Working with traditional materials will inevitably cost more than working with modern materials and the cost of employing builders with the right skills could send your budget skywards. Add to that hidden extras and unforeseen challenges, and you may soon be questioning why you started the build in the first place. There’s no doubt that a renovation can be a pricey task.
So how do you create the home of your dreams without breaking the bank? Here Peter Little, CEO of the Property Conservation Company, gives his top tips.
Have a contingency plan
When budgeting for a renovation or extension to a period property, bear in mind that most builds will go over by 30 to 50%. This is because working with older houses poses lots of unknowns, which could increase the time needed for the build, as well as the purchasing of additional materials.
Don’t go for price over experience
Working on period properties requires specialist skills and expertise. Don’t be tempted to go with the cheapest quote if the builders don’t have the necessary experience – expertise can save you money in the long run.
Don’t make changes
When you’re in the planning process, it can be difficult to imagine how things are going to turn out and sometimes it is necessary to make changes as things develop. However, every change you make adds to the cost of the build so judge wisely.
Source items yourself
If you want to retain the natural character of your period property, you may require specialist materials. These can add quite a lot to the cost of your build, not to mention the time it takes to source and collect materials. If you’re using old stone, ask around to see if anyone has any left over from previous builds or talk to your local quarry. If you want oak lintels and door frames, there are many websites offering quick and easy delivery on timber so measure up and get the best price.
You’ve got your heart set on salvaged roof tiles but the reality can often be hard to swallow – availability, cost and difficulty with roof pitches can all get in the way of your grand plans. Scout around for alternative materials – there are companies making ‘old-style’ roof tiles; take a look at zinc for extensions rather than using reclaimed stone; check out the new range of wood-effect porcelain where real wood might be too expensive.
If you’re demolishing part of the old house to add an extension, think about repurposing some elements. Old beams or floorboards could be turned into shelves or lintels, old tiles could be cleaned and reused. Check websites such as eBay or Gumtree for reclaimed items such as radiators and keep an eye out on house clearances in your area.
Put in the hours
You can cut costs by doing some of the work yourself. Painting, tiling, waxing and oiling woodwork, putting up curtain poles, clearing rooms in preparation, even collecting materials from the builders’ merchants – if you can put in a few hours, you’ll save both time and money.
Have peace of mind
Hopefully you’ll have chosen a reliable, reputable builder to work on your property but if the worst happens and they go out of business, a suitable warranty gives you peace of mind that you’ll be covered for any works.