Four areas you must get right in any home renovation
Sort it: with a home improvement it is essential to take time to ensure you are fixing the right problem
When the layout of your home isn’t working it often feels like you need to add more space but this isn’t always the case. Quite often there are ways to reconfigure what you have to solve the issues
When planning a home renovation it can be easy to focus on the quick wins. But by doing this you are in danger of fixing the wrong problem. In a fast-moving world we have become used to things happening instantly, from online shopping to convenience apps we imagine everything is literally at the touch of a button. But with a home improvement patience is the key to success. It’s essential to take your time and ensure you are fixing the right problem. These are four areas to focus on to ensure you make the best decisions.
Do the basics
Wiring, heating and insulation. These are the three basics that you need to get right or everything else is a complete waste of time. It can be tempting to rush out and spend on decoration, furnishings etc to make everything look better; this is especially true as we approach the silly season and are keen to have the house looking well for Christmas. But in so many cases it’s more important to invest in the things you won’t see.
Not only will fixing these things mean your home will be more comfortable but it will also save you money in the long run. By upgrading your heating controls, for example, you can reduce your energy usage by up to 20 per cent, meaning you will save money on your home heating bills. On average a home loses 20 to 30 per cent of its heat through the walls, which rises even further if they are not insulated. Up to 30 per cent can also be lost through a poorly insulated attic. By properly insulating your home you will reduce heat loss and your heating bills. There are significant grants available to make these kinds of improvements. Visit the SEAI website for more details.
When the layout of your home isn’t working it often feels like you need to add more space but this isn’t always the case. Quite often there are ways to reconfigure what you have to solve the issues you face. I visited a house a few months ago where there was an attic space with fantastic panoramic views over Dublin bay; the family were considering converting it to create a second storey for a main bedroom and home office. To make the room useable would have meant raising the roof and a lot of structural work. Getting access to the attic space also meant compromising the floor below.
While walking through the rest of the house my client explained that most of the first floor wasn’t working for them. The bedroom layouts were not great, storage was an issue, and none of the bathrooms or en suites were well laid out. My advice was to forget about the attic and focus on getting the layout of the first floor right. This way they would improve their enjoyment of their home straight away rather than ending up with a bigger version of their already poorly functioning home.
Prices are going up all the time, and it’s quite likely that the money you set aside will not be enough to cover everything on your wish list. When trying to figure out how best to invest, focus on the areas you and your family spend the most time in.
There’s no point, for example, creating a fantastic guest bedroom with en suite at the expense of your bedroom and bathroom spaces. While some things are nice to have it’s vital you work out what is going to improve your quality of life first and foremost. This is what is ultimately going to give you the best return on your investment.
Store or stuff?
Investing in storage to solve a stuff problem. This is a really common issue. I had clients a couple of years ago who came to us with what they said was a storage problem. They had a large five-bed home, but they felt they were rapidly running out of space. When I met them I was astonished to see the house almost full to the brim with stuff.
There were some rooms you couldn’t even access because they were so packed with things. My advice was to do a ruthless clearout of the entire house and then carry out an assessment of what to do next. This might seem obvious, but it can be hard to see objectively how you use your home day-to-day. That’s why it can be so important to get impartial advice.
Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant @optimisedesign