Five tips to build on for home improvements

By JOHN ELLIS, Financial Advisor

Last week this paper had a special supplement, ‘Home For Summer’, giving ideas on how to improve your home inside and out.
Home improvement projects are so rewarding but, that being said, it can be a time-consuming and capital-intensive project, so you’ll want to get it right first time. Much of the success in home renovation is making sure you’ve got your homework done,
So, courtesy of Zurich Insurance, here are five tips to help guide your home renovation project.

1. Get to know every aspect of the property before you begin
Houses are like people. They’ve got their own unique characteristics, strong points and weak points.
Some houses have areas susceptible to damp, while others may have low water pressure. Ensure you get to know every inch of the building before you start work. You’ll want to see which walls need additional insulation; which walls are structural; where the plumbing goes; where the wiring is and so on.
You can be sure then that your plan is well informed thereby limiting the number of changes you need to make once it’s finalised.

2. Know your exact budget
It’s vital to get a firm grasp on what the renovations are going to cost.
Remember, time spent on meticulous planning and budgeting will ultimately save you time and money once the work begins.
Pricing materials from several providers is important. Buying all your requirements from one source may be the simplest and quickest route, but it may not be the most cost-effective.
Regardless of how well you plan you will need to leave some overhead for any unforeseen costs – unfortunately, these are inevitable!

3. Consider a ‘light-touch’ design
If you can avoid major building work as part of your renovations, then do so.
Working around structural or load-bearing walls will eliminate the need to replace them with expensive steel beams or supports. This is why step 1, getting a full sense of your building, is so important.
Using light-touch design enables you to transform your home while leaving the structure of the building intact. This, in turn, will significantly reduce the chances of costly surprises, delays and your stress levels.

4. Finding the best contractor for the job
Word of mouth is the best approach here. Use recommendations from family and friends to help you find an architect and building contractor.
Once you’ve drawn up a shortlist ask if you can view some of their past work. Get bids from more than one contractor asking them to break down the cost of materials, labour, and other expenses.
Once a contractor and price has been decided upon, agree a payment schedule for work, keeping 10% of the final cost back until your project has been finished to your satisfaction.
When choosing a building contractor remember the cheapest bid may not be the best.

5. Always keep your return on investment in mind
Spend your money where it counts.
New windows, quality flooring and high-grade appliances will go a long way to ensuring that you get significant bang for your hard-earned buck.
Things like lighting, a coat of paint and furnishings are easily changed over time and should not be your main priorities.
When it comes to appliances, research manufacturers and ensure you understand their warranty conditions. You may pay more for an appliance with a higher energy rating, but these machines will probably last longer.
With some careful planning and by getting the basics right, your renovations will add value to your property and joy of living to your newly transformed home.

Previous Farmers ‘miss out on annual savings of up to €6,400’
Next Healing the past with your present – how it works