April 17, 2019 | Updated: July 12, 2019


What to do first when renovating a house

When deciding on a place to call home we have a range of possibilities broadly divided between apartment living or a house with front and back garden. For those who choose the latter there are a number of options that need to be taken into consideration before embarking on any major investment. Options that include remodelling or refurbishment works carried out on an existing house; a non-residential building that needs remodelling works to convert into suitable housing accommodation; the restoration or conservation of an historical property for residential use or an entirely new build house project. Depending on budget, preference and location one of these options might be the answer to your housing requirements. Below we examine the things you need to know and should be asking yourself before embarking on the project?

Things to know when renovating a house

The single most important step is to commission a thorough and comprehensive house survey in order to know more about the property in question. And make sure it is carried out by a qualified architect or engineer. This is vital because you need to know the extent of what you are getting yourself into when renovating your home. Older properties are a minefield while in theory more modern properties should be in better condition. Another important question to ask is whether your house will require an extension. There are strict rules governing what is permissible regarding area, position, height etc. as well as building regulations that may be retro active depending on the extent of the works to the overall property. A qualified architect will help guide you through the entire process.

Things to consider when remodelling a house

Knowledge of the local bylaws and planning regulations is essential before embarking on a remodelling project for an existing building to covert non-residential to residential use. Make sure that the building in question is located in an area that is zoned residential. Getting a survey done is the next most important step, as with a refurbishment project. Suitability of the property is also a key consideration, whether it can or should be adapted at all, whether the necessary services such as water, gas, etc. are in place or need to be provided. All of which affects the budget.

Questions to ask before building a house

A new build project is potentially the realisation of a dream home, anything is possible but what are the most important questions to ask regarding a new build. Location, location, location, as the old saying goes is primary and will condition the entire project as well as the lifestyle offered by a new-build home. Is the site close to transport links and other services, etc.

Different structural options

What is the most appropriate structural system for your new home? Timber frame construction is becoming more popular, and represents advantages in terms of building programme. The traditional block and brick construction remains the most popular choice but other construction options include metal or concrete frame. All of these structural options have cost implications. Your architect will advise on all of these options as well as helping source a reliable builder, which is probably the next most important consideration when embarking on constructing a house.

Conservation and restoration

If your preference is to live in an historical property you need to be aware of its listed status; that is whether you are permitted to make any changes to the exterior or the interior. You should also be aware that conservation is extremely onerous and the types of materials and techniques employed during a conservation project are highly controlled. If the property is not listed and you simply are interested in retaining a period feel then an inventory should be taken of all the elements that are to be retained. Period features can give your home a unique feel but it is important to be realistic.

Finding the right architect

Choosing the right architect for your project is crucial, for new build, refurbishment, remodelling and restoration projects. Your decision should not be based on a fee proposal alone but on research and relevant experience. RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) will provide a listing of professionals in your area.

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