When it comes to budgeting for a home renovation there’s a lot of “expert advice” available to guide you on how best to save or spend the money you have. But with all this advice comes a lot of conflicting information so it can be hard to know what to believe. Here are 6 of the most common misleading renovation myths and why you should ignore them:
1. Underfloor heating is more expensive than radiators
This was the case of 10 years ago but today the cost of fitting radiators versus underfloor heating is pretty much the same. For a ground floor area of 100 sq meters, the installation cost might be approximately €1,500 – €2,000 more to install underfloor heating. But you will have a much better heating system when compared to traditional rads. Underfloor systems are far more efficient to run, meaning you will recoup your investment pretty quickly.
Radiators are prone to overheating which makes a heating system far less efficient. To feel warm further away from a radiator you need to turn up the temperature settings, creating hot and cold spots in a room. The room temperature will eventually become too hot, creating the need to open windows to let fresh air in, but at the same letting the heat escape, wasting energy and money.
Underfloor heating on the other hand will give an even and consistent heat throughout a room. The system should be set with thermostats located in each zone. The heat will only come on when the room temperature drops below your preferred setting, for example 20C degrees. Combine it with a smart thermostat like Nest and you will have a really efficient system giving you big savings on your home heating bills.
2. You shouldn’t say how much you have to spend.
This is another common home renovation myth. There’s a misconception that telling a builder, architect or designer how much you have to spend will result in you going over budget. This is absolutely not the case. In order to be able to advise you properly it’s important that the people you are working with know how much you have to spend or how much you are comfortable spending.
This is the only way that they can advise you on how to get the best value for the money that you have available. It also means that they will be able to guide you on where to compromise without impacting on what you are trying to achieve.
By not being upfront about your budget, design decisions will be made to accommodate the lower amount meaning that you might be missing out on ideas or features simply because the architect or designer is concerned about budget. It’s far better to be completely upfront, that way your contractor or design team will be able to advise what will add value and what won’t.
They will also be able to tell you where it’s worth spending and where you can scale back, such as with finishes, to ensure you stay on budget and get the best results.
3. Any attic conversion will add value to your home
An attic conversion will only add value if done properly. This means putting in a proper staircase. You want this to feel as much like a continuation of the existing staircase as possible and will make the attic feel much more like an additional storey rather than an afterthought.
Most attic conversions are classed as ‘storage’ rooms because the ceilings are not high enough. An attic can only be considered a bedroom if 50% of the floor area is 2.4 meters high (just under 8 feet).
If your roof is a little over 2.4 meters high you could achieve habitable status by adding a flat roof dormer to the back. This will require planning but is worthwhile pursuing if your budget allows as it will mean you end up with a proper additional room which will add value to your home.
4. Doing the work yourself will save you money
It can be tempting to try to save money buy selecting some of the jobs to do yourself or enlist the help of a family member to do. But poorly completed work will cost you money in the long run. Your contractor may also charge a premium to manage trades that he is not directly employing which will push his price up. And don’t forget that your time has value. Just because you are doing the work does not mean it is free labour.
Home renovations are more complex than you think and it’s important you employ people who are experienced in this kind of work. Poor plumbing or electrics will be a source of constant trouble and expense. Using trusted professionals will save both time and money.
Before you start ask your contractor to provide you with a written estimate for the work, so you know what to expect and agree a fixed price. This way you know exactly what you need to spend from the outset making it much easier to manage the budget throughout the project.
5. Adding square footage will add value
Another common renovation myth. While many renovation projects will add value to your home some can been seen as damaging by future buyers. A better way to think about this statement is to think of “usable” square footage.
When it comes to a home, bigger is not necessarily better. Building an extension might mean you lose valuable garden space or you might find that the original front room becomes redundant.
You need to be completely sure that what you are planning to add to your home will not compromise the existing house. It’s really important that you spend some time re-evaluating the layout of your home. Identify any unused spaces or rooms and re-work the plan so that it all pulls together. You might actually find that simply reconfiguring the existing layout would be a better solution to extending.
6. Solar panels will save money straight away
Fitting a solar hot water heating system is an excellent way of making your house more energy efficient as it reduces the amount of fuel used to heat hot water. However, while you will see significant savings to your heating bills almost immediately it will take a while before you completely recoup the cost of installation.
A solar system with 6 sq m of panels, to suit a house with four to five occupants, will cost from €5,000 to €7,000, depending on the specification and cost of installation. A system of this size could save in the region of €600 per year in heating costs meaning it will take 10 years to just repay the original outlay.
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