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Are you planning to extend, renovate or improve your home in the near future? There are plenty of things to do before starting your building project.

The social distancing requirements of the current coronavirus situation probably mean that you have a bit more free time at home than you’re used to. Time is very precious. So don’t be tempted to waste it binge-watching The Crown on Netflix or organising your sock drawer! Instead put this extra time to good use by refining and completing your home improvement plans – that way you can make sure your project is a success.

Here is a list of things to do before starting your building project:-

1. Write a to do list

Begin by writing a comprehensive To Do List for your building project. Aim to use this extra Covid19 time to create a really detailed plan for your build. Afterall, the more time you spend now, doing your desk research, the better.

Don’t forget to check things like whether you need to contact your mortgage provider as well as looking into what additional buildings and contents insurance you might need.

Don’t waste this opportunity – your life will return to its busy state again soon!

2. Check Through Your Drawings

Take the time to pore over your architectural drawings and make sure you understand exactly what they are. You’d be surprised how easy it is to completely miss some of the less obvious details! Get clarification from your architect or designer if you need to.

Try to imagine what every room will look like and how you will use it. Think about where your furniture will go, and where you’ll store or display all of your belongings. You can always use some squared paper from your childrens’ maths exercise books and create mini, to scale versions to help! Cut the pieces out and move things around to check they fit – this will help you if you need to consider wall space for permanent elements like radiators etc too.

3. Think Envelope & Infrastructure

One major area of building projects that tends to go under the radar – especially if you’re busy – are energy performance and heating systems. But both are really important and should be researched and thought through properly.

Afterall there’s no point spending lots of money making your home bigger or more aesthetically pleasing if it’s uncomfortable to live in or expensive to run! You need to focus on future-proofing your property by making sure it performs to modern standards. By this we mean considering its thermal performance – insulation levels, air tightness etc plus how it is heated.

Building regulations require you to meet their requirements but the bar is set pretty low. The climate emergency means we all need to minimise our carbon emissions. As 15% of the UK’s emissions come from our homes we should all be aiming to make our homes as energy efficient as possible. It’s a common sense decision, as if you do this your home will be more desirable should you wish to sell it in the future – plus it will be cheaper to run and more comfortable too.

i) Energy Performance Considerations

Check if you have you given enough consideration to insulation. Not just in your loft but the walls and floors too. If you have cavity walls are they insulated? Consider what you should be doing to boost your internal or external wall insulation, as well as insulating under floors. Likewise make sure you take all the measures you can to reduce draughts and maximise airtightness.

Doors and windows also play a part. They are usually the weakest link when it comes to energy loss in a building. Now is the time to invest in double or triple glazing with a low U value. Make sure that you choose your new doors with this in mind too.

N.B Energy performance is a specialist area. CLPM’s independent energy team can survey your home and help guide you to ensure you make the best decisions.

ii) Heating Considerations
  • Is your heating system old? Do you have mains gas or are you using an oil boiler or electric storage units? What is the most approriate heating solution for your property? Are renewable technologies a wise investment?
  • Is your boiler sufficient or will you need to upgrade your heating system? If so what capacity will you need, what control systems will you use and where will the zones and thermostats be.
  • Are you adding underfloor heating? If you’re replacing or adding more radiators what types, where will you place them and what size do they need to be?
  • How will you provide for your hot water needs? Will you need a water storage tank and if so where will it be?

N.B Not all builders or plumbers have the breadth of knowledge to help you make the most informed decisions. CLPM’s independent heating advisors can provide you expert, impartial advice.

4. Get Closer to the Detail

Have you signed off your architectural designs or finishes?

Most of us are guilty of putting off making tricky decisions. And when you’re feeling a bit stressed and you’re busy it’s very easy to procrastinate. If you are still deliberating over what tiles you want in your bathroom or what colour to paint your kitchen then now’s the time to decide.

Remember much of your research can carried out online – so if you’re self isolating this isn’t an excuse! Pinterest and Houzz are both great sources of inspiration.

Also remember if you don’t decide these things then you might end up making snap decisions you may regret. Or even worse your builder may end up deciding for you – and then you’ll run the risk of paying for things that you really don’t like!

5. Create Your masterdocument

It’s not enough to just make all these decisions. It’s a good idea to capture them by writing them all down in one place.

Set up a spreadsheet, room by room, to help you work out what you need to decide on. The document could include the manufacturers or stockists and prices of the finishes too. Set up a folder and attach sketches, brochures or quotations as you go.

The details for each space should include:-

  • Floor finishes eg. what wood, carpet or tiles. Be specific – there are hundreds of types of engineered boards out there! Also make sure they’re suitable for underfloor heating, if appropriate.
  • Skirting board and architrave details eg. what are the profiles, and what colour is it to be painted.
  • Walls and ceilings eg. what paint colours are to be used. Is there any tiling and if so in what configuration?
  • Doors eg. what is the finish eg. varnished, oiled or painted. Is it glazed. Does it need to be a fire door?
  • Ironmongery eg. what hinges, doorhandles, locks are to be fitted?
  • Power sockets eg. how many and where do you want them? What finish – plastic, steel, chrome?
  • Light fittings eg. specific fittings and positions of downlighters, wall lights, pendants, feature lighting.
  • Light switches eg. where you do want the switches. Consider how do you want to layer the light in each room. You may want to have the lighting on several circuits so you can alter the ambience of the room. Do want any lights on PIR or timers?
  • Window sills eg. what material is to be used? MDF or wood and if so what paint or varnish colour. Or else stone or tiled?
  • Technology eg. think about what TV, telephone, door bell, alarm systems points are needed and where they will go.
  • Carpentry eg are you having fitted wardrobes, cupboards or shelving installed. What are the details.
  • Bathrooms, en-suites and cloakrooms eg. list the specific sanitaryware items and which taps and waste units etc you want. Don’t forget other items such as shaver points, ventilation and heated towel rails.
  • Kitchens and utilities eg. list the units, the handles, the sinks and taps and the worktop materials. Are you having a watersoftener installed? Where will it be stored and how will it affect your plumbing design? Don’t forget to think carefully about where you’ll place your white goods and appliances. Better to have too many sockets and lights than too few. What about ventilation?
  • Outside space eg. external lights, patios, driveways, fencing and landscaping. Have you decided on what you’re doing where. For example what is the layout of your patio, what slabs you’re using. Will you need to re-seed or turf your lawn? Have you considered adding external lights, power sockets or outside taps. What about saving water measures – now’s a good time to add water storage butts to your downpipes? You could also add wildlife friendly features such as boxes for swallows, swifts and house martins to nest in.

By completing this task for every space in your new home you can not only capture and remember the specific details, but it will also create a really useful briefing document for you and your build team.

The more you things you decide upfront, the more organised your build will be – meaning that there will be fewer problems or misunderstandings later on.

N.B An experienced building projer manager can help you organise your build – both in the pre-construction phase and once your build team are working onsite. Why not call CLPM on 01923 896550 to find out more about our building project management services?

6. Check Your Budget

Do you know how much your build will actually cost? No doubt you started out with a budget in mind, but that was probably a while ago – have you checked that your plans are still affordable?

Until now you’ve probably just estimated roughly how much build itself and then the fixtures and fittings will cost. But once you’ve finalised your designs and finishes, and created your masterdocument you can begin to get a much more accurate estimate of your total project costs.

The best way to check your budget is to work with an experienced Quantity Surveyor. They can take your drawings and all your information and produce a line by line cost estimate for your project. They will also include many of the things you might have missed too – such as skips and scaffolding.

N.B CLPM’s team of experienced Quantity Surveyors who can help prepare a comprehensive estimate for your build.

Get in Touch

We hope we’ve found our tips on what things to do before starting your building project useful.

If you’re in the planning stages of organising a building project and are interested in any of our services then do get in touch. Our friendly team can talk you through your options and we provide FREE, no obligation quotations.

Complete a contact form, email at or call 01923 896550 to find out more.

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Our Construction Project Management and Quantity Surveying Services cover London, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and West Sussex. We provide Energy Efficiency and Heating System Advice across the UK.
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