How to manage a renovation

If you're planning some renovations, upgrades or additions to your home this may involve building work. Managing building work in your home can be very stressful and often disruptive to your home life as certain rooms may be out of action for the duration of the project. If a project is not managed properly it can potentially result in a few headaches and bumps along the way. 

Read these top tips from our home insurance provider, RSA, for finding the right people for the job, managing the process from start to finish and what to do if things go wrong.

1. Finding the right builder

Personal recommendations are often the safest bet. Ask your friends and neighbours if they can recommend anyone and, if possible, view the work that was done for them. RSA recommend that you ask each building firm the following questions before you get a quote:

  • How long have they been in business?

  • Are they a member of a trade association?

  • Can you see references for similar work they have done?

  • Do they have public liability insurance against damage to property and neighbouring properties?

  • Is their work guaranteed?

Scam alert: Be wary of tradespeople ringing you up or knocking on your door, especially if they want you to sign up to a ‘special deal’ on the spot. Be equally cautious of leaflets that come through the door, particularly if they only have a telephone number and no name or address. Check out our Scams & Security hub for more on Doorstep crime.

2. Getting quotes for the work

To minimise the risks of future disputes, especially around the cost of work, you should:
  • Ask at least three tradespeople to provide a quote for the work.
  • Request a fixed price quote rather than an estimate which could increase after the work has started. 
  • Check that everything you asked for is included in each quote including specifications and schedule.
  • Choose the quote which offers best value for money, taking into account not only price but also the builder’s reputation for quality and reliability.
  • And remember, don't feel pressurised into getting work done that you can't afford!

3. Before the work starts

When you’ve found the right builder for the job, the next step is to get a contract in place. It should clearly define the work to be done so that there can be no doubt what the builder is expected to do. If there are plans and specifications for the work, these should be included. Plus, check out the following points to note. 
  • Major building work is likely to increase the cost of rebuilding your home. If it entails structural alteration or an extension, you must inform your insurance company to make sure you’re adequately covered by your building insurance. 
  • For larger building projects you may need planning permission, so check with your local authority's planning and building control department.
  • Any work undertaken will need to comply with Building Regulations, so make sure you know what these are by taking a look at the government's planning portal.
  • If your builder needs access to your neighbour’s land to carry out work, then you will need to seek their permission in advance. It is advisable to get an agreement in writing.

4. During the work

As soon as building work starts, it is sensible to keep an eye on progress and regularly refer to the contract and plans to make sure everything is on track. Don’t be afraid to ask the builder for regular updates or to express your concerns if you suspect something isn’t going to plan.

5. If things go wrong

Despite everyone’s best efforts, there are many reasons why a building project might not go to plan.
  • It could be that the work is delayed, doesn't meet the specifications or that your property has been damaged during the work.
  • It is advisable to address any issue quickly and, most importantly, in writing. We also recommend keeping a record of all communications.
  • For delays in completing the work, you are within your rights to tell your builder that you will end the contract unless the work is finished within a stated period.
If the builder does not complete the work or if the work is faulty, you can get quotes from an alternative tradesperson to complete the job, and demand that the original builder covers the costs.

Home insurance

Don't forget to check out 'Take Your Pick' home insurance and get an online quote today to protect your valuable items and your home.

Home renovations rsa

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