Our Compliance Officer, Charlotte, bought her first home last year with her partner. They went for a ‘do upper’. This led to six months of works to their new home and lots of stories in the office about the stress of the renovation project!
We asked Charlotte for her advice on undertaking home repairs and improvements.
Charlotte, how did you choose your contractors? Did you use word of mouth, or do you know people in the trade?
We used a combination of Checkatrade, social media and local newsletters for any tradesmen where we did not already know someone. The review system on Checkatrade was extremely helpful. The tradesmen we already knew also gave us some recommendations on other contractors.
Did anything unexpected come up during the project? If so, how did you do deal with it?
When demolishing the previous extension, we discovered the drainage ran underneath and through to next door and the only access was covered by the party wall. We ended up applying for a new sewer connection to a public sewer that ran through the garden. We ran pipes along the side of the new extension and installed a new inspection chamber. It was stressful at the time to deal with this unexpected issue, but we are pleased with the outcome and that we now have our own drainage.
What was the hardest aspect of the project?
The hardest aspect was managing the project whilst working. We did as much work ourselves as we could and hired tradesmen for the rest. Without a single main contractor overseeing the works, we had to make decisions and deal with hurdles over the phone and often short notice. The project overran by several months which incurred extra cost as we were renting another property while working on the new one.
It sounds like a nightmare! Was it worth it in the end? If so, why, what do you love about your house now works are finished?
The house is essentially brand-new inside and designed to our taste so from that view it was worth it. Also, we are hoping to have added value to the house, when we purchased the property the housing market was at its peak so we thought a way around this would be to purchase a cheaper property that needed updating. The extra equity we now have should help us in the future when buying our next property.
If you are struggling to find contractors, visit our Useful Information page for suggested websites or local organisations providing impartial advice. Publications such as parish magazines often include details of local contractors who will have a reputation to protect! If you see contractors working on properties in your area, it can be useful to ask the contractor to come and quote for your works as well as asking the occupier for their feedback on their workmanship. With some types of works, quotes can vary dramatically from contractor to contractor and we always recommend obtaining 2 or more quotes, particularly for larger jobs such as roof repairs or windows.