At some point in our lives, we all carry out renovations on our home.
Renovations on a home can not only enhance living conditions and offer more space, but also significantly increase the value of the property.
A properly-planned, managed and implemented project will avoid unnecessary costs and complications down the line.
One of the most important factors to consider before taking on a renovations project is budgetary constraints.
How much can be allocated towards the project and is it a realistic amount? Ineffective planning and cost management can result in a project going significantly over budget, or if funds dry up, coming to a halt altogether.
First and foremost, I would advise you to decide exactly what you want to achieve from the project, and outline the specific elements of the renovations that you wish to include.
Once this is done, a realistic budget needs to be developed to achieve all objectives of the project.
Depending on the size of the budget, you may have to re-evaluate whether the budget will allow you to include all the elements of the project that you previously outlined.
It may occur that some items on your list may need to be removed to fit the budget realistically. Once the budget and the objectives of the renovation project are clearly outlined, I advise you to utilise the services of a building surveyor or architect to manage the design, and a chartered quantity surveyor to assign accurate costs to the build.
Quantity surveyors will use costings from past projects, to determine the spend to complete the renovations in the local market.
Should the project go over budget, the chartered quantity surveyor will outline areas where money can be saved and value added to get costs back within the budgetary parameters.
The building surveyor or architect can advise if planning permission is required once the plans have been finalised.
Garage conversions, front porch (under two square metres) and rear extensions (under 40sq m) are exempt, but any renovations exceeding that may require planning permission, which can be a wait of up to three months from day of submission.
I would suggest anyone who is planning to renovate should take the opportunity to invest in materials and items that improve the long-term efficiency of their home, such as better insulation in the roof and walls, insulated hot water cylinders and water tanks, an energy efficient boiler and fridge/ freezer while remembering more basic things like using LED lights instead of halogen lights.
Most renovations involve improvements to the internal workings, such as the wiring, plumbing, heating and insulation. Doors, walls, attics and kitchens are often a necessity to upgrade with an older home.
The likes of solar panels and rainwater-harvesting tanks can considerably impact on the budget, but should be seriously considered if they are within your means. With rising electricity costs and the new water charges, these upgrades can offer a return on investment as well as add significant value.
Once the approval of the planning permission has been granted, the actual renovation work can begin. This is where the input of the chartered quantity surveyor will be vital, to ensure the outlined budget will stay consistent with cost projections.
When hiring builders, I encourage people not to make their decision purely based on price, but also on the projects the builders have previously worked on.
It is also vital to check the builders are fully insured, so I encourage checking the builders’ insurance cover.
It is also necessary to state the date the project starts and ends, as the builder’s rate will rise after the timeline has concluded. Utilising your chartered quantity surveyor to ensure the project stays within the set timelines are vital to ensure a cost effective and smooth running build.
I recommend if you’re considering a renovation project, you should check if you qualify for the Home Renovations Incentive Scheme introduced in the last budget. You can check this by using the calculator available on the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland website www.scsi.ie.
* Michael Barrett is a chartered quantity surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI).
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