Your House Renovation Checklist from Amory Brown
We are currently working with Amory Brown on the complete renovation of an extremely dated house in Twickenham. The internal layout of the house is being reconfigured, a basement built and complete redecoration throughout.
The client is keen to keep some of the original features in the property which we are helping them to incorporate into the design of the furniture and fabrics.
These are some of the points to note before you start a renovation project.
1. Write your brief
Before starting out on your renovation project, it is very important to define what you want to achieve from the work. Without a clear focus it is difficult to even begin to make the major decisions required throughout the project, listed below. It may be that you are renovating a property for investment, extending it to add on extra space, changing the layout to create additional rooms or a more open plan feel; whatever your aims, you will find writing down a list of them will help to give clarity to the project in your own mind as well as allowing you to filter it through to the contractors effectively.
Once you have set your brief, it is crucial to come up with an appropriate and viable budget for the project. It may be that after you have appointed your team, you have to rethink either your budget or your scope of works but it is important to have a figure in mind when approaching the professionals you might appoint, as this will have a bearing on which contractors you choose. It will also allow them to give you a realistic idea of what you can achieve with the budget set out.
3. Appoint your team
Being comfortable with the team you appoint is paramount. You need to feel confident that they understand your brief, can work within your budget and will communicate well and in a timely manner not only with you but also between each other. A successful renovation project relies on a cohesive and well thought out package which considers how the property will be used and lived in, from the outset as well as the aesthetics.
The number of professionals you appoint on your renovation will depend on a variety of factors; the scale of the project, the time you have available to dedicate to the project yourself, your confidence to make decisions on spatial planning, architectural detailing and interior design to name just a few.
The contractors that you might consider it necessary to employ are project managers, architects, builders, interior designers, lighting designers and landscape garden designers. It can be very helpful to speak to friends and colleagues who have gone down the renovation route before, for advice on who they used and whether they have any recommendations. It often happens that you want to use one particular contractor who has been recommended to you and they will bring in the other professionals required. This can work well in the sense that they have worked together before and therefore have a history of communicating well and understand each other’s way of working.
You should work with your team to plan the lighting, electrical layouts, bathroom and kitchen designs and joinery around how you will live in the space. Consider where the furniture will be positioned in the rooms, door swings, electrical appliances, the quantity of items you need to store and how you will use each room. Be clever with the design of small spaces for example the area under the stairs could be used as a small office, cloakroom and additional storage.
5. Planning permission / Party wall permission
Once the initial design of your project has been thought out, it may be necessary to apply for planning permission and / or to request party wall permission from your neighbours. It is important to consider this early on as both processes can take some time to follow through and reach an agreement and it is also crucial to factor the costs involved into your budget.
Planning permission will need to be applied for if you are changing the outside of your property or if you live in a listed building. The Planning Portal website is a very helpful tool for further information on this subject. From submission of your application to your local council, it is usual for an application to take three months for a decision to be made on an application.
If you are planning on carrying out any of the following; work on an existing party wall or party structure including a chimney breast or stack shared with another property, building on the boundary line between your property and a neighboring property, excavating near a neighboring building, carrying out repairs to the party structure, you are required to notify the neighbours for party wall permission.
6. Look / style
A great way of refining your ideas for the look and style you would like to go for is to spend time looking through magazines and newspapers and tearing out any images that you like. These can be of anything ranging from mood suggestions, colours, furniture, fabrics, finishes and architectural details. By putting all your cut-outs into a file or a book you can condense your ideas and get a feeling for the look and style you want to achieve. Starting with as many ideas as possible you can gradually fine-tune the look until it becomes something cohesive and true to what you would like to replicate. It is also a great tool for communicating your visual ideas to your designers and builders.
It is worth spending time sorting through your current furniture. Just because it is old it doesn’t mean it is out of date. Furniture can be modernised by stripping it back and painting or varnishing it, putting on new handles or reupholstering it in a contemporary way. Even though you are modernising your home it doesn’t mean you should have a completely new collection of furniture to go in it. Mixing old and new furniture together creates an interior with history and gives a lived in and relaxed feel to a space.
8. Keeping an open mind
Don’t be surprised if your project changes direction and costs appear that were unexpected; building work very often throws up problems that need to be worked through. Even though surveys are carried out before work starts, it is impossible to know exactly how a building has been constructed before building work has begun. Your builders and project managers have the experience to manage these problems when they appear but it is worth bearing in mind that you may have to be flexible and open to some changes.
You may also find that your ideas for the design alter as the project develops and you can see it visually transforming before you. Your contractors involved in the refurbishment will also have a different slant on things and new ideas to share which may influence your aesthetic direction. You’ll come across new products and styles during the course of the project and it is great to incorporate these into your project to further invigorate it and make it your own.