Renovation dreams? Better watch the budget

Written by Rebecca O'Connor on 17th May 2018

You’ve moved house. Yippee! Yes, it was a bit of a doer-upper, but you factored the renovation costs into your budget when you bought it. You got a bargain and a chance to make the home your own straight away.

But hang on a minute. Are you sure you budgeted enough?

A typical renovation project by new home movers runs over budget to the tune of an average £7,427, according to research from Direct Line. That’s on top of a standard budget of £10,040 – or 4.7 per cent of an average asking price. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of home movers go over budget when redecorating or renovating their property.

Dan Simson, head of home insurance at Direct Line, said: “Many home renovation shows have given people a false impression of the real cost of remodelling a property, so before you bite off more than you can chew it’s important to research and price the work accurately, building contingency costs in to the budget, to ensure your home improvements come in on time and meet your expectations.”

The priority list for renovations usually goes something like this:

  1. Kitchen – 32 per cent of renovators do this up within a year
  2. Bathroom – 29 per cent
  3. Living room – 17 per cent


Energy efficient renovations: the renovations that give back

If you are considering renovating your new home and you have a decent budget, it’s also worth looking at energy efficiency renovations as part of the process.

While late Spring might not be the obvious time to consider energy-saving measures, it’s actually the ideal time to install and renovate, in preparation for winter.

And with energy bills rising following an oil price increase, spending now to reduce your bills later could be prudent.

The Energy Saving Trust lists some of the most energy-saving measures you can incorporate into your building work.

The beauty of energy efficient renovations is this: they are a kind of investment that will keep on giving back in the form of savings on your energy bills, over the long term.

For eco renovations that require a mortgage, Ecology Building Society is worth contacting – they specialise in energy efficient renovation project lending.

How to make renovations more energy efficient

The Energy Saving Trust tips include:

  1. The kitchen

Choose more energy efficient appliances for your new kitchen. The Topten UK products list is an independent guide set up to highlight the leading products for energy efficiency.

2. The bathroom

Purchase appliances that help to reduce water usage throughout the home. For example, some shower heads are designed to aerate the water, reducing consumption. A water efficient shower head could save a four person household (e.g. a family of four or even a shared student flat) around £75 a year on gas for water heating, as well as a further £120 on water bills if using a water meter.* You should also look for low flush toilets – saving at least a litre of water per use. If you’re adding extra heating to your bathroom, such as a towel rail or underfloor heating, make sure it is installed with easy to use, accessible controls and ask your installer to explain how to use them to allow you to control them better.

3. Windows and doors

It’s worth going beyond the minimum and installing the most efficient ones you can afford. As well as making sure your doors are well draught-proofed, you could consider getting triple glazing rather than double glazing which also includes the benefit of reducing sound from outside noise should you live in a busy location.

Installing A++ rated double glazing in an entirely single-glazed house could save around £80 per year for owners of a typical semi-detached home.

4. Heating upgrades

Extending the size of a home often requires improvements to your heating system and installation of new radiators or under floor heating. As a larger area is being heated, a more powerful boiler will likely be required so consider upgrading to a more efficient boiler. This is particularly worthwhile if your current boiler is over 12 years old, with newer models significantly cheaper to run than their older equivalents.

Boilers are often located in kitchens and it’s important to plan ahead – especially if you’re thinking of investing heavily in a new kitchen. If you have an older boiler, for example, and you build your new kitchen around it, you might then find that that the boiler needs replacing in a few years’ time. An engineer might need to move kitchen units around to accommodate your new boiler which could impact on the aesthetics. It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons, and if your boiler is an old inefficient model, it might be wise to replace your boiler at the same time as getting your new kitchen fitted.

Avoid short-cuts such as using electric heaters which many people do to avoid tampering with their existing heating system. Electricity is the most expensive heating fuel – in the long run you’d be better to upgrade your heating system and its controls.

5. Solar panels

If your home improvement work requires scaffolding, such as a loft conversion, this would be an ideal time to install solar panels. Scaffolding is a significant part of the solar installation costs, so combining it with other works could make them much more cost-effective. Solar panels are most effective on south-facing roofs at a pitch of around 30 degrees. There are various other factors to consider when thinking about whether your home set up works and how best to maximise the installation. Don’t forget to switch to a renewable energy supplier, too.

6. Insulation

Make sure your extension is insulated to the standards stipulated by Building Regulations in England and Wales, and Building Standards in Scotland. Consider requesting a quote from your builder to arrange for the rest of your home to be insulated as well. If your home has cavity walls, a layer of insulation can be blown into the cavity. If you have solid walls (usually homes built before 1920), you can have either internal or external insulation completed. Applying external insulation at the same time as your extension would ensure the exterior finish to the main building matches the extension, improving the aesthetic of your home.

External insulation will also make those cold rooms in your home warmer and, so long as sufficient ventilation is maintained, it can help alleviate many causes of damp and mould. Furthermore, solid wall insulation could save around £245 per year off their heating bills of the typical gas-fuelled semi-detached home. Savings could be significantly higher in detached homes. Read the Energy Saving Trust’s comprehensive overview on the many ways your home’s insulation can be improved.


Top six green energy providers

Hints and tips when hiring a builder

  • Before work starts householders should inform their insurer the work is taking place, so they can review the policy and make sure the work doesn’t invalidate their cover. They will also need to be informed;
    • If the builder will have keys to the property
    • If the property is being left unoccupied
    • If there will be scaffolding up on the property
    • If the security of the property will be compromised at any time during the work e.g. replacing doors and windows
  • Check they have accidental damage cover on their home insurance
  • Ensure the builder is qualified and registered with a recognised governing body
  • Ensure they have a Standard Buildings Contract in place with their builder
  • Make sure the builder has public liability insurance, employers liability insurance and contractors all-risk cover
  • Ensure they have the correct permissions from their local Building Control Officer before starting work, to ensure the renovations meet building and fire regulations
  • Householders should also notify their neighbours of any renovation work, not only to let them know to expect a little more noise than usual, but also in case there are any party walls affected by the work.

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