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10 Home Renovation Tips to Help You Avoid Costly Mistakes

Interior design is a passion for many and it goes hand in hand with renovating a property, but few realise that the design of the interior is integral to the build and renovation. 

You cannot have one without the other, as they rely on each other.  

The most successful home renovation projects that look great and work within a budget, appreciate the fact that there is a ‘process’ behind what you are doing.

You need to be satisfied with the design on completion but also enjoy the journey.

1. The ‘design’ always comes first and before you start work.

So what is interior design? It’s not shopping, colours or finishes – they all have their place, but collectively they are not as high on the list of priorities initially, as making the space planning work for you. 

Being realistic about your budget and doing a lot of research takes precedence. 

Design is as much about common sense and practicality as choosing a sumptuous sofa.

costs when renovating a home

2. You cannot run a home renovation project by making it up as you go along.

This is a recipe for disaster and will end up costing you in time and money as you undo and redo. ‘Design by elimination’ is an expensive affair, so if you need help it’s worth paying for it. 

Visualising and being confident with your choices is not easy, so be prepared to use the experts and work with them on designing and implementing your project.  

It is almost always cheaper in the long run. Don’t ever find yourself asking your builder ‘well what do you do’?

3. Being objective versus subjective – is key

Traditional Ceiling Cornice Moulding

You need a plan, not just an idea, but a proper plan of action with who does what and when. 

A new home is exciting but you need to keep a balanced perspective of your dreams and ambitions, your budget and time resources. Choosing the ideal cornice or new heating system is just as important as the window treatment and allocating funds accordingly.

4. Changing your mind

Occasionally changing your mind is fine as you don’t want to live with a mistake and have regrets.

But you cannot keep changing your mind, as you’ll lose respect from your team as it means you don’t really have a concept and confidence in your interior design and renovation ideas. 

It would also require undoing work that has taken money and time to do.

A concept is stage one of the design, which is then developed to work with your existing items and all the new ideas you want to incorporate. 

It evolves with a building programme as it needs to be detailed on paper with plans, samples and specifications. This is the start of renovating a house and the step by step process.

unnecessary cost when renovating your home

5. Allow for more contingency when renovating old properties

Renovating a property is more expensive than building a new one, but also more rewarding. However, there is a price for having this privilege. ‘Uncertainty’, the ‘unexpected’, are everyday newsworthy words, but the same has always applied to the refurbishment industry and extra cost and delays must be expected

6. No experience in renovating a home?

Don’t employ individual trades yourself (for example, plumbers, electricians etc) and manage the project yourself, especially if you are working full time

Use a main contractor and maintain control over your project with regular site meetings, minutes and a ‘schedule of works’. 

A schedule of works is the industry word for a renovation checklist. The builder goes through each individual item and prices against it.  

Creating a renovation checklist can go a long way in helping you stay on top of all the work. 

7. If you are DIY-ing, allow extra time and consider your neighbours

If you are planning on working weekends and after hours, keep in mind that your neighbours have rights and can restrict your hours, costing you time and money. What started out as a quick project may not be finished in time for Christmas. 

8. Always use a simple contract

building contract for home renovation project

You must have something in writing that sets out the terms of engagement and the payment strategy which is signed by both parties before work starts. The RIBA Domestic Building Contract 2018 is ideal for many homeowners projects. Check it out. It’s available online or you can get a hard copy by emailing

9. Living through your home renovation building works

If the building work is substantial and you need to renew the services and make structural alterations, try to move out for the majority of the works. 

Holding up the professionals and demanding temporary services whilst work goes on around you is frustrating for all, hell to live in and elongates the project, making it expensive and a nightmare existence. 

Hamton Photo

10. Keep your lines of communication on a professional level at all times 

Give instructions to the main contractor only. Don’t be tempted to give individual information to trades whilst visiting the site. Discuss and make notes and then take up each point with the project manager.  

This saves confusion and allows for any changes, with costs, to be put in writing and signed off by you, so you don’t get any nasty surprises and can keep control of the budget. 

A simple, costings spreadsheet, updated weekly will keep you abreast of your money.

Businessman and engineer handshake closing a deal in construction site. Sucessful,engineering and business concept.

Bonus tip: Experimental home renovation ideas 

Original and unique ideas are what sets some projects apart and can be immensely satisfying to the creative, but if you are relying on experimental build or design techniques, then also expect that they may demand several attempts and attract some rather original costs.  If you are working to a tight budget then keep this to a minimum or become a DIY guru.

Explore Design Help for more useful information  

Our Website is full of hints and tips, original Project Management Tools, weekly updates and a huge variety of home renovation video tutorials and visual help.  

As a membership website without any restrictive contract, this is perfect for anyone decorating, refurbishing from one room to a whole house.  It will give you confidence and show you how to make the very best of your budget.  

Join before the end of September 2019, and get a free gift.

Design Help Debby Home Renovation


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