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Renovating your home can be thrilling and when the results are exactly what you wanted, there’s nothing more satisfying. But they can also be stressful and costly, in both time and money. Here are five things to consider before undergoing a renovation, whether the job is big, or small.
Understand the law
In 2005 the government introduced electrical safety rules across England and Wales that state any fixed electrical installation work carried out in the home must meet building regulations and be completed by a certified electrician.
If you decide to fit your own windows, you’ll be breaking the law unless you have a FENSA certificate. This is documentary evidence that the installation work has been self-certified as complying with building regulations. (Any double-glazing company you use will also need to produce this certificate.)
Internal renovations, such as new staircases or knocking down walls, will also need to adhere to building regulations. If you’re making major renovations that will alter the structure of your home, you may have to apply for planning permission from your local authority – usually at a cost of around £1,000.
In October 2008, however, the government relaxed the rules on this. Now some renovations, such as loft conversions, don’t require planning permission, so long as the work falls within certain criteria.
Full details, as well as the process and costs of applying, are available at planningportal.gov.uk.
Beware Of Building Cowboys
Finding a reputable builder to carry out work can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. The most obvious way to reduce the chances of encountering an unscrupulous builder is by using a firm belonging to a trade body.
Once you’ve established what work needs to be done, you’ll need to spend almost as long on the planning and budgeting as on the renovation itself. Under-budgeting is by far the single most common mistake people make when they embark on home improvements, so do your homework and keep within your means.
If your property is leasehold even if planning permission is granted and building regulations are met, you’ll still need to get the official green light from the freeholder before you can go ahead with major renovations.
Making major alterations to your home will prompt the need to review your buildings insurance cover, which is calculated on how much it will cost to rebuild your home rather than its market value. So make sure you update insurers with any changes, before the dust settles. If you have failed to disclose a new extension which shows signs of subsidence, you won’t be covered.
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