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First-time house renovation
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# 1
BB1984
Old 29-09-2008, 10:29 AM
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Default First-time house renovation

Hello, hope you can help.

My fiance and I are about to buy our first home - a 1930s bungalow in need of total refurbishment. With the exception of the roof and walls, it pretty much needs gutting and starting again.

My question is - does anyone know of any useful guides or online resources that would help us through this process?

We know where to go for help on individual DIY issues, and we have friends who are plumbers, electricians etc. What I'm looking for is a bit of guidance through the process as a whole, from start to finish - basically I don't want to forget anything, or do things in the wrong order.

I'm not completely clueless - I'm a structural engineer and so know a bit about buildings. But this is the first time I've project managed a refurb from beginning to end.

Cheers in advance!

"Live long, laugh often, love much"
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# 2
Bungarm2001
Old 29-09-2008, 2:30 PM
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My best advice to you is, if you are not actually living in the property while you are renovating, then start ordering the skips now!

Don't know about any online guides, but I do believe there are several books about it. Try looking on Amazon.

We have renovated several properties that were in various states of disrepair, and we always start by ripping out all the unecessary and beyond salvage and skip it. For instance, we don't usually bother patching up ceilings if they are really bad, but pull them down and replace with plasterboard of the appropriate grade/thickness.

Same with skirtings...we've found over the years that trying to renovate them if they have been painted over (badly!) several times. Better to get rid and start again with new. To be honest, you need to get the house ready for work by being a bit brutal. You need a blank canvas to get it all habitable again. It is a different ball game tho if you are living there while doing major renovations.

Check the electrics and if you need a new meter or anything, sort this out as soon as you can. These things can take weeks to arrange. Similarly, check the gas if you have any. If you don't, and you want gas to the property then get the ball rolling on this too, in fact do it before anything else.

Can't think of anything else...good luck with it! We are having a bit of a rest at the moment from all the brick dust etc etc!
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# 3
BB1984
Old 30-09-2008, 1:13 PM
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Thanks Bungarm2001 for your reply, I appreciate the advice. We actually just got the keys yesterday!

So far, I've paid for and booked a new gas supply to be connected up (first thing I did, so got one thing right so far, phew!) Have already got some quotes and booked up a plumber to install a new boiler and central heating.

My fiance has this week off work and this morning has set about getting rid of all the carpets, storage heaters, and chopped down several ridiculously overgrown trees/hedges/bushes. This afternoon he is going to rip out the nasty fireplaces, kitchen units, and start stripping wallpaper.

We are lucky in that we don't have to move in straight away, as we are staying with my folks. However, we don't want to outstay our welcome so are aiming to move in asap - basically we reckon that once we've had the re-wire and plumbing down (i.e. got hot water and electricity), we can cope with the mess from then on. Aiming to get this done in 3 weeks. My step-dad is an electrician and the plumber is a mate of his, so hopefully should get doen reasonably quickly.

Apart from that, we've got a wall to knock down, a few windows and doors to move/replace, a new kitchen and bathroom to fit, a damp problem to sort out, etc etc........

Will check out amazon now for any guides to renovation of properties....

bb
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# 4
henster
Old 30-09-2008, 1:31 PM
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Hi BB

We've just been through this process (moved in in Aug last year at the start of the renovation and are almost done now). The best advice we were given was to try to have one room liveable/presentable so that you can escape there when things get too much and you have somewhere to go if you have visitors. This is easier said than done but we just about managed it!

good luck - hope you enjoy it
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# 5
latecomer
Old 30-09-2008, 1:47 PM
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Sounds familiar. We did the same in February. We got the keys to our bungalow, turned up with the van (we were moving ourselves) and firstly pulled the carpets up in one room. We then emptied the van into that room and removed every other carpet from the house. We then spent the next week stripping all the walls, getting the roof repaired and fixing up the dodgy electrics etc. The kitchen and bathroom are usable for now so they have stayed until we get started on the loft conversion/extension.

As for the order to do things in. I'd go for this:

get rid of all the old stuff you definitely dont need
get it watertight
get electrics checked
check plumbing for leaks

And only then start on the renovations, starting with a room to sleep in, bathroom and kitchen.

Good luck!
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# 6
andrew-b
Old 30-09-2008, 6:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BB1984 View Post
Aiming to get this done in 3 weeks.
Sounds extremely optimistic to me! I remember moving in August 2006 and saying i'd finish the whole house by christmas....in my defence i never said which Christmas - 2010 maybe?!

Good luck! I look forward to seeing the before and after pictures before the end of October!! Now you've got no excuse as we will all be demanding them!!

Andy
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# 7
helping_hubby
Old 30-09-2008, 7:13 PM
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What an exciting time! We just bought our first home 3 months ago and are renovating it. Ours doesn't sound quite as bad as yours. We're living with bare floorboards and stripped walls in nearly every room at the moment, but I love it.

You are very lucky to have an electrician and plumber in the family. When you said 3 weeks, I was thinking that was optimistic as we've had to wait 8 weeks for our electrician - he comes on Monday and is here for a week. I can't wait...we'll have an oven to cook with

My advice is to simply multiply your budget by 10, as everything seems to cost that much more, and to book trades people well in advance.

We've just ordered our first skip (arrived today ) and we're knocking down a wall next week between the toilet and bathroom. The skip only required 24 hours notice which was cool.

If your decision making is anything as bad as mine I would also recommend choosing paints now...I've had swatches on the wall all this time and I think I've decided now

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# 8
Doozergirl
Old 30-09-2008, 9:37 PM
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This may be quite an extreme money saving measure but investing in an old estate car for a while could save you a fortune in skips. They are that expensive and you use so many more than you would expect, it's actually worth it. You can sell it on again afterwards!
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# 9
Bungarm2001
Old 30-09-2008, 9:47 PM
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Two things that we bought years ago and have seen us through many a renovation...a camping style Porta Potti loo, and a small two ring/burner camping cooker. You'll be amazed how handy just those two objects are if you are living in the property or not, 'specially the loo.

Hate to throw cold water on your enthusiasm, but you will no-way ever get the whole project finished in 3 weeks. By Xmas maybe, but not 3 weeks....you haven't allowed for the trades getting in each others way, late delivery of stuff, and the inhevitable unforseen problem that will crop up.

Good luck with it...keep posting and update us on your prgress!
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# 10
Doozergirl
Old 30-09-2008, 9:52 PM
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Buy Homebuilding and Renovating magazine. It's full of inspiration and there's lots of ads for some decent suppliers. Some quite cheap. Also practical guides and costing ideas.

I'd recommend getting hold of some back issues - you can buy them directly from the publisher.

They always have books that they recommend as well.
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# 11
sloth
Old 30-09-2008, 11:28 PM
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I may be wrong but I think they mean 3 weeks to have the plumbing and ekectrics sorted for moving in, not 3 weeks for the whole project. if i have got that wrong though, best of luck to you!!

One thing I would say to you though is think and plan ahead what you propose to do with the bungalow both over the coming 6 months and 6 years! we moved into our bungalow and spent the next 5 years completetely refurbishing it ourselves (i.e. did virtually everything by ourselves rather than getting people in) and then a year later decided to convert the loft!! obviously in insight we should have done that first, but you learn!! still in the process of doing the loft conversion! tbh has not ruined a lot of our previous work but is still a bit annoying when you think you have to do a few things all over again

good luck

Last edited by sloth; 30-09-2008 at 11:33 PM.
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# 12
andrew-b
Old 01-10-2008, 12:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sloth View Post
I may be wrong but I think they mean 3 weeks to have the plumbing and ekectrics sorted for moving in, not 3 weeks for the whole project. if i have got that wrong though, best of luck to you!!
Lol..maybe i misinterpreted :confused: ...but then again having watched a fair few episodes of "Homes under the hammer" one could be quite easily misled into thinking it's simple to renovate a whole house in such a short space of time.
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# 13
paddy's mum
Old 01-10-2008, 5:56 AM
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Mark Brinkley's House Builders Bible is a worthwhile read since it goes into the why's and wherefore's of things being done this way, not that way - invaluable if like me, you are not too technically minded.

Loads of old sheets from charity shops are a worthwhile investment to keep dust (to a certain extent) contained within a room you are working in or to keep dust out of a room that you are (trying!) to live in.

You might find it of value to ask your plumber or electrician friend if they know of a decent, one-man-band builder so that you can employ him for such small jobs as installing lintels etc but also be able to pick his brains for guidance during the project.

I would also suggest that you make your new best friend the building regs inspector of your local authority. Ours will make what they call an "assessment/advisory visit" and has been a mine of information, common sense and technical know how. I have recently bought a bungalow to renovate for my eventual retirement and our building regs man showed us the only place in the whole property that he would allow a staircase to be installed. Until he said that, we had never even thought about a loft conversion but once the seed had been planted, it altered all our plans for the better.

I'm with Doozergirl on avoiding paying out for skips. In our case, we bought a small trailer and it has already saved us loadsa money in dump runs and not paying out for delivery charges.

Have you enough family to be able to organise work weekends? We do this sometimes and it works well. They come en masse, it's all hands to the deck, the chat and company are great and at the end of it, we have a few beers and a bbq.

Finally, keep a diary of the work as it progresses, with lots of photographs. Then, when the work seems never ending and your enthusiasm flags, you can just look back and remind yourselves how far you've come - can give you a real boost! Good luck and hope your dreams for the property come true.
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# 14
Igol
Old 01-10-2008, 7:09 AM
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I found Collins DIY Manual a great help 10 years ago when I started my first home renovation, but it was a 5 year project and a mate with a trailer was invaluble
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# 15
hewhoisnotintheknow
Old 01-10-2008, 9:06 AM
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get a trailer off ebay, you can always sell it on for what you paid for it or more
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# 16
BB1984
Old 01-10-2008, 9:09 AM
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Wow - a sudden flurry of replies! Thanks for all the advice and interest.

I will just confirm at this point that I did indeed mean 3 weeks just for the plumbing and electrics....! Electrician starting today and plumber starting next week. Both will do a first fix then we've got a bit of structural stuff (moving a bathroom wall) to do before they can finish off.

To be fair 3 weeks prob is slightly ambitious, as people are doing us favours to a certain extent, so they'll be fitting us in inbetween other jobs. But I've drawn up a project plan and I THINK that we should just about be able to do it by the beginning of November.

Whilst we've got the workmen and builders in, my fiance and I will be immersing ourselves in the less technical stuff - deciding on paint colours, ordering materials, tiling, sanding/painting woodwork etc etc.

I don't know if this is considered bad form, but if you want to see photos, we'll be updating this blog as we go along: http://thehouseofdoom.wordpress.com/

My fiance had yesterday and today off work, and so far he's ripped out the kitchen, carpets, built in cupboards, storage heaters etc, and stripped most of the wallpaper. He's also had a go at the jungle that is the garden. Tomorrow I'm off work too so our priority will be to dig down the path at the side of the house that has been built up above the DPC and air bricks (duh), causing damp all along that wall. Then at the weekend my dad will give us a hand in repairing/replacing any joists which have been affected by the damp.

Actually - does anyone have any hints on best ways to do this? I don't particularly want to replace whole joists if they're only rotten at one end. Can they be spliced, or repaired somehow? I was thinking of using joist hangers along with a waterproof cover to stop the joist end touching the masonry.

Thanks again for all your help, I will indeed keep you informed of progress...(or lack of!)

And no doubt I'll have lots of questions along the way which I'm sure you clever people will be able to help me with

bb
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# 17
helping_hubby
Old 01-10-2008, 10:00 AM
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Thanks for the link BB1984, I'll be following your blog. I never thought make a blog. It'd be good to look back on it in years to come. I have been taking lots of photos.

Looking at your photos...your house actually looks better than ours in terms of decor and livability!

Can't wait to see more pictures as it progresses.

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# 18
adaze
Old 01-10-2008, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew-b View Post
Sounds extremely optimistic to me! I remember moving in August 2006 and saying i'd finish the whole house by christmas....in my defence i never said which Christmas - 2010 maybe?!

Good luck! I look forward to seeing the before and after pictures before the end of October!! Now you've got no excuse as we will all be demanding them!!

Andy
ROFL - How very true! Been there...and ermmm... well... still am!
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# 19
adaze
Old 01-10-2008, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BB1984 View Post

Actually - does anyone have any hints on best ways to do this? I don't particularly want to replace whole joists if they're only rotten at one end. Can they be spliced, or repaired somehow? I was thinking of using joist hangers along with a waterproof cover to stop the joist end touching the masonry.
I repaired a couple in our house by supporting the joist, removing the rotten end and some more and replaced the end, just screwed it and glued it all together to make a sound joint.

Hangers sound like a good idea, don't you need to cut them into the wall though?
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# 20
john175bramley
Old 01-10-2008, 12:02 PM
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We're just coming to the end of a renovation of a 4 bedroom cottage and we lived in the house from day one. One thing I would recommend is having as little furniture as possible, I've lost count the number of times we've had to move stuff from one room to another and then back again.

We had to replace all of the ceilings and go back to the brickwork on most of the walls, from the photos I've seen on your blog your walls don't seem to bad. One thing we learned was just get used to the dirt and dust. It is a good idea to have a 'nice room' to escape all of the dust and chaos but don't be surprised if at the end of the day you find the dust has managed to find it's way into the room and you have to spend the next half hour cleaning when all you want to do is sit down and eat your microwaved meal (no kitchen) and watch eastenders.

Lastly you and your fiance need to learn to laugh when things go wrong (and they will). I would have gladly strangled my girlfriend on a number of occasions and I always hide the knives from her before we go to bed.
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