Four ways to lessen the stress of a home refurb
Budgeting for and choosing the correct fixtures and fittings can be a fraught process that requires careful planning
There are so many choices to make and so much to choose from if you’re not on top of things it’s easy to get bogged down.
When renovating or extending a home, the one stage that usually causes the most stress, leads to errors and causes budget overruns is when choosing fixtures and fittings.
Fixtures and fittings typically include the kitchen, bathroom tiling and sanitaryware, flooring, wardrobes and any other built-in joinery items, internal doors, ironmongery, feature lighting, switches and sockets. There are so many choices to make and so much to choose from if you’re not on top of things it’s easy to get bogged down and the process can become very stressful.
I met a friend recently who is renovating her home and had just left work to go and choose her toilets.
“The builder called this morning to ask if I’d picked my toilets, I had no idea there was a choice,” she said.
She spent the whole day rushing around bathroom showrooms, couldn’t made a decision and was totally confused. Here are a few tips for making the right choices at this point in a project.
Be clear about the budget
Unlike building costs, there is no fixed rate for fixtures and fittings. You can literally spend any amount. A bath, for example, can cost anything from €200 to €4,000 depending on what you choose and the choice is vast. So, having a firm idea of what you can afford will help to narrow the choice.
When shopping for these items get quotes from a number of different suppliers. Just ensure each company is working to the same brief. Even the most subtle differences can have a huge impact on the total cost. If everyone is quoting for the same kitchen layout then you can compare the quotes exactly, which will ensure you get the best deal.
Get professional help
As the project progresses money will start to disappear very quickly and it can be tempting to cut back on things like professional fees to free up money for interiors. However, getting help with this part of the project will help you make the right choices and ensure all choices work together so the overall look is seamless.
A good designer will simplify and speed up the decision-making process, know what represents good value, and ensure the scheme works together. Despite it coming at a cost, having this kind of expertise will save money in the long run. Experienced home designers understand the process inside out and can prepare and assist so you don’t become overwhelmed.
They will advise when decisions need to be made and will answer questions from the builder as they arise. Once a builder starts on site things move really quickly. You will need to make a lot of decisions in a short period of time and unless you have the answers you could face delays and a lot of extra expense.
Make decisions early
These are the items you will have to choose yourself. They are expensive and need to be durable, so you can’t afford to make a mistake. The builder will expect these items to be delivered on time otherwise it will impact on the smooth running of the project.
Kitchens and anything bespoke will have a long lead time so it’s important you plan well ahead. I’ve known kitchens to be on as much as a 20-week lead-time, so unless you have started the process before the builder starts on-site you risk there being a delay once the project goes to site.
The ideal is to have all of these big decisions made before work starts on site. Once the build starts you’ll feel under pressure, there will be distractions and emotions to deal with, so you won’t be at your best when it comes to making decisions. Having made your big choices in advance will significantly lessen any stress.
Think of the scheme as a whole
When co-ordinating the look and feel of the house it’s important you think of the scheme as a whole, the flooring, furnishings, paint colours, even your window finishes all need to work together.
There is a sequence to making the right decisions and it’s important you follow it. Starting with paint colours before you’ve chosen any of your finishes is going to be a difficult task and one that you risk having to redo to coordinate once you’ve chosen your finishes.
Start with the major purchases like the kitchen which will often be the main feature in the room. Then select flooring, this should unify the house and connect everything together. Only then should you select colours for walls and any joinery. By approaching the scheme in this way the big decisions will be out of the way first, and after that you should find it easier to make the smaller decisions.
Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant. @optimisedesign