123rd, it does seem like a long process! There's another thread I was reading today about waiting times to get a builder to even come out and quote, I'm starting to think we might be biting off more than we can chew... But the possibilities have caught our imagination and I'm constantly flicking through pictures going "new floors and new paint in the front room. Knock that partition for an open kitchen/diner. New suite in that bathroom, new tiles. That bedroom will be ok with only a new radiator, paint job, carpets and curtains."

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