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Top 5 Tips for DIY House Renovations to Avoid Mistakes

We asked Architect Amy Dohnalek - co-founder of HomeNotes - to share the top 5 tips she learnt from series 3 of their Podcast - Stories From Site. Keep reading to find out all the highs and lows of renovators in the UK. 

Our fabulous friends at HomeNotes have put together this guest blog which recaps the last season of their podcast sharing 5 key takeaways. If you are about to start a house renovation then these tips will really help! You can listen to the podcast yourself via Apple, Google Play and Spotify. Access here

Over to you, Amy! 

We love making the "Stories from Site," renovation podcast and bringing you inspiring stories from homeowners who have embarked on renovation journeys. Each tale is as unique as the homes they transform, and we find so much joy in sharing these experiences with all our listeners.

People have told us the stories we share have offered comfort during the tougher periods of their renovation but that there’s also so much to be learnt from hearing other’s experiences.

We never plan a theme for each series, however, a common thread often emerges. In this latest season, we had the pleasure of speaking with individuals who delved headfirst into their renovations and took on aspects of their projects themselves. 

Whether that was getting stuck into the actual building works, painting a mural, or taking on the role of project management, the resounding message is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to DIY in home improvement, it all depends on your comfort level and preferences.

This series showcased the diverse paths our guests took to create their dream spaces, here are our top 5 tips from their experiences: 

1. The Power of Vision

Taking on a renovation is no small feat, and adding your own sweat equity can make it even more challenging. It's paramount to establish a clear vision of what you aim to achieve. This vision will serve as your guiding light through the rollercoaster of renovation ups and downs. For some, it might manifest as a vivid mental picture of the final space (Camilla in Episode 20 is a great example of this!). For others, it could be a set of tangible outcomes, like creating a cosy environment for family gatherings or achieving improved energy efficiency.

2. Leveraging Online Resources

In the age of the internet, a treasure trove of information is readily available to assist you in your renovation journey. Embrace the wealth of online resources, from tutorial videos that guide you through specific renovation tasks to insightful content that demystifies the complexities of various projects.

These online resources can help you decide which tasks to take on yourself and which to get some help with, and inspire you to what the possibilities are for your particular home.

Before you know it, you also might be the next tiktok sensation like Sharn from episode 15!

3. Choosing When to Seek Professional Help

While incorporating DIY elements into your renovation project can be a cost-effective strategy for home improvement, there are certain tasks that are best handled by professionals.

Recognising these tasks and understanding when to seek expert help can not only save you valuable time and money but also spare you from potential headaches.

Take, for instance, Nic, who, in episode 19, discovered that their contractors completed groundworks swiftly, a task they had been struggling with. This highlights the importance of identifying areas where professionals can truly make a difference.

There are certain tasks that you shouldn’t attempt on your own such as electrical work, as well as some specialised trades like plastering or tiling, where achieving the same level of quality may be challenging, regardless of your effort or time invested.

4. Documenting Your Progress

Renovation projects are marathons, particularly when you're actively involved in the process. Keeping a record of your journey can be incredibly motivating. Consider documenting your progress through regular photos, or maintain detailed to-do lists to track your achievements. 

This record will serve as a source of encouragement during challenging moments and help you celebrate how far you've come.

I now feel fully justified to keep my completed to do lists like Hannah from episode 17, as a reminder of how much has been achieved!

5. Prioritise Your Renovation Around Your Life

Living through a renovation can be challenging, but with thoughtful planning, you can make the process more bearable. This often means prioritising the order of your projects based on your specific needs rather than what might make sense for your renovation. 

Take, for instance, Sharn in episode 15, who, after advice to start from the ‘top down’, began at the ‘bottom up’ with her living room to create a sanctuary where she and her partner could unwind after a demanding day.

Similarly, Hannah strategically scheduled her renovation works around holidays and family commitments, allowing her to navigate the process with less disruption but taking longer.

Accommodating your lifestyle may extend your project timeline or necessitate tasks that aren't the most efficient in terms of order. But, don't be too hard on yourself because in the end, the goal is not just to transform your living space but to ensure your journey is as comfortable and enjoyable as the destination itself.

This latest season of "Stories from Site" has illuminated the many facets of DIY renovations and offered invaluable insights for anyone embarking on a similar journey. We hope these five key takeaways serve as both guidance and inspiration as you embark on your own renovation adventure.

Remember, there's no one right way to renovate, but with vision, support, resources, discernment, and documentation, you can transform your living space into something truly remarkable. 

Happy renovating!

Series 4 of the HomeNotes Podcast is available now! Access via Google Play, Apple Podcasts or Spotify here

Drench is the current sponsor of the podcast which is aimed at house renovation and home improvement enthusiasts. Co-hosts and HomeNotes owners, Amy Dohnalek and Jane Middlehurst chat to a different renovator each week to uncover the highs and lows of making their dream home a reality. 

About Amy 

Amy started her career in bespoke residential architecture and development.  She is a RIBA Chartered Architect with over 10 years of experience creating beautiful spaces. Amy has a passion for making and creating and enjoys applying her clear design vision to everything she does.

Don't forget we can help you with all aspects of your bathroom renovation including our 3D design service which puts you in touch with our expert interior designers for advice and guidance on how to arrange your bathroom perfectly. And we've got some great tips for those on the look out for bathroom storage ideas.

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