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6 top tips for your restoration project

April 12, 2011

Repairs to an original leaded window frame

Whether you’re undertaking minor repairs or a large restoration, these are my 6 suggestions that’ll help you achieve a satisfying result.

1. Don’t bite-off more than you can chew!

One of the biggest mistakes people can make is to start too many projects at the same time. The unquestionable fact about restoration work is that each job will take longer and be more expensive than initial estimates.

It’s far better to undertake one or two smallish projects a year, rather than one large project that could break the bank and your moral!

Keep control of cost, at all cost!

2. Don’t start any work until you really know your home!

Once you’ve bought your home (and assuming it’s habitable), live in it for a while before embarking on any work. This stage is vital to avoid costly mistakes.

3. Bundle jobs together to utilise scaffolding more intensively

If you need scaffolding ALWAYS hire it yourself. This will allow several follow-on trades to use it as well, thus saving you time and hire costs. For example the roofer, the gutttering contractor, the carpenter, the bricklayer and a painter all could be gainfully employed on the same scaffolding, but not at the same time!

4. Don’t employ a general builder, employ individual craftsmen

If you employ a small general builder to undertake your repair or restoration work, you may be heading for trouble. The simple reason is that by employing the builder he will choose the craftsmen for your project and not YOU.

Retaining control of every aspect of the work is crucial to ensure quality.

5. Plan your work in the correct order

The correct sequence for work is as follows:

Start at the top and work down, start from the outside and work in.

I know it’s tempting to start getting the interior decorations sorted out first, but if you have to repair a window later on, or discover a roof leak, the interior will be damaged.

The exception to this rule would be the services (the central heating and electrical systems). These services need to be tackled as early as possible. There is little point spending a great deal of money on the interior if the wiring’s 30 years old.

And finally…

6. Read as much as you can about restoration work

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings www.spab.org.uk have a number of excellent publications on restoration. I recommend The Old House Handbook which was reviewed in a previous post. This book is excellent and the bibliography will guide you on to further reading if required.

Hopefully Surveyor’s Notebook will give you some guidance to achieve that perfect finish!

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