If you’re just beginning your home improvement journey, you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed with the practicalities of achieving your dream home. From researching the permits you need to finding the professionals who will help you realize your home’s potential.
When it comes to renovating a home, you can easily be caught off guard by technical jargon and legal requirements while trying to figure out where to start. Fortunately, these six steps will put you on the right path to a successful home renovation.
Home renovation – everything you need to know
So you’ve decided that this is the year you’re going to turn your house into your dream home. But what next? Whether you’re planning a home addition, looking to make green upgrades to your home, or planning a basement extension, the same essential steps will help you realize your vision as seamlessly as possible.
1. Obtain all permits and approvals in place
Before you get carried away with home extension ideas and contractors, you need to get everything in order. This means sorting through all the laws and permits you need to legally start construction work. The specific requirements and the documents you need to provide vary from state to state, but the intent is the same.
Often seen as a difficult obstacle designed to keep you from doing what you want, permits actually protect the value of your property and your neighborhood by preserving the features that attracted you in the first place.
“A permit is required if electrical, mechanical and plumbing are involved, but this may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction,” says Christopher of MODE4 Architecture. (opens in a new tab). “Always check local building code and permit requirements.”
There are many cases of homeowners trying to do home improvement projects without permission, but it can be costly, like being discovered. Otherwise, you run the risk of having to demolish the addition, wasting all the time and money you invested in the process. You will also need to produce the permit documents if you come to sell your house – without them you will lose money on the house.
If you live in an area with an HOA (homeowners associations) or live in a designated historic district, you may need permits from these agencies in addition to local government.
It should be noted that some local building authorities may require you to have an architect on board before granting permits and clearances.
Although it is not a legal obligation, it is also recommended to inform your neighbors of your renovation plans and the expected deadlines.
2. Establish your budget
Budget is the main sticking point of any renovation project – a lack of money will quickly bring your project to a halt or force you to make major compromises on your plan. If you are undertaking an extension, it is essential to know the costs of extending the house in order to draw up a complete budget.
“Often the first step is to understand the design options available, the likely costs and pitfalls, an idea of the timeline, and a high-level understanding of what is required in terms of planning and building regulations. The decisions made up front obviously have an impact on the whole process and will form the framework of your approach to your construction work and your budget,” explains Jude Tugman, Managing Director of Architect Your Home.
Allow for a 20% buffer so you don’t end up halfway through the build.
If you’re planning a basement renovation, make sure you know the basement conversion costs to help you set your budget and avoid unpleasant surprises.
3. Hire an architect
Hiring an architect is a valuable asset to your home renovation project. They will ensure that your ideas are practical and realistic and turn your thoughts into a physical plan. “Before getting a quote, it’s a good idea to meet with your property’s architect and take a tour to explain your hopes and dreams for your project,” says Nancy. “This will give your architect a good idea of the scope of the work and you can see if your vision of the work matches the style of the architect.”
“When deciding who to go with, consider that your architect will need to be professional and serious, as well as light-hearted and friendly. For most people, your home is your greatest asset and you need a safe pair of hands and someone with the right experience to make sure you add value and protect and enhance your property. It is also important to verify that your architect is registered with the American Institute of Architects (opens in a new tab) to ensure the quality of their work.
4. Understand project management
You have four options for managing the project. The first option is to hire an architect with a “full service”, which will cover everything from the initial design to overseeing the construction of the project.
Second, you can appoint a design company/contractor who will have in-house professionals who can help you with every step of your project. This is a good option if you are unfamiliar with the world of home improvement, as home professionals will bring the benefit of having the experience you lack.
If you work in construction or similar, have done home improvement projects in the past, or work on a very tight budget, then consider project management yourself.
There are also split options where the building contractor or other professionals take control of the project until it is at a watertight stage, then once the structure is built you can take on the rest of the work. project, such as the management of plumbers, electricians and plasterers, etc. .
5. Get your contractors
Another key figure (or figures) in renovating or remodeling your home are contractors. They will bring the project to life and will also be responsible for its quality. Therefore, it is important that you choose carefully.
Talk to past clients of your contractors – they will provide you with honest answers to questions such as whether contractors are performing as expected; whether they have met the deadlines; would they recommend them? You will also be able to see their past work. If you live in an older or listed property, make sure your contractor has specific experience with these as well.
6. Think about the timescale
Do you have a specific deadline in mind for your extension – maybe Christmas, a newcomer or a big birthday party? If so, you need to backtrack from that point to avoid disappointment.
“Don’t underestimate the time it takes to get consents,” advises Steven Way, Practice Principal & Chartered Building Surveyor at Collier Stevens (opens in a new tab). This is one of the biggest bottlenecks in a project and building permit approval can take around eight weeks. Once you’ve gotten approval and your plans are in place, the next step is to hire your contractor.
It’s also important to pay attention to contractor timeouts, as these are a direct reflection of their popularity (and therefore reputation). A reputable contractor shouldn’t have immediate availability, as that indicates they don’t have a project underway, which in turn should raise alarm bells as to why.
Once you’ve established a start date, discuss how many hours your contractors will work each day, when they’ll start and finish, and how long they expect the project to last.
What is the difference between a renovation and a remodel?
The difference between a renovation and a remodel is actually quite simple. A home renovation is a project that seeks to change something existing, restoring it to its former glory, this can include things such as repainting walls, repairing damage or reinvigorating your interior design. A home remodel, on the other hand, transforms the layout and structure of the room, this can include projects such as remodeling the kitchen, creating an open-plan living room or adding a bedroom extension. home.