Top tips for renovating a home


Renovating a home can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but as with any big DIY project, there can be stresses, strains and unwelcome surprises that come along the way. No matter if you’re building an extension, remodelling your kitchen or going to the whole hog with a whole home renovation project, both can take up a lot of your time and could end up costing you money.
From common questions such as how to fix your house up on the cheap, deciding whether to remodel or just build up your home from scratch, and what type of home renovation insurance you should be looking at, we’ve put together a handy guide to help make those decisions and  get you through So how do you get through your house renovation without falling apart?

Which is cheaper – remodelling or building from scratch?

When making such a crucial decision the next logical step is to meet some local estate agents and get to grips with the housing market in your area. You’ll need to understand how much your home is currently worth within the market and speak to experts who can advise on the costs of renovation versus building a new home from scratch.
If you want a more accurate picture from the very beginning, you’ll need to speak to the specialists. Reaching out to a reputable construction project management company and a quantity surveyor team at the early stages will further benefit you and help to make the decision. They will be able to inform you of the rough costs of any options you’re considering.
Whichever route you do decide to go down, it pays to obtain a building report from a chartered building surveyor before buying the property. This can help to identify any potential problems, such as flood risk areas, damaged guttering, condensation and damp issues and structurally related problems. Though you'll need to bear in mind they won’t be able to unearth all issues within the house and the individual impact these could have on your finances.

How can I renovate my house cheaply?

A man in a high-vis vest and hard hat writing on a clip board in the hallway of a house
Whether it’s an extension or a whole house you plan on doing up, there are tips and tricks you can employ for getting your renovations done on the cheap. Here are a few to get those creative juices flowing:

Fix up your front door

You may decide that all it needs is a fresh lick of paint or a complete colour change and whilst this can transform the aesthetics, you may wish to invest in a brand new one or even get creative and design your very own. Having a fresh front door helps to make memorable first impressions.

Find your inner Upholsterer

No money for new furniture? No problem. From sofas and chairs to tables, beds and other knick-knacks, one of the cheapest and easiest ways of giving your living spaces a quick freshen up is to get involved in a little upholstery.
All you need is an existing piece of furniture, a local fabric shop and a fab idea. From sentimental items to those just needing a bit of love, once you’ve purchased your chosen fabric, you just need to get to work. And if you’re not confident in doing it yourself, you can outsource it to an upholstery company such as, though this might cost a little more.

Invest in your fireplace

There’s a reason so many people get excited about having a fireplace in their own home. They make a fantastic focal point and are a welcoming feature. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the way of thinking a few decades back, which led to lots of homes having theirs ripped out entirely. The good news is, that you can bring the fireplace back.
While it can be costly to reintroduce a whole new fireplace, you can pick up a cast-iron one for the economical sum of £400.

Create some light

Skylights are a popular feature of many new builds, and there’s a reason why. They can help to open up a dark space and inject streams of light to give a room, or an entire house, a much-needed facelift.
This is particularly true of rooms such as attics and bathrooms, which can become gloomy if there isn’t enough natural light. And the best thing? They are a fairly purse-friendly architectural fix.

How do I prepare my house for renovations?

When it comes to getting ready for the big house renovations, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind and it’s a great idea to start off with a ‘wish list’ of the things you want. Maybe you want a thatched roof or have your heart set on a specific layout. Try downloading a home renovation project checklist template like this one from to help get your thoughts down on paper.
With your list in hand, your next step should be to consult with an architect to get a rough idea of whether your current house can become what you want, and at what cost. You should ask relevant questions such as:

  • Is the house worth investing in? How much value would it add?
  • What are the bones of the property like?
  • Is it more cost-effective to renovate the house than to purchase another?
  • Does your dream home exist in the areas you’re looking in?
  • Would it be worth it based on your current circumstances?


Can you live in a house during renovation?

Whilst many people will have a separate living space whilst renovating their house, there are plenty who choose to live in the home they’re doing up. But it's not a decision to make lightly - you’ll need to seriously think about whether or not you can dedicate your time to such a huge home renovation project and whether or not you can handle any issues that get thrown your way. Here are some top tips if you do decide to hunker down in your DIY abode:

Plan, plan, plan

Before you decided to move into the house whilst the work is taking place, you’ll need to make sure your basic needs are looked after, which includes basic amenities such as water and power. Before you consider the possibility of setting up camp on your own project renovation site, look at the following factors and think about how realistic it would be to cater for these:

  • Electricity
  • Kitchen facilities
  • Bathroom facilities, including clean water and wastewater
  • Heating
  • Internet connection
  • Phone
  • How much living space you need
  • The time of year

It’s hopeful to think that living in a space you’re renovating will be fine and you’ll get through any hiccups along the way, but by having a plan, you can minimise the amount of stress you could encounter by not having easy access to the things you need.
To help plan out your living arrangement, ensure you have an up to date and informative schedule of works.

A cottage with scaffolding set up around it during renovation

Have a separate space

Being in on the ‘project renovation action’ may feel exciting to begin with but it’s important that you have another space you can retreat to when the days go on for long periods of time, if there are bad weather days or simply when you just feel like you need to get away.
Building sites can often become chaotic and this can drain your energy, which you’ll need when undergoing such an important project. If you do decide to stay in the house during its period of renovation, it could be worthwhile sectioning off an area to keep away from all the dust, dirt and any other debris that will arise. It could help to maintain your sanity when faced with any construction woes.
If you can, try to also have a back-up space in mind in case you need somewhere to stay on short notice. If you have close family and friends living nearby or can build up a relationship with a local hotel, it can help to ease some of the pressure.

Keep your site safe

Site safety should be high on your list when it comes to building work. And whilst your contractor is the one who is overly responsible for managing Health & Safety, there are things you can do to help, from providing appropriate facilities to setting out a realistic timeline.
Speak with your building control team and structural engineers to ensure the utmost in safety during the build and try to limit any potential hazards, which could be involved in your project. If you can, try to choose non-hazardous materials for your project.
If you plan to live in the house with children, you will need to take extra steps when it comes to keeping safe on site. Make sure you set up zones which are complete ‘no-go’ areas for little ones. You could even get them involved by introducing junior hi-vis vests and mini hard hats.Dressing up fun and safety all in one.
Take out the correct home renovation insurance
In the midst of making such important decisions and planning for such a big remodelling project, you may not consider taking out home renovation insurance. After all, the last thing you’ll want to think about is the prospect of finding appropriate cover for your new home and you may not necessarily know where to begin.
Just bear in mind that the insurer will need some information regarding your renovation, including:

  • When the works will begin
  • Estimated time until completion
  • Level of works that need carrying out
  • Value of works that need carrying out
  • Who will be doing the work - will it be a professional builder?
  • Is there a JCT Contract in place
  • Will you be moving out of the property? If so how often will you be there to inspect it?
  • Will the property be Wind & Weatherproof?


Should I live on site?

It’s a good idea to come up with a plan of what to expect if you do decide to live on site and consider the disruption this could have on your daily life. From dust in every corner to early wake-up calls, late nights and the need for some serious patience, there will be pitfalls every now and then. There are also plenty of positives in doing so, from the cost of living to picking up a new skill set, here are some reasons for living on site:

1. Financial savings

Whilst living in the property during its renovation, you’ll be saving yourself money on any rent you’d ordinarily have to shell out. No temporary accommodation means no temporary expenditure. Result. You could even put this money aside to have as savings in case you need more for your renovation budget.

2. You get the lay of the land and spot areas for improvement

If you’re living in the house the whole time the work is being completed, you’ll get to see all of the things you may not see if you were staying elsewhere. For example, you’ll spot the areas where the house catches natural light, you’ll identify space where you think you may need extra storage. You’ll essentially be able to notice the things that the floorplans wouldn’t be able to provide you with.

3. You can see its construction in real time

One of the main benefits of living in the property during the period of renovation is the fact you can speak to the builders and contractors in a timely fashion. You’ll always be on hand for builders' queries. As quickly as questions arise, you’ll be able to answer them, make important decisions then and there and generally oversee the building work of the house. You can also take in deliveries as and when they come.

4. Activity will be quicker than usual

It’s normal for activity to slow down during such an important project, but if you’re actually on site while works are being completed, you’re far less likely to experience any pauses and unnecessary breaks in construction time.

5. You could pick up new DIY skills

Everyone enjoys a bit of DIY now and then and there is nothing more satisfying than putting your hand to a task and picking up the skills to carry out the job well. From drilling and hammering to sandpapering and mixing cement, if you choose to live on site during your period of home renovation, you can learn from the professionals and put your own stamp on your future home.

Why do I need specialist home renovation insurance?

With so many options on offer for those wanting to change up their property ­– from a new bathroom to an updated kitchen, brand new extension or a complete household renovation – it’s likely that the homeowner will have to move out of their property whilst the builders pull on their hard hats and get to work.
What’s important to know about this type of situation is that many insurers will not cover this type of works and instead ask you to find another insurer that will cover the property. And if you haven’t advised their insurer of the impending works? Your policy could become void in the event of a claim, which is the last thing you want in an already high pressured situation.
Here at Insurance Choice, we have a number of insurers that will not only look at still covering the property while the works are on-going but can also assess the level of renovation work, whether it’s £1000 or £250,000 plus.
With our trusted panel of home renovation insurers, we are specialists when it comes to finding the right cover for you. With so many other factors to think about, we understand that finding the right home renovation insurance doesn’t need to be one of them. So get in touch with us today to get a quote that matches your project needs. We’ll find the right cover for you.