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5 things no one tells you before you start a home renovation

14th March 2016 Print

Your home is clearly important. Not only is it the corner of the planet you can call your own, but it’s also likely to be your most expensive asset. From both a financial and emotional sense, then, it pays to invest time in improving it from time to time.

Home renovation projects can be time consuming, stressful and expensive and it’s important to get them right to deliver the results you want. You can plan all you like but the things that could harm your efforts most are the little things that inevitably crop up on projects that you hadn’t factored in. These are the things that Donald Rumsfeld clumsily dubbed the ‘unknown unknowns’.

The thing is, other people have ‘been there and done that’ and will have had to overcome the very same hurdles themselves. Here are five examples of the sorts of thing you won’t necessarily have been told before you start your home renovation, but might well matter a lot…

Have you considered which direction you are facing?

This might sound a silly question, but it’s important. In the UK the sun rises in the east and moves over the south to set in the west. Does that matter? It certainly does when it comes to making the most of the light you get. If you face north or east then you’ll probably get very little natural light in your front room and, therefore, will need to maximise what little you do get and decorate accordingly. It will help with colour schemes when you’re shopping in B&Q, placing furniture when you use Room Styler and choosing where to position Velux windows from Ken’s Yard in a loft conversion, for example.

Check those measurements again

Getting your measurements just right is vital, no matter what your renovation project. You’ll probably take some figures down right at the start of the process but before you so much as lift a power tool in anger you ought to go around and check every single number. One small error here could leave you in a right mess at a stressful point in the process. Don’t rely on measurements you might have made months ago.

You will make a mess

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and you can’t renovate a house without making a mess, it’s as simple as that. Wrap up any valuables you might have and pack them away somewhere safe. That’s especially important in the room you’re working in but might even stretch to others too. Play it safe; don’t allow a photo or ornament to be ruined.

You need a fund ‘just in case’

Anything crops up can be fixed but it may well mean stretching your budget beyond what you had originally anticipated. US renovation experts Jonathan and Drew Scott – the Property Brothers – recommend setting aside about 15% of the total cost of your project in case of issues. Having this ‘rainy day fund’ in place in advance will ease your stress levels. Any money left in this pot can then go towards further projects or treats.

Don't be bound by what’s there

It’s very easy to have your ambitions limited by the existing layout of your house. It’s actually not that tough to move a bath or a toilet – or at least it isn’t if you are an expert – and your kitchen sink and cooker and move around. By leaving things mostly as they are you are in danger of merely tinkering around the edges and not delivering enough of a change to be significant. Often bigger changes than you imagine are perfectly possible. Be radical and only be limited by what practically cannot be done not by what’s in front of your eyes. The room planner tool above should help.