Home renovation 101: Your step-by-step guide

Home renovation 101: Your step-by-step guide

Home renovation is one of the best ways to get the home you want.

It can also make you a good amount of money when you come to sell, too, if done right.

And therein lies the crucial word: Done right.

Renovating a house can be costly when mistakes are made and hugely stressful, too.

The answer?

Proper preparation and planning – and that’s where our step-by-step guide to home renovation comes in…


How to renovate a house

Any house renovation project requires sound planning but also a willingness to expect the unexpected.

Here are the steps you should take, and considerations you should make, to achieve the perfect renovation…



1. Buying the right property
2. Planning permission
3. Design and architects
4. Budget and finance
5. Schedule of works
6. Work begins
7. Snagging


    1. Buying the right property

    Buying the right property to renovate is crucial, but not always easy.

    You’ll need a property that will work for you once your renovation has been completed, but also one that will hopefully see you make a profit when you do eventually come to sell it.

    It’s easy to spot a property in need of work simply by looking through the online portals like Rightmove and Zoopla.

    But that doesn’t always mean value for money – particularly if the property is on a road with a ceiling price.

    When looking for a property to renovate, you should always:


    • Look at any work neighbouring properties have had done, like extensions
    • Consider the outdoor space to the rear and sides if you’re planning an extension – is there enough room?
    • Research the most recent sale prices in the road and check out any work that has been done at those properties to establish if the road has a ceiling price
    • Have a survey done on the property you’re looking at – a surveyor will check for major, potentially costly problems like subsidence, damp, or drainage issues
    • Obtain a building report, which will tell you which construction methods were used throughout the house so you can plan how you’ll renovate the property
    • Get a measured survey, which will provide detailed drawings of the property’s layout – you’ll need this for any planning application


    2. Planning permission

    When looking for properties to renovate, it’s hugely important to consider planning permission before buying.

    Buying a property only to later be denied planning consent is one of the most expensive mistakes you can make.

    So, when looking for properties, start by searching for those that have outline planning permission, or full permission, already in place.

    Outline permission means the local planning department are aware of proposed work to a property and have agreed to it in principle ahead of more detailed plans being submitted.

    Alternatively, you should look for properties where work can be completed under Permitted Development.

    A lot of work can often be carried out under permitted development, including:


    • Single storey extensions
    • Loft conversions
    • Conservatories
    • Porches
    • Decking
    • Basement development
    • Parking


    However, while this means no planning permission will be required, there are some size and scale limitations for things like extensions.

    You will almost certainly need building regulations approval for any structural work or electrical installation.


    3. Design, builders and architects

    Once you’ve found and purchased a property that suits your needs, you’ll need to plan and design how you want it to look.

    As part of the planning phase, you should consider work you want to do yourself (if any) and what you’ll outsource to contractors and professionals.

    And if you’re thinking of using an architect to plan your renovation, now is the time to start contacting them.

    The best way to plan a home renovation project is to spend plenty of time considering all the options for work.

    Then speak to several builders before opting for the best fit.

    Once you have your builder in place, you’ll be able to agree a clear schedule of works, so everyone involved in the project is abreast of what’s expected and the timeframes.


    4. Budget and finance

    How much your property renovation will cost depends on a whole multitude of factors.

    Firstly, the amount of work you’re undertaking and the time it will take.

    Secondly, your budget will be affected by any issues you encounter during the renovation – all houses can have gremlins and surprises lurking, so you should always expect your budget to be tested no matter how prepared you are.

    Generally, though, these are the figures you can expect to pay for some of your renovation work:


    • Extension: £25,000-£50,000
    • Loft conversion: £40,000
    • Bathroom renovation: £6,000-£10,000
    • Kitchen renovation: £7,000-£15,000
    • New windows: £400-£600 per unit
    • New heating system: £4,000


    4. Schedule of works

    When renovating a house, you’ll require a clear schedule of works.

    This is essentially a list of every job that needs to be done during your renovation project, listed in order.

    When working with a builder or contractor on a home renovation, a schedule of works also acts as a loosely binding contract between you, the homeowner, and the person doing the work, helping you ensure everything remains on track and within budget.

    Here’s an example of a schedule of works for a large renovation project:


    External work

    • Brickwork and pointing to match
    • Render and paint exterior
    • Clean, repair and replace roof tiles where needed
    • Repair chimney where needed
    • Repairs to render on front elevation
    • Replace front elevation windows x4
    • Full clean of render to side elevation
    • Replace frosted window to side elevation
    • Remove climbing vegetation to rear elevation
    • Replace rear elevation windows x4
    • Remove sliding doors to ground floor kitchen and replace with French doors


    Internal work

    • Remove all carpets on ground floor and replace with supplied wood flooring throughout
    • Remove kitchen and internal wall between kitchen / dining room
    • Remove radiators and replace with new wrought iron rads
    • Fit new kitchen and appliances
    • Remove existing fire surround, plaster wall and make good
    • Remove all carpets on first floor
    • Remove internal wall between bedrooms four and five, plaster walls and make good
    • Remove existing first floor bathroom suite, tiles and flooring
    • Fit new bathroom flooring, tiles and suite
    • Remove existing front door and fit new composite door
    • Remove all rubbish and skip
    • Lay new resin driveway to front


    5. Work begins

    This is where your schedule of works becomes to the go-to document for your home renovation.

    Once your property is stripped back and ready to be remodelled or any extension built, your builder or contractor will move on to what’s known as first fix jobs.

    These include:


    • Removing or adding internal walls
    • Adding door linings
    • Adding floors
    • Adding window frames and units
    • Fitting plumbing structures like soil pipes and drainage connections
    • Fitting items that will sit behind plastered walls, like ducts, alarms and wiring for things like heating thermostats
    • Once the first fix stage is complete, your property’s walls will be ready for plastering and any floor screed will be laid.
    • Second fix jobs come next and include:
    • Fitting light fittings, sockets, TV and phone points
    • Door hanging and fixing of architraves
    • Bathroom and kitchen fitting installation
    • Fitting all radiators, boiler system and controls
    • Installation of kitchen
    • Boxing in and plastering any exposed pipework


    7. Snagging your renovation

    If you think of your home renovation like a major surgical operation, it should come as no surprise that your property needs time to recover from lots of renovation work.

    And during that time, problems can occur, including:


    • Newly plastered walls cracking
    • Minor leaks
    • Heating system issues
    • Decorative scuffs and scrapes


    Your builder should honour any snagging issues and return to rectify them after the house has settled for a few weeks or months at no extra cost.


    What to consider when renovating a house

    Renovating a property is a huge undertaking and there are lots of things to consider, including:


    1. The age of the property

    Most property renovations take place in older homes.

    However, that means there are often a few surprises lurking beneath floors or in walls – and these surprises could affect your budget.

    So, it’s always worth factoring in just how old a property is before considering buying it to renovate.

    To find out how old your house is, the best place to start is the Land Registry.

    The Land Registry holds records of all land in England and Wales, but your local authority could also be a good place to glean more information about your property, too.


    2. Consider original features

    Period homes in the UK are often packed with character and original features.

    Decide whether you want to preserve these before starting your renovation.

    Period features can often add value to a property, so if you’re thinking of selling in the near future, you might wish to keep or refurbish things like ornate fireplaces, tiled floors or decorative mouldings.

    When undertaking a large-scale renovation, it can be easy to fall into the trap of stripping a house back to its bare bones.

    And while turning a property into a shell can enable you to tackle every area with your own touch and taste, it will also mean more expense – when there could be elements of your property you should keep.

    Before starting out with major work, think about your property’s original features and how you could use them with the plans you have in mind.

    Not only will keeping some things save you money, it could also help preserve the character of your property.


    3. Access to your property

    Major renovation work often requires major machinery.

    So, before you start any work, you’ll need to establish, with your builder or contractor, how they are going to get large machinery on to the site of your property.

    You may also have to speak with your neighbours if access is required via their land or if machinery access will impact on them in any way.


    4. The order of work

    The order in which you undertake work to remodel your house is key.

    Generally, most renovations will follow this order of work:


    • Strip out and removal
    • Structural work – floors, ceilings, walls
    • First fix work – plumbing, heating wiring
    • Plastering, flooring
    • Second fix work – plumbing, heating, wiring
    • Bathroom, kitchen fit-out
    • Decoration


    Further reading…