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Make Your Home Renovation Project a Success

With the New Year being the perfect time to consider improving or extending your property, home improvement expert Neil Davey offers his top ten tips to making your own project a success!

Neil Davey is one of the National Self Build & Renovation Centre's resident help desk team. 

His area of expertise covers the design and planning process and Neil has been involved with many self build and renovation projects.

So he knows more than anyone that a well thought through design can add value, as well as space, to your home.  

First Things First - Why are you Doing It?

Make a list of all the things you would like to change in the house and what you want to achieve.  This sounds obvious but it will help you really focus on why you are doing it – is it more storage space, creating a play room, bringing in extra light?  If you then need to compromise because of budget, you will know the features that are absolutely essential to you.

Assess the Properties Potential

Renovation is primarily concerned with making an existing dwelling into a better one.  This might include extending the living spaces or developing attics or basements.  Conversions turn a property that was previously not a dwelling into a home.  For any project you need to work out the possibilities, calculate the costs and understand the value your work can yield.

Avoid a Money Pit

Renovating an older/derelict property can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life and with careful planning can also be one of your best investments.  A full structural survey is absolutely essential before you buy. 

I always tell people ‘there’s no rule of thumb’.  Each job is different and needs to be listed and costed.  A survey by a qualified expert will identify exactly what work needs doing and therefore if the project is economically viable.

Can you Really ‘Do It Yourself’?

There are savings to be made by not paying skilled tradespeople – but be realistic before committing to doing some/all of the work yourself.  Do you really have the skills?  The time?  The energy!  Remember – there are certain works that you are legally required to let others do, eg. Electrics, gas, glazing.  I once ended up in hospital after hurting my back plastering a ceiling.  A professional Dryliner came in and did the job for just £100.  Sometimes it really isn’t worth ‘doing it yourself’!

Remember to Get Permission

Often you can extend your home without the need for planning permission under ‘permitted development rights’.  However should you then sell the house you will need to prove you had permission to do the works.  This will cost the same amount as a normal planning application (currently around £172).  Your local Planning Department can provide you with a ’Certificate of Lawfulness’ (to show you have the right to extend) at half this price, as long as it’s in advance.  Getting this will save you money and hassle later down the line.  (Always check that your permitted development rights are intact with your local Planning department).

Know the Local Area

Just like when buying any home – get familiar with local property prices.  You need to be wary of over-developing or specifying too high a quality home for the typical values in the neighbourhood.  Areas tend to have a natural ‘cap’ at which property prices will not go over, no matter what improvements you make.

Tidy Paperwork, Tidy Mind

Keep your paperwork filed!  Estimates, Quotes, Bills; they’ll soon rack up.  Keeping your paperwork/emails filed in a dedicated folder will make life so much easier as you go.  Plus it will help you keep to budget!

Don’t Forget VAT

Unlike a new build project where VAT can be reclaimed against materials, this is not the case for most renovations.  However – if the house was unoccupied for 2 years or more before any work commenced a reduced rate of 5% VAT on materials and labour can be charged by a VAT registered builder.

Reduce your Energy Bills

Renovations are a great opportunity to improve the performance of the property and reduce its running costs by improving and increasing the levels of insulation and air tightness (for instance sealing up windows to stop heat escaping).

Any Questions? Visit the Renovation House at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre

Come and meet Neil and the NSBRC team to discuss your project.  We are open Tuesday to Sunday and are located on Junction 16 of the M4 (just by the Hilton Hotel).

Neil gives a guided tour of our Renovation House every Friday at 2pm.  The Renovation House is typical of a property built in the inter-war years and has clearly had very little maintenance work done to it.  As you move through this full-size house you will be guided through identifying and resolving the most common problems encountered during a project and taken through the key stages from dilapidation to completion. 

National Self Build & Renovation Centre

National Self Build & Renovation Centre

The National Self Build and Renovation Centre is the UK’s only permanent exhibition centre for self build, renovation and home improvements.

Lydiard Fields, Great Western Way, Swindon , SN5 8UB

National Self Build & Renovation Centre (NSBRC)
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