Renovating or building your dream home on a budget with Jodi Peters

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In our new podcast episode we speak to Jodi Peters, of @justonemorebuild, about renovating or building your dream home on a budget.

Here she shares with us her Top Tips for Self Builds and Renovations:

1. When you find a property of interest, search planning permission granted for similar properties in that post code (on your local authority website via ‘Planning and Building Control, and ‘View and Track Planning Applications’). This will give you a good idea of what you can achieve with the property before you purchase.

2. If using a Builder, only use a personally recommended Builder

I have found local Facebook Renovation groups to be extremely helpful when searching for personally recommended Builders/Tradesmen.  When asking for recommendations, you will find that great builders and trades will usually be recommended more than once – sometimes lots of times.  Meet with the builders that are recommended most, then ask to see their work, speak to their clients and get as much feedback as possible. Inevitably, great builders will usually be very busy, so you will almost always wait longer for them (unless you’re fortunate enough for them to have a cancelled job).  In my personal experience, if you rush and use builders that are readily available, you will pay more in the long run and come up against many problems along the way – unless you are extremely lucky.  DO NOT source your builder through searching on ‘Builder Rated Websites’.  Most of the builders’ references on these sites are not legitimate or checked and you can end up with someone who has been rated by people they know (this is my own personal experience, but I’ve heard from others who have had the same experience).

3. Get 3 quotes if you can. They can vary considerably!! 

4. If, like us, you do not have the budget for a Builder to manage your project – and feel confident enough to project manage yourself, you can save a tens of thousand of pounds. We completed our entire self-build (a 5 bedroom, 4 storey house) with all fixtures and finishes, for the same price we were quoted for a shell by one builder.  We simply could not afford to have a builder manage the build for us unless we scaled down considerably.  We, therefore, followed the same process as Tip 1 above with trades for every stage of the build.

5. If you are planning major changes to the existing property/plot, look into having a surveyor carry out a ‘Rights of Light’ Survey.  This will not only give you a great idea of how far you can extend the footprint of the property, but will also help with applying for planning and dealing with any potential future objections to your planning.

6. Find a GREAT Architect!!  Again, someone personally recommended.  I cannot stress how valuable this is to maximising the potential of your renovation/self-build and adding significant value. We designed our most recent project ourselves – and had a local Architect draw our plans for us.  In hindsight, with a good architect on board and good designs, our self-build journey would have been much smoother.

7. Once you know what your plans are, try to speak with your neighbours and talk them through your plans, to go through any concerns they may have.  If you have your neighbours onside, you’re less likely to have objections – and have good relationships with neighbours once your project is complete.

8. Plan Plan Plan!!

Plan as much as you possibly can, in as much detail as you possibly can.  I had detailed plans pinned to walls on every floor of my build.  I also had a timetable for all trades to work to, so each trade knew who was coming in next and when.  I did a very amateur to scale plan for first and second fix, so the plumber knew where every radiator, sink, toilet etc would be going – the electrician and kitchen fitter knew, in advance, where every socket, light fitting, light switch, appliance, fan etc would be.  If a mistake was made, l would always ask trades to refer to the plans. 

For electrics, always add more sockets than you think you’ll need.  Add 2 bedside sockets on at least two walls of every bedroom, so beds can be repositioned.

For plumbing, think carefully about where your radiators are going.  As a general rule, if I can’t have underfloor heating, I put radiators under windows, leaving all other walls free for furniture.  

9. Budget Budget Budget!! 

Do two planned budgets – what you absolutely need and what you want. We did what we absolutely needed to live safely in the house, then moved on site and slowly worked our way through what we wanted, doing most of the work ourselves around our jobs to save money (as this was the only option we could afford).  This part of the project is NOT fun! It is hard work!! It was uncomfortable, it was mentally and physically exhausting living on a building site with two little ones, but it WAS WORTH it!!  It has taken us four years in total to finish the house from start to finish. Jenson was 11 months old when we knocked the house down. He is now 5. 

10. Finally! Save money where you can. I used our budget where I felt it was needed on finishes – the kitchen being the most important. After that, I worked hard to create a high end look on a low budget. From Ikea hacks for cabinetry in our play room, to DIY boot rooms, upcycling my childhood dining table – and sourcing as much as I could through eBay and Facebook, including baths, showers, flooring and so much more. My sofas are all second hand and reupholstered, yet people always ask me where they’re from!! It can be done!! 

Also, before you start, negotiate discounts with builders merchants/suppliers – you’ll have more leverage to negotiate at the early stages.

In short:

1. Search for approved planning in your local area.

2. If using a Builder, only use a personally recommended Builder.

3. Get 3 quotes if you can. 

4. If you can project manage, you can save tens of thousands, but be prepared for a really tough journey 

5. A Rights to Light survey can be very helpful for some projects.

6. Find a GREAT Architect!!  

7. Go through your plans with your neighbours.

8. Plan in as much details as possible. 

9. Budget – what you need and what you want.

10. Cut costs where you can with DIY, trade discounts and second hand.

Find out more in our podcast episode with Jodi, out now.

Jodi’s self build and renovation journey in pictures
Jodi Peters of justonemorebuild