How to project manage a house renovation

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How to project manage a house renovation

So now you’re the proud owner of an old house that needs some work, the estate agent has just given you the keys and you’re full of creative ideas having already spent months poring over images of wallpaper, kitchens and bathrooms. But it's important to consider how to project manage a house renovation but you plunge headlong into the project.

We think it was Benjamin Franklin who shared his planning wisdom: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” .What plans do you have for your project? With our vast experience of period property renovation, the first advice we’d share on how to project manage a house renovation is – live in it!

If it’s possible, it’s best to live in your house, get used to it, do get to know the nooks and crannies, the warm rooms and the cold rooms rather than rushing into any work that could need a different solution. Familiarity with your home is vital and with the best will in the world, you can’t glean that intimate knowledge from the estate agent or auctioneer details.

We heard about the experience of one renovator: “We got the keys at the end of August to a house with no central heating and only one plug socket for the whole of the upstairs. So we knew we just had to rewire and install central heating immediately.” This is a decision she later came to regret, having concluded, despite the enthusiastic electricians raring to go on the nice rewire project with a £5000 price tag, that actually there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the wiring. It was mainly a question of adding sockets around the upstairs of the house to accommodate all of the electronic items used by a family of four after the house had previously been occupied by one person.

It may take you 6 months or more to appreciate what features or functions are worth keeping in your home. We strongly recommend that you can take time to assess the fullest possible scope of your needs and whether you really need the 1000 square foot extension the architect is so keen to help you with.

The Victorian Emporium’s top 10 steps to success for your period home renovation

  1. Be realistic about timescales and make the right decisions rather than rush into a costly mistake
  2. Make a list of your requirements and assess whether the house in it’s current layout can meet those needs
  3. If not, decide whether you need to re-plan the layout within the existing footprint or whether you need to extend to meet all of your requirements
  4. Once you’ve decided on the above and have a very clear brief in terms of requirements, style and budget. Contact architects and arrange informal discussions to decide a) whether you can work with them and b) whether they can accommodate all of your requirements. Remember nothing is impossible; it may be costly and illogical and there may be a better way of doing it but if you’ve got the means, most things can be achieved.
  5. Choose your architect carefully. Ask for customer testimonials and ideally references. Remember you’ll need their help from beginning to end of the project. If the builder has a query with the plans, the architect will need to answer it maybe 2 or 3 years down the line. So make sure they are good at customer service and want to help. Also make sure those queries aren’t going to cost you. Even if it takes meetings with 20 architects to find “the one” slog through those 20 meetings. It will save stress, irritation and issues later down the line.
  6. Once the architect has the go ahead and submits his proposal to you, take your time reviewing it, ask loads of questions and look at the details. Don’t allow anything in those plans to be vague at any stage as again it will only cause hold ups, issues and additional costs further down the line.
  7. Once you’re happy with the plans, they’ve been submitted and approved it’s time to source your tradesmen.
  8. Send them your plans and fully specify which part of the job they are quoting on. Make appointments with at least 5 but maybe up to 8 people from each trade. Chances are that at least one won’t bother to even turn up, one won’t send in a quote and at least one you won’t like so if you are lucky you will end up with 3 potential candidates.
  9. Make sure all quotes are fully specified and in writing and are a total cost rather than a day rate. As well as committing to a price, get them to commit to a timescale. Also ask them whether they will be doing just your job if they are appointed or running other jobs alongside. This could be a major source of frustrations.
  10. Set up trade accounts with all your local builders’ merchants and buy all materials yourself. Ask them to quote in advance on any large orders and tell them you are getting the other merchants to quote too and you’re going with the best price. This could potentially save you thousands of pounds on a large project, maybe up to 30% on your materials cost.

One important tip on how to project manage a house renovation we’d share with you after many years of experience is that if you are not happy with any of your employed trades and they are not delivering on what they have promised, despite your best efforts and discussions, terminate the work with them sooner rather than later. This will save on stress and cost further down the line. There’s nothing worse than having someone working in your home who has misplaced your trust in their ability to deliver. Hopefully this has given you an insight into how to project manage a house renovation. Please contact us if you need any further help and you can read an article full of tips and advice from our customers here.

For really keen and relevant knowledge on how to project management a house renovation, we invite you to contact us about our Victorian house refurbishment project management service, please call Emma on 01525 750333 or email her on emma@thevictorianemporium.com. 


Categories: General, Preservation  

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