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How to make life easier during your self build

1. Think about the ‘whole’ project rather than just part of it

Think about how any short-term decisions in different parts of your home might affect your plans for the spaces in the long-term.

  • For example, replacing a boiler then renovating your kitchen and having to leave the boiler in a prime location due to cost.
  • Or, building a side extension quickly and then thinking about a rear extension later on, with the added headache and complexity of no side access.

If you can make advance decisions on design details with your builder as soon as possible, it’ll mean you can save your energy for any unforeseen issues that crop up during the building work. Jess Trickett

2. Have a good declutter before work starts

Be ruthless! It will save time and money on moving and storage costs. It will also make moving back in much easier.

Be realistic about what you’ll want in your new house and what you’ll want to replace. You may as well get rid of it at the start of the project and not when you’re trying to move back in.

And don’t forget to protect the possessions you decide to keep with door covers. These zip-up covers for your doors are brilliant. I can’t recommend these enough for protecting rooms in your existing house. They really cut down on the amount of dust that gets everywhere. Alan MacDonald

3. Plan ahead and be realistic

During our renovation, we planned to stay in the property for the duration of the works. When we reached the point (in mid-January) where we had no hot water, the toilets had been ripped out, electricity was limited to a couple of rooms and dust covered our worldly positions, we quickly realised that living on site was no longer going to be feasible.

Luckily, we were able to move into a friend’s flat and once again enjoy all the comforts of modern life (thanks Millie and Chris).

In hindsight, we should have planned ahead a bit better and been realistic. It was fine to live on site during some of the works but when it got bad, it was really bad.

Therefore, pick your battles…. otherwise, the house will beat you and you won’t have the energy or motivation to get in and make it your own! James, Kim and Ralph (the dog) Simpson

4. Don’t skimp on your rental house

It might seem that putting up with a slightly shabby rental house whilst the build is going on is an easy way to save money but mid-way through the build, when the pressure is piling on, you’ll really want somewhere slightly nicer to come home to. You’ll also have plenty to think about without having to deal with getting your landlord to get their act together and complete repairs.

If your rental house doesn’t have one, I’d highly recommend getting a tabletop dishwasher. We picked one up on Facebook marketplace and sold it again once we’d finished.  You’ll be busy enough without having to deal with mountains of washing up by hand. Alan MacDonald

5. Involve the family in everything

Looking back at our retrofit, it was too easy to become self-absorbed and blinkered and to not bring the family with me on every decision. The process is about all of us, and it’s easy to forget that amid all the decision-making, emails, invoices and phone calls.

Paul Testa

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