How to Renovate a House / Home - from Finding a Contractor to Getting it all Done

renovation of an old house

Aside from exorbitant, home renovations in Surrey and in the UK as a whole can be unpredictable and stressful. What is worse than being out of your regular groove for weeks is finding out that some of the work was not done to the highest standards. If you want to know how to renovate a house without the additional stress, stick out.

This post is going to address all the important factors you need to consider before you get into the project. From what to include in your plan to how to prioritise the tasks - we have you covered. When you finish this read, you will have more knowledge about the steps you need to make to give your home the makeover it deserves. Now, let’s get started.

How to Renovate a House: Steps

If you are wondering where to start with renovating a house, check out the following section. Down below, we list the different stages of your house renovation project, from start to finish.

Decide what you want to renovate in your house and set a plan

House plan and material sampler

Is this going to be a major revamping or a small redo? Are you thinking light changes like a fresh coat of paint here and there, a new coffee table, and perhaps even a new sofa? Or are we talking a complete overhaul where you knock down a wall, swap the old tiling with new, replace the cabinets and worktops, get new cooking appliances, and even go as far as to do electricity and plumbing work in different areas of the house?

All this has got to be put down in writing. When renovating a house, not only do you need a plan but you have to arrange any municipal permits that may be required. More on that later.

Without a proper plan, there is no way to calculate the overall house renovation costs and see if they fit your pre-determined budget. Not to mention, you might forget about some of the things later and miss an important step. This will hamper the refurbishment works you have done at this point and send you down the road of misery.

In addition, if you don’t have a clear picture of what your new home should look like, you may have a change of heart halfway through the job but it will be too late. Thus, it is essential to figure out all the pinpoints of your refurbishment project ahead of time.

Remember to put together a feasible budget before you renovate your old house

Now, it goes without saying that no matter what you are planning to do around the house, it has to align with your finances. Coming with a budget for a home renovation project should be your top priority because it will determine how far you can go with the makeover.

Choosing not to implement this step can make you spend more money than you already have.

When you go for this part of the project, make sure you set aside an extra 20% to cover up for unexpected costs. This is the only way to get out of this without going broke.

Do your homework and check out the approximate amount people pay for an average home refurbishing project. Then, get quotes from various companies, if you are hiring a professional for some of the jobs, to compare the prices and options. It will give you a better idea of what to expect.

And finally, pick the estimates that correspond to the budget you can allocate for this.

Secure a contractor

homeowner watching renovation contractor work

With the now-defined renovation goals in mind, plus the budgeting in place, you can book a remodelling service and turn your ideas into action. Stick with someone with a clear background, positive reviews, and plentiful projects under their belt.

Be smart about it and require the company to include a section in the contract detailing all the parameters of the project so you know which jobs will be their responsibility. That way, when you encounter a problem, it will be easy to decide who has to sort it out.

One question you need to ask them is whether they can take care of aspects not fully within their scope of work, such as planning permission and other building permits. If they agree to do the rough part for you, make sure they put it down in writing. You want everything included in the contract.

Comply with the building regulations in Surrey

The good news is that refurbishing a house does not require a building consent in most cases and you rarely have to worry about these things. However, just to be on the safe side, research which building works will need to be regulated by your local building inspector.

For example, painting and decorating are fine (read our full guide on interior and exterior house painting ideas). However, basement conversion, jobs done outside your home, extensions and loft conversion will definitely need approval.

If you are unsure where to start with how to refurbish a house on your own, your best bet is to call in a professional to do it for you. Many renovations companies offer to work all the details out in addition to demolition work, painting and decorating, tiling, and other services.

Now, if you choose not to hire a company, you will have to tackle every step of the project yourself, including the building regulations part. The first thing to do is to apply for a permit online. You will be instructed to provide some details and if the project is bigger, you may have to send in your blueprints.

Keep in mind that it will take some time, from days to weeks, for the Surrey inspectors to review and approve the plans.

The next step is to pay the fees. Depending on the type of permits you need, the price can range from next-to-nothing to considerable. Needless to say, you have to include that in your budget before you take on the project. There are additional processing charges too. It’s a lot to consider.

To illustrate this with an example, outline applications starts at £460 per 0.1 hectares. The planning permission for a loft conversion or a new house in the UK runs at the same price.

If you use a contractor for the job, do ask them if the prices include VAT because if they don’t, the quoted rate might be significantly different from the final estimate.

Order building materials for your house

Drywall Sheets Material

You can’t start your house renovation without any materials or machinery. So, now that you have sorted out the permissions and stuff, you have to secure all the materials, equipment, and appliances you are going to need such as drywall, lumber, doors, and flooring, to name a few.

Begin actual work

With the preparation stage being over, it is time to get your hands dirty. For larger renovation projects, you will need to start with demolition. That’s one of the toughest parts. At this point, you will want to work behind the walls as well. This covers insulation, subfloors, electrical and plumbing work. Don’t forget that you have to handle air conditioning and central heating system if such tasks are pending.

Do walls and floors

Next up, prime the walls and paint them any colour you’ve decided to. Then, slowly work your way to the flooring. Now, if you are using a professional service, the order may be different because every builder follows their own agenda. That shouldn’t bother you. After all, all that matters is the end result, not the order in which the tasks were done.

You will notice that some professionals prefer to work on the walls first before they move on to the flooring to avoid unnecessary spills from happening. And if you are doing the entire project by yourself, this is probably the approach you should adopt too.

Mount any cabinets and worktops

After you lay out the foundations of your house remodelling project, you can finally proceed to installing the cabinets and fitting the appliances in your kitchen, bathroom, living room and other common areas. What you want to keep in mind here is that the upper units should come first. And then you go for the lower ones. If you're interested in learning the difference, you can check out our home remodelling vs renovation post.

Do any touch-ups

Congratulations! If you’ve made this far, then you are just a step away from going back to normality. At this stage of your property renovation, you can add light fixtures, backsplashes, any paintings you want to keep on the walls, and other small finishing jobs. It may also be a good idea to seal the floors so they can withstand everyday wear and tear for the longest time possible.

Additional Points to Consider when Remodelling a House

  • Are you concerned about energy efficiency in your property? This step might swell your budget but it will lower your electric bill in the long term. So, it’s worth taking it into consideration.
  • You may need to hire an architect for some tasks. There are contractors that cover every step of the way from draught-proofing to valuation fees and ground drainage. It is wise to opt for such an operator.
  • It might as well be a good idea to think about building renovation insurance. It will protect your home during the building and extension projects, giving you peace of mind at all times. Of course, this will add to the cost.
  • Old house renovation is usually more challenging a task than starting from scratch. Get someone experienced for this type of property projects.

How to Know You’re Dealing with a Quality House Restoration Team in Surrey

It’s as if turning your property upside down isn’t stressful enough but you have to trust a complete stranger with the majority of jobs. The struggle is real. So, how do you ensure that you sign a contract with a certified and seasoned company? Here are a few pointers to go by.

Look at reviews and ask around

Every contractor is more than happy to display customer reviews of people who are delighted with his or her work. That’s why the review section should be your go-to place on their website. It will give you an insight into the team’s work manners, ability to handle renovation tasks, and their expertise.

But don’t just take strangers’ word for it. Ask your family members, neighbours, and friends for help. Chances are, some of them will have already been through property overhauls and can share their experience and tips with you. Moreover, they may be able to recommend a certain company that they have worked within the past.

Verify licencing, company registration number (CRN), and permits

Every company in the UK gets a unique combination of letters and numbers that goes by the name of the registration number, or company number. It is often shortened to CRN. The latter serves to verify the contractor’s liability and existence. Its format varies slightly per office jurisdiction. For instance, CRNs in Northern Island may start with N or R, whereas in England and Wales, they begin with L, O, or 0.

Where do you find the CRN? In most cases, the company showcases all the details on its website for everyone to see. They might even add the number to their emails. If you can get your hands on their certificate of incorporation, this is also a good place to start.

So, what do you do with this registration number once you obtain it? You go on the official website of the UK’s government where you have free access to all kinds of data concerning registered companies. The first thing you want to do is a quick search that will allow you to see if the contractor in Surrey you wish to work with is operating legally in the country.

Other details you can get include:

  • Insolvency information
  • Mortgage charge data
  • Date of incorporation
  • Registered address of incorporation
  • Document images
  • Current offices
  • Resigned offices
  • Previous company names

Some services may be charged £1 per document. It will depend on the way in which you are trying to access the information and the type of information you are seeking altogether. But all in all, the data you need is free of charge and is just a few clicks away.

Another place to search for this type of info is the public register. You only need the contractor’s name here.

Check availability

As much as you are tempted to hire a company that can squeeze you in their schedules first thing in the morning, you might want to put a hold on that. When someone has lots of time on their hands, it may be a red flag. Contractors that do an exceptional job are so busy that you have to wait for weeks before you can get an appointment. They are so good that people don’t mind being on their waiting list.

When you think about it, a home renovation is not just a lot of work. It is also a huge investment in the future. This is not the time to make rushed decisions. A project like this not only eats up a great deal of money out of your budget but also affects your safety. It doesn’t matter if you are only redoing your kitchens and bathroom, the two busiest rooms in the house, or whether you are renovating house areas that don’t receive as much foot traffic on the daily.

Do your best to settle with a company that has a good reputation and that has proven trustworthy over the years.

Don’t let the price be a determining factor in deciding on a property renovation contractor

There are two types of people when it comes to home remodels - those that always go for the highest price and those who look for the cheapest services possible. But price isn’t everything. Of course, you’ll want to fit within your budget but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the quality of renovating over the money. Check out our other post about how to renovate a kitchen on a small budget.

At the same time, booking the most expensive service in Surrey doesn’t guarantee the greatest results. You don’t just hop in on a company based on price solely, hoping that it will be okay. Doing ample research, asking relevant questions, and checking previous work will give you a better idea of whether you can count on this contractor or not.

Go with your gut

In the end, you should trust your instincts about the contractor. Before you seal the deal, you will communicate with them a number of times. Observe how they make you feel. Also, see if their words and actions align. Last but not least, try to establish a good rapport with your house construction crew, as you will spend weeks interacting with them, from the negotiation part to the completion of the project.

Word of mouth: Even if you use a contractor to renovate your house, you still need to keep tabs on the entire process - it is your property after all. And if you want to make the most of your house renovation, you can’t just sit down and watch while someone else is rearranging your belongings. You have to participate in the process. If you liked our tips and advice in this article, be sure to read our suggestions on how to remodel and renovate your bathroom.