If you are thinking of renovating a new or existing property there are some pitfalls you will want to avoid. Even experienced renovators can sometimes overlook the basics and it helps to have a clear reminder of the fundamentals. When it comes to giving a property a big makeover there are some mistakes that can prove extremely costly in the long run. To ensure you stay on the right track, here is what to consider when renovating a new property.

Don’t over-modernise

If you have purchased or live in a period property it will also no doubt feature many of the original fittings and fixtures of the era. Replacing these makes little sense if you bought the property in full knowledge of when it was built. Over-modernising the property will only see it lose value and much of the original character that made it so appealing in the first place. Taking an older property to renovate it into a modern one will probably end up costing up more than just moving into a new home to start with.

Check the building isn’t listed

This should be one of the first things you do before any work is carried out in the property. It is illegal to make changes to a listed building without first gaining approval from the relative authorities. Many buildings built around 1840 or earlier are likely to be listed. In the UK there are over half-a-million listed buildings. You can check using the British Listed Buildings website to see if the property is protected or not. If it is, before any alterations can be carried out you will have to get Listed Building Consent beforehand.

Check electrics and heating

It is more than likely that a period house will need to have the electrical and heating systems upgraded. These are two of the key areas to check as you want to make sure the property is habitable before you move in. You’ll need to check how much work is going to be involved and how much of it can be done yourself. If it requires the removal and installation of wiring, piping and boilers, you will probably have to call in some specialists to get it done correctly.

Have a contingency budget

Even through solid planning and budgeting it can prove difficult to have a clear idea on how much the full project is going to cost. This is because older properties have deeper, hidden problems that have festered away for years and only come to light midway through the project. Many times they cannot be avoided and unless resolved can cause delays to the progress of the renovation. The best way to work around this is to have a contingency budget in place as a backup. Have around 15-20% extra on top of your budget that can be spent in absolute emergencies.

Assess the building’s structure

Getting a full insight on the condition of the property should be one of the first things you do. Before any work is started you need to know the scale of the task ahead. The property will also have to be stabilised if it has been left vacant for some time. Make sure the building is weatherproof and replace any broken doors, windows or areas of the roof that might by broken or missing. If the foundation of the property is unsafe, scaffolding or steel ties might need to be installed to prevent lateral spread in the walls or roof space.

Seeking advice from specialists

Depending on the era the building was built it, you may be advised to seek expert advice from specialists who understand the structural materials used during that period. You will no doubt have a standard survey report carried out and they might recommend items such as timber beams are inspected by experts. However, specialist surveys are not regulated and in many cases they are simply estate agents with a vested financial interest in a particular materials supplier. Avoid taking advice on this basis as it is likely to end up being expensive and unnecessary work that could even damage the property.

Secure the right insurance

You will need to check that your home contents or buildings insurance can provide cover for extensive building work being carried out. Starting work before being aware of this may lead to your policy being voided and unable to make any claims should anything go wrong. Most standard insurance policies will only cover a house that is being lived in. If you are planning to live elsewhere while the work is being carried out, inform the insurance company beforehand. There is specialist renovation insurance available from most providers. The level you require will depend on how much work you are looking to carry out.