As I look forward to the next project, I am also reflecting on what I have learned over the past few years. Writing this blog has also made me re-live the last reno and there are some things I will definitely be doing differently this time. I’m not an expert and I know I still make a lot of mistakes but in this post I will list 6 lessons I learned from our last renovation.
1. Stay somewhere else
As tempting as it is to save on extra rent and bills, I would strongly advise against living in the property while renovating. A full renovation is both physically and mentally draining and not being able to escape is horrible. There were so many nights I cried and wanted to move into a hotel just to have a bath and somewhere warm to sleep. I’m not saying you have to wait until everything is 100% finished to move in but I would recommend waiting until you have functioning heating and a working bathroom and kitchen.
Logistically, living in the property also causes issues. You can’t treat the place as a whole and you end up focusing on one room at a time which means multiple trips for trades. It would be alot easier to strip out the full place, do any repairs and then start rebuilding in stages.
2. Be adaptable
Things won’t always go to plan, especially when you are dealing with 100+ year old buildings. Walls might not be able to move (or you might have 2 unexpected steel beams installed in the middle of your kitchen,) lines might not be straight or designs you have in your head may not be practical.
During our last renovation I had pre-planned every detail of each room and I got really frustrated when things I wanted couldn’t happen. Going into our next project I am trying to be much more flexible with my design, I understand that there might be unexpected problems which will affect my plans. I know I want the next place to be bright, welcoming and cosy but apart from that alot of my decisions will be made as the project progresses.
3. Take Breaks
This point is similar to the first, a DIY renovation is HARD. Your project will probably last a few months so it is important not to wear yourself out. Taking breaks can seem like a waste of time, especially if you are doing all of the work yourself but you’ll come back refreshed and motivated to keep going.
This time I’m going to set some work/life balance rules and force ourselves to take breaks. It’s so tempting to push on and end up working late every night but ultimately enjoying our lives together is much more important than finishing a few weeks earlier.
4. Buy spares
Always overestimate your orders. If you think you need 18 packs of flooring, buy 20. There is nothing worse than getting close to the end of a task and running out of materials. This goes for pretty much everything; paint, tiles, construction materials and even fabrics. You can return anything unused but having to do extra trips to shops while you are in a flow or having to leave something unfinished is really frustrating.
We buy most of our materials from a couple of places so it is easy to just make piles of anything that needs returned and check it each time you are going to that shop.
5. Sign up for loyalty cards and memberships
There are lots of great deals and loyalty programmes. B&Q has a great membership programme called the B&Q Club. You get a discount voucher emailed to you after every purchase. These really add up if you are visiting a few times a week. The club also increases their returns policy to 45 days which is great for point 4.
Stuart is much better at this one than me but sometimes if you ask for a trade discount they just give it to you! I was shocked the first time I saw him ask and then get given a 25% discount without having to do anything. I’m not sure if he just has a “tradesman” look or if anyone can do this but I’m too scared to try.
6. Enjoy the journey
Renovating a house is hard and it’s easy get bogged down in all the work but I think it’s important to make the most of the good. Pick a great playlist and dance in an empty room, take a step back and look at the progress you have made or think of how much someone is going to appreciate the space you have created.
If you don’t enjoy what you are doing then is it really worth spending your time on?