So, what possesses someone to do a big scale renovation?

Honestly, I really don’t know. I know we drove past our house (still can’t quite believe it’s ours) for years and I (half jokingly) said it would be my dream renovation.

Did I really mean it? I’m not actually sure I did. Which is a really weird thing to say given that we have dedicated the past eight months to turning the derelict crack den into our dream forever home.

I believe in fate and firmly believe this house was meant to be ours. So what have I learned from becoming a **renovationista?

** I was called this a few weeks ago and have blatantly stolen the term as I couldn’t think of anything else to call this post.

I have learned that planning is key. Plan, plan plan and plan some more. You need to plan way ahead and make sure you have thought through everything you’re going to want and need to take the project over the finish line.

Money – how much is it going to cost. Factor in every detail and don’t even think of doing it without a healthy contingency. If you’re planning on doing a lot of the work yourself you really should factor in the cost of your time as well, as time is money. If it means you take much longer to complete the project you could be incurring lots of other costs; such as rent, storage costs, mortgage fees. Sometime paying a professional to do the job swiftly will actually save you money in the long term.

Time – do you have the time to dedicate to managing a big scale project? Can you afford extra time if the project runs over schedule?

Shop around – get quotes from as many different suppliers as you can ranging from the original builder’s quotes to light switches and everything in between. Ask for recommendations, word of mouth and client testimonials can help you determine whether the supplier is the right one for you. They all have different ways of working and it’s so important you find someone who is the right ‘fit’ for you and your project. Trust and communication between you and your builder are vital, without either of these you will really struggle to get to the end of the project.

A good architect who understands your vision and your way of life is also really important, they will ultimately help you turn your design ideas into reality. We were incredibly lucky that a family member is a fantastic architectural technician, he has been instrumental in helping us nail down a layout and design that works for our family. If you also go down the architectural technician route, you will need a good structural engineer to join your team.

Back to planning, have an electrical plan as early as you possibly can. When you have the original plans drawn up it is essential you also start thinking at this stage where you want the plugs, sockets and light switches to go. The first fix electric happens really early on in the process and you will find yourself needing to know things like whether your bathroom mirror needs power (for lights/demister pad/shaver socket/in built speakers). If so, where will it hang on the wall, for this you may need to know the layout of the room, style and size of the sink and any cabinets.

Ask for advice and listen to what others have to tell you. I have been documenting the build from day 1 on Instagram. I have gained so much knowledge, information and ideas from hundreds of other people across the UK, and further afield, who are also renovating their homes, and sharing their experiences via social media. I feel part of a community of kind people who are willing to share their advice and experiences with others embarking on a renovation journey.

Have a vision – don’t let cosmetic things put you off. Hundreds of people viewed our house but were put off by the metal shutters, graffiti, huge hole in the bathroom floor, derelict garden, smashed windows, no energy supplies. The list goes on, but essentially the house was structurally sound, with a fantastic view in a really great area. I am convinced that if there weren’t shutters on the windows (in all fairness seeing the house in daylight without the use of a huge torch would have been quite good!), graffiti adorning the walls and a hole in the ceiling the house would have sold really quickly. We were going to extend the house, re-plaster all the walls and put new windows in, so none of the above were an issue.

Document it – whether you film it, photograph it, Instagram, tweet, blog or Facebook it just make sure you document it. It’s surprising how quickly changes happen and looking back on what you’ve achieved is a really exciting part of the process.

And last, but not least, enjoy it. Despite any stresses or obstacles you may encounter just keep telling yourself it will all be worth it in the end.


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