Hidden costs of home improvement

Caroline Cassidy

Whether it's your dream home or a run-down house you hope to renovate, buying a property can be exciting and fill you with creative inspiration. But amidst all the excitement it's easy to get carried away, and that budget you so carefully worked out can quickly spiral out of control.

hidden costs of home improvement
hidden costs of home improvement

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To avoid the most common pitfalls of home improvement, here's what you need to know.

Conduct an investigation
Your new home might seem perfect on the surface but many properties, particularly older ones, contain hidden horrors.

Properly investigating the property, either yourself or with the help of a trusted contractor, will ensure you don't get any sudden nasty surprises when work starts. Dodgy wiring, hidden rot and unwelcome visitors in the form of insect or vermin-type infestations, will all need to be dealt with and will undoubtedly push up the price of your refurbishment.

Even that seemingly innocent woodchip wallpaper could be hiding a plaster disaster, so do take care to test out small patches, from walls to floorboards.

Plan and plan again
Planning is the key to a successful renovation so a detailed schedule and budget, with the all-important contingency fund, is essential. If you are not doing the hard work yourself but relying on contractors instead, insist on just as much detail and planning from them so that you know what, when and how much of every aspect of your project.

Know the rules
Even if you are not extending the property, it's important to read up on the rules and regulations surrounding refurbishment. Your new house may well be subject to rules relating to structure, fire and electrics safety, among others, and fixing these after the event can be an expensive way to do things.

Find out whether the property is in a conservation area, for example, as this will mean a visit from a local conservation officer who will advise on the dos and don'ts of your renovation. And if you are seeking planning permission, do build the cost of the necessary fees into your budget.

Similarly if you are employing contractors, for whatever job, always ensure they come with the proper licences and accreditations.

Shop smart
Choosing fixtures and fittings and decorating your new home is really the fun part of any refurbishment. But it's easy to end up like a kid in a candy shop once inside those DIY superstores. Try not to be tempted by a great deal on taps when you only went in to look at floor tiles.

Be just as careful with your budget here as you were with the structural work or you may end up splashing more cash than you intended to. If in doubt, write a list before you go and make a note of the budget you have set aside for each room so that you don't overspend.

Have you refurbished or renovated a property yourself? What are your top tips for success? Leave your comments below...