Denise O’Con­nor

Think­ing of do­ing a re­furb on your house? Think again

The Irish Times - Thursday - Property - - The Market -

The num­ber of skips pop­ping up on city streets is grow­ing by the week. Al­most ev­ery road around the city has at least one house be­ing re­fur­bished. Such progress is fan­tas­tic, but it can also have an un­set­tling ef­fect for some home­own­ers, urg­ing them to make sim­i­lar changes to their homes. But be­fore you jump in, all guns blaz­ing, take a mo­ment to con­sider what ex­actly you are try­ing to achieve. You may need to ask your­self a few ques­tions be­fore you or­der that skip. What is my mo­ti­va­tion for get­ting work done? Don’t al­low your­self to fall into the trap of keep­ing up with the Jone­ses. The work you in­tend to do should sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove your qual­ity of life. Fix­ing some­thing that isn’t work­ing or cre­at­ing a so­lu­tion to a prob­lem that dis­rupts your day-to-day life is worth in­vest­ing in.

Things such as cre­at­ing a bet­ter fam­ily liv­ing space, im­prov­ing in­su­la­tion or re­plac­ing badly per­form­ing win­dows are all worth­while in­vest­ments.

Bear in mind that what­ever work you do will have an im­pact on other ar­eas of your home, so it’s es­sen­tial you plan cor­rectly and con­sider what the knock-on ef­fect will be. Oth­er­wise you may well find that a ny sat­is­fac­tion wi l l be short-lived and re­gret may soon fol­low. Have you ex­plored all of the op­tions avail­able? Never rush into any pro­ject, no mat­ter how small. Don’t al­low your­self to be pres­sured into start­ing work or pur­chas­ing some­thing by a trades­per­son, con­trac­tor or sup­plier. Shop around and get quotes from as many sup­pli­ers and trades­peo­ple as pos­si­ble.

Im­prov­ing or up­dat­ing one area of your home is go­ing to high­light other ar­eas that need work. With­out a plan, you risk start­ing a snow­ball ef­fect of work need­ing to be done. Separate works are un­likely to com­ple­ment each other; you’ll waste money and won’t be adding value to your home. All this will have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on your day-to-day life.

Hav­ing a plan to work to is es­pe­cially im­por­tant where you want to phase the work. This way you won’t risk hav­ing to undo any­thing when you tackle the next stage in the fu­ture. Or worse hav­ing to de­sign around things merely be­cause they still feel new and they cost you a lot of money. Could the work be part of a larger pro­ject in the fu­ture? It may well be worth post­pon­ing any small jobs and get­ting ev­ery­thing done to­gether when you have the bud­get to do the big­ger pro­ject. Not only will you have more buy­ing power, but you will only have to go through the dis­rup­tion of hav­ing trades­peo­ple in your home once.

Bear in mind, too, that be­cause of the abun­dance of work at the mo­ment trades­peo­ple and con­trac­tors are ex­tremely busy – so you could find it dif­fi­cult to get some­one to com­mit to a small pro­ject. If you are lucky enough to get some­one to do the work, there’s a risk they won’t pri­ori­tise your job, mean­ing it will take longer than planned. I met some­one re­cently who was re­fur­bish­ing a util­ity room. Be­cause of con­stant de­lays by the plumber, the job, which should have taken three days, took four weeks. Is the work merely solv­ing a cur­rent prob­lem and will it still work long term? It’s easy to get frus­trated by cer­tain things, but are th­ese frus­tra­tions only tem­po­rary? Be care­ful of want ver­sus need. Our needs for our homes are al­ways chang­ing, so it’s vi­tal you plan for the fu­ture when do­ing any work and re­sist the temp­ta­tion to make changes based on what you want right now. You

‘‘ Costs are ris­ing all the time, and your ex­pec­ta­tions might be un­re­al­is­tic for what you are try­ing to do

might want to go ahead and turn the box room into an en suite, but ac­tu­ally, you also in­tend con­vert­ing your at­tic into a large bed­room at a later date. In this sce­nario, the box room will need to go any­way to make way for the stairs . While you could sal­vage the san­i­tary­ware, the other costs will never be re­couped. Al­ways keep the big pic­ture in mind. Are you sure what you need to do is within your bud­get? Costs are ris­ing all the time, and your ex­pec­ta­tions might be un­re­al­is­tic for what you are try­ing to do. With­out plan­ning, you may find that once you start, you will need to com­pro­mise to the ex­tent the job is not all you’d hoped it would be. It’s vi­tal you get a han­dle on the costs be­fore you start the work.

When budgeting, it’s cru­cial you in­clude a con­tin­gency of at least 10 per cent for any un­fore­seen items. A fi­nan­cial safety net isn’t just some­thing for large jobs, even some­thing as small as a bath­room re­fur­bish­ment can un­earth hid­den costs you hadn’t ini­tially fac­tored in.

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