Rogue Landlords

Most Common Renovation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Over-developing for the Neighbourhood

The biggest mistake people make when renovation property is that they overbuild for their area. Just because your house is in a street where properties are worth, say £150,000 and you spent £50,000 building a new extension and carrying out other improvements, it doesn’t mean your home is instantly worth £200,000. There will always be a ceiling price for property in a given neighbourhood and if you want to reap the returns of developing a property, you should be mindful of this. Spending more than the ceiling price could be dead money.

Setting an unrealistic budget

It’s easy to underestimate the cost of a renovation, if you haven’t done anything similar before. Most of your cost will go on labour, and that can be difficult to cost up. Also, when you start knocking down walls, you never know what you’re going to find, and how much it’s going to cost you. In a nutshell, build a contingency of at least 15% into your budget and be realistic.

Ignoring your home’s style

Be sure to keep with the style of your home when you plan a renovation. For example, if you have a Victorian house, then continue that theme throughout and be true to the original features and style. Gooing contemporary in a period home is fine but you need to do it throughout. Don’t ruin the feel of a property by changing the style half-way through.

Gutting everything

When faced with a big renovation, it’s tempting to pull everything out and start afresh. But usually it’s much more sensible to work around some areas if you can. You might think that all you’re going to do is remove some wallpaper and give a room a lick of paint, but you can easily end up in the middle of a demolition site.

Buying cheap materials

With renovation, you get what you pay for when it comes to materials. Someone is going to have to live in the home you’re working on eventually, and you don’t want to end up doing the whole thing all over again in a year or so, its better to do it well first time. If you can’t afford to do a particular job, save up until you can – don’t cut corners and settle for a poor quality job.

Taking on more than you can handle

If you’re not sure of what you want, feel daunted by the amount of work or can’t afford the renovation then take is one stage at a time. Take on smaller jobs that you’re comfortable with, and then progress rather then trying to do a full rebuild all at once. The biggest mistakes are made by people who overstretch themselves.

Going too Fashionable

Picking the latest and coolest trends to use in your renovation might seem like a great idea, but in reality, it might only appeal for a few months. If you’re really looking for longevity and/or intending to sell the property you should err towards classic styles and neutral colours.

Insufficient preparation

Not paying close attention to the preparation for a home renovation project can spell disaster. Simple things such as preparing walls properly before painting can make for a much more professional looking job. It’ll probably be the most boring part of the job, but it’ll save you time, money and you’ll be rewarded with a job well done. If you can’t be bothered, consider calling a professional.

Building a small bathroom

Small bathrooms bring their own challenges. The key to dealing with a small space is to pick the right fixtures such as narrow sinks, low profile toilets and small baths to maximise usage of the space available without compromising on the practicalities. If you have to wriggle into the corner to use the loo – rethink things!

Ignoring lighting

The lighting in a proeprty can completely change the look and feel of it. Pay attention to the lighting in a room, and don’t be afraid to combine styles. Bright lights can be complemented nicely with soft candle light. You need a combination of the three main types of lighting – general, task and accent lighting – to be able to change the feel of a room and get the best out of it.

Building small doorways

Look at the entire floor plan of your home when you’re planning your doorways. Make sure that every room has multiple exits – or, if doorways are in high-traffic areas, make sure they’re wide enough to let multiple people to pass through.

Failure to anticipate chaos

Be realistic about how long your renovation is going to take, and plan in time for the unexpected. If you assume it’s going to take longer than you expect, you’ll be prepared for the worst and pleasantly surprised if it all goes to plan.

Hiring the wrong professional

Whoever you hire needs to be right for you – they’re going to be in your property for, perhaps weeks on end and you’re entrusting your biggest possession to them. Interview everyone you plan to hire, check references and ask to see examples of previous work. One key indicator is how fast someone returns phone calls – if they get back to you straight away they’re professional and have nothing to hide.

Not doing your homework

You have to know what you’re getting into. Even if you’re not doing the work yourself, know what to look for and what your contractor is doing. That way you can keep a close eye on the project and know when something’s getting out of hand.

Avoiding regulations

The bottom line is if you’re doing a major renovation you will need to consult building regulations. You may also need to apply for planning permission. Make sure you get the correct permission granted before you take on any expense as you may have to rethink your plans.

Forgetting about safety

Make sure you are dressed appropriately for any work that you do yourself and use the correct tools for the job. The most important things for your own personal safety are: goggles to protect your eyes; ear protection to protect your hearing; and gloves to protect your hands from splinters, nails etc. Also, invest in a good set of boots because there are nails and sharp objects everywhere. The last thing is, you must have a first-aid kit.

Choosing the wrong windows

Windows can be expensive, but you don’t want to cut corners on quality and having the wrong windows for the style and age of the property can really detract from the overall presentation. One way to save money is to put the bulk of your window budget toward those facing the street and spend less on those at the back of the house.

Using the wrong tools

Using the wrong tool can cause huge problems, namely that you can ruin the tool, ruin your project, or worst of all ruin yourself. Invest in the right tools, and don’t be afraid to seek advice at your local DIY store.

Inaccurate measurements

It is amazing how just half an inch can make all the difference between something that looks professionally done, and something that looks like a child made it. If you’re having problems measuring, get someone to help, don’t try and stretch or guess. A good rule of thumb is to measure, measure and measure again …then cut!

Building narrow halls and staircases

When you’re renovating, bigger is always better when it comes to hallways and stairs, as they have such an impact on the feel and layout of a home. Hallways and entrances are often the first impression someone gets of a property when the step through the door so make sure yours does the property justice.

Incorrect storage of materials

Always store materials in a cool, dry place. Something as simple as a roll of plastic will save you a lot of time and a lot of money, when it comes to wood and concrete. And make sure you keep your tools and other equipment inside away from the elements.

Not using green materials

Going green when renovating is a new idea and people will often not do it for two reasons: either they don’t know how to, or they think that it costs more money. But, this isn’t necessarily true, as you’re really ahead of the market so going green is a very smart investment.

Forgetting to update the electrical system

It’s easy to forget about the electrics when you’ve been renovating because it’s expensive and it’s hidden. Walk through the house with the electrician to talk about outlets, where they are and where you want new ones. There’s nothing more annoying than having to stretch extension cables across a room to access electrical points when a new outlet in the right place when the renovation was being done, would have done the trick.

Using the wrong paint

Be sure to take the time to select not only the right shade of paint, but also the right type of paint for your particular wall surface. Ask someone at a home improvement store for help, if you are unsure – there is a paint type for every type of surface.

Excessive use of duct tape

Duct tape might seem like a quick fix, but it should never be left up for more than a few hours. Replace it with something more permanent, or if it’s holding something together that’s broken, bite the bullet and replace that.