• Olivia Hartley

How to have a happy home renovation experience

So you may be contemplating embarking on a big build. I’m basing this on the fact that you have a builder in place, and you wisely decided to employ an interior designer early on in the process (more on this later). This guide is here to help you get the best from your builder and interior designer during the project, start to finish.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

This is vital. You may all agree on a weekly meeting time which certainly helps everyone keep track and allows raising matters as they occur. But it is also vital to be contactable at times when decisions are being made to prevent the project from being held up. Agree on the contactable hours beforehand and stick to those for everyone’s benefit. Let the team know of any financial/planning delays as soon as they arise, also any changes of heart as they may be spending valuable time planning and arranging for something that won’t need to materialise.

Plan your project and have a budget ready.

You don’t need to be a master on a Gantt chart (although it would help if you are!) just having a timeframe with specific dates will keep everything on track, and if you are managing trades that aren’t subcontracting for your builder this will be even more important as lots of tasks on a build or renovation project depend on others being completed first. At the very least get everyone to work on a shared document to write up their job list and dependency’s with an estimate of the timescale they will need. There are some apps you can download to do this but they usually come with a fee attached.

Look at tools such as Smartsheet, Project manager and or Houzzpro.

Move out

I know. It sounds drastic but do consider it – everyone knows that building work creates dust and dirt and difficult circumstances. Washing up in the kitchen sink and showering at the gym anyone? It could save you money in the long run as it will speed up the process and make things a lot less stressful for you and your family. At the least, agree on your builders working hours and keep all your neighbours in the loop.

Make your vision crystal clear

This is where employing an interior designer at the earliest stage is vital. You must be specific about what you want from the project from the get-go and you may need some help with making this vision happen. You may need some guidance on how to approach the way you are going to live in the space. For example, something as simple as where you have plug sockets in a kitchen can make a difference to its functionality. Working out the details at the very start can prevent expensive rectifications later in the project and make life easier for your build team.

Collecting images, sharing these and taking time to think about what you want from the space before you have those initial planning meetings with designer and builder is crucial.

Buying and trade accounts

Let your builder and interior designer take care of the buying. No doubt they will have trade accounts and be able to agree better terms with their suppliers on price, lead times and delivery (it is at their discretion whether they pass on their trade discounts, they are taking on the trouble after all). More importantly, they have better control over timescale and prioritising items delivery. They are also more likely to remember the details or less glamorous items such as the plumbing fittings for a new kitchen or bathroom. You will also benefit from a wider range of product than those the general public have access to.

Make your team feel welcome

Builders and cups of tea jokes aside, coffee and tea making facilities (and the odd biscuit) go a long way. So does learning your new site teams name’s. Ensure they have washing/cleaning up facilities available where possible – a utility or cloakroom for example. Treat them with respect and have a little faith in the professionals you have appointed and you should be rewarded with goodwill and good workmanship.

Pay your bills on time

Keep on top of your accounts to ensure you are paying your trades invoices as soon as they arrive. They need to be assured of your financial stability too and they probably don’t have time to chase.


Ultimately there will be issues that arise, but addressing these as they crop up/you notice them is usually much easier to rectify than at the end of the project. A rule of thumb is to add 2 weeks to the end a project for snagging issues – build it in from the start.

Enjoy it

I know, I know. If you haven’t attempted a renovation before it can be a daunting prospect and when problems do (and they will) occur it may feel it’s all going pear-shaped – but like the tea towels say, ‘keep calm, and carry on’. Try to keep level headed and work with your professionals to find out the solution. I've never encountered a problem yet that couldn't be rectified. At this point though I would remind you to add a contingency to your budget of at least 15%. Having the finances ready to sort out unforetold problems eases the stress levels. And if you don’t need to spend it, then hey-ho! 15% better off.

As a final aside, do make sure your tradespeople and designer hold the relevant qualifications, are accredited by a governing body and have great reviews. Good luck with your endeavours and always remember that not altogether annoying phrase; ‘it’ll be worth it in the end’.

Olivia X

Contact us via the website or our facebook page to organise a free no-obligation chat regarding your next project.

#homeronovations #buildingproject #extension #homedecor #tradespeople #interiordesigner #interiordesign

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