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Deciding on a renovation project is both a challenging and fulfilling experience. But unlike self-build, with a renovation, you are never beginning with a blank page.
The process is complex and can be prone to unexpected issues and expenses, so being well ready is key to a successful project. Before you take on your project, follow these suggestions from those who have been there and done it.
1. Be Certain You Get a Building Report
You should always request a building report from a chartered building surveyor before buying. However, do bear in mind that an assessor will not be able to reveal hidden problems and will not usually give an idea of the costs.
2. Save on Surveys
If you need a mortgage, your lender will insist on a valuation. If you also require a full structural survey, ask your lender whether your preferred surveyor is on their panel for valuation reports and, if no, if they could recommend one nearby who is — it saves paying for two various surveys, saving £100s.
3. Possess a Strict Schedule
Without a schedule, the entire process can become chaotic, with contractors overlapping, and many jobs that could have been taken out at the same time to save on costs being initiated separately.
A schedule lists what work needs to be done to the home, and in what order. In addition to having one plan for the entire project, it is often necessary to break a project down into phases, such as moving bathroom upstairs’, kitchen extension, loft conversion and so on, and have a schedule for all.
4. Budget for New Electrics
Electrics in old buildings will often want updating — lookout for old fuse boxes, round pin plugs, light switches and fabric-coated flex. To rewire a standard three-bedroom terrace measuring around 100m² will fetch between £2,500-£3,000. This should involve removing the old wiring, installing a new consumer segment and lifting and replacing the floorboards — it will not cover replastering.
5. Look for Radiators
A shortage of radiators should alert you to the event that there is no central heating system in place. Linking a modern heating system to a standard house will cost around £2,500-£5,000 — don’t neglect to add it to your budget.
6. Be Subsidence Savvy
Subsidence does not always spell trouble. Indications of subsidence involve big cracks that seem to have evolved from smaller ones, especially when they get more extensive and resemble in the corners of window and door openings. Cracks that are more than 3mm deep on the exterior of a building should also raise the alarm. Watch too for doors and windows that have started to stick.
7. Beware Damp
There are various causes of damp, with some more expensive to fix than others. Damp is often evident — watermarks on floors and walls being tell-tale signs. Infrequently condensation will also be apparent on walls and windows. Events ranged from leaking gutters and blocked drains (which are reasonably simple to put right) to improper modern interventions, such as cement renders, injected damp-proof courses and cement floors. These are a little more high-priced to remedy.
8. Check for Rot
Make sure you’re on the lookout for rot — a fungus that can ruin timber. Corruption appears in poorly ventilated circumstances, and it is often found in the roof space or under floorboards in traditional houses. Look out for cotton wool-type sizes and a strong, musty smell when you raise the carpet.
9. Don’t Let Cracks Scare you Off
Don’t let cracks frighten you off. People immediately think all breaks are bad, but they are not always a symptom of subsidence. Cracks evident in merely a single brick or plaster by a doorway or window are generally no signs of a structural issue. However, more inclusive breaks that seem to follow a pattern, such as through some bricks, can point to something more worrying.
10. Is it Habitable?
If the property is unlivable, be informed that some mortgage lenders will refuse to lend on assets that are uninhabitable, while others will grant based on the current condition of the house but then will not give anything more until the project is complete — grasped as applying a ‘retention’ to the borrowing.
11. Don’t Rip Out Ground Floor Bathrooms
Downstairs bathrooms are very familiar in old houses. To produce a new bathroom on the first floor to restore an existing bedroom should cost around £1,500-£2,500 — but this will imply you lose a bedroom somewhere.
12. Renovating is Difficult
Depending on the scale of the job you’re carrying out, you should equip yourself for a few practical issues along the way. Notably, a certain period when you’re without primary services as a result of moving boilers, consumer units, electrical meters and so on (also, a frequent cause for delay at the start in dealing with utility firms, so plan). Dust is another thing that many people get fed up with — decrease it by sealing off areas of work in phases and leaving the consequential knock-through until as late as feasible (i.e. keeping the work outward as much as you can).
13. Take Out Sufficient Insurance
Once you exchange contracts, you are responsible for the site and you must, therefore, have enough insurance. If you are carrying out a mortgage to fund the project, your bank will not release any money without coverage standing in place to cover disaster such as flooding, theft or fire to the asset Renovation insurance should include public and employers’ liability, cover for construction materials and works, the current structure, accident cover and legal expenses.
14. Keep the Windows
If your renovation project has the primary windows still in place – likely to be metal or timber – then do all you can to save them before you even think about replacing. Also, if there is excellent damage, they can always be fixed. Conservationists suggest that providing there is at least 50% of the initial remaining, a window should be repaired rather than replaced.
15. Beware Unknown Costs
You may want to pay some fees to get the house working again, such as reconnecting the water equipment, flushing out the septic tank, etc. Additional charges which may surprise you incorporate valuation fees (usually based on the value of the finished property) and, with some of the renovation mortgages, there may be a price to pay before the relief of each stage payment.
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