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Home repairs and improvements

Home improvements can transform and add value to your home but it is easy for costs to escalate and projects to go wrong. The Homeowners Alliance step-by-step guide can help you do home improvements and repairs the right way.

Home repairs and improvements

Before building work starts

  • Don’t forget to contact your Local Authority Planning and Building Control Departments if you are doing significant works.  Read more about whether or not you need planning permission.
  • If you are doing a project which impacts adjoining or shared walls with your neighbours you may need to issue a

    Party Wall Notice. See our advice guide Do I need a Party Wall Agreement?

  • If you are doing a project which makes significant structural changes you may need the help of a structural engineer to enable you to obtain Building Control Approval. See our guide Do I need a Structural Engineer?
  • If your home is listed or you live in a Conservation Area, check with your Local Authority for any restrictions on what changes you can make.
  • Consider whether your building projects will add value to your home.  A local estate agent can help you assess whether you will see a return on your investment if that is important for you.
  • Once you are ready to commence, it is a good idea to inform your home insurance provider that you are undertaking building works to ensure your cover is not affected.  There can be a higher risk of potential damage if you’re removing walls or opening up the roof as may be the case if you are extending or doing a loft conversion.

Use our Find a Local Tradesman service from Checkatrade to find the right tradesmen for your project

Budgeting, quotes and specifications

  • Make a detailed list of everything you would like to have included, this will help when you ask for quotations.
  • Compare quotes item by item and not just by the overall cost of the job.
  • Check that VAT is included in the costs you are quoted.
  • Set aside some money for unexpected problems – rule of thumb is 10% of total cost.
  • If you are thinking about taking out a loan or using another form of credit to pay for the work, consider the full cost of the credit including the interest.  Read our guide on how to finance your home improvement project.  It may also be a good time to consider remortgaging as a way of freeing up funds.
  • Include costs for labour and parts in your overall budget.
  • When purchasing items, shop around and check online.
  • Agree who will purchase items and be responsible for making sure they arrive on time.
  • Clarify at the start what marks the end of the project and make a note of this.
  • Read our guide to house renovation costs for an idea of what projects may cost.

Finding reliable tradespeople

Use our Find a Local Tradesman service from Checkatrade to find local, rated tradespeople for your job

Building work contractual information

  • Produce a list or specification of what work you would like to have done and share and plans or drawings you may to help them give accurate quotes
  • Obtain at least 3 written quotations and ask for them to be broken down so that you can see the price of work and materials for each item
  • Make sure that quotes include the cost of all materials, scaffolding, waste disposal and so on
  • Discuss delays, who is responsible if there are delays and who pays
  • Discuss and clarify house rules for example working hours, no smoking in the house, or no muddy boots
  • Confirm who will be carrying out the actual work — will outsourced labour be used?
  • Check if you will be given a timetable for the work
  • Agree how payments will be made, it’s not unusual to be asked for an installment up-front
  • Check if there are any health and safety aspects you need to be aware of
  • Agree a single point of contact for the project
  • If you are contracting a builder, take a look at RIBAs domestic building contracts

Managing building works

  • Have regular on site meetings
  • Raise any issues as they arise, don’t wait for the end of the project
  • Check that you are actually paying for the work that has been completed
  • Check that your local authority Building Control Department has signed off key stages of the work, if they are required to

Finishing building work

  • Clarify what you would consider to be the end of the project. Make this clear at the very start and put this in writing so everyone knows
  • Be clear about when you will be required to make the final payment and what it covers
  • Remember that you are entitled to withhold a reasonable amount of money to ensure problems are put right

Tidying up and snagging

  • Have a clear idea of when the final payment is due
  • You have a right to withhold a reasonable amount of money if work has not been done to satisfactory quality
  • Keep a running list of items that are outstanding to form your snag list
  • You can get advice about your rights and how to deal with the trader if they appear reluctant to talk to you from Citizens Advice

Post completion

  • Have the correct forwarding details for your trader
  • Make sure that you have paperwork for items purchased by the trader and certificates for work, instructions and warranties

Advice for specific improvement projects

Leave a comment (6)* Required

  1. PollyPolly

    I moved in to my new home a month ago. I found the hoa website, and the information on it, hugely helpful from the start of my journey to the end. First, I took out homebuyer’s insurance in March that was recommended on the hoa website – although I didn’t need to claim (thankfully) I was glad to have it and it was very reasonably priced. Also, I appointed a surveyor I found through one of the links. In a nutshell, the hoa website had everything to help me sail through the conveyancing process. I would say its the best and most informative source of information I used and is written in plain English, so no jargon. I will continue to use it for inspiration as I work on making my house a ‘home’. Highly recommended! Thank you.

  2. ShaunShaun

    Thanks for sharing the blog with an informative content. Keep sharing more content. Keep sharing more ideas related home interior designs, I like it because we are having same type of services.

  3. John PlixJohn Plix

    Your content is very informative and useful. You have focused very important points of home improvement and repair guideline.

    Thankfully. John Plix

  4. Bruce RiversBruce Rivers

    Awesome article. Your useful tips help me a lot, I’m going to try them out with my home remodeling project. Thanks for sharing & have a nice day!

    • Sophie KhanSophie Khan

      Hi Bruce,

      Thanks so much for your feedback and glad you found it useful!
      Have you considered joining us as a member? This would entitle you to access a host of property related information, services, advice, a legal support service and a discount on conveyancing.
      Joining is easy and only costs £45 for the year. Sign up easily here.

      Kind regards,

      HomeOwners Alliance Team

  5. BrianBrian

    Thanks for such a useful article about home improvement. I’ll refer to it next time I plan to improve my home. My budget & energy is limited, so I wanna make the best of out my money & effort


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