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10 Easy Steps for a Fantastic Home Renovation Experience

It’s possible that these simple measures could add 15%- 20% to the construction budget, but they have the potential to enhance your experience of the process, and effectively eliminate all the common stress pressure points experienced by our clients. If you want to improve your home, but are worried by that it will be a stressful process, follow these steps. 

We are currently working on a number of articles about the negative “customer experience” of homeowners working with builders. The main reason so  many people have negative experiences of home renovation is largely financial; when your budget is tight, you are forced to balance the cost of professional services (which smooth your experience of the process) against the cost of actual construction work.

However, with a higher level of resources, it’s quite easy for your team to deliver a fantastic experience.

  1. Avoid building out of absolute necessity, or at stressful times in your life. Many people start construction processes to accommodate changes in their family circumstances such as having a baby, getting married, or an elderly relative joining the household. It’s not always possible but try to build well before or after major, stressful life changes. If you are forced to undertake work on your home at such a time, it’s even more important to follow the other 9 steps on this list.  
  2. Employ a top- tier building contractor. The best contractors are worth paying for. Top tier builders are the only ones who have truly invested in delivering both construction quality, and professional communications with the client and design team. This facility for providing information to the client makes a massive difference to your experience of the process. Book an excellent building contractor well in advance; this could mean 12- 18 months for the best companies at busy times, but 6 months is usually sufficient. It’s often advisable to make a provisional arrangement with your preferred builder at the earliest design stage, but they are unlikely to agree a fixed window in their schedule until planning permission has been secured. 
  3. Employ a mechanical and electrical consultant. Design of lighting, electrical and heating systems is often left to the suppliers and installers to figure out onsite. This typical cost saving measure creates a lot of stress and uncertainty for clients with limited budgets because these grey areas usually account for tens of thousands of Euro worth of work. The design provided by the installers is usually extremely generic, often with the goal of maximizing their profits and convenience, rather than enhancing the project. The total bill for these major elements of the budget remains unknown until the end of construction process, at which time you have little scope to negotiate. An M&E consultant can provide a detailed design and specification for pricing at tender stage, and objectively check the quality of the materials and workmanship with a more expert eye.  
  4. Provide a sufficient professional services budget to justify a dedicated staff member in the Architects, engineers and Quantity Surveyors offices. Whether your project is large or small, it helps to ensure that the project profitable for all members of the team you employ. Keep you relationship with your advisers on good terms, and listen to them. 
  5. Get a bill of quantities and pay your QS to represent you through the entire process. It is possible to avoid many of the services offered by quantity surveyors, but this saving results in great uncertainty over the final budget, and this in turn creates unnecessary stress throughout the construction process.  
  6. Allow plenty of time for your own decision making process during the design phase, but make decisions fast during construction.
  7. Design the site operations very carefully, including: proper hoardings and dust screens, a high level of service from a health and safety subcontractor, site security, and regular cleaning of the site and environs. Specify these elements in the building contract and accept the additional cost. These measures create a professional image for the building site which will help smooth relations with your neighbours, and the local authorities. 
  8. Move out of the house for the full duration of the renovation process. This simplifies the management of the site and removes one element of the inevitable time pressure associated with construction. Allow 1 month of alternative accommodation after the builder’s practical completion date for cleaning, snagging items with a longer lead- in period and moving back in. 
  9. Hire a removal company and a storage unit to completely pack all your belongings, move them carefully, and store them safely for the duration of the works. This is a lot of work, and it’s nice to have someone else do it. 
  10. Design the end point of the process, by including a clear definition of “practical completion” in the contract documents. State clearly that you want a turnkey service, and that you will only move back in and make final stage payments when everything is perfect. This will mean allowing for decorating and snagging in good time, and for the building to be cleaned several times before you move in.

This level of service is relatively easy to procure, but it is more expensive. Projects with this service level could be about 15%-20% more expensive than the “bare bones” equivalent. 

Breakdown of The Price Difference:

  • Removal and storage services
  • Additional rent for alternative accommodation 
  • Additional quantity surveyors’ services
  • Generally paying a little more, for more extensive services from your professional advisers.  
  • Mechanical and Electrical consultant fees
  • Additional preliminary expenses for excellent site management and safety

It’s possible that these measures could add 15%- 20% to the construction budget, but they have the potential to enhance your experience of the process, and effectively eliminate all the common stress pressure points experienced by our clients. 

Unfortunately, all of these costs are easily eliminated during a design and budgeting process in favour of a lower build cost. At one level, this is a conscious choice, by you, to accept the cheapest possible level of service and it creates a situation where you team has limited resources to address stressful tasks and situations if they arise.

If you don’t resource your team to do this hard work for you, you will ultimately have to do it yourself. For some clients with a lot of free time and limited budgets this is an acceptable compromise.

For most clients who opt for a low level of service, the experience is characterized by financial stress, uncertainty and a lot of hard physical work in your home before and after the project.  



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