Home improvements - which order?

stepahead

Standard Member
We want to start improving our house we bought last year and are wondering if there's a recommended order of rooms/jobs. It's a small 3 bed semi, structurally sound but needs fully modernising eg, still got the original kitchen and bathroom from when it was built 30 years ago, old hot water storage tank in the airing cupboard, original windows and doors, old carpets, fittings etc.

There's a few immediate small repairs which we'll need to attend to, but after that it's all mostly cosmetic. In an ideal world we'd love to have it all done in one go but don't have the full funds available right now. We've a starting pot of £10k which we're adding to every month, so it'll be more of a gradual improvement project over the next couple of years.

I understand it might just come down to personal preference, but from a practical point of view is there an order of room/job we need to be approaching this from? As you can probably tell, neither of us are DIY'ers but would be willing to muck in with some of the smaller jobs/painting etc.

Also the reality is we're probably looking at mid-level/mid-quality improvements throughout as we simply don't have the budget for top-end everything. And IF ever we needed/chose to sell (unlikely but still..) then our desireable location and high demand for property here would attract enough interest/offers without having to compete with someone elses kitchen, bathroom etc.

These would be the main areas/rooms and any recommendations / advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Downstairs:
  • Entrance and hallway
  • Living room
  • Kitchen
  • Utility room and toilet
  • New combi boiler
Upstairs:
  • Stairs and landing area
  • Bathroom
  • Main bedroom
  • Bedroom 2
  • Bedroom 3
Outside:
  • Fascias soffits and guttering
  • Rendering round bottom of house
  • New windows and external doors
  • House fully re-painted
  • Garden re-modelled
 

IronGiant

Moderator
If you need to replace an old boiler, then the sooner you do it the sooner you will be saving on your gas bills, so I'd make that a priority. You'll probably have a better chance of getting someone in now than if you leave it until next winter (or we have another lockdown :( ).
The big question is how long are you planning to be there, there's not a huge point in putting in a new kitchen now if if it's going to be looking tatty by the time you come to sell. If it's unlikely you're going to move in the foreseeable future then you may as well start enjoying it now (apologies if it sounds like I'm contradicting myself, but I hope you see what I mean).
 
Last edited:
If you need to replace an old boiler, then the sooner you do it the sooner you will be saving on your gas bills, so I'd make that a priority. You'll probably have a better chance of getting someone in now than if you leave it until next winter (or we have another lockdown :( ).
The big question is how long are you planning to be there, there's not a huge point in putting in a new kitchen now if if it's going to be looking tatty by the time you come to sell. If it's unlikely you're going to move in the foreseeable future then you may as well start enjoying it now (apologises if it sounds like I'm contradicting myself, but I hope you see what I mean.
We had a flat in London and fitted a new Bathroom and Kitchen, as you said at great expense. I was working away and after a couple of years Ann wanted a place with a garden, to fill her time in while I worked away. Got the Estate Agent in for a valuation, she said the Bathroom and Kitchrn looked very nice. Didn't increase the sale price although it might make a sale more likely. Think your comments about spending a lot if you aren't staying are spot on.
 

NatTheGooner

Well-known Member
Take the tank out first and put the boiler in it place in the same cupboard. You could pay for it along with your monthly gas bill if your energy supplier offers that. You keep your budget and if the floorboards have to be lifted for plumbing or there’s a space left in the kitchen where the boiler used to be it’s a good time to do it.
 

NatTheGooner

Well-known Member
I would maybe start at the very top and work your way down. Clear out, insulate and board the loft. It’s a messy but cheap job and you’ll benefit immediately. Then decorate the upstairs rooms, leave the old carpet until last, they’ll act as dust sheets for paint spots. Do the bathroom and the upstairs will be all done.
 

NatTheGooner

Well-known Member
It’s not a bad thing to give yourself time to think about the garden while you’re working on the house, have a look a the neighbourhood gardens and plants - if they grow well they’ll probably do the same in yours too.
Also the garden is a handy space for cutting materials and dumping rubbish from the house while your renovating.
 

NatTheGooner

Well-known Member
Windows and doors should be done sooner rather than later for security and it will be better to decorate after they’ve been installed. Definitely shop around for quotes and maybe ask neighbours for recommendations, the prices can vary massively with windows and doors, often a local fitter will do them “on the side” at weekends for a great price so ask about.
Also pay the bit extra for a nice composite door (I wish I had)
 

Xenomorph

Member
Why do you think you need a combi boiler? How old is the boiler and is it a conventional pumped/gravity system with hot water tank?
Reason I ask these questions is that we recently moved, and the current boiler is about 20+ years old. I initially thought a replacement would be a priority, but then I had second thoughts. A new boiler installation will cost you around £2k. It'll be more efficient, but how much more? The payback of the new installation will likely be many years.
In the end I've left our boiler as is. I've switched to a cheaper supplier, and I'll compare what I'm paying now, to my bills at the previous house.
Just raising these questions because a boiler swap will take a major chunk out of your budget and you need to decide if it's worthwhile.
 

Xenomorph

Member
Windows and doors should be done sooner rather than later for security and it will be better to decorate after they’ve been installed. Definitely shop around for quotes and maybe ask neighbours for recommendations, the prices can vary massively with windows and doors, often a local fitter will do them “on the side” at weekends for a great price so ask about.
Also pay the bit extra for a nice composite door (I wish I had)

I agree there. Check for leaks in windows and door frames. That will leak out a lot of heat. It's worth replacing if they are no good.
 

Russa

Well-known Member
£10k wont go far unfortunately. I'd change the boiler £2k, New windows and doors £5k, render/soffits etc £3k.

I'd then spend some money on paint and decorate the house yourself. replace the carpets after that when you've saved a bit more.

I'd do the bathroom and kitchen last assuming they are currently useable.

I recently put a cheap B&Q kitchen in my spare house and some solid oak worktops, cost less than £1k. If I'm honest, I prefer it to my custom built oak kitchen and granite worktops in my main house and that cost vastly more.

You don't have to spend a lot on some things to get a really nice finish, however silly little things you don't even consider will add up to a lot of money.
 

oneman

Well-known Member
If you don't want to change the kitchen layout and cabinet units are in good shape then just swap doors and counter top. Will cost couple of hundred and you can probably do the doors yourself. Add new tap and will look refreshed.

Bathroom, 3 piece unit from Wickes, again not super expensive. If the flooring is bad look at lino over existing flooring potentially, it's a lot better than it used to be and you can easily DIY.

Carpet, end of line or potentially offcuts. Laminate can be picked fairly cheaply, it's not brilliant but fine for 5 to 10 years and again DIY. Tip, take the skirting off and it will look a lot better.

Also while you are at it, think about ethernet cable drops for internet signal round the house.

Unless you want something complex, do the garden yourself. A lot of the rest sounds like painting and decorating.
 
Do infrastructure stuff first and make it look pretty later. You don't want to be lifting floorboards or channelling out when you have just decorated. Make sure the drains, windows and rendering are OK then look at plumbing, heating and electrics. Once all the dirty stuff is done you can trundle through one room at a time.
PS : You will save a lot of money if you do the decorating.
 

pastrybloke19

Active Member
As above, get big stuff done first (ie boiler, for peace of mind and pipes: electrics, etc) and then all messy stuff, from top floor downwards. Then you can do the nice decorating.

and leave the old floor/carpet down, so much easier doing work/diy/painting when you don’t have to worry about dust sheets.
 

stepahead

Standard Member
Thanks for your replies everyone - lots to go through here and lots to think about.

As a few have suggested, it's probably the infrastructure/big stuff we'll work on first then cosmetics later. And working from the top down.
 

pastrybloke19

Active Member
Thanks for your replies everyone - lots to go through here and lots to think about.

As a few have suggested, it's probably the infrastructure/big stuff we'll work on first then cosmetics later. And working from the top down.
If you are doing electrics, or even just pulling floor boards up, I would recommend running Ethernet cables throughout the house; I did this before I moved in, and one of the best decisions ever. Yes we have Wi-fi, but every room has two data ports with hardwired internet; well worth it.

Only thing I would do differently is run 4 cables per room, in case one ever breaks.
 

WeegyAVLover

Distinguished Member
Having went through my entire house as a do-er upper we have had to do everything including replacing the roof.

I would say if you had to replace the sofits/guttering/downpipes because they are causing leaks or dampness then do this as a priority.

Hallway/stairs/upstairs landing we are doing this last (in the process of doing them now actually) as every room you are doing up in the house is of one of these areas and all tradesmen (if required), tools and materials pass through these areas and therefore if you do them first the likelihood of these areas being damaged or compromised increases just from the amount of work and foot fall passing through it.

We did our Livingroom first and this was right for us but if your livingroom is not that bad (ours was horrible and not useable) then I would tackle Kitchen/diner area first as this makes a massive improvement to your cooking and entertaining experiences with friends and family. Which inturn can help you stay motivated with the renovation work as it can be a slog and hard going with tough times throughout the process so light relief from friends is helpful.

However before we got our kitchen done we had to replace our roof, that was an ordeal but we got there and is all sorted now. But a leaking roof can lead to many a sleepless night when it is howling a gale and lashing down outside.

When we done our Kitchen we did the back garden at the same time as we had big bi-folds put in and the back garden was a concrete jungle and highly visually offensive.

We also used the summer months over the years to carry out further work in our front and back gardens as a way of improving what we had as well as a break from the DIY and allowing us to enjoy the outside while the weather is nice (its Scotland so its all relative with regards to the weather :)).

Then we got the dining room and doonstairs loo sorted to complete the downstairs renovations, but that all took about 6yrs.

We then tackled moving our main bathroom to another bigger room upstairs followed by the master bedroom. These had massive quality of life affects for my wife as these are places she finds a lot of sanctuary in (especially compared to the thing that was once called out bathroom we had moved into and put up with for about 7yrs).

Then COVID started and that allowed me to bash out the 2nd bedroom and 3rd/office bedroom last year and this year it has been the hallway.

However that is us been in the house 10yrs and now need to go back and revamp and improve what we did initially.

Our sofa is 19yrs old and the decor in our livingroom has never been quite right and needs updating along with the decor. We are also upgrading our stove from a cassette to a freestanding one, which again will hopefully improve things.

This year we have also went back and tiled the splashback of our kitchen as we never installed one and improved the under cabinet lighting along with installing new lighting above our sink area.

Its all a process in my opinion and there is no real right way or wrong way of doing things, you will find your way like we all do. .

Good luck.
 

strangely tim

Well-known Member
We've a property portfolio we've built up these las 35 years and we always start at the top and work our way down. Make sure your roof is good/well insulated, check the guttering, sort out any damp issues, then comes any building works, walls to come down or go up then the electrics and heating system. really the last people in are the plasterers and decorators/kitchen fitters.

Don't plan on working to your maximum budget because something unexpected often crops up so you need a bit of cash to cover that.
 

WeegyAVLover

Distinguished Member
We've a property portfolio we've built up these las 35 years and we always start at the top and work our way down. Make sure your roof is good/well insulated, check the guttering, sort out any damp issues, then comes any building works, walls to come down or go up then the electrics and heating system. really the last people in are the plasterers and decorators/kitchen fitters.

Don't plan on working to your maximum budget because something unexpected often crops up so you need a bit of cash to cover that.
Totally agree with this always expect the unexpected and have a reserve of money for unexpected issues you need to resolve.

However your approach seems more like if you are gutting a place and not living there while the work is ongoing. Which if that is the case then it is totally the case. However if you are living in there then all trades are merely hoping in and out of your house as each room is done.
 

strangely tim

Well-known Member
Totally agree with this always expect the unexpected and have a reserve of money for unexpected issues you need to resolve.

However your approach seems more like if you are gutting a place and not living there while the work is ongoing. Which if that is the case then it is totally the case. However if you are living in there then all trades are merely hoping in and out of your house as each room is done.

Thats the usual way with us but even if you have to live there while work is done its still best to go from top to bottom in my experience. We've got two terraced houses on the go at the moment and they were stripped down to four walls and the roof and to be honest that is so much easier to work with than doing a room at a time.
 

The latest video from AVForums

AVForums Movies Podcast: Streaming Theatrical Releases And The Future Of Cinema
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom