If you are planning on taking on a home renovation project yourself make it your business to become an expert. As the old saying goes – ‘knowledge is power’ so get your hands on every renovation or interiors magazine you can find and put together a wish list. It’s a good idea to compile a little scrapbook of inspiration clippings. Sites like Houzz and Pinterest are fantastic for this as they allow you to create pin boards and ideabooks which are a great way to communicate ideas to sales staff when visiting showrooms as you will be easily able to explain what you are looking for.
Research builders and tradespeople
When it comes to picking a builder or trades person for your home renovation – do your homework. Speak to friends or neighbors and go to look at previous jobs before committing. You want to make sure that they are reliable and capable of delivering on time and within budget as well as producing good quality workmanship. Picking a builder or trades person without references is not a good idea.
Fix the price
Once you have found a builder I would strongly advise that you fix the price for the job. Never agree on an hourly or a daily rate. A fixed rate means that the boundaries are clearly defined, and most importantly, means that trust is established.
Get some professional advice
There will be a lot of decisions to be made when tackling a home renovation. From layout to location of lighting to colour scheme etc. It can be a bit overwhelming, especially if the contractor is putting you under pressure for answers. This kind of pressure can lead to hasty decisions that you will later regret. Getting some professional advice can make all the difference and remove much of the stress that goes hand in hand with these kinds of projects.
There is a misconception that hiring an architect or designer is expensive but as long as you are upfront about what you have to spend you will find that most professionals will have services that will suit your budget. Even employing someone on an hourly basis will help you to avoid potentially costly mistakes thus saving you money in the long run.
Do as much as you can in one go
As time-consuming and expensive as some of your plans may be, it’s better to get them done while your house is under construction than it is to wait even if it means making compromises elsewhere. The thought of calling the builders back in once the work is complete, with the accompanying upheaval and mess, is not something that you will be keen to do meaning that the postponed work may never get done.
Set aside some money for retention
At the end of your home renovation, keep a minimum of 5% retention and always make a snagging list. This is where once the job is finished you carefully examine the work noting anything that has not been finished to a reasonable standard, for example, gaps around switch or socket plates or areas of painting that need to be redone etc. The builder must then agree to finish these items.
Once the snagging is finished, you still hold back the 5% for six months. At the end of the six months, if there are further problems the builder is obliged to fix them. If they refuse, you have every right to call in another trades person and withhold this money.
Weigh Up the cost
When you are taking on a small home renovation project, or have limited funds, there is a lot to be said for doing it yourself but be wary of apparent cost savings. If you have to take a week off work to do it, how much has that cost you? Work out what your own time is worth and weigh it up against the cost of tradesmen.