Sometimes when your mulling over ideas for home improvements, it can all seem a bit daunting and its so easy to talk yourself out of a job completely, get super stressed or go over budget. There are so many things to consider when taking on larger jobs in the home. From planning permissions, working to a budget and the hardest of all, finding reliable reputable companies to assist with any work above DIY level can soon have you wanting to scrap the idea entirely.
I thought I'd share a few tips to help with your home improvements, from the planning stage to the final touches, you can never have too much prior knowledge and with a little research now, you can save money and possibly a lot of stress by just following some of these simple tips.
Don't rush in
Before even peeling back that wallpaper, taking up floors or clearing rooms, stop and think about what you really want. Write down your ultimate goal, what is the dream here? Set yourself a realistic budget, allowing for sneaky extras or problems along the way. Have a think about what jobs you know you can do yourself and what will need an expert in to help manage. Although you can save a fortune preparing the space by doing a little demolition first, you need to make sure you won't be interfering with structural walls, or leaving yourself with an unsafe home for you and your family while you await the next step. If you're ever even slightly unsure, call a pro and get some advice. Never rush into a job without 100% knowing what you're meddling with.
For bigger jobs that change structures or uses of rooms, you may find you need permission to do so. If in doubt, call your local council and speak to someone in the know to see what you may need. This can be very straightforward and it's always best to check this out before starting any major works. If you leave this until later, you could lose out on money and time in the long run, or even be requested to undo the works. Pick up the phone before picking up the sledge hammer! As well as the official permissions, it's good practise to alert neighbours to the possibility of extra vehicles and noise around your home. Although you can't please everyone, it can often make things easier for everyone if you've had the chat beforehand and apologise in advance for any possible disruptions, especially if they have young children.
Finding the perfect trades people
Finding reputable trades people is for me, without a doubt the biggest headache of any kind of work when owning your own home. With countless cowboys out there, it's so hard to find someone reliable and although nothing is guaranteed, it's always worth doing as much research as possible on the company or person first to have as much reassurance as possible. There are websites out there that help you find local people in the trade with great reputations, you could also speak to friends, read reviews and look at examples of their previous work. Be careful with reviews though as often on pages like Facebook, these reviews can be beefed up by their friends and family and not actual customers. If you can go by a friends recommendation, this is always a good place to start. When getting people in for quotes, go with your gut. First impressions can mean a lot, so if you're feeling even a little uncomfortable with the person quoting, then leave it there before you start. When getting quotes, be wary of people offering discounts for paying no VAT, or wanting cash upfront. Although this can be common practise, this should all be contracted and agreed to prior to works starting and with proper paperwork to give you peace of mind. Never just go with the cheapest quote unless it happens to be the preferred trades person anyway. Cheap doesn't always mean good value, sometimes things are cheap for a reason, so it's worth double checking every detail to make sure you'll be getting exactly what you want.
Remember the 'extras'
As well as the work itself, you may have other extras to consider which can take a significant bite out of your budget. You made need to hire and organise a skip yourself which can be surprisingly costly, often with extra charges for a relevant permit if it's going to be on the street. There's also the nicer extras, like painting and decorating after and furnishing costs. The last thing you want is to finish your job but be left with an empty pot for the real finishing touches.
A common mistake when renovating our homes, is to buy furniture and decor items prior to completion. Although it's OK to do so with some things, sometimes when the work is done you can find that the products you purchased are no longer suitable; they may not fit, the room may not suit the things you bought or you may just see a whole different style when things are finished. Buying after or near the end of works completing means that you can accurately measure the furniture you need and make sure everything will be perfect when it's time to finish off.
Don't do it all
Lastly, don't take on too much. Although it can seem a good idea to do everything in one go, it is a very stressful time going through any kind of renovation, things always pop up, we always find additional things to pay for and those working for us can often give us a lot of headaches along the way. Do your jobs in the order that makes the most sense for you and only take on the work that you can realistically cope with and afford.
Undergoing large jobs in and around the home, is never going to be completely hassle free, but by doing as much research and preparation before hand it is possible to relieve some of those stresses and make the whole thing that bit more bearable. Are you planning any home improvements?
* Collaborative post