Before we met, Will already had two renovation projects under his belt, and not long after we got together he bought his third. I loved being part of the process and offered my interior and decor skills – although I’m not entirely sure they were requested! We extended, renovated and sold that house and eagerly made our way to the next, learning and improving from the last one.
Once that was also sold we were on a roll and started looking for the next. A change in the market however meant despite many offers we simply couldn’t pin down our next project. It was then I found a house that was certainly a project but I knew then and there it was one I wouldn’t be able to sell on.
Five years later we are still working our way through the renovation of our dream Edwardian Semi (check out our kitchen and porch) and we’ve learnt a few more things a long the way. Renovating your own home brings with it a unique set of challenges that don’t exist when renovating to sell.
With the cost of buying and selling these days home improvements and renovations are on the up, so read on if you are considering or embarking on your own renovation to find out what we learnt.
5 things you should know before embarking on a
renovation project in your home
It will cost more than you think
From architects fees, hidden issues and rising building costs it adds up to a scarily large amount very quickly and that is even before you take to Pinterest.
We now create a budget for each renovation project we embark on starting with quotes from builders, tradesmen, interiors and adding on a contingency – perhaps around 15%. In our experience, there is always something extra that wasn’t expected. In our most recent renovation we found an original Edwardian gas pipe gently leaking which had to be replace and moved.
Calculating a realistic budget and getting the finance in place before you start is key to ensuring you don’t run out half way.
You will need patience
And lots of it. This is going to take longer than you can bear thinking about – despite all the best planning in the world I have never come across a renovation that finishes on time.
And it is not only time patience you will need but a general patience that will see you shrug your shoulders at the piles of dust, say cest la vie when your painter doesn’t turn up and roll your eyes when you order a piece of furniture that isn’t what you were expecting.
Being stressed, annoyed and frustrated will only leave you feeling, well, stressed, annoyed and frustrated!
You are about to question your own style, a lot
Renovating a space often means reimagining it. If you are extending or simply bringing a space up to date you will need to make a thousand decisions that will affect the aesthetics and functionality of the space.
Are you a crittal doors kind of person, or more a traditional wood type? Prefer wood floors or patterned tiles? Team Beyoncé or team Taylor?
A renovation somehow brings all your style and taste considerations to the front and will make you question your very personality. Or maybe that’s just me?!
More than once when making a decision for our home I could be found head in hands asking “who even am I”.
If you are like me then my recommendation is to create shortlist of the style or items that you like. Pin them somewhere you will see them such as on your fridge or notice board and each time you pass them quickly assess which caught your eye first. Which do you feel is right?
If you are the kind of person who already knows what they want, please be my friend and tell me your secrets!
Finding good tradespeople is not easy
Ah, this one wraps up patience, money and sanity all in to one. Will’s brother works in the building industry and we still have issues finding good, reliable tradespeople who are available before 2025. The best people tend to come from personal recommendations but if you live in a different area to your friends and family or are the first to require a certain trade or skill then you are in for a challenge. There are tradespeople websites out there but we have often resorted to hours of internet searching, countless introductory emails and numerous initial meetings before we found someone right for the job.
My advice? Well I’m not sure I have advice but I really do want to forewarn you. When you do find somebody good, ply them with all of the tea and biscuits they can withstand in the hope they’ll come back for the next job you have!
There’s no such thing as finished
Finishing something is a state of mind. We ‘finished’ our kitchen years ago but we still need to sort out proper sofas for the area and I have forever in my mind had the idea of repainting the island.
You will always want to change something up, add something, redo something.
And once you get to the end, no doubt whatever you started first will now look tired and needy.
The key thing is to finish to a standard that you are happy with and can live in and allow yourself the time and freedom to add the finishing touches.
And also remember, other people are far more forgiving than you will be to yourself. No one else will notice the patch of skirting board that isn’t back on or will know about your plans to add a gallery wall one day!
Of course there are many more things you will learn as you go along, some good ones and some not so but the overarching consensus during and following a renovation is that will be worth it (and this will be said A LOT to you)!
I am so looking forward to sharing more of our renovations with you as we complete them (I can’t promise any timescales I’m afraid!), especially of our front sitting room but for now I hope a sneak peek of our gorgeous new Swoon Editions shelving unit and West Elm light (Available in the UK in black and in the US in brass) fitting will whet your appetite.