10 tips for refurbishing your home

10 tips for refurbishing your home

Refurbishment, which can include anything from an extension, a new kitchen or redecoration, is a great way to add value to your property. But it must be done wisely. The following tips will help ensure your refurbishment is a success.

1. Before making any changes, check whether the property needs planning approval. Your house could be a listed building or located within a conservation area so it's always best to check with your local planning authority first.

2. Remember building works require building control approval. Any development without consent can present problems when the property goes up for sale and it is essential to keep any documentation to prove you had permission.

3. Don’t overlook the possibility of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) when removing foliage for extension work. All trees within a conservation area are protected. Your local authority’s website will confirm whether there is a TPO in place for any tree on your property and is normally traceable by postcode.

4. Remember that while the Party Wall Act gives adjoining owners the rights to create and modify party structures, it also sets out restrictions which require a formal process to be followed if alterations are to be made.

5. Choose finishes that will appeal to a broad range of purchasers – bold statement prints may be cutting edge but will date quicker than a neutral shade.

6. While you're making refurbishments, consider the opportunity to safeguard other parts of the building. For example, when the carpets or floorboards are up, check the condition of floor timbers and consider preservative treatments or improving ventilation to ground floors.

7. Cavity wall insulation should only be carried out by reputable or manufacturer-approved contractors. While there are likely to be few options where walls are solid, improved loft insulation can offer a two-year pay back. Improved draught stripping, particularly to loft hatches, can pay back in one year. Maintain ventilation to suspended ground floors.

8. A wide range of alternative heating options are now available, including ground and air source heat pumps and biomass boilers. Advice on the web and in forums can be misleading.Take reputable and  independent advice ensuring any new system has a comprehensive warranty and make sure to service regularly to keep the warranty valid.

9. Other than minor alterations, electrical work may require building control approval, either via the local authority or an approved certifier. Use only qualified electricians and ask to see their documentation. Insist on and retain certification for completed work. Electrical defects are a frequent cause of house fires. Insurers may not pay out where a fire is traced to bodged work.

10. Contemplate the practicality of improvements. A new heating system may cause extensive disruption and require redecoration. Simply updating an older boiler with a new model can significantly reduce the costs.

Further information

Read more about Savills Project Management: Refurbishment and redevelopment

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