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10 Home Renovation Tips
Home Renovation Tips | Liberty Insurance Ireland

‘Room to Improve’ and ‘Grand Designs’ have filled your head with ideas of open-plan kitchens, underfloor heating, decking and walk-in showers and now all you can think about is re-vamping your home! You have the funds and the ideas, so what’s next? Follow our tips to make your vision a reality.

Decide on your goal

What kind of renovation do you have in mind? Is it just one room? Are you building an extension? Do you need more space or are you updating? You need to have a concrete idea of what you are looking for. Write down what you want and it’s best to think of any changes in terms of 10 year increments. For instance, if you are planning on starting a family in the next few years, you should consider incorporating baby-friendly elements to your design, so that your renovation complements your lifestyle and future.

Architect

An architect may be a cost that you want to avoid but if you undertake work without a professional like an architect or a quantity surveyor, you could end up completely comprising your existing home. Instead, you want to renovate it in such a way that it will increase the value of your house. An architecture will offer you a range of options to suit your budget and your space restrictions, and will be able to advise you if you need to apply for planning permission. They will stick to your budget and may be able negotiate trade discounts. With their experience in the trade, architects will know tradespeople and suppliers and may be able to pull some strings to get a job done in a reasonable time. Ask around for references before deciding on an architect. If possible, look at their previous or existing work and check that they are registered with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.

Contractor

Ask your architect and friends for recommendations of contractors. It’s important to approach a few contractors when the job goes out to tender. Though it may be tempting, don’t choose a contractor solely on price, if a quote it too low that is not a good sign either. Check references and if possible speak with previous clients for their feedback on their experience with the contractor. Before you make your decision, check that the contractor is registered with the Construction Industry Register Ireland.

Budget

Decide how much you want to spend on your budget and stick to it. It’s vital that you put aside a contingency fund for unexpected costs such as structural issues. If you are moving out into a rental property during the renovation, this will be an additional cost. Your architect and contractor will be able to advise if your budget will pay for your design.

Design

When coming up with a design it’s best to stick to a classic design over passing interior trends because you will probably be looking at it for the next ten years. Garish colours or complicated designs can lose their appeal after a couple of years. Think low-key to start and you can add colour schemes with lamps, cushions, curtains, rugs etc.

Spend wisely

It’s important to prioritise the structural over the cosmetic when deciding what to spend. Do not sacrifice quality on important elements like solar panels windows, insulation, wiring etc. You are investing in your house and this will increase its value and also decrease running costs such as heating. Perhaps make a list of what you NEED and another list of what you WANT. The bespoke lamps can wait!

Shop around

Spend time visiting various showrooms and browsing online to look for deals. Don’t be rushed into making a decision before comparing prices. Buying second-hand is another option. Charity shops often have a lot to offer.

Track spending

Use an Excel spreadsheet to track where your money is going. It can remind you to curb your spending while also telling you six months later where that €200 went. 

Building site

Depending on how big the renovation is, you need to decide if you will stay on site or move out. Be realistic about what is best for your and your family. It  depends on how big the job is and what room is going to be under construction. It might be hard to live without your kitchen or running water. You may be able to adapt but if there are young children and pets in the house the noise, debris and dust may not be safe for them. Are you going to be able to keep them away from the building or would it be easier to move out? Maybe the job is a small one and you can confine the chaos to one area of the house where you and your family won’t be affected. Whatever you decide, pack away any valuables in a safe place because it’s not builder’s responsibility to mind the vase that your granny left you. 

Hiccups

Be prepared going into this project that something may go wrong and realise that it will all be all right in the end. You have your contingency fund so will protect you financially. Don’t focus too stringently on the proposed finish date, instead add a few weeks onto it in your head and you won’t be too stressed when the proposed date comes and goes. Stay positive! Trust in your architect, contractor and budget, and everything will fall into place.

Review Home Insurance Policy

Before you begin your renovation you need to advise your home insurance provider that work is beginning on your home. When the work is completed you may need to update your policy to include any significant work or extension. 

So grab your hard hat and be prepared for dust on every single surface on your home. Remind yourself that it will be worth it in the end, and it will! Before you know it, you will be enjoying your underfloor heating in your bare feet. Just don’t forget to tell your neighbours about your house turning into a building site, maybe drop in a cake to soften the blow!