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Mistakes To Avoid When Renovating Your Home

Whether you’re renovating, remodelling or simply redecorating, here are the most common mistakes to avoid when improving your home.



Give yourself enough time for each step of the process – planning, designing, hiring, applying for permission, purchasing materials/appliances and the actual building work (plus a few extra weeks for any unexpected situations!)



Communication is essential whilst renovating – whether it’s with your work team or your partner. To limit potential disagreements in the home, make sure you and your partner aren’t making decisions without consulting each other first. If you’re struggling to reach an agreement and have a good rapport with your contractor, they may be able to help you find a solution. It’s also important to establish the best way to communicate with your contractor and the response times you expect from each other.


Sacrificing room function for aesthetics/trends

As with all home improvement projects, the first step should be to consider what you need from your living space. Think about functionality, requirements, room traffic, workflow (particularly in the kitchen) and use that as the foundation of your design. Then think about what looks/trends will work with the function of the room to allow you to achieve your desired result.


Ignoring existing architectural style

Under permitted development, it’s required that ‘The materials used in any exterior work must be of a similar appearance to those on the exterior of the existing house.’ Complimenting the existing architectural style is also likely to cause less concern/complaints from neighbours and can add to the resale value of your home.


Selecting appliances last

If specific appliances are going to be a key feature in a room you’re designing (e.g. cooker/stove, fridge-freezer, dishwasher, washing machine), it’s important to choose them towards the beginning of the planning process. This will help to make sure that you incorporate their dimensions, requirements (such as electrical outlets, plumbing etc), operating function and style into the overall design of the room. However, wait until your designs have been finalised before you start making any purchases.


Ignoring details

Check whether doorways/halls/angles are wide enough to fit appliances and furniture through – you don’t want to finish building your dream kitchen only to find out that you can’t fit your new stove into it! On a smaller scale, consider all the specific features that will make your renovation work for you – amount/type of storage required, number of electrical outlets needed, amount of lighting etc. These can all be added at a later date but may add an additional cost if you need to damage the building work that’s recently been completed. You can save time and money in the long run by including all the small details at the design stage and installing them during the renovation work.

Check whether doorways/halls/angles are wide enough to fit appliances and furniture through - you don’t want to finish building your dream kitchen only to find out that you can’t fit your new stove into it!

Not consulting professionals

Anyone can design and build your extension. However, even though professionals are a high investment initially, they can help you to save money in the long run. Architects/designers may be able to see possibilities or take factors into consideration that you haven’t thought of and they’ll also be able to spot overlooked issues which could have otherwise turned into expensive mistakes.


Hiring the first architect/builder that you meet

Don’t rush to hire contractors – interview at least three to five people for each role, ask for references, do some background research and check credentials. Architects must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and builders/tradesmen should be registered with a competent person scheme. Take the time to choose a team you feel you can trust, who understands your vision and that you can easily work with.


Not introducing the team

If you have multiple people working on a project, it’s best to introduce them to each other and get them working together as soon as possible. You don’t want to invest hours of time, energy and money finalising a design with an architect, only to discover that the project is totally out of your budget once you’ve consulted the contractor.


Working without planning permission

It is never recommended that you carry out any works without planning approval. Even if your project’s covered by permitted development, you should apply for a certificate of lawfulness. If you do proceed without planning permission or a certificate of lawfulness, the council enforcement team could request that you submit a planning application. If you built something that could not get planning approval, then the local authority would ask you to take the building or the extension down.


Building without approval

The Building Regulations are minimum standards for design, construction and alterations to virtually every building to ensure the safety and health of people in or about those buildings. You do not need to get approval yourself if you use a contractor registered with a competent person scheme. If you don’t comply with building regulations, the person doing the work could be prosecuted and fined or your local authority could make you remove the faulty work/pay for it to be fixed. Without approval you will not have the certificates of compliance you may need when you want to sell your home.


Not consulting your neighbours

If you approach your neighbours at an early stage about your proposed extension and let them know that you want their honest opinions and suggestions, this can prevent objections and delays and avoid damaging relationships with your neighbours further down the line. Your neighbours must be consulted if your extension involves building or digging foundations within 3m of a party (shared) wall or other foundations. They will also be contacted by the local planning authority if you require planning permission or you wish to build a larger single-storey rear extension which is subject to the Neighbour Consultation Scheme.

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Buying materials/appliances too early

Even though you should choose your materials/appliances early during the planning/design process, wait until the project plans are finalised and you’re certain that measurements are accurate before making any purchases. This ensures you’re purchasing the correct quantities of materials and your appliances will fit as expected.


Ignoring structural/safety issues

Never ignore or try to hide structural or safety issues during renovation works – they’ll only get worse with time and cause bigger financial problems in the future. Assess and repair any problems with foundations, cracked walls, old wiring, damp issues etc – they’ll be much easier to fix whilst they’re easily accessible, rather than having to break through your new finish to repair them in the future.


Buying cheap materials

Home renovation projects often run into problems when working with cheap materials and long-term, buying cheap won’t save you money as the materials are likely to need replacing/repair work regularly. Select durable, high-quality materials that you won’t need to replace within a few years. Similarly, cheap windows and doors are likely to have poor thermal protection which means higher heating bills and more expensive ongoing costs.


Not ordering enough materials

Order enough materials to complete the job, plus 5-20% extra to account for breakages (both in delivery and on site), installation wastage and defects. It’s better to order too much than not enough and any surplus can usually be sold or returned.


Impulse buying

If you’re aiming to create a specific look or feel for your new living space, try not to buy separate elements without taking the whole project into consideration. Think about how your purchase would work with the colour scheme, floor type, wall finish, lighting, window dressings, appliances etc and whether it helps create the desired result that you’re trying to achieve.

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Neglecting home security

With builders coming and going, doors, windows and side accesses being left open and high value construction tools and materials left on display, your property can become an easy target for potential thieves. If you don’t already have external security measures in place, consider fitting movement activated lighting, a visible burglar alarm and security cameras before renovation work begins.


Assuming existing home insurance will cover renovation work

If you are carrying out conversion/extension works you should arrange specialist insurance to cover the new works and the existing structure as most home insurers won’t cover works if contracts exceed £50,000. For expert advice on this and any other insurance exposures, please contact Gary Philip at GPS Insurance Brokers on 020 8207 7385. GPS Insurance 


Setting an unrealistic budget

Renovation work almost always costs more than expected. Surprisingly, this isn’t usually due to unforeseen problems – usually it’s because items have been forgotten from the budget or designs need to be altered because small changes have been added after plans have been finalised. Remember to include build costs (materials, labour, skips/scaffold/tool hire), itemised interior fit-out costs, professional fees, permission fees, fees for additional reports/agreements (if required) and VAT. Once you have a budget, add an extra 20% to cover any unexpected costs.


If you have any questions about renovating, planning an extension or just about creating your dream home in general, go ahead and book a free call below with Yoop.


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