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8 steps to help you plan your home improvements effectively

8 steps to help you plan your home improvements effectively

Whether it's big or small, it's essential to plan your home improvements

With spring in the air and a Bank Holiday around the corner, many people start to think about transforming their homes. Whether it's remodelling the kitchen, converting the attic, adding an extension or giving your bedroom a mini makeover, it's important that a robust plan is in place which includes a realistic budget before you start.

1. Draw your dream

Whatever the scale of your project, it really helps to get your thoughts and ideas down on paper.  Magazines, blogs, websites and Pinterest are all excellent sources of inspiration. This should give you a good idea of which direction to go in.

These days, there are many software programmes that can help you visualise your project, packages like DreamPlan Home Design Software, Room Sketcher or an app such as, Chief Architect Software's Room Planner or go to to download a free planning tool.

2. Planning is key

Make a list of everything you're doing and who's doing it, and work out the sequence of steps for the work you're carrying out. Staging work in the right order is a major part of a building contractor's job, but a lot of it is common sense.  It's worth doing a plan even if you're using a contractor as it will help you to keep on top of the overall project.

3. Help is at hand

Avoid pitfalls by learning from the experience of other homeowners.  There are a number of websites that offer online chronicles of home improvement projects along with message boards or chat rooms that let you ask questions and get feedback.  

DIY stores offer 'How to' guides for all sorts of DIY jobs.  They also have online calculators to help you work out how much material you'll need for your project.  Manufacturers' websites can also be a gold mine of information, with pages of advice on troubleshooting and downloadable installation and repair manuals.

4. Get permission

In some instances, you need approval before you make structural changes to your home. This is usually done via the local council and could involve, for example, the Planning Office, the Environment Office or the Building Control Office. They will consider local building and safety regulations, and ensure that changes are in keeping with the neighbourhood and will not damage the environment.  The local Planning Officer is usually happy to talk to you about your plans and will answer your questions and offer you advice before you submit them. 

5. Agree a contract

Whether you plan a simple carpentry job or a major project with an architect and a builder, misunderstandings can lead to disaster so it's always advisable to have a written contract. Make sure everyone agrees on the work that will be completed and how long it will take. Also, be clear on the types of materials that will, and will not, be used. If you don't agree this upfront, you could be disappointed with the end result!  Also any changes you make during your build can be costly.

6. Financing your dream

It's always advisable to get several quotes for the jobs you need doing and make sure you have a detailed budget plan. People always say that your project will cost more than you think and in virtually every case, that is true, so always allow about 10-15% for extra expenses when allocating your budget. Going over budget usually comes about because an unrealistic budget may have been set in the first place, or maybe you've made changes to the original plan, or unforeseen problems have occurred. To help avoid this, make sure you set out the amount you can afford to spend before you set your heart on for example high-end wall tiles or flooring! 

7. Think about the future

Although this project may be your dream for the home you live in, if you plan to sell your house in the future, think about how the remodelling will affect its resale value. A luxury bathroom or block paving a large driveway can price your house beyond the values in your neighbourhood and you may not receive a return on your investment. Your family's needs may also change in a few years time, so will the plans you have today still be viable for your future?

8. Things don't always go to plan - make sure you're covered

Before starting any major home improvements, contact your insurer to check you'll be covered during the work and also after it's completed.  You may find that you need more cover whilst the work is taking place.  And once the project is completed, your rebuild and contents cover may also need to be reviewed to make sure you're not under insured.   

Check your contractors' insurance

For peace of mind, it's worth ensuring that any contractors that you hire also have adequate insurance too.  Don't just take the contractors' word that they have the insurance in place.  Take a look at their certificates and make sure they will be valid until the work is completed.     

Public Liability Insurance - this covers both you and your contractor if someone's hurt or if either your property or your neighbour's is damaged. 

Employers' Liability Insurance -  for contractors who are employed by a company, must have this insurance as it covers you and the company, if the contractor is hurt whilst working on your job.

Without this insurance in place, if things go wrong, you may be forced to pay out of your own pocket for things such as repairing any damage and/or pay for legal costs.  
If you'd like to discuss your home insurance options with us under no-obligation, contact our home insurance team or if you require a higher level of cover with more complex insurance needs, contact our Private Client insurance team.

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