What have I learnt from renovating so far?

in partnership with VELUX

These past two years have been very exciting for our family as we sold our beautiful Victorian house, bought a tired looking 1960’s bungalow (needing a full renovation) and moved to the other side of the country. Instead of starting work straight away, we lived in the house for a year to experience the space and light. Our architects did some great initial drawings, and we then spent our evenings making some tweaks and amends so the house worked better for us. We applied for planning permission and were pleasantly surprised when we got it approved first time, despite so many people telling us how tricky it can be in Bath. A year after moving in, we moved back out! We found a temporary flat in a beautiful Georgian house and the building work started!

The short version of the past two years sounds fairly straight forward, but we’ve had our fair share of set backs on the way too. This has been our biggest renovation project and it has been draining, both emotionally and financially. Almost 8 months in, the project is nearly complete despite COVID-19 adding an extra spanner in the works. We’ve learned SO much.

So I thought I’d share a few things we have learnt along the way…

What I’ve learnt from renovating….Move out if you can

This is the first renovation we haven’t lived through on-site and I can’t tell you what a difference that has made. It’s still been all consuming and stressful at times, but nothing compared to how it would have been if we had tried to stay in the house. I also learnt that it can speed up the project (and that way has saved us money!), as the builders haven’t had to work around us and make sure we always have electricity, hot water etc.

learnt from renovating

Maximise the amount of daylight

As I’ve mentioned previously, we bought this house as there were a lot of things we loved about it. The quiet location, but still within walking distance from Bath. The established garden surrounded by big old trees and views over the city. The inside of the house was a little less exciting! There were lots of narrow corridors and small boxy rooms. Worst of all, the lack of daylight, especially in the old living room and kitchen. So sorting out the layout and getting in lots more daylight was top of our wish list for the architects.

Benefits of daylight

Natural light is beneficial for health and wellbeing in multiple ways. Bright lighting is generally believed to make people more alert and well day-lit spaces are generally perceived as more comfortable . Daylighting has been associated with improved mood, enhanced morale, less fatigue and reduced eyestrain. A small 2014 study revealed that the more natural light people received, the better sleep they experienced. Getting as much natural light as possible can also help keep the seasonal affective disorder at bay. VELUX has lots more detailed information about the benefits of daylight.

Roof windows are the best way to increase the amount of daylight

Daylight and fresh air is at the core of everything VELUX does. They have a range of roof windows catering for various needs, including super sound insulated roof windows and burglar resistant options if you are concerned about the safety of your home. If you are considering adding an extension to your home or converting your unused loft, then have a look on their website. There’s lots of information on roof windows for every space and some interesting case studies of different kinds of projects.

Our new VELUX windows

We chose to have 3 big VELUX INTEGRA® solar roof windows with VELUX ACTIVE in the new kitchen-dining space to really maximise the amount of daylight. This part of the house was the darkest so it’ll make a massive difference to the light levels. We’ve also chosen to add 3 solar roller blinds. These will help us control the amount of daylight that comes in to the room. I’ll share more information on VELUX ACTIVE once our roof windows are installed but the smart sensors continuously monitor the temperature, humidity and CO 2 levels in the home and open and close our VELUX INTEGRA® solar roof windows and blinds to create a healthier indoor climate.

Plan & prepare beforehand

Trust me, this will make all the difference for your stress levels. We started a year out and tried to get as much planning done before we started the project. From lining up your potential tradesmen, to window suppliers, kitchen layout & design. Start your renovation project well prepared and you’ll reap the benefits when your project is underway.

Set a realistic budget and stick to it

This is obvious, right? This is what I learnt from renovating my previous house. There are often surprises when it comes to building work so it’s a good idea to have some money set aside for those. If your budget doesn’t allow any wiggle room, the chances are you’ll end up going over budget.

You also need to be specific about what is included in a quote. It’s important to get every detail spelled out, in writing. Everything that isn’t included, is going to be on top of your quote.

Enjoy it!

You are spending a lot of hard earned money on your project, so I’ve learnt to enjoy the renovating process! Celebrate all the little milestones you reach and take a lot of photos so you can cheer yourself up by looking at them and seeing the progress. And when things do go wrong (there is always going to be something), it’s ok to be upset but don’t dwell on it. Move forward & learn from your mistakes.

This is my list, what have you learnt from renovating?

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  1. Alison Orchard says:

    Great article!
    I’m 2 weeks in to a 25 week total renovation and extension of my 1960 house. I have learnt to:
    1) Stay organised! Keep on top of paperwork and emails. I have a big file for filing things so I can find things easily. Keep a record of decisions and budget spend even if it feels dull!
    2) Prioritise communication with your contractor/s and think about what they need from you to keep things moving
    3) Keep your neighbours informed. I’ve also moved into a rented place which means I am away from the noise and disruption but my neighbours aren’t!
    4) Being clear about what you don’t want as well as what you do, helps in the design process and throughout the build

    Alison x

    1. Yes, absolutely, these are all brilliant Alison! All really important, and communicating is so very important in order to avoid any delays/unwanted surprises! x

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