1. Hire an architect. You might think well he would say that but there are good reasons to hire someone who has been trained and has experience in visualising beyond what your home is now and what it might be. Architects are a combination of designers, organisers and technicians. They can create beautiful spaces, see how they work together and tell builders how to construct them.
2. Don’t start out with rigid ideas. You may think that you want something because that is how it has always been but there may be a better way.
3. Know what you need as a budget for the work that you are doing. Unfortunately, building is expensive and is not getting cheaper. Architects always work to a budget but you may have to make compromises if your budget is too small.
4. Be realistic about the space that you are working with. If you are converting an under pavement vault it is not going to get magically bigger.
5. Don’t start a project when there will soon be a major change in your life. I get a lot of clients who tell me that they need more space because they are going to have a baby in a month’s time. Do they really want to be sharing the house with builders for two or three months when they will want to focus on their baby?
6. Beware of planning the changes around small children. Children grow up quickly and it feels even quicker to their parents. Do you really need to turn your dining room into a playroom with child-size fitted furniture when they will be large teenagers in no time?
7. Check out your builders before employing them. Ask to talk to previous clients and architects. You wouldn’t give tens of thousands of pounds to a stranger for safekeeping so why do the same with a builder?
8. Make sure you give the builders a detailed schedule of work. Builders often do what they have always done in the past but will this meet the current regulations? Will it even be what you want? They need to be told what to do.
9. At all costs avoid employing individual tradespersons to carry out the works without a main contractor. You may think that this will save you money but the lack of coordination that the main contractor brings will cost you more.
10. Ask loads of questions. No question is too silly and you can’t be expected to know everything that your architect, engineer and builder have taken years to learn.
Building can be confusing and stressful. Architects and other consultants are there to reduce the stress and bring clarity
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