RENOVATION – The fine print

When it comes to planning a home renovation it’s so easy to get caught up in budgeting, time frames and selecting designs, that it’s easy to overlook some important but less exciting details.

Our own home for example had a beautiful sunny kitchen extension come conservatory when we moved in – it was part of the appeal of the house. But, as the moving process went on it became clear the building work had no planning permission or building regulations.

With the lawyers arranging appropriate indemnity insurance, we were able to carry on with the purchase, but we always knew when the time came to renovate the existing structure, we would leave no stone unturned to make sure the build was above board. So, this post is dedicated to the less glamorous elements of home extensions, but ones that you will not regret putting as much time and effort into as the choice of tiles…

  1. Architectural drawings. As well as a way to thrash through design ideas and what will work, a decent architect drawing will act as the starting point for your builder quotations, permissions, material ordering and more. It’s incredibly important to have the drawings done correctly for obvious reasons!
  2. Planning permission. Not all builds will require planning permission, but be sure to check with your local council for the exact requirements because it’s better to be safe than sorry. We’ve all heard horror stories of building work being torn down because of failure to notify the local authority. It’s important to do this before you start work on the build.
  3. Building regulations. In addition to planning permission, it is critical that you obtain building regulation approval for your design. You will need inspections at various stages of the build from design right through to completion. The inspector may want to visit to inspect the foundations, RSJ installation, the roof structure or any other critical points of the build. This may be arranged by your building contractors, but be sure to keep an interest in the process so you don’t get any surprises at the end.
  4. Electrical installation certification. Your electrical installation should be completed by a registered electrician. They too may pop up again and again throughout the build, to install wiring, sockets and lighting, and make sure there is a final visit for certification of any new electrics. This document is key for insurance purposes and is something you do not want to forget about.
  5. Insurance. If your renovation is changing the layout of your home, you should make a call to your home insurer. The changes may well affect your policy and failure to notify the provider of a change may render your insurance policy void. You may want to consider taking out a renovation or self build insurance to protect yourselves in relation to the build itself. Or you may want to check with your contractors what kind of insurance they provide as part of their quote. Either way, ask, assess the risk and make an informed decision.
  6. Sign off. At the end of the build you need to have a final inspection to obtain building sign off. You may, like us, need to get your builders back to make some minor modifications, but ensure the final signature is on the line and in your possession before you consider the project done and dusted.


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