Home Improvements: DIY Or Call In The Pros?

Now that we’ve entered into a new year, one of the things that’s going to be pretty high on a lot of people’s list of priorities is home improvements.

Whether they want to sell their home or simply use the space they have more effectively, the new year often gets people thinking about the things they could do in order to get a little bit more out of their home.

And when people start to think about this, there’s one question that comes to mind above pretty much all others: do you deal with it yourself or do you bring in a professional? Here are a few things that you can consider in order to make that decision just a little bit easier.

 

Money

Money is almost always the biggest factor that people consider when deciding if they can handle a home improvement project themselves. Let’s face it, most large-scale home improvement projects are going to end up being pretty pricey when you consider the labour costs involved.

However, doing it yourself may not work out that much cheaper since you’re going to end up having to pay for all of the materials yourself, as well as pay for any tools that you might need but don’t have. At least with builders, you’re going to know what you’re paying right at the start rather than having your budget spiral way out of control.

 

Time

The other important issue is one of exactly how long a project is going to take. After all, the last thing anyone wants is to spend their days on a building site for months on end.

If you try to deal with the project yourself, then it could end up taking a long time whereas professionals are more likely to get things done more quickly.

Then again, if time isn’t really an issue for you, then you might decide that the DIY approach is better.

 

Expertise

The reality is that professional builders are almost always going to have greater expertise than any amateur and when it comes to your home you might decide that you don’t want to take the risk of making mistakes.

If you do decide to go the DIY route then there are plenty of resources out there that you can use. There’s information online about practically everything, and no matter what your project calls for, you’ll be able to find some way to learn about it. Just remember that knowing how to do something and actually being able to put it into practice aren’t always the same things.

 

You can’t often get all of these three things together. Someone who has good expertise might be quick, and will do a good job but won’t come cheap. You can set a low budget, but the job might take much longer, especially if you’re doing a lot yourself. Think about what your biggest priority is. If you want the job done quickly, you may end up paying more.

There are going to be those who know exactly what they’re doing and can handle any project, no matter how big it is, and there are others who have so little DIY expertise that they will want to call in a professional no matter what.

Most of us exist somewhere in the middle and having these things to think about can make the decision of whether or not to bring in a professional or to handle it yourself that much simpler.

 

7 Home Improvements That Don’t Require Planning Permission

Are you bored of your home, but don’t want building work to go through planning permission? I’ve outlined 7 home improvements that don’t require planning permission, so you can start straight away!

The decision to improve your home is an exciting one for any homeowner, but it can quickly become stressful.

First, you’ve got to save up enough money, then you’ve got to find the perfect contractor, and then, on top of everything else, you have to get planning permission. Unfortunately, I can’t help you out with the first two, but the last one is another story.

There are plenty of home improvements that don’t require planning permission, so don’t let it hold you back. Here is a list of seven major ones to give you some inspiration.

 

  1. Remodel The Inside

You can usually remodel the inside of your house however you like, without the need to seek planning permission, so you can do anything from adding new flooring to taking out entire walls (as long as you comply with building regulations).

This means that you can install one of those Classic Kitchens that you’ve had your eye on, buy a new bath, or even create an open-plan space for your kitchen, dining room, and living room.

 

  1. Loft Conversion

Converting your loft into a new bedroom, a games room, or an office is a great way to utilise loft space, especially considering how little disruption it causes within your home and the fact that it usually doesn’t require planning permission.

As long as your loft isn’t more than forty cubic metres, you don’t intend to add height to the property, and the materials used are similar to the originals, you should be fine.

However, some areas don’t allow loft conversions at all, so always be sure to check.

 

  1. Add A Porch

As a general rule, you always need to ask for planning permission if you intend to extend the front of your house. Adding a porch, however, is an exception to this rule.

As long as your porch is three metres or shorter, covers no more than three metres squared, and isn’t within two metres of a footpath you shouldn’t need planning permission. You also need to be sure to keep your original door where it is.

 

  1. Garage Conversion

Garages are rarely used to store cars nowadays. Instead, they become sort of like a shed, holding tools and the occasional piece of forgotten gym equipment. This is a waste of space that could easily be used for a bedroom, an office, a family room, or a gym.

As your internal garages are a part of your home, they don’t usually require planning permission. But don’t extend the garage, as this does need permission.

 

  1. Construct A Conservatory

Conservatories are a great way to increase space in your home and can be the perfect place to spend your time, especially in the summer.

There are a few rules that you need to follow if you want to build a conservatory without planning permission. For example, it can’t be higher than your house, and can’t cover more than half of your garden. As long as you follow these rules, you can be on your way.

There are so many options to choose from with conservatories, so pick one to suit your style.

 

  1. Build An Outbuilding

If you wanted a home office or a den that’s away from your home, then you’re in luck.

Certain types of outbuildings can be built without obtaining planning permission. Like with your conservatory, your outbuilding can’t cover more than half of the size of your garden, so as long as you have a large garden, you should be okay.

However, you have to remember that all extensions are taken into account to reach this total. If your conservatory covers a quarter of your garden, your outbuilding has to cover a quarter or less.

 

  1. Two Becomes One

Nope, I’m not referencing the Spice Girls. I’m talking about converting two separate homes into one.

Do you live in a house or flat that’s attached to the one next door? You might be able to buy it and knock down a wall to double the size of your home.

However, don’t assume that you can do the opposite too. If you wanted to convert one home into two, you would need planning permission.

 

If you’re bored of your home, then I hope that these home improvements that don’t require planning permission inspire you.

Just make sure that you don’t undertake any work without checking with your local planning authority first. There is always a chance that the rules or regulations are different where you live.

Tools You Need if You’re Doing a House Renovation

Home restoration can be a cruel little demon, so I’ve taken the time to list the tools you need if you’re doing a house renovation, to make things that little bit easier.

Whether it’s a big project, or a smaller, easier project such as putting up some shelves and re-painting, these tools will really come in handy!

Voltage detector pen

These tools are very simple but very effective. I can’t even count the number of times me and Jay nearly touched a live wire that was hanging out the ceiling. When you put the end of the pen against the end of a wire, it flashes red to say that the wire is live, and you need to turn the electrics off. Saved us probably about 3/4 electric shocks. Well worth the money!

 

 

A drill

We used a drill for all sorts: building a stud wall, attaching the skirting, creating a shelf at the top end of the bath, bring floorboards up, fixing floorboards back down.

Scraper

Another simple tool that has LOADS of uses. Not only was it good for stripping wallpaper, but also for smoothing caulk into crevices, for mixing cement/paint in buckets. Even for removing ridges in the windowsills before painting them.

tools you need if you're doing a house renovation

Mitre Saw

This is a bit of a weird one, and not something that most people would have just sitting in their garage, but this tool was invaluable to us. We used it to cut down our wooden flooring and our skirting boards. It cuts things with absolute precision and doesn’t splinter the wood too much.

tools you need if you're doing a house renovation

 

 

Lathe

This isn’t a standard tool that you’d find around any house, but it can be really handy for certain aspects of renovations. You could make all sorts of home accessories, including door handles, wooden bowls, or rolling pins.

Jay’s wanted a lathe for SO long but I think he would just mess about with it rather than making anything particularly beautiful.

You should have experience before using one as they’re tricky pieces of machinery, and dangerous without the right know how. Jay’s a mechanical engineer and has been trained correctly in how to use one. In using a lathe safely, you can create excellent pieces of art and items for your home.

 

In some cases, these tools could help you avoid house renovation disasters. They might even save your life one day and so are well worth the investment, especially if you’re doing the work yourself rather than hiring tradesmen. Those are my top tools you need if you’re doing a house renovation.

What would you say are the tools you need if you’re doing a house renovation? Are there any you think I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

 

We’ve Moved In!

The day has finally come, and we’ve moved in to our new house.

I’m sharing some pictures with you, even though it’s still very messy, and we still have a LOT of sorting out to do because WE’VE MOVED IN. I can’t believe how instantly at home me and Jay felt: I thought it would be weird, and wouldn’t feel like our house, but we settled in so quickly.

I suppose that’s because we’ve been doing work on it for six months. Being here every day for that amount of time has obviously got us used to the place.

Our first night here was on Saturday. I don’t think either of us slept particularly well on a new mattress, and in a new place. The water tank makes an unusual ticking noise (and it’s in our bedroom) and the road is quite noisy in the mornings. I’ve always lived in a cul-de-sac, so I’m not used to the sound of cars whizzing by in the morning.

We have scrubbed the whole place, I’ve been hoovering every day, and we always have a number of visitors every afternoon. They’re all excited to see it after all the work and money we’ve put in.

So, onto the pictures!

This is right by the front door. As you come in, the stairs are in front of you, and the sideboard is to the right.

living room with sofa and lighting

This is the lounge. The front door is behind the sofa, as is the sideboard above.

You go through the lounge into the kitchen diner. The whole of downstairs is open plan, with only an archway separating the dining room and living room.

moved in to our house

As you might have guessed, by the green carpet, we haven’t touched the two big bedrooms upstairs. And the bed/bedding is going ASAP too.

The small bedroom is being turned into my office. It currently has the same floor as the kitchen, but no wallpaper/paint.

 

It still needs a lot of work. The next job is to dig a trench for drainage that means we can put a washing machine in the garage. We’d also like to tackle the outside of the house before we start on the bedrooms.

At the moment we can only get one car on the drive because of the plants. It would be good to flatten the whole thing, and then get two cars on. At least we’re moved in though!

House Update: Getting ready for the carpet installation

This week has been a race against time in order to get everything ready before the carpet installation on Tuesday.

The carpet installation is happening next Tuesday (27th June). Since last Monday, I needed to:

  • Sand the entire staircase, including all the spindles, handrail and baserail.
  • Sand all the new skirting board in the lounge, up the stairs, and on the landing.
  • Prime the staircase (twice),
  • Prime all the skirting boards (twice)
  • Sand any remaining plaster around sockets
  • Use satin wood paint on the upstairs door frames
  • Satin the staircase
  • Satin all the skirting boards,
  • Carefully satin around the fireplace (that was a nerve-wracking experience)
  • Use satin on the the loft ceiling hatch (which was looking a very odd shade of yellow)
  • Touch up all the painting under the windowsills, around plug sockets, and on any walls where it looked patchy.

Between me and my mum, we managed to achieve all that in 5 days. I went after work every day, and stayed until 8pm. Then yesterday (Saturday) I was there from 10am until 5.30pm.

Our phone line and broadband decided to stop working. My dad managed to fix the problem, and then we made a decision to move the socket up quite a lot. The socket was right where we needed the skirting board to go, so my dad managed to move the whole socket up about an inch. Jay then re-plastered the wall, which is why I needed to repaint.

But the most exciting part is coming up: deciding where furniture is going, getting mirrors and other accessories up, and deciding where my candles can go! This really is the fun part, where I can let my creativity go and experiment with the positioning of things.

I’ve had my eye on this console table from Next so I can’t wait to buy that next month. I’ve got the perfect spot for it.

Photo Gallery

Our stairs are now completed ready for the carpet installation:

Jay was reaching bits of wall I was too afraid to reach– and maybe you can see why…

…whilst putting his foot on my newly-primed windowsill.

Our fireplace (and all the walls/skirting around it) is complete:

fireplace fitted for carpet installation

Ignore those wires sticking out the wall because I’m waiting on them being connected to some sort of usable socket by Jay.

The walls are now fully completed, and tomorrow will be spent cleaning up ready for our brand new carpet. Can’t wait to show you the pictures!