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planning your home improvements effectively

Big or small it’s essential to plan your home improvements effectively

With Spring in the air, many people start to think about transforming their homes. Whether it’s remodelling the kitchen, converting the loft or attic or adding an extension, it’s important that a robust plan is in place which includes a realistic budget before you start.

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 visualize 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.

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 are using a contractor as it will help you to keep on top of the overall project.

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.

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.

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!

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!  If you don’t want to spend all your savings but there’s an expensive ‘something’ you really can’t do without, explore financing options like a personal loan or a further advance on your mortgage.

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?

To help improve your home, if you need a personal loan to help finance your project,  find out more 

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