DIY - Five renovation steps you can’t avoid

Planning some renovating? Photo: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

Planning some renovating? Photo: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

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When renovating your home, the final style and finish of your home is entirely up to you - where you have less free rein, however, is in these five renovation essentials...

1. Do tackle the basics first. With a property that needs lots of work, start with the essentials, such as rewiring, replumbing, replacing the central heating system, and addressing any damp and structural problems. If you do things in the wrong order or try to cut corners, you’ll end up ruining what you’ve already done. If you replaster walls without solving a damp problem, for example, the damp will simply come through the new plaster, which will then have to be hacked off.

2. Do start at the top and work down. Ideally, a loft conversion should be done before renovating the rooms below, as it’s much less painful to have a leak (from water getting in when the roof’s off) or a hole in a ceiling (from a builder slipping in the loft) in rooms that need work anyway. If you’re decorating a room, start by painting the ceiling because the paint can splatter the walls and floor below, and work down from there, doing the floor last.

3. Do extend into the side return. Lots of properties, usually Victorian and Edwardian ones, have a side return - a narrow strip of garden that typically runs alongside the kitchen. This isn’t much use as garden, because it’s usually too narrow to sit out in, but can make a big difference to the space indoors. By extending into the side return, you can turn a narrow kitchen into a good-sized kitchen-diner, which is a great addition to any home and will make yours more valuable and sellable.

4. Do create open-plan living space, as this is high on the wish list of many buyers, especially families and people who like to entertain. If you can’t extend into the side return, building a rear extension and/or knocking two rooms into one, typically a separate kitchen and dining room, will produce the open-plan kitchen-diner/family room so many of us love. A wall of bi-fold doors onto the garden is also popular and gives the room the wow factor.

5. Do turn a one-bedroom property into a two-bed. If you can add bedrooms, you can usually add value, although it can be a mistake to make the property too top heavy, with too many bedrooms for the amount of living space downstairs, or to have too many bedrooms for the number of bathrooms. In some locations, especially expensive urban ones, turning a one-bedroom property into a two-bedroom one can propel it into a different price bracket when you come to sell. This may involve extending, or converting the loft or cellar, but there are ways to add a bedroom without spending a lot. Changing the layout may enable you to divide one room into two, turn a second reception room into a bedroom, or if you have a large living room, put the kitchen in there and use the former kitchen as a bedroom.