Useful ideas for property renovation

Posted: 14th Oct 2015

There might be a number of reasons for your deciding to renovate a property:

  • it is one that you have bought in an abandoned or derelict state, with the express purpose of renovating it and bringing it up to modern standards for you and your family to live in or to let out to tenants;
  • you might want to renovate the property you already own in order to improve the living accommodation or to increase its market value prior to onward sale;
  • if you are a buy to let landlord, a renovated property may command a higher rent and, so, increase the yield on your investment; or
  • you might have inherited a property and decide to renovate in order to realise an improved market price on its sale or to enhance its potential as let accommodation.

The following tips and ideas may help you to make the most of your renovation project:

Paperwork

  • for anything other than a minor sprucing up and redecoration, it is important to make sure that sufficient attention is paid to any paperwork you might need;
  • this might include planning permission from your local authority – it is needed if the renovations amount to what the law terms “development” and determining whether you need it may include an early chat with your local planning department;
  • you might also want advice on whether your renovation project requires a building regulation application to be made – a helpful guide published by Cambridge Borough Council explains that planning permission and building regulation approval are two separate processes and describes how you might go about both types of application;
  • for the purposes any such applications you may need to make and for your own benefit in planning the renovations, you might also want to consult an architect and an engineer and have detailed drawings prepared;
  • it is at this early, preparatory stage that you might also want to ensure that there is specialist property renovation insurance in place to help safeguard not only the works in progress but the existing structure and fabric of the building – cover is available from specialist insurance providers such as ourselves at Cover4LetProperty;

Budget

  • even the most carefully planned renovation projects have a way of getting out of hand when it comes to unscheduled and increasing costs – it is important to formulate a budget which you are able to adhere to therefore;
  • a good way of keeping a handle on your budget is to keep firmly in mind just why you are embarking on the project in the first place – do you want more room, for example, are you looking to update and improve tired, worn or simply out of date facilities in the kitchen or bathroom, or is the project essentially one to address areas of the property in need of repair;
  • budgetary control is also important when contracting builders and other tradesmen – make sure to secure a written agreement that details the costs of their work and the time in which it is going to be completed;
  • as suggested in a guide to renovations published by the Telegraph newspaper, this also includes holding back a certain percentage of the payment to the builder for six months after completion of the works – to ensure that faults, errors or “snags” are put right at the builder’s expense and not your own;

Your starting point

  • renovating an older property might result in a new building that nevertheless reflects the charm of the period in which it was built – or it might be a lasting illustration of how badly an unsympathetic renovation of an older property may turn out;
  • examples of the sympathetic and less sympathetic treatments applied in renovating a 19th century terraced house in London are illustrated in an article in House and Garden magazine on the 2nd of October 2015;

Internal walls

  • it might be possible to completely change the layout of your home by demolishing certain partition walls;
  • before doing so, however, it is vital to understand that some internal walls may be load-bearing (and it is not always immediately obvious which these are), some may be acting as fire breaks, play a structural role in bearing the roof, floors above or providing lateral support for the building;
  • in short, therefore, consult professional engineering or architectural advice before beginning any project involving the removal of internal walls;

Keeping the bigger picture in mind

  • you might want to avoid the temptation of biting off more than you can chew – not only because this may save you money but also in recognition of the fact that a little work may go a long way to transforming your home;
  • simply replacing doors and windows, for instance, may make all the difference and this and other budget-saving suggestions are made on the House to Home website – which offers ideas on those changes you might make for less than £1,000.

With careful preparation and planning, you may be able to create a home that is more comfortable for you and your family to live in or is more attractive when letting to tenants. The renovations may also result in your substantially increasing the market value of the property.