How to Renovate a House: Costs, Timing and Planning

A home renovation is a complex and costly project that you want to get right. Our guide on how to renovate a house should save you a few headaches further down the line. 

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How to Renovate a House: Costs, Timing and Planning

How to Renovate a House: Planning

Successful home renovations start with good planning. Taking some time now to research projects, builders, regulations, costs and timelines will pay off later. 

Home Remodelling vs Renovation

First, decide whether you want to renovate or remodel your home. The terms are often used interchangeably but actually mean different things. 

Strictly speaking, renovation means restoration: returning something to its original state. However, unless you’re faithfully restoring a period home, ‘home renovation’ usually means modernising and improving while maintaining the original structure and layout. So, replacing outdated decoration, electrics, plumbing, appliances, flooring, sanitaryware, etc.     

Remodelling is more in-depth and involves altering the floor plan, structure or design. For example, by building an extension, loft conversion, open plan living space or redesigning the kitchen or bathroom.  

Decide who will do the renovation

Next, research home improvement companies and decide who will do the work. 

If you’re on a budget, you may be able to save by doing some DIY but remember mistakes or delays will cost money. We recommend sticking to non-structural work like decorating and painting cabinets, etc. Some flooring, tiles, minor plumbing or rewiring may also be feasible if you know what you’re doing. Major construction, rewiring, plumbing and installations are best left to the professionals though.  

If the thought of dealing with traders or spending your evenings on YouTube watching DIY videos fills you with dread, hire a general contractor or home renovation project manager who can take care of everything. This initially seems expensive but saves a lot of time and, therefore, money overall.  

How to Renovate a House: Costs, Timing and Planning

Consider updating plumbing and wiring

Unsexy jobs like plumbing and wiring aren’t usually top of people’s home renovation lists but must be done before other jobs if required. The same goes for other disruptive installations like insulation and underfloor heating. The last thing you want is to have to tear into your beautiful new floors or walls to do them later.   

Decide where you’ll stay

With a full house renovation, it’s best to move out for the duration as builders work faster and more efficiently on an empty house. Renting another place seems like a big expense but, in London, the average renovation savings are £10,000, versus £4000-5000 for a few month’s rent. 

If you’re doing some DIY, living in may be easier but you need to weigh up the potential savings against the cost of a longer renovation. 

If you are living in, or only renovating certain rooms like the kitchen, try to set up alternative facilities in another part of the house. For example, a camping stove in the bathroom or a barbeque outside. It’s certainly a lot less stressful than trying to cook in a building site… 

Planning Permission vs Permitted Development Rights

You need planning permission from your local Borough Council to build something new, change the use of a building or do work that could affect your neighbours or the environment. This usually means anything on the front of your property and certain types and sizes of extension. 

Under Permitted Development Rights, you can usually do most internal home renovations, build smaller extensions and work on the back of your property without planning permission. 

Your home improvement company should be able to advise on relevant regulations.  

Costs of Renovating a House

Home renovation costs vary depending on whether you’re renovating or remodelling, which usually involves more complex or structural work. 

Other factors include: 

  • Whether you’re hiring a general contractor or home renovation project manager or managing everything yourself and/or doing DIY.  
  • Project specifications and quality of fixtures and fittings. 
  • Overall time, which will be longer if you’re living in or there are any delays. As a rule, kitchen and bathroom renovations take 4-6 and 3-5 weeks, respectively; a full house renovation, 3-5 months; and extensions, 10-12 weeks depending on the type. 

As far as average costs go, extensions run to £60,000-£130,000; loft conversions, £35,000-£50,000; and kitchen renovations, £16,000-£25,000. A combined extension and kitchen renovation will cost £70,000-£120,000. 

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