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A beginners guide to home renovation (AD)

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We’ve been living in our home since 2019, purchased it in late 2022, and now it is finally time to crack on with the larger parts of our home renovation.

We are beginners to renovating and so I want to share some of my favourite tips – in the hope that they’ll help you along the way too!

Our garden - Wooden featherboard fencing, a wooden grey cold frame greenhouse, a grey patio, grey rattan furniture, a wooden sleeper wall and then a green grass garden with lots of plant pots and children's toys including a swing and a slide.

Be realistic

This is probably an obvious one but be realistic with your timeline. If you’re just looking to make some minor changes, and paint your whole house, maybe you can achieve that in just a few weeks.

However, if you’re looking to make considerable changes to just about every room in your home it is going to take months or even a year or two – especially if you’re on a tight budget.

Budget well

Budgeting is going to help you through the renovations, particularly if you’re not handy yourself and are going to need to use tradespeople for most of the work.

Things that seem small, such as moving a radiator, adding spotlights to a room or hiring a skip for all the questionable decisions of previous owners you rip out, can add up to £100s if not £1000s seemingly in the blink of an eye. You can hire your skip with ease with Hurley’s, and you can shop around for a plumber, but you ARE going to need to keep a tight control on your budget to stop things spiralling out of control.

Expect things to go wrong

We’ve found that just about all the ‘big’ jobs in our home have some issues along the way. An unexpected patch of damp, rotten floorboards or even an asbestos find can make a considerable difference to the cost of a job.

Expect things to go wrong and I personally always aim to have 10-15% of the expected job cost available for any surprises that may crop up.

Get used to the mess – act accordingly

This is particularly important if you’re having to live in your home while renovating, as we are. Make life as easy as possible for yourself. Strip out the gadgets and knick-knacks from different rooms when work is being done.

When we had our patio worked on all of the materials had to come through the house. We removed photos from the wall, took down shelves and also removed the runner from the hall. This meant it was simple for plastic to be placed over the floors and at the end of it I could just vacuum and steam mop the floors and they were quickly liveable again.

Crowdsource for approximate costs

Ask around for an idea of prices. Look for a local Facebook group or even ask people on social media if you’ve got followers there.

I was able to find pretty accurate costs for my bathroom renovation and also see that some of the prices we’d received were a bit on the high side.

Set realistic expectations

Things overrun, budgets go over, there WILL be mess. Try to be realistic in your expectations. Be kind to yourself too. These things are not actually sent to try us – even if it feels a bit like it at the time!

Install a key lockbox

This is particularly important if you’re going to have tradespeople coming in and out and you’re not always home.

We give our builder a key, but having a *lockbox means if he ever locks himself out, and we’re away from home, that we can just tell him the location of the lockbox, provide the pin and he has access to a key. It is then very simple to either move the box in the future or just change the pin number.

Hold off on paint choices

When we moved into our home we had a couple of weeks before we gave our flat back. In that time we set to work scrubbing everything, cleaning the walls down, sanding and repainting whatever we could.

I settled on a neutral colour, magnolia. Nothing special but it means that now we’ve got used to how the light falls in each room, and how the different seasons makes it room feel, we can finally decorate the rooms according to this and make sure that they’re suited more to the overall feel of our home, and the light too, rather than just our own preferences.

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Seth Parent

Tuesday 14th of March 2023

Thank you for sharing your tips on renovating a home! As someone who is also a beginner in renovating, I found your advice very helpful. Your emphasis on being realistic with your timeline and budget is a great reminder to not underestimate the scope of the project and the associated costs. Your suggestion to expect things to go wrong is also something to keep in mind, as it can help prepare for unexpected issues that may arise.


Tuesday 14th of March 2023

Glad you found it so useful!

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