Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing. It’s even more wonderful when you get the chance to learn from it for a new project!
Whilst we’re gearing up to start reno number two I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I’m going to do differently this time. There are so many little things that once you start living with you realise annoy you or that during the reno you just can’t face arguing with so let slide. So to avoid having a newly finished house that bugs the hell out of me and in case they’re useful to anyone else I thought I’d collate them below. This is going to serve as a reminder for myself as much as a help to anyone that wants to read!
Be specific – Your builders cannot see inside your head. I learnt this when I came back one day to find a plug socket had been installed on the INSIDE of the kitchen island unit, right in the path of the top drawer meaning it wouldn’t shut…. erm. On leaving I had pointed to the side of the island (the accessible, non-crazy place for a plug socket) and said ‘and one here’.
Don’t buy ribbed tiles – They are not ribbed for your pleasure and are a nightmare to clean. I believed the horror stories that Tops Tiles fed me about slipping in the shower and knowing my husband is somewhat accident prone I got the fear and went ahead with ribbed tiles in our en-suite. It didn’t help that the builder decided to leave the grout on them for three days meaning a ribbed white tile turned into a stripy grey one that, try as I might I couldn’t rectify. We’re talking hours of scrubbing with a toothbrush and a mini screwdriver down each groove. Basically hell.
Measure everything all the time – We have tiny sinks and huge toilets. I have no idea how this happened but I am guessing the way to avoid it in the future is measuring so that’s what I’ll be doing.
Take heed of lead times – Things like doors and windows and often some bathroom bits take a damn long time to arrive and if it’s not there when your builders are ready to put it in well… you’re wasting time and money. Even though we’re not 100% in yet we’re still starting the quotes for anything bespoke now.
Make sure you actually need the extras – We went for a walk in shower tray that was laid under the floor for the en-suite to maximise the feeling of space. I walked out the shop with rolls of waterproof backing, tile protector, grout protector, some sort of extra powder you mix in with grout to make it MORE waterproof and a £200 thermostat that we found for £40 on Amazon the day after. We used none of it and by the time the bathroom was done and we realised we couldn’t find the receipts (always keep your receipts).
Take shit out the box as soon as it arrives – Renovating a place, especially whilst living in it is tiring, I get it, you can’t be arsed to open the box. I understand. But dear, you must. You need to check you have all the parts a tap needs for example before the plumber gets halfway through and says he can’t finish the job because X is missing. You also need to check sizes (measuring again – you don’t want to end up with a bath tap on a sink like we did) and damage whilst you still have time to send things back.
Keep all the paperwork – All the instructions, the warranties, the paint colours, the builders/installers details etc – make a folder.
Think about light switches – Where do you want to turn what off? We can turn the hall on by the front door but not once you get down the other end to the kitchen. So you have to walk back, turn it off and walk back through the hall in the dark.
Think about storage – Shoe space and coat space and a place to chuck stuff as you come in is what I wish we had thought more about here. I’ll certainly be planning it in next time.
Don’t skimp on extractor fans – I am convinced ours doesn’t work but I’m not tall enough and too lazy now to do the loo roll test. Extractors are so important – especially in small bathrooms and shower rooms. Soon as it’s fitted and ‘working’ put a piece of loo roll up near it and check it gets pulled upwards. That’s how you know you have yourself a good extractor fan!!
Act out emptying the dishwasher – Yeah sure you’ll look like a crazy but it will stop you from going crazy later. Think about how you take your bits and pieces out the dishwasher, where you plan to keep what and which way you want cupboard doors to open so your life is easy. You can thank me later.
Buy some ‘sensible’ slippers! – When you only have one or two rooms done the last thing you want is to be treading dust in them. ‘Indoor shoes’ is what you want – something that’s easy to take on and off, is waterproof with a decent sole so you don’t get anything stuck in your feet – sliders are perfect and I’ll be buying a new pair with great ceremony as we move into our next place!