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House renovation

(13 Posts)
willowsimp Wed 25-Nov-15 16:56:47

Hi everyone - we are about to embark on a big house renovation/extension project and I wondered if there were others out there who'd come out the other side and had some good advice to offer. Anything in particular to watch out for with architects/builders, anything you'd do differently, etc? All advice gratefully received as I'm a novice! Thanks all. x

MamaDuckling Wed 25-Nov-15 17:01:42

Try not to change your minds once you've started... Changes will incur big costs.

Are you supplying fittings yourself or is the builder? If choosing things yourself (or you're physically getting them for the builder to install), be crystal clear on what you are to supply and what the builders are to supply.

Future proof it by installing any steel you might need if you ever intend to go up into your loft...

emwithme Wed 25-Nov-15 17:24:38

Time
Price
Quality

One (or more) of these things will slip. By more than you thought.

We bought a Victorian house that had had nothing done to it since 1970-ish in March. Had damp, woodworm, rot, but I knew from three steps into it that I was going to live there forever.

Builders started in May. We will be hope to be living in it by Christmas (I've told the builder that if we're not, then I'm going to his for Christmas dinner).

We have discovered every bodge possible in a house - rooms knocked together without any supporting joists (yay), the whole place built on sand (double yay), the kitchen had no foundations (well, three bricks), the guttering wasn't joined in places (causing some of the damp). It has doubled what I thought my budget was, is 50% more than the builder said it would be in terms of price.

In terms of time, the builder said we'd be moving in in the middle of September. Then it was October. It's now going to be Christmas.

The quality - well, we'll see. They have been doing an excellent job (what I can tell). I'm sure there'll be snagging to do - we've literally taken it back to the brick/stone (new ceilings, new floors in places, the whole kit and kaboodle).

silversixpence Thu 26-Nov-15 15:13:36

Following as we are in the same position - how do you ensure there is a good finish throughout? Do you have to take it back to brick or replaster and redo all the skirtings etc?

JT05 Fri 27-Nov-15 18:24:00

Don't skimp on the basics, what you eventually will not see! Getting structure, electrics and plumbing right in the first place saves money later.

RaphaellaTheSpanishWaterDog Fri 27-Nov-15 19:40:29

Architects usually underestimate the build cost.....at our last house we had a large architect-designed extension built and despite having known the architect for 15 years so we thought he could be trusted not to pull the wool over our eyes, the finish cost was around 20k more than he had predicted. We did much of the work ourselves - have done several large-ish period house projects before - and saved money where possible by sourcing stuff online etc, but nonetheless we went over budget.

We've never needed to go back to the brick - although the last house (Georgian, stone built) had been stripped back by the PO - and if we had, in a period house we would replaster in lime for breathability reasons.

Similarly we wouldn't remove original lath and plaster ceilings (or original floors for that matter) unless absolutely imperative. This is our seventh period house and we've never had a ceiling come down/need to be taken down.......yet grin

Belvedere Fri 27-Nov-15 19:48:00

Make sure the builders give you a price in advance for any extras. It's really easy when they are in your house so say, 'well why you're here can you build this or put a radiator here, fix this light etc' and then you get a bit of a surprising bill.

Spickle Fri 27-Nov-15 20:20:42

We're just over half way into a major renovation.

You will need to make up your mind over so many things and quickly. If you change your mind or dither about, that will add time and cost to the build.

We've had to spend time looking at many mundane things like radiators versus heat output and what kind of LED lights to have, i.e. soft, dimming, bright etc and sometimes it has felt like we were being pressured into making quick decisions because the trades were coming in to do the work in two days time. Obviously it's nice looking at lovely new kitchens but we've struggled to muster up the required enthusiasm and decision making over the size and style of skirting board and architrave or whether to have white, anthracite or wooden socket covers etc!

Good luck - it will be worth it!

Madblondedog Sat 28-Nov-15 08:03:34

We're in the middle of one at the moment. I chose our builder because he gave off a vibe of being a bit indifferent if he got the work, as in if he didn't he'd easily go get something else. Made me feel like he was confident in his own abilities.

I'm using a small local firm and they've so far been brilliant.

Chose a builder who will give an opinion

Madblondedog Sat 28-Nov-15 08:05:27

Sorry posted too soon.

My builder is very good if I say "what would you do". He will give an opinion and justify it, he will be clear it's up to me but it's very helpful

BoffinMum Sat 28-Nov-15 08:19:44

Go through the bill of quantities with a fine tooth comb and apply huge attention to detail. All sorts of things are slipped in as grey area there and that is where your cost leakage occurs.

Speak to the builders once a day or more and really get to know them on a personal level. Stay closely in touch with the project.

Understand fully what they are doing to your house. Ask questions and read things up if necessary.

Be a good client by not changing your mind at all ever (unless it's patently clear to everyone a previous decision is utterly bonkers). Be warm, friendly and civil at all times and provide teas and coffees and occasional biscuits/cakes. Be very human.

Most builders have extraordinary levels of technical expertise but a few less so. It's your job to check the people working for you know what they are doing, and leaving this exclusively to the project manager and/or architect is not a good idea. As the Rusdian proverb says, trust, but verify.

If you really engage with the project then a 10% contingency may well be fine. Not all Victorian or Georgian bodges need fixing - many of these houses were Jerry built to a point but stay standing perfectly well. This is where judgement can have helpful. The rules of restoration are:

Keep it watertight, but let the house breathe.
Keep it warm, but don't cook the plaster.
Keep it ventilated, but not draughty.
Have safe gas and electrics, preferably with a sockets in every corner.
Keep it quiet, with properly finished and well-fitting skirting, cornice, flooring, wood doors, well-fitted and smooth running windows. If the boys you can't see are well-crafted then your noise levels will be satisfactory.

Everything else is aesthetic.

BoffinMum Sat 28-Nov-15 08:22:52

Terrible spellcheck failure that last post. If the bits you can't see ...

Moving15 Tue 22-Dec-15 15:56:52

That's a very helpful post!

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