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  • Writer's pictureSusan Van Meter

Essential Preparation for a Successful Refurbishment.

Preparation is fundamental and essential when considering any type of property refurbishment; from a single room to a complete apartment or house. You are about to invest a large sum of money in your home and make a number of important decisions that will impact the way you want to live.

I have put together this guide to help you make the right choices on your journey.

Below, outlined are the 6 preparation steps required to achieve the perfect space:







Hiring an Interior Designer

Professional guidance is essential to creating your dream home, to help you make the right decisions, eliminate mistakes and keep you in budget.

There are so many elements to consider for a renovation or new build, besides space, size, colours, and finishes, especially when considering a bathroom or kitchen renovation.

A designer will consider the technical aspects of a space and make it work; move walls, plumbing, electrical, floor, and joinery details, project management, costs, and contractors, document the process and deliver the final residential interior project on time and within budget.

The Budget

First and foremost it's imperative to start with the budget for your renovation.

Clients often believe that disclosure of the budget may be leaving money on the table. That's not the case.

As a designer on your team, we can only produce the best quality scheme by being fully aware of the budget.

Holding a percentage back for issues on build or variations that may occur is prudent and your designer will advise and keep you informed as and if they occur.


If you live in a block of flats or an older building you will require freeholder and/or listed building consent. It's important to establish what consent you will need, pushing forward with work that requires consent could be an expensive mistake.

Mansion blocks

Any investment property or private home within a mansion block will require approval for works by the management company that represents the freeholder. They will want to see the scope of work, any plans, a schedule of when work will begin, and the duration. There will be strict working hours with limitations to access for workers. You may need to pay a deposit for the protection of the common parts of the building.

Residential listed building consent and what it means

Our projects are often in London on luxury residential homes. Some of our projects fall into the listed building category, which means there is a need to apply for building consent, even if the work is internal. Building consent is required if you are considering works and buying or living in one of the following properties:

  1. A Grade I listed building - buildings of exceptional interest.

  2. A Grade II *listed building - particularly important buildings of more than special interest.

  3. A Grade II listed building - buildings that are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.

This is a time-consuming process handled by our team. The application is approximately £200.00 and can take up to 8 weeks for approval.

Construction Package

A construction package includes technical drawings, the Scope of Works, and the specification of products.

After the design and products have been agreed upon with you. A construction package is put together and sent out to nominated contractors to obtain a price that meets your budget. This is also known as a Tender package.

The Scope of Works is the document or set of instructions for your builder or contractors so they know what they are being asked to do and can price accordingly.

Hiring a builder

Hiring an experienced and trusted builder is imperative to ensure that your project stays in budget and the workmanship is of good quality.

We use trusted and reliable builders - only - who have worked on many of our design projects. When interviewing building contractors the following checklist would be helpful.

  1. Make sure they have excellent references

  2. You have seen examples of their work

  3. You have the correct contract in place either a JCT Minor Works an FMB Plain English, or one that is applicable to your project. We would normally advise our clients the best option for them

  4. They have both public liability and professional indemnity insurance

  5. The main contractor will purchase all construction materials, plasterboard, timber, adhesives, cabling, pipework, flooring and any specialist materials

  6. Payments should be made with bi-weekly valuations of the work

  7. Do not pay in full before the snagging has been completed. Hold back 5-10% of the total value of the project

  8. If it's a large project, there may be a retention of monies for a 6 month dilapidation period after the work has been completed

  9. We sometimes act as the main contractor, we are paid by the client and then hold monies to disperse to the builder and sub-contractors. If the builder is acting as the main contractor this then makes them wholly responsible for any of the works on site. If the client pays the contractors directly, it is then the builder that is responsible for and guarantees the work.

Project Management

Having a professional to 'police' the work is very important to monitor and ensure the work being carried out by the builder is at an acceptable standard and the project remains on target. Any variations to the original contract will need to be documented and all parties made aware.

We take the headache out of managing the project for our clients. This is part of a project that I particularly enjoy, seeing it come together and problem-solving any issues that might arise.

Unless you have the time, patience, and knowledge I would not recommend project managing the work yourself.

It's a tough and stressful job especially if things don't go to plan. We charge an agreed fee for this task which is normally a % on the overall project value. If you have commissioned the involvement of an architect, they might project manage for you, however, they normally charge an hourly rate, and it's best to check.

As project managers, we would also act as the Principle Designer and be responsible for admin and all communications between contractors and sub-contractors, and the client. You would receive weekly written updates outlining progress and any variations to the contract.

We hope this has been helpful. You've done your research and preparation for your project.

Now it's time to start the process.

Please contact Susan Van Meter interior design to help you create and deliver your dream home!

Contact us today for a free home visit and consultation.....

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