I would be very surprised if at some point you have not heard the odd horror story from friends and family members about their latest renovation disaster. One of the main reasons there are so many unhappy customers out there, who also feel frustrated and angry with their renovation work is because the quote for the project was grossly underestimated. Leaving these homeowners with three choices; either find the extra cash so that the job can continue, change their plans to accommodate the discrepancy or abandon the job altogether and leave it unfinished.
This situation could have been avoided with; total clarity from the customer about their needs and a complete understanding by the contractor about what is expected, preferably before the work begins.
Here are a few things you might like to consider before you start your renovation.
Prepare your budget
- It’s so easy to get carried away with all the things you would love to incorporate into your new renovation, but before you start spending you must know how much you have to spend, work out your budget and also where the money will come from. You need to work out how much you are going to need to finance the whole project.
Contact your local council offices and get advice about their building regulations
- After you work out how you will fund this project it is also important to find out all the information you can in relation to your home before you arrange a contractor. If your home is a listed building you will need to meet strict guidelines set out by the council regulators. That said most renovations have to be agreed by the planning department before work can start.
Find a reputable contractor that comes with references!
- Always speak with people you know, who have had work done. You might not get a recommendation, but this information will be invaluable when making a decision who to use, you will at least know who to avoid when looking for a trustworthy contractor. Make sure you totally understand everything they tell you and if you’re not sure ask again. Good contractors can be booked weeks, sometimes months in advance so book an appointment with them as soon as possible. Protect yourself and make sure that your contractor is fully licensed and regulated by a governing body. It’s also worth remembering that all your warranties are void if not installed by a licensed contractor.
Know exactly when you want to start and complete on the project
- Keep the lines of communication open and come to a mutually agreeable start date and a realistic completion date for the project. If you have a deadline that means the job has to be finished then let your contractor know. But no matter how well you plan your project, always keep in mind that unforeseen problems can occur and they will delay your project.
Do your research, know exactly what items you want and where you will buy them
- Deciding on the items and brands you want might take some time, especially if you are looking for that something special, but at the same time suits your needs. A good place to start would be on-line catalogues; they can give you some great ideas, the dimensions and availability, all at the click of a button and all from the comfort of your own home. If you already have a style in mind then this will narrow down the time you spend searching. Keep a note of all the room sizes will come in handy when deciding what to buy, you will at least know that it will fit. If in doubt you can always speak to your contractor and get advice about your ideas. They will give you valuable feedback and if they say that a your choice is not suitable, find out why. It might be because it will take extra work installing, especially if it wasn’t discussed at the planning stage. The extra work could not only set back the completion date but could take extra pounds out of your budget.
Have your plans drawn up, agreed and ready to go
- It is vital that your plans are drawn up professionally, especially if the renovation is your bathroom or kitchen. Discussing the plans with your contractor will give them an idea of which items you hope to put in and what preparation work will need to be done, which will be helpful when it comes to installing the plumbing.
- When deciding which items you want for the project it’s sensible to find out if they are in stock and when they can be delivered. Some goods like taps and toilets are always in stock, while others luxury items like spas and vanity units might have to be custom made and could take weeks for delivery. It’s worth knowing that with any custom made item the cost is usually non-refundable, so better to confirm your choices with the contractor before placing an order. Also, to prevent any unnecessary delays, find out which items need to be ordered first, these might be the shower base, bath or spa and mixers, particularly if they are being wall mounted.
What should I purchase myself?
- When it’s time to purchase your main items for the bathroom, kitchen and laundry make sure that you do this yourself. Taking the responsibility and making the decisions will be a leading factor in achieving the results you are looking for. Smaller fittings for the plumbing can be purchased by the contractor.
What services are available to my property?
- One of your bigger decisions is whether you want gas or electric appliances. If you live out in the countryside, you may need to consider LPG appliances. You may decide to change from electrical appliances to gas, or vice versa, buy always speak with your contractor and determine if these changes are cost effective and worthwhile. It’s a good idea if you are building a new home to decide which appliances you would like and where they need to go before building begins.
What sort of hot water heater do I need?
- With a wide range of hot water heaters available it can sometimes be quite overwhelming when it comes to choosing the right one for you. If you choose to replace an old existing unit your choices could be limited and you should ask your contractor for advice. There are two type of heaters to consider, instantaneous and storage. Instantaneous heaters unlike the storage only heat the water that is needed, although more expensive to install they are much more energy efficient and in the longer term will save energy and money.
You may think that some of these points are obvious, but many of the problems arise when you, the customer start taking your contractor for granted, especially when it comes to your renovation. If you fail to make sure that everything is covered, you run the risk of not only investing a lot of money and time, but you could end up with a job that you are unhappy with.
Remember, this is your home and it’s your responsibility to make this job run smoothly as possible to ensure that you are totally satisfied once the job is finished.