Renovating a home

So, something that was mentioned by me in an earlier blog post was building a new home or even rebuilding an old one it if needs be, so I wanted to make a separate blog post on it. The fact is that while it can be cheaper to actually just build a new home, sometimes it is cheaper to rebuild or renovate it. It can also be better to just plain easier and better to renovate it. Just because you want a new home does not necessarily mean you have to destroy your old home. You can simply just renovate your old home already as if is already what you are used to, and most of the time people have an idea of what they want their new home to look like based on what their own home looks like. That’s exactly why you could instead just build that new home around your old one and get the best of both worlds! I actually have a friend that is a carpenter, and their company South London Carpenter’s does a lot of work around renovating homes, so they are very experienced. But the fact is, you can create your dream home from renovating an old property as opposed to building or rebuilding one. So I’m going to give a few small tips on what you can do to make the process a lot easier for you.

Assessing a project

Just because you have a project in mind does not mean you should not plan ahead. The majority of old properties have potential to renovate, but you ne e dot note that the key is to assess financial potential and designs before you commit to the project itself.

Completing the deal

What you need to remember is that there is a really high demand for properties which need work done, and everyone wants to create their own project on which they can do themselves. What you need to keep in mind is the amount of possible ways to actually purchase a property. You can always access auctions, sealed bids and even look into financing the purchase with a renovation mortgage.

The design process

Now, although we briefly touched on this part of the post earlier, there are many different processes you can go through. One of the examples is finding a designer for your project, helping you to find out how much to pay for the design work. They will also help you to avoid the renovation design mistakes, consider energy efficiency within the project and talk you through the planning permission steps.

Restoring and repairing existing property fixtures

One of the main attractions for renovation projects is to build around the original features that the property possesses which are charming. That is why it is important to ensure that while you renovate, repairing and restoring these fixtures are always included. Factor in the addition budget that it would cost to make these repairs such as fixing the flooring or roofs, doors, windows and even beams.

Structural changes

You should factor in decisions such as if you would like to add in space, or change the spaces that you already have such as garage conversion, basement conversion or even loft conversion. You may have to change the structures or do internal remodelling, and the cost of these changes must be planned.

External changes

Now, another thing that you need to focus on is that changing the external details of the house can make it look entirely different, and in turn you may feel entirely different also. So again, as long as you find out a way to realistically budget these changes, new roofs or driveways are easy to complete!

Extending

Now sometimes if you can afford to, you may decide to extend the home by adding new rooms completely. You will need to make sure that you cover the extension costs, permission, building regulations, designs and even if your building is Listed and can actually be extended.

Updating heating and Electrics

Before your project has actually been started, make sure you know you can do it yourself, what work is involved and how much it may cost, as an old house will most likely need heating or electric being updated.

Eco-vation

This is essentially ensuring that the property becomes properly energy efficient. It will mean that your home will look more economical and overall attractive.

Finishing

Finally, once the structural work has been completed, now you start the furnishing and finishing the property. Essentially, ensure that you know the plan for your woodwork, flooring and walls.

These are the simple steps for your new renovation, but if you need more information on any subject just let me know!

How to build a home part 2

So although this is a weird topic, we have got a follow up for the last blog post! We had previously discussed the first five steps you need to take for building a home, and now we need to talk about the next five! While all of these steps are basically common sense and smaller things to ensure you keep in mind, the amount of times that one of these steps are overlooked it unsurprising. It can be very stressful for some which makes it very easy to forget these things. Making sure that you follow these steps are really important however. If you have already read those first 5 steps then you have already gotten yourself on the correct track, and you now only have a few more left to follow! So just try to keep these in mind before you begin the process, since they will be very important!

Choosing the right building route for you

For most of the first time builders, it is good to usually pick yourself a package company which will help guide you through the building and designing process. Especially since the companies offer standard customisable houses and for the most part offer bespoke design options. Others suggest this package because it does make things a lot more efficient and easier for them. Although other self-builders do choose to go with architects and contractors or even professional project managers for help. This gives them quite a few different opinions on the project together and if you have the money to spare for yourself, makes your life a lot easier during the process! Although there are others that do prefer to self-manage the project themselves as they can save money and also keep their eyes on the labour and materials of the project. The architects will often favour a particular construction system however, like brick and block or timber framing. It is important to note that if you do not agree with the architect at any point, do not feel afraid to take lead and voice your opinion!

Sorting out the essentials

Before you start to begin the pject and progessing with it, the best thing to do is to ensure that you have the appropriate consent to begin building. These are things that are relevant to you siuch as planning permission, building control approval and even special permissions. Ensuring that you keep your investments safe by choosing the correct contracts, insurances and warranties are also very important! Sometimes your contractor has the correct insurance policies, but you may still have to take out self-building insurances from other providers, so be wary if that is the case and look into it!

Plot preparation

Once the progress has begun on the project, ensuring that the plot is prepared is important. The first step in starting to get the project physically underway is plot preparation, and this can mean anything from beginning to sort out the ground works from clearing the vegetation all the way to levelling the plot when required. It also includes accurately setting trenches out, and you can use advice from the main contractor or the ground working company to deal with this stage. They also offer help with the foundation pour and drainage.

Starting the building process

Now the most exciting part of the project begins as you start working on the structural shell of your dream home! In this step there are a few construction methods you can use that are very popular for self-builders and projects, and two in specific which are cost-effective. For example, brick and block mortar are the usual favourites, but the timber frame is also great for the quick construction schedules. There are other systems which are also available, such as insulated structural panels and concrete framework, so you really should take the time to research if one of these can be better for you and suit the project better!

Enjoying your new home!

So now that you have completed the building work and the interiors have been finished, you will hopefully be excited and ready to move in to your new dream home! There are lots of steps you have to take for you to consider from here however, like ensuring that the little snags of your home will be sorted, bedroom taxes, etc. Otherwise I would suggest that you just enjoy your new fun and have fun with it!

How to build a home

Okay I know this title sounds very strange after the wooden flooring, but in this blog post today we are actually going to be talking about how to build a home. We won’t be discussing the intricacies and details of the home building process of course (since there is so much to it) but more just little tips about building our home that you need to keep in mind. We will be going into more detail than certain sites however!  Many people forget these because some are common sense and others are just easy to forget, but a lot goes into building a home. So ensure that you have these things on your mind before you start building your home and see if any of these tips will be of help to you!

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The right plot to build on

The one thing many people seem to take for granted is that the start of your home building process is to ensure that you are building on the right piece of land. You need to consider that you are building your home in this plot, so make sure that the area is right for you. You also need to make sure that the land is the correct size for your project. If it is not big enough or even too big, you can easily overspend on your budget. Therefore, you need to consider the size of your land being correct for your project and also enjoying the area itself!

Arranging your finances

While this is the most important thing on the list technically (since location is just the most important for me), making sure that you have the available finances to purchase the land is important because you shouldn’t commit or get your mind set on something that you can’t actually afford to pay it. There is the option of taking out a loan of mortgage however, and there are many different options for financing. For example, you can use a stage payment plan, but overall I would suggest ensuring that you have the finances available before beginning the project.

Having a realistic budget set

You can easily turn your reasonably prices dream project into a Grand Designs style money pit if you incorrectly set a budget. While they can spend as much as possible on remodelling and building new homes, the majority of people and definitely the average home builder cannot. That is why you need to set a sensible approach to your budget with your project and to ensure that your figure stays as realistic as possible. It will not hurt to keep a contingency plan however, in case you have an issue arise such as unavoidable delays or additional requirements being necessary that you could not plan for. Try to add 15% to your budget in as a contingency, so if your project costs 200,000 then you budget for 230,000. If your project goes over you will be okay, but if it sticks to the original budgeted price then at worst you have 30,000 left over for additional improvements or even just a holiday!

Finding a designer

There are so many options to choose from when it comes to picking a home designer for your project. You can choose to simply hire an architect or just a house designer to assist you with the process, or a package supplier who will both design and build the house for you. The options that you choose are up to you, but you should make sure that you choose someone who will be understanding towards the requirements you need for you home and can also provide input which is not only helpful and fit towards the budget that you have but is also responsible. You can always discuss with them before you start the project what you want and see if you are a good fit.

Get in touch with your planners

If you do decide to go with a designer to assist you with the process, make sure that you both figure out that the entire project is viable to begin with. This is probably the best thing you can do before continuing. You can also speak to local authority planners and they will be able to offer some advice for you, but some do charge to this service. You can use this to get a vision and idea of what to do with your project once your planning officer informs you of requirements, including size, general style of the home and also materials used. This will help once you start applying for your planning permission.

Flooring and how to take care of it!

Wooden Flooring

Although energy efficiency is important, I have seen many people that could not decide between having wooden flooring or carpet fitted in their properties, and I wanted my new blog post to help answer some of the FAQ’s when it comes to making this decision!

In the majority of areas within your home, you can install wooden flooring. These are areas in your home such as the play areas, kitchens, bathrooms, business rooms and even conservatory. For changes to your living space, it is very cost effective and ensures that your home is both free of dust and very hygienic. It is particularly useful if you or your family have pets or suffer from allergens.

Hiring a professional carpet cleaning service will do wonders to ensure that your carpets life will be prolonged, and prevent those allergens allergens being trapped within the carpet fibres, if not removed completely. If you take the plunge however, there are three types of flooring that can be installed for you. They are:

Laminate

Laminate flooring which contains wood effect is made up of fibre board materials and melamine resin, and then to create the desired effect is set with an imposed image and under a protective transparent layer protecting the surface.

 

Pros

  • If using click-lock then easy to install.
  • Variety of effects and colors
  • It can last for years and is cheap.

 

Cons

  • Swelling can be caused by moisture exposure.
  • Gaps can be left which would cause bloating if installed incorrectly.
  • Laminate flooring can look cheap and fake if you get the wrong type.
  • If installing on uneven floors, can cause complications.

What we can see here is that laminate is probably the most cost-effective, and probably the most beginner friendly. However, due to other factors such as the overtime moisture penetration, difficult installation possibilities and problems that can be caused if improperly done, some may be worried to go down that specific route. Therefore, although it is cost-effective and provides quantity over quality, you must ask yourself if it is worth the price.

Laminate is probably the most cost effective from what we can see here, and for beginners is the most easy to install. What most be kept in mind however is that other factors such as the overtime moisture penetration, possibilities in difficult installation and if improperly done the problems which can be caused, some could be wary of using laminate. Although it is the most cost effective, it focuses on quantity over quality which I find is a personal preference.

Engineered Wood

Mainly derived from pieces of OSB (Oriented Strand Board), Plywood or even MDF (Medium Density Fibrewood) glued together, this remains a popular choice.

Pros

  • Moisture and humidity effects this wood less.
  • Has a more realistic look.
  • Is more protected than real wooden floors.
  • Sanding this flooring is possible.
  • Long life expectancy.

Cons

  • Can be more difficult to install in specific places (stairs, etc).
  • Expensive.
  • Easily scratched and damaged.
  • May need to be Glued.
  • Can be easily damaged if sanded yourself so a professional should be called.

Due to the practical positives of engineered wood, some may opt for this. It is a perfect match between synthetic and real, and due to the long life expectancy, potential to look real, ability to be modified and overall flooring protection offered, many would choose this option. However, because this flooring is very easily damaged, difficult to install in specific played and can be expensive, people who wish for convenience may not choose this option.

Solid Wood

This flooring is simply made of pieces of solid wood, as the name suggests!

Pros

  • It is what it says on the tin, and looks most realistic.
  • Long life expectancy.

 

Cons

  • Of all options, the most expensive.
  • needs to be polished regularly.

 

While it is real and long lasting, it is also just as endurable as any modified wood. It is also the preference for some due to people having a specific image of what they would like in mind. The issue of real wood is that it is so expensive, and the costs of keeping the floor clean are larger than most people are looking for. You can find an imitation for cheaper.

 

Secret Hobby: Shed building

So weirdly enough, one of my favourite hobbies is actually shed building. It is such a common structure around the world however, and is genuinely requested a lot. For personal use or even for work, many do pay for the services to have a shed built, and after a few years I actually have a small amount of advice that I can share for anyone who wants to try to build one themselves!

You should always ensure that the shed is built with a solid foundation. When building a shed you should never expect it to last long if you build with a weak foundation. Really, sheds should be built on strong materials such as blocks of concrete or wood timbers (read my previous post!) that have already been pressure-treated and set directly into the ground with enough spacing. This is to ensure that the sheds supported and levelled correctly. I would also suggest that you build on dry land if you want to really focus on the life expectancy on your shed. When the land you build on is wet, your shed will be more exposed to erosion. On top of that, if the shed will be built in a location which is generally prone to rainy conditions (such as London), then building the foundation on gravel can ensure that the foundation will be protected somewhat from erosion also.

Sheds that are on average larger (such as 200 sq. ft. in size) should really have permanent foundations which have been set down into the land any extended into the frost line. Usually this should be constructed from buried wooden posts or even poured concrete piers. Again, I would always suggest that any wooden materials that you use for shed building have been pressure treated to protect them somewhat from rot and erosion, as they damage more than you realise.

It is just as important to allow air circulation within the shed itself. People do not realise that moisture gets into sheds easily if they are not circulated correctly, and this moisture can rot the flooring, doors and framing. It can even slowly corrode the shed doors hinges over a sustained period of time. But this is easily fixed when ensuring the mudsill (which is the lowest laying wood of the shed) is 6 inches above ground level. This will allow for air to circulate. You can also help circulate air into the shed correctly by allowing enough space around the shed itself, as things such as trees, fences or even hedges allow blockages to sunlight and wind, and ensure that the shed does not give enough clearance space for the shed to keep dry. The space will also allow easy access when making repairs or just for general maintenance and upkeep.

You should also use low maintenance materials if you want to build a long lasting shed. The majority of people who actually build sheds usually do not have the free time spare to ensure that the shed is maintained often enough, which means using materials which are generally low maintenance will save you a lot of time. Although they are more expensive in comparison to regular materials, it is generally worth the time and trouble that is saved. Materials like vinyl, aluminium and plastic lumber and even steel doors, fibre glass and faux-slate roof shingles will all go a long way to ensure your shed is low maintenance. Even fibre-cement siding and composite decking could be considered.

Depending on where you live and the areas general weather, you could also focus building a floor frame that is weather resistant. Allowing enough space and using the right materials can mean that your shed will last longer surviving the weather. Although you would be happier to pay less, your shed won’t be exposed to as much rot or erosion this way.

Granted none of these options I have spoken about are cheap or even easy to install generally, they are actually a lot more time and cost friendly than you think. Considering that you don’t have to spend as much time or money on maintaining your shed, it does pay for itself overall.

Energy Efficient Building Materials

So I have started to become very conscious recently when it comes to being energy efficient and eco-friendly, which you will see in my shed building post. For example, designs and building materials should be renewable or recyclable. That needs to be a focus nowadays. If we can build properties that are not only structurally sound but also eco-friendly, we should go the extra mile even with the extra costs. Usually these renewable materials are cheaper for both property owners and the company constructing the property however. That’s why this first blog post will be looking at these materials which can be used instead of the common materials that are often used in the trade.

energy-efficient-building

One of the more popular renewable materials which are popular among the eco-friendly construction companies are actually recycled steel. That is because the recycled steel is actually incredibly strong and cheap, used as a replacement for the ordinary wooden beams that are popular. It even makes the whole process easier due to ordering the steel beams and panels customized, allowing it to fit the designs of your current project with ease. Since these materials are durable, they can often be subject to high winds and earthquakes easily. In most of England however, this isn’t an issue luckily. What I find more interesting is that for every 2000 square foot house, you would actually need to cut down 40 or 50 trees, where with the recycled steel you would only actually need 6 recycled cars. It’s beneficial, renewable and honestly, the best option altogether.

Another material which I am a huge supporter of is insulated concrete. Shockingly many people do not know this however. It’s just the simple process of placing concrete within the insulated materials in the walls, and other parts of the property. It stays as a permanent fixture within the structure and will not need regular inspection due to the durability. What I find the most interesting about the materials is that studies have been shown to save up to 20 percent of the energy used by wooden framed buildings.

Related to insulate concrete walling, I also feel that cool roofing is another material many are unaware of. The idea of this material is actually reall smart, reflecting heat and making the property and roof cooler. It allows for less heat to transfer in the building, but also doesn’t make the property any cooler during the winter months. You could use darker colored materials along with this also. The only issue is that compared to ordinary roofing materials it can be a lot more expensive at £40 per square foot more. However, for those who are more eco-friendly, the option for renewable materials over cost-effectiveness should consider this option.

There is a more unpopular material that has been underused within the trade is structural insulated panels. This material involves again, covering the sides of the property with insulated panels and setting it using wood or cement. The reason this is an unpopular materials among the trade is because many feel as if it looks ugly, while others are completely unaware the materials even exist. However, you can find many different forms of finish for the panels, which allow the panels to look much more aesthetical. This is another material that can save energy, quoting up to 50 percent in energy costs when compared to using current conventional materials. This allows it to become a much more eco-friendly material, and one we would definitely recommend.

Finally, the most obvious recyclable material is wood or plastic, which could come from anything from plastic bags from supermarkets all the way to children’s toys. Mainly however, they are used from products that will not be used again. Using both recycled plastics and wood will allow structure to be more durable, and would increase the strength also. More resistant to rot and mould, it does mean that the materials are less rigid when exposed to rigorous weather conditions (cold and heat). The main negative of this material however is the price since it is considered very expensive.

Welcome to my blog!

I’m Harry Dechering, a carpenter, and in this blog I’m going to be talking about all the issues I come across during my line of work, give you some tips about how to help us do our jobs better, how to look after your wood furnishings in the best way and some of my other thoughts! Check back often for more posts (sometimes I won’t post for a while if I get a large job!)

You can contact me on the contact page if you ever want to get in touch about something you’d like to read about!