Renovating a tired, rundown building and breathing life into brickwork that has been unused for many years is a labour of love and often one of the most rewarding building projects you can undertake.
However, building renovations are never fast, or straightforward, and it is all too easy to rush a part of the process or make assumptions about the stability of a structure that can be disastrous – to both the project and your budget.
This checklist from Pinnacle Works runs through some of the advice from our skilled renovation contractors to help you sidestep common mistakes.
1. Commission a Full Survey
One of the typical errors is to start building renovations without knowing precisely what you are working with.
Structural or civil engineers can inspect the integrity of the building from the ground up, determining whether the property has solid foundations or needs preparatory work before you even think about decorating.
Refurbishment is secondary to renovation, so it is vital you address issues such as subsidence, poor condition walls, supporting brickwork or rot in the eaves to create a solid structure.
2. Map Out Your Plans
It is often necessary to hire a professional team of architects for complex property building renovations or those involving period, heritage, or protected properties.
The right solution for each aspect of your project will depend on countless variables, such as:
- The intended use of the finished structure.
- Planning permission restrictions.
- Space available and potential to expand.
- The size of the exterior walls, ceiling heights and presence of an attic or cellar.
- Groundwork required.
- Whether or not the building has live electricity, gas, and water.
An architect will start with the bigger picture, discussing your budget, expected timescales, planned use for the property and aspirations in terms of aesthetics, appearance, and style.
From there, they will break down building renovations into stages, deferring to you to make informed choices about things such as materials, tiling, and wall coverings – ensuring you know what your project will cost, how long it will take, and what it will look like when it is finished.
3. Complete All Necessary Paperwork
While it might be tempting to embark on building renovations as quickly as you can, missing a detail, failing to apply for planning approval, or forgetting about a licence or permission can be detrimental and stall work.
In some cases, you might employ an architect, surveyor or project manager (like Pinnacle Works) to assist with your planning application. Advice from professionals with in-depth knowledge of the planning rules and specific legislation applicable to your site can be invaluable.
You will need your architectural plans to proceed with a full planning application, although the exact procedure can vary between commercial buildings and domestic renovations.
4. Think About Project Management
Project management is more than just about keeping an eye on progress. In building renovations, it means having clear oversight of budgets, phases of work, contractors, and other aspects, such as releasing development finance at key stages of each job.
Many property owners imagine they will manage their own project, but this can take a substantial amount of time and effort, as well as commanding excellent negotiating and people management skills. If you hire a business to project manage, with you as the client, you must have absolute faith in their experience, abilities, and past form. Researching previous projects and asking for client testimonials can be time well spent.
Your project manager will commit to a certain number of hours or days on-site each week or month or might pre-arrange inspections and visits to see how things are moving forward. They are responsible for the logistics, material deliveries, tracking consignments, and ensuring each item or resource purchased aligns with your budget.
Although a third-party manager isn’t mandatory, they can potentially save you money by offsetting their fees in reduced downtime, delays or inefficiencies, which they will spot quickly.
5. Select Capable Contractors
Once you have reached the stage of breaking ground, building new walls or getting started with actual physical work, it remains essential to work closely with every tradesperson, construction firm or specialist company involved.
Most property redevelopment schemes will require several contractors to work alongside each other, including:
- Earth-moving firms
Each professional needs space to work safely and efficiently while coordinating each piece of the puzzle to avoid completing one element of your restoration, only to find that you have skipped a step and need to repeat a task.
The capabilities and professionalism of your contractors is a significant factor, so we’d recommend taking plenty of time to review past projects, compare quotations and speak with potential tradespeople before deciding who is the best fit for you.
Hiring Pinnacle Works is an excellent solution, as a full-service building firm that can provide qualified, capable crafts and tradespeople for the vast majority of work inherent in renovating a property, including specialists in renovations.
We are always happy to discuss our abilities and experiences, walk through your plans to raise any queries or make suggestions, or showcase some of our completed work to give you an idea of our exacting high standards.
6. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Older buildings need time and money to be renovated, and routinely lack insulation, wiring and other basic resources we take for granted in modern structures. It is far better to spend longer on every phase and achieve a remarkable outcome than to focus on aesthetics – which is a little like papering over the cracks.
The fun bits, such as painting, choosing heritage wallpaper, reinstalling period fireplaces, or retrofitting door handles, cabinetry and bathrooms, always come last. It is best to regard redevelopments as a long, delicate process rather than a one-off challenge because so many things need to come together before the structure is likely to be ready to live in.
By thinking through each step, and making careful choices in terms of who you hire, the materials you use, and what you spend, you will have a well-managed, methodical redevelopment that exceeds your expectations.