Planning Your Home Improvements
Planning Your Home Improvements
Even if you are just completing a job that will only take a few hours at the weekend, it is well worth planning out the order of work before starting. Getting halfway through a project only to find that you have run out of some basic material is not only annoying but may also ruin the job in hand so that you need to start again. Any work on your home will inevitably cause some disruption.
By working out a plan you will at least have an idea of how long this is likely to last and perhaps be able make some alternative arrangements. The following factors must be taken into account when planning the order of work:
One of the advantages of carrying out home improvements yourself is that unlike a professional builder, you will not have to work out an hourly rate for your time but you should still consider carefully how you order your own time:
- Be realistic about the taken to do the job, and do not set unattainable targets and unrealistic deadlines. Far better to add on an additional day than to rush and end up with a sub-standard job.
- Setting aside a lengthy block of time means that you will not be interrupting your flow of work. If you have some surplus paid holiday from your job, you will probably find that by tacking an extra day or two onto the end of a weekend the job can be completed in one go rather than being stretched over several weekends — picking up where you left off from the day before, rather than from the previous weekend, is always easier. Many items of hired equipment are booked up weeks in advance at weekends but are little used during weekdays, so you may also find that you can get hold of these sooner.
- If you need to factor tradespeople into the schedule, you will have to estimate your time accurately so that you can get professional help in at the correct time. Having a plumber turn up to connect the bath when you have yet to fit the floor might not only be embarrassing but you could be charged for a wasted trip. Involve any professionals at an early stage as they are likely to be booked up weeks in advance.
- Above all, be flexible and be prepared to amend your plans if you discover something that needs attention. Older houses in particular can throw up nasty surprises at times.
Sequence of jobs
- Work to a sequence so that any major jobs that may impact on future work are completed first. For example if the roof is leaking or there is a dripping tap in the bathroom, you should fix these two items first before you lay the floor covering, otherwise the new floor could suffer from damp problems and you could quickly find yourself having to replace it again; or if the house needs rewiring then it is better to get this done before you think about laying new carpets.
- If you are renovating several rooms in your house consider how work in one room might impact on another. For example, if you need to access one room from another then wait till the end of the project to decorate both rooms. Do not make the mistake of laying an expensive floor if you know that you will have to walk across it in muddy boots to access the next room.
Tools and materials
- Ensure you have all the necessary tools and materials before starting work. You should be able to buy most tools off the shelf, but some heavy-duty tools may need to be ordered. Before rushing out to buy expensive equipment, work out which tools will get repeated use and which are for one-off jobs, as it is probably more cost-effective to hire tools in the latter category rather than buying outright.
- If you are intending to hire heavy-duty equipment, such as a concrete mixer or an electric sander, reserve this well in advance so that you will have it to hand at the correct time during the project.
- If you need to , such as laminate flooring or carpets, there can often be a delay of several weeks between order and delivery which will need to accounted for in your schedule.
- Make sure you know the dimensions of whatever solid materials you will be using — timber, tiles, plasterboard, and the like — and use these as units to count the required quantities.
- With bagged and loose materials such as cement, sand and plaster, find out the coverage per bag and use this to work out how many bags you will need.
- Do not be tempted to over-estimate — it is wasteful to go beyond a sensible safety margin of, say 5 per cent. Conversely do not underestimate as this is annoying if you run out of something just as the shops are closing.
Waste disposal is a job that is often overlooked but must also be accounted for in the schedule of work, for example you may need toto take away old flooring or construction materials.
Include extra time for general finishing and room decoration, if required.
If you need to apply for planning consent you must allow eight weeks from submission until, you receive decision. Finding out if you need to file an application and submitting this should form part of your preparations.
Making a scale drawing of the room on graph paper will help to estimate quantities and serve to remind you of what you need when visiting stores and suppliers. Such drawings need not be of an architect’s standard, but they should offer enough detail to provide a good idea of the effect a project will have on the existing look of your home.
Graph paper always makes any technical drawing easier and allows for more accurate measurement. Mark on the positions of the doors and windows and any other permanent fixtures, then add furniture to the diagram so that you can gauge the effect of the alteration on the overall layout of the room.