What to consider before renovating a house

I am now 4 months into the renovation of our 1930s house and thought it could be quite useful to write a post for anyone who is considering taking on a similar project.

Renovations have become ‘instagrammable’. It seems like everyone has become obsessed with interiors and undertaking big projects to completely transform their homes. I can admit that I was totally influenced by other bloggers and creators I follow when I decided to take on our renovation project – but I didn’t fully understand how difficult it would be!

On Instagram, you see the amazing before and afters. You see one picture of a derelict room (not the first one that would display on the feed of course) and then the next of a beautiful transformation that looks Pinterest perfect. What you don’t see is everything in between.

So today I want to share some honest truths about renovation that everyone should think about before they undertake a project like ours.

Money, money, money

It’s a bit taboo to talk about this, but it’s the most important thing to consider with any renovation. It costs a hell of a lot of money!

It can be difficult to understand how much things will cost before you do them as well. We did so much research online into how much it would cost to do a rear extension and loft extension, but the reality was quite a bit different.

First of all, none of the estimates online include VAT. You need to add 20% onto any building work that you are quoted for – which can equate to thousands of pounds.

Then you need to understand that builders’ costs can vary significantly. I’ll do a separate post eventually all about choosing your tradesmen, but one important piece of advice I’d give is to get a minimum of 3 quotes. We got 3 and the prices varied wildly!

Before you make the decision to buy a ‘doer upper’ you need to have a budget in mind that you can spend and a bit of a contingency if anything goes wrong or if unexpected costs arise. The best way to know if your budget will stretch to what you want to do is to just go out and get quotes before you make any decisions.


Renovations are hard work. Even if you’re not doing the work yourself, it takes up a lot of your time to do the planning, admin and project management necessary to keep it going. So the kind of lifestyle you have will dictate how stressed all of that will make you!

Max and I are quite young, no kids, no major responsibilities outside of work. However, we both work full time and have quite busy social lives, which when you add a renovation to the mix, does create quite a bit of stress.

My point is here that these projects can take a lot out of you. If you have a lot going on, then really consider how much more you can have on your plate before you jump into a renovation. Or, consider how much you can spend to have other people manage your project so you don’t have to.

Your living situation

Max and I are currently living in the house we are renovating, which I’m not going to lie, is really difficult. But in London we’d be paying over £1000 a month to rent somewhere else and we just don’t have that money on top of a mortgage and renovation costs!

We live in one room downstairs, with our bed and a TV. We have no bathroom, only a very gross toilet, and can’t shower at home. Our home is constantly covered in dust. The builders arrive at 6:30am every weekday and sometimes on a weekend. It’s not ideal!

But, linked again to lifestyle, we are young and don’t have any kids so we can deal with this. However, this way of life is definitely not for everyone.

If you can stay with your parents or other family, or have the budget to rent somewhere else while you do the renovations, do it. Don’t stay in the house if you don’t have to. It will make the whole thing much less stressful!

If, like us, you don’t have that option then make sure you have at least one room that is normal that you can live in. We got our builders to plaster one room and close it off to the rest of the house so that we can just go in there and escape everything that is going on.

The results 

If I haven’t made it clear already, renovations are expensive, hard work and stressful. So if you want to take one on, make sure that the results you get off the back of it are worth it.

By this I mean two things. First, a living space that is optimised for how you want to live. Second, a property that is worth more money than what you bought it for plus the cost of your renovations.

If you think the property will be your ‘forever home’ then the second priority doesn’t matter as much. But if, like us, you think you are likely to sell in the future then it is actually really important. You don’t want to lose money at the end of all this stress!

My advice for this is to plan everything out very carefully before you start. Get advice from people who have done it before, look into what adds value to a house. Work closely with your architect to optimise the space you have and create a home that works for you.

Hopefully those tips will help anyone who is thinking of undertaking a big renovation project! I don’t want to put anyone off, it is a very exciting and rewarding experience, but I don’t think the challenges are talked about often enough.

Follow me on Instagram to stay up to date with our renovation project and my DMs are always open for anyone who wants to ask any questions about it all!

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