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5 crucial tips for renovating an old home

Here are 5 things you absolutely must know if you're renovating an old home, including budgets, professionals, and more!

6 min read

Renovating an old home can be equal parts exciting and daunting. It’s a big project to undertake with lots that can go wrong, but get it right and you can create your own residential haven - or sell on to (hopefully!) turn a profit.

If you’re thinking of starting a home renovation of your own, here are 5 crucial tips that our home experts think you’ll need to know.

Figure out what you’re working with

It’s incredibly important that you first find out exactly what you’re working with. This will almost definitely mean hiring a building surveyor. While forking out for a professional early on might be painful, it’s crucial you don’t miss something costly and potentially dangerous.

Q. How much does a building surveyor charge?

A. Building surveys can cost anywhere between £300-£1300, depending on the amount of detail in the survey and the size and age of the property. The building surveyor may also recommend you bring in other professionals, such as:

  • Structural engineers
  • Asbestos surveyors
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians

You can choose whether or not to take the building surveyor’s advice in hiring other professionals, but cutting corners is a huge risk which could be costly if problems arise later down the line.

Here are some major things to look out for in an old home:

  • Damp
  • Cracks
  • Asbestos
  • Plumbing faults
  • Electrical fittings
  • Radiators

Radiators are a good sign that the property has a central heating system. If this is missing it could cost upwards of £10,000 to buy and install.

Decide what you want to do!

It’s time to let your imagination run wild. Or nearly. First you have to ask yourself a very important question. Will you be living in, selling or renting the property?

The reason this is important is it could seriously affect your design. Your own personal preferences might not be of value to a buyer or renter.

  • Young professionals tend to place more value on en-suites for each room.

  • Young families will prefer an open-plan layout to enhance time together, whereas
    teeneagers and adults who enjoy their privacy may find open-plan intrusive.

  • Young families will place more value on a decently sized and private outdoor space.

  • Downstairs toilets will be valued most by seniors or the physically disabled who cannot easily get upstairs.

Once you have got a clear idea of what you want to achieve, and using the priorities outlined by the survey, you should then proceed to build a detailed plan and schedule. This will give you a good idea of:

  • How long the renovation will take
  • If you will need to apply for planning permission
  • What professionals you’ll need to bring on board
  • How big your budget is going to be


You don’t need to watch much Homes Under the Hammer to know budgeting is one of the most common mistakes renovators make. A lack of research and some wishful thinking regularly sees property flippers exceeding their budgets.

Check out these 5 reasons why homeowners experience budget disaster

So how can you ensure your own budget doesn’t cause problems?

Take your time

It can be tempting to rush into your renovation project, especially if you are inhabiting the property being renovated. But taking your time and doing thorough research is fundamental to an accurate budget.

Contingency costs

Unfortunately, preparation and research can only get you so far. Old homes can be unpredictable and sometimes things go wrong that are out of your control. We recommend adding at least 10% to your overall budget as a contingency cushion - just in case.


If it’s the size of your budget that’s the problem, you can save some pretty pennies by doing it yourself! Go through your plan and decide which tasks you could realistically undertake, and which ones you should definitely leave to the pros.

Check out these 10 projects you should NEVER take on yourself!


An obvious factor affecting your budget will be where the money is coming from. The most common ways of financing a renovation project are with savings or a bank loan.

At Resi, we have our own in-house Finance team who work specifically on finding the right loan and insurance deals for homeowners. Learn more about Resi Finance here.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

There’s no shame in asking for help during a renovation project. You can’t be to blame for wanting things to go smoothly. An experienced architect like Resi will be able to use their experience to help you plan and budget accurately, so no nasty surprises.

Looking for tailored project advice? We’ve now given away home advice in over 20,000 FREE consultation calls! Book your very own here.

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A sleek Resi project - get in touch about your renovation project

Get covered

Restoring an old home is a huge financial commitment, so it’s only right you protect yourself and your home with insurance.

When going into a big restoration project, your mind can be a wash with exciting creative ideas, making it hard to plan for the worst. Nobody wants to imagine the building coming down or worse, somebody getting injured.

Insurance types:

Building insurance

Protects the bricks and mortar of your home, and fixtures like kitchen units.

Contents insurance

Protects the personal belongings inside your home.

Home insurance

Combines building and contents insurance into one package.

Life insurance

Pays your family or dependants a lump sum or regular payments in the event of your death.

Health insurance

Covers all or some of your medical bills if treated privately.

We understand it can be difficult to think about insurance, which is why we’ve set up our own in-house Finance team to do the thinking for you. Dealing exclusively with homeowners, our team are experienced in finding the right insurance deals for those undergoing home projects.

Book a free advice call with our team today!

Hire an architect

Hiring an architect is the perfect way to ensure your project goes as smoothly and quickly as possible. They will not only assist with your design, making sure you get the most from your home, but they will also be able to advise on planning and building regulations.

How can an architect help with my renovation project?

Increase your chances of gaining planning approval

With permitted development rights, prior approval and lawful development, the planning application process can seem long and confusing. An architect can help you through the paperwork maze and increase your chances of first-time success.

Better utilise space

It doesn’t matter how big or small a property is, every home can fall victim to bad design. Good design makes the most of every inch of space, which often takes years of experience to get right.

Spot problems sooner

An experienced architect has seen it all before, and so knows what could cause problems and how to deal with them. A failure to spot issues is one of the biggest causes of delays and overspending.

Do I need an architect to renovate my home?

At Resi, we go above and beyond, covering every stage of the home renovation journey:

Whether you need our help every step of the way or just one step in particular, our professionals are ready to help. They’ve already given away their advice in over 20,000 free consultation calls! Book yours here.

Design your own extension

With Resi Ready, you do the designs yourself on our whizz bang tech configurator. It’s the simplest way to get a spiffy new home extension.

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