Things to consider before you tackle your next home improvement project

Couple Sitting On Floor After Painting

A tranquil space to call your own.

An open plan living room where the children can play. A bright and airy loft free from clutter.

All fantastic reasons to plan a home improvement project. But there’s a long way to go - and a lot of things to do - before you get to have your dream renovation.

Starting a home improvement project can be a lengthy and expensive process - and it can be stressful, too.

But with the right preparation, you can save both time and money.

To make things as easy as they can be, we’ve put together a list of areas to consider before you get started.


  1. Think about your routine

    Before you begin, you need to work out when the work is going to take place.

    Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are working from home and some of us will continue to do so for the months ahead. So, if you are going to be indoors while improvements are ongoing, you need to consider the potential disruption of noisy building work.

    If you’re planning on carrying out the work yourself, now may be a good time to take on a personal project. Perhaps you’re working less, or full-time at home but without the lengthy commute. If you’ve found that you have more free time, a home improvement project can be a rewarding way of filling this.

    On the other hand, if you’re busy and unable to take leave from work, you’ll have to carefully consider what amount of work is doable.

  2. Know your end goal

    Ask yourself why you’re carrying out the improvements. Is it purely for your own enjoyment, or are you looking to improve your home for sale?

    If you are making improvements with a house sale in mind, read our guide on:

    The home improvements that can add value to your home.

    If you want your upgrade to last for years, consider future proofing your home renovation and avoiding current trends. Think about why you want to renovate and how long you need the changes to last for.

  3. Ensure you have the right permissions

    Always check whether you need building regulations approval or planning permission before starting work. Not applying for the right permissions or breaching their conditions can be costly - and even illegal.

    If you don’t comply with building regulation approvals, an unlimited fine can be imposed on your or the person who carried out the work. You should be mindful that if planning permission is required, you don’t start work before planning is granted. You can usually get advice on the necessary permissions for your project from your local council, recommended architects or surveyors, or contractors registered with the competent person scheme. Don’t forget that the permissions themselves can also incur fees.

  4. Find a reputable contractor

    Word of mouth recommendations and reviews can help you find a contractor you can trust. Don’t forget, you can always ask contractors to provide you with professional references, too.

    You should also check contractors’ qualifications. Good contractors will always have the appropriate registrations to complete the work safely too. If the person you speak to leaves you doubting what they say, rely on your instincts and choose someone you’re confident you can trust.

    It’s a good idea for you to prepare a written brief for contractors and detailed drawings, too. Supplying contractors with this means they have a clear understanding of what you’re looking for. You can also use this to hold contractors accountable after work is complete.

    If you’re concerned how the coronavirus pandemic may affect your timelines and ability to find a reputable contractor, make sure you read our blog on:

    Having a back-up plan before embarking on home improvements.

  5. Get a written quote

    Make sure you ask for a written quote that clearly outlines the total cost and includes a full breakdown of the work and materials required to complete your home improvement project. Make sure you also look out for VAT and check whether the prices listed include this.

    This will prevent costs from escalating unexpectedly and, alongside a brief, sets clear boundaries for what you can expect at what cost.

  6. Insurance is a must

    With any type of home improvement project, there is a risk of injury or damage.

    Ensure your contractor has public liability insurance or employers’ liability insurance to protect you, them, your home, and even your neighbours’ property should anything go wrong.

    You might also need to check your current home insurance cover remains valid once you start work on your property to keep your contents protected.

  7. Sign on the dotted line

    When you agree to hire a builder or contractor, you enter into a contract, and it’s reasonable to expect them to complete the work you’ve paid for to a certain standard.

    Putting that agreement into a written contract offers you, and the contractor, protection by making it clear what has been requested and what has been promised.

    If the contractor fails to meet the outlined requirements, you’re in a good position to request further work from them to complete the project or ask for a refund.

    Should anything start to go wrong with the home improvement, it’s best to raise any concerns right away. Make sure you know how to contact your contractor to discuss any problems, and work towards getting things back on track - putting it all in writing of course.

    For smaller home improvements, read our guide on:

    Home and garden DIY ideas to help pass the time.

Home improvements can come at a cost so make sure it’s the right option for you before getting started. We have a number of guides and blogs to assist you with managing your finances which can be found in our News and Guides section. During this period where social distancing may still be in place, you might also want to check the availability of the supplies and professionals you need before starting your project, find out more here.