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Tips for a Home Renovation


Renovating your property can seem daunting, but with a few tips to keep in mind it’s possible to make sure the whole process runs smoothly. Whether you’re looking to give your home a modern makeover or undertake a major refurbishment project, it’s important to plan your home improvement project to avoid any unexpected headaches and make the most of your home’s potential. Here are a few tips on how to carry out your home renovation successfully. 

Setting a Budget for Your Renovation

The first and arguably most important step is to carefully plan out your budget for your home renovation project. There’s no getting round the fact that renovations can be expensive, but they can also be a solid investment in terms of adding value to your property, cutting long-term maintenance and utility expenses, and improving your quality of life. It’s important to be realistic about your expectations for your budget and for the cost of the works, including materials, furnishings and professional fees. It’s wise to make sure your budget includes a margin, as both materials and labour can end up costing significantly more than you had initially intended. 

With this in mind, it is important to carefully plan the jobs your renovation project will involve. Prioritise: spend the money you have where it is most needed, and if necessary leave the less important jobs for a second phase later on. You can consult with a building contractor or architect to help determine a realistic budget, that includes all of the components and labour you will need to carry out your renovation. You should also try to decide from the start if there are any high-value items that you absolutely must have in your renovated home, for example new pieces of kitchen equipment, expensive bathroom fixtures or bespoke furniture or design elements. If you’re on a budget, keep in mind that products that you can buy ready-made in standard sizes and colours, such as windows for example, will be more affordable than bespoke versions that you have custom made. This isn’t always the case for custom designs for built-in furniture or shelving for example, that can add unique design quality to your home in addition to perfectly suiting your individual needs. 

Energy Retrofits

If improving your home’s energy efficiency is a priority, your renovation project may focus around making upgrades and improvements to your home to reduce the energy it uses and its greenhouse gas emissions, as well as your utility bills. This type of renovation often involves installing renewable energy technologies and heating systems, such as installing an air-source heat pump to reduce dependance on fossil fuels. Reducing your home’s heat loss is also important to improving its energy efficiency. Installing or replacing the internal or external insulation of your house can be a great investment that will save you money in the long run by improving the heat retention of your property and cutting your energy bills. It’s estimated that an uninsulated roof is responsible for a quarter of a house’s heat loss, and you may need to upgrade your wall insulation or floor insulation as well. Window upgrades are also a valuable investment to improve climate control in your home, while offering aesthetic advantages as well as part of your remodel. 

As part of Ireland’s National Renovation Strategy, there may be government funding available to help you upgrade your home to meet energy efficiency targets under the National Home Retrofit scheme. It may be a good idea to get in touch with your local authority to find out if you’re eligible to receive an energy grant to renovate your home.

man climbing on ladder inside room

Choosing Products and Materials

Planning your refurbishment project will also include deciding on the fixtures and materials that you would like to use before you actually start carrying out the work. Make detailed plans before you purchase anything, and once you’ve started try to stick to your plan. Do your best to avoid impulse purchases, you may find that the tiles or wallpaper that looked so beautiful and enticing in the showroom do not match as well with your colour scheme as you had intended. Or even worse, if you purchase a large piece of electrical equipment and then find that it does not fit, you will have a significant headache on your hands. To avoid this, do plenty of research before making any purchases. That said, once you have decided on a purchase and have made sure that it will harmonise with the space you have designed, be decisive and try not to spend longer than necessary overthinking your design choices. If interior design isn’t your expertise, or you have a vision and don’t know how to make it happen, don’t be afraid to consult with an architect specialised in renovations and interior design. An architect can help you make sure your plan is viable and spot any potential issues, in addition to helping you rethink the space to come up with ingenious ideas to make it work better for you and fit your lifestyle. While the cost of an architect’s services is another expenditure to take into account, it’s worth it to guarantee clean, professional results for your renovation project and practical, well-designed living spaces that are just what you had in mind.

Hiring Builders for Your Renovation Project

Another important tip is to make sure that you choose the best builders and contractors for your home improvement project. Go with contractors that have a proven track record of delivering results: the best way is to get trustworthy recommendations, whether from friends or from your architect. It is also important to choose a builder who you feel can be trusted with your vision - having a good personal rapport with your contractors is important. After all, you’ll be entrusting them with your home, and they will be the ones to implement your renovation vision and make it a reality. For complete peace of mind, you can carry out checks into the history of the contractor you have chosen. 

It can be absolutely worth it to spend a little more to get a reliable, professional builder you are happy with, so try to look past the price they quote you and ask yourself if they meet your other priorities: do you feel like they are trustworthy? Do they understand your vision? Do they just have something about them that makes you feel as if they are the right contractor for the project? If so, don’t let their fees put you off - it will likely end up being well worth it throughout the renovation process. 

DIY Home Renovation Shows

Are you a fan of popular DIY TV shows? While home makeovers can make for good television, be aware that these don’t necessarily reflect the reality of carrying out a renovation project. They may make remodelling look simple, but they often cut out a lot of steps that you don’t see on TV, making the process seem more straightforward than it actually is. Any hassles or difficulties they may end up facing during the project will have one of two processes applied to them. The first possibility is that the producer decides they wouldn’t make for interesting television and they are therefore consigned to the cutting room floor. The other option is that they are dramatised and exaggerated in order to make the programme more engaging for the viewers. These shows also have a tendency to imply that large scale renovation work is something that can be done easily, featuring people completely repainting their own houses or installing a totally new kitchen. Unless you are a very experienced DIY-er or happen to be a professional tradesperson yourself, this kind of home improvement work may be best left to the professionals. Remember, the people who appear in these shows often have a large budget and amount of time to apply to their renovation, and are guided every step of the way by a team of trained and experienced professionals. Of course, you can get support from a professional too, to help you get more hands-on in your project! For example, you can discuss with your architect how much you’d like to be involved in the work and even collaborate on a self-build project.

Can I live in my house during my renovation project?

Deciding whether you’ll live on site or move out of your house while renovating is one of the major questions to consider when planning your project. While it’s possible to stay at home during your home improvement project, depending on the nature and extent of your renovation plans, it’s important to be realistic about what to expect. Bear in mind that while the renovation works are being carried out, you will likely have to put up with certain inconveniences around your home during this period. While a good contractor will do everything possible to minimise the inconvenience to you, as well as the amount of mess in your home, both of these are inevitable to a certain degree. Get used to having people in your home – the builders will be practically part of the family, which is all the more reason to choose them well. Dust and debris are natural products of the renovation process, so if it’s important to you to live in a clean, tidy home you may be more comfortable staying with a friend or relative during this time. Don’t forget about the noise as well – whether you’re working from home or you’re not an early riser, the noise of power tools and hammers can certainly be disruptive. 

If you do decide that you are going to stay in the property, plan around the fact that you may not have access to some of the rooms or facilities. This can be particularly problematic if you are in the process of renovating the kitchen, as you will have to make other arrangements for cooking. Many people having their home renovated set up some kind of basic, temporary kitchen in their garage. This can also be the case if the bathroom is being renovated: unless your property has more than one, it’s likely that you will be required to live elsewhere until the basics of your new bathroom have been installed and set up.