House renovation how much does it cost real homes

Phillip Hall, managing director of Hall Construction Ltd, points out, ‘Costs are often higher for renovating a period property as owners may have to provide full-blown plans as well as calculations from a building engineer to comply with building regulations.‘ He adds that the initial costs to renovate or extend a period property are often 30 to 50 per cent higher than in contemporary buildings due to the materials and skilled labour involved, and most new owners do not appreciate that.

‘It’s also worth considering a warranty, such as the Federation of Master Builders’ MasterBond, which is a safety net for any problems with the work – it covers you if the builder goes out of business, is declared bankrupt, or if the principal dies. It’s also worth noting that builders with key skills are usually booked well in advance.‘ 2.


How much does it cost to go open plan?

‘First check with your building surveyor or structural engineer that the wall isn’t one of the main supporting walls,‘ advises Philip Hall of Hall Construction – a member of the Federation of Master Builders. ‘To get some idea, try knocking it – if it’s just a thin plaster stud wall, you’re fairly safe. For other interior walls you’ll need to shore up the upper storey with a Reinforced Steel Joist (RSJ).

‘It’s still a huge taboo,’ says David Gakhar, chairman of the Association of Specialist Underpinning Contractors (ASUC). ‘Underpinning involves extending the house foundations to stabilise the building.’ He adds, ‘The precise depth of the trench depends on the cause of the subsidence, the type of soil, proximity of the tree and extent of its roots.’

‘One of the main problems period property owners face is damp – generally caused by later repairs or alterations using inappropriate materials,’ says Ronnie Clifford at traditional plaster specialists, Ornate Interiors. ‘The moisture can penetrate vulnerable plasterwork and traditional finishes resulting in fractures. You’ll need to identify the cause of any damp before bringing plastering specialists on board.’

First you’ll need to have the appliance safely removed by a HETAS-qualified engineer and the chimney swept by a NACS sweep. Your local fireplace showroom may require a small deposit before sending out a consultant to check the chimney for leaks. If it has leaks, the chimney will need to be repaired or lined. Relining a chimney must comply with current building regulations.

All too often a surveyor will pick up a high moisture reading in a period home when in fact there may be no dampness at all. The wall could be bone dry, with the electrical moisture meter just picking up a high reading due to hydroscopic salts. Qualified surveyors should investigate the matter, rather than simply referring you to your local damp proof specialist (i.e. a salesman with a vested interest).

‘Always discuss the underlying causes of damp,‘ advises Douglas Kent, technical secretary at The Society of Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). ‘Investigations usually reveal a problem such as build up of humidity in bathrooms and kitchens, which aren’t well ventilated; condensation caused by sealed double glazing; leaking gutters, broken drains, cracks in pointing; vegetation close to the brickwork; and a host of other entirely solvable problems that don’t require invasive damp proof treatments.’

‘When costing the job look for builders who belong to one of the national trades organisations,’ advises Andrew Leech of the National Home Improvement Council. ‘The government’s own Trust Mark scheme for recommended tradespeople is good too. A new stud wall for an en suite bathroom including a door shouldn’t take a competent tradesperson more than two days to complete,’ says Andrew. ‘It would cost, with basic materials and labour, about £800. Tiling and other decoration would increase costs accordingly.’

‘Whatever type of system you’re having installed, draw up a full specification first,’ advises a spokesperson from Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors. ‘Make sure you get three quotes from qualified plumbers with an NVQ City & Guilds level 3, and check they make a thorough on-site survey, for instance looking at hidden pipe work such as the existing flue. Finally, make sure you get the work signed off by a member of a Competent Person’s Scheme or an inspector from Building Control.’

Under Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations, new gas boilers can only be commissioned by a Gas Safe Registered heating engineer, so check your plumbers’ credentials. If fitting a boiler using another heat source, such as oil, a Competent Persons Scheme-approved installer should be used. Regulations also dictate new boilers must be the high-efficiency condensing type, which reuse heat that would normally be lost from the flue.

You may also need to factor in the cost of connecting your home to the nearest gas main, but if you’re not on mains gas, you’ll need to have an oil-fired boiler instead, and an oil tank or ‘bowser’ in the garden. A fully qualified plumbing and heating engineer will be able to calculate the size of the heating appliance and the number and size of the radiators you’ll need.

Often, thatchers use water reed (or Norfolk reed); long-stemmed wheat (or long straw); and combed wheat reed (or Devon reed). Water reed lasts the longest – 30-50 years compared to combed wheat reed (20-30 years) and long straw (12-20 years). The durability of thatch depends on the pitch of the roof, climate, quality of thatching and depth of coat.

‘Thatching a whole roof normally takes about a month but this really depends on the size of the team working on the roof, complexity of access, roof structure and how much remedial work is required to roof timbers,‘ says Marjorie Sanders of the National Society of Master Thatchers. Re-thatching a listed building will require planning consent if it involves a change of material, i.e. from long straw to reed.

Undertaking an entire rewire can be a messy, disruptive business. Expect to have furniture moved and floorboards lifted to allow access for cabling. A great deal of dust can be created during wall chasing and re-plastering, so keep lots of dust sheets on hand. ‘The electrician will need to have access to all areas of the property at all times, as circuits are wired from room to room, rather than one room at a time,’ explains a representative from the Electrical Contractors’ Association.