What to do when it starts to go wrong and how to fix it.

We have all watched Grand Designs and Cowboy builders so it shouldn’t come as any surprise but what if you aren’t trying to make great tv but just wanting to move back in? Here’s my solutions for when things start to go belly up.

1. Budget. The worst cases of unfinished projects I have come across are where the money has dried up completely. Now I can tell you until I am blue in the face to prepare for the Unknown, to hold extravagant expenditure and stupid impulse buys but unless you actually listen to me I can’t help you. Worst case I personally came across was on a £300k renovation project where the client took £60k of the construction budget and blew it on Tvs, surround sound and sofas. Sadly I believe they are still waiting to finish the project.

I can not stress this enough. The construction budget is exactly that. That money from the bank does not include hot tubs and 72’’ OLED TVs. If you have some left over then go nuts but wait until your house is being sewn back together first! If you have already run out of money then call an emergency meeting now. You need to talk through how much is left and what can be achieved in that budget. Do not, and I mean this, allow the contractor to carry on working knowing you can’t pay him. You could end losing the house if it went to court, always stick to honesty being the best policy.

2. Falling out with your contractor. Every project starts like a wonderful first date. There is lots of smiling and holding hands and promises. It doesn’t take long however for the true personalities to start to come through. The difference between dating and a build project though, is once the roof’s off you can’t just ghost until that person goes away. You need to work it out. Renovation projects are inordinately stressful and tempers tend to flare. Hopefully you have a level headed Architect or someone in charge on site that can smooth the ruffled feathers but if you don’t, you are going to have to work on it yourself. Maintaining a good relationship is vital for the success of the project. Arrange a meeting away from site. Sit down. Talk. Have a coffee, or if it’s a really bad a glass of wine, and just talk it out. That hour away from site will smooth the most battered egos. Ask your builder what he needs from you to get the project finished, talk openly about your concerns and compromise a little. You may find that he really dislikes you standing over him all the live long day while he works, so stop doing it.

3. The money pit. Did you ever watch the film, Money Pit, with Tom Hanks about the beautiful old house he bought that basically fell apart around his feet? If you haven’t, watch it before starting a build project, it will open your eyes! Obviously the movie had a lot of dramatic license but the gist of it runs rather true. If you have an old property and you are intending to do a renovation project then take my advice and prepare for the worst. If the budget is tight prepare to phase the work, starting with the most critical and that doesn’t necessarily mean the pretty stuff. Roofs, foundations, electrics, plumbing are all expensive jobs but critical to the safety and well being of your home So make sure these are factored in before you start any extensions or large refurbishment projects.

4. Delays. Sadly delays are inevitable in our industry. You need to understand that although the project may seem calculated and rigid on the outside, there is nothing more fluid that a construction project. For example, your steels could be delayed, we could have torrential rain for two weeks, you could change your mind on the paint colour, one of the windows could turn up broken, the tiler is off sick and it’s five days to Christmas and there is no one else free. The list is endless. All of these things take up time, days become weeks, weeks may become months. But you can help, you can make sure you have decided your paint colours, tiles, floor finishes and door handles way in advance. The more you are prepared, the more decisive you are, the better the programme will be and the quicker you will be moving back in.

Having your home rennovated can be an amazing experience but a lot depends on your interaction and enthusiasm towards the project for the duration and not just the end product.

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