A Beginners Guide To Renovating Property

Property is most likely the most expensive thing you will ever purchase in your lifetime. The housing market has been volatile for quite some time, and many people have been priced out of buying a ready made and finished home. One way, to get around this, is to buy an old run down property or something that has not been lived in for a number of years. Renovate it to a good standard either to live in themselves or sell on for a profit. Barn conversions are also becoming increasingly popular. Many people forget that when the barn was built it was not intended for such a purpose and so requires a lot of structural changes to make it habitable. 

Sort your finances

This is a step many people don’t really do properly. Your budget will dictate heavily what sort of renovation you will be undertaking, from a simple paint job to ripping out all the walls and starting again. It will also dictate how long the project will last, as the more you can spend on contractors the less work you and your friends will have to do. 

Finding a property

Many experts believe that January is a quiet time in the industry where nothing really happens. This would be a great time to try and get the ball rolling and start looking around for that dream property. The easiest way to find property is to get on your computer and scour estate agent websites. There are major sites online that gather many estate agent listings into one place to make finding a property easier. One other tip is to get to know the estate agents in the area you are interested in moving into. Having a great relationship with them and explaining clearly your budget and requirements will get the ball moving much quicker. They want to sell, and you want to buy, its a no-brainer. Make sure before you get too far down the line that you get surveys done on the house, they can be costly but will save you time and more importantly money in the future. A surveyor can work out the structural integrity of a building and let you know if there are any major problems that will need addressing such as walls or roof. Now is the best time to have that information as you can go back to the seller and negotiate money off the asking price to fix the problems. Check out the deeds to the property to ensure you know where the property divide is just in case you want to expand the garden for example. Another thing to look for is if the property has planning permission, or check with local authorities to see if expansion would be allowed. Most interior improvements are fine. However it always pays to check as there are some exceptions. 

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First steps

Now you have purchased your property, the next big question is, are you going to live there whilst the work is moving forward or are you going to stay in your current home? Both situations have positives and negatives. Living at your current home means you are out of the way whilst major work is being carried out. However, you are also far away from the construction site and if you are paying a mortgage or rent on it. This is wasted money that could be improving your new home. If you chose to move into your new property, you need to remember that you may be in the way. Also, make sure you have electricity and running water. Time of year is also a factor as moving into a cold, damp home in winter would not be pleasant, but it would save you money, and you would be available on site all the time. 

Experts and advice

Depending on the type of renovation you are planning, you may require an architect to draw out exactly what you want in the home. Many properties were built years ago without the need for utility rooms and en suites, but now for many of us they have become luxuries we can’t afford to be without. Certainly these would be things another buyer will be looking for should you be planning to sell on for a profit. You can tackle these items yourself but if you make a mistake you could end up with a bathroom suite that doesn’t fit and a large bill to rectify the mistakes. 

You have the choice when you start the project to run it either yourself, being essentially a foreman and employing and communicating with all the trades on a day to day basis. Alternatively if you are feeling less brave you can hand control over to a building company who can run everything for you, but it will give you less control on a daily basis. 


Plumbing if it is not already installed will need to be your first order of business as many of the other trades require water to work. You can use plumbing estimate software to get an idea of your costs. Once the plumbing is complete, it is essential to sort any changes to the structure of the building so that the plumbing can be altered to match. This may because of  any mistakes that were made at the planning stage, or you have made changes to where a bathroom will go for example. Once these have been completed other trades such as electricians can finish wiring and builders can finish plastering. 

One great tip is to ensure that you are on site as much as possible. This may not be possible due to other work commitments, but it is essential that you pop to your project as often as possible, such as your lunch break. Firstly it allows you to have feedback on anything that is happening on the site, and it also gives the builders motivation as they will not know when you are going to pop in for a visit.