Creating your dream home: Part 1


Creating your dream home: Part 1

We all have our own ideas of what our dream home would look like, and while some may desire a simple family-friendly environment to raise kids, others might long for a quiet and cosy space to escape from the world.

Whatever dreams you have about your future home, we want to help make them a reality. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for over 20 years with our homeowner loans – so you’re in good hands. 

In the first part of our guide to help you achieve your dream home we’ll talk through the initial planning that you should undertake.

If you’re a blogger with a child who likes a challenge, you might be interested in our Cardboard dream homes campaign.  Find out more here > 

Envisioning your dream home

Have you already had a vision of what you want your home to be? Do you see yourself living in a practical, family-friendly environment with enough space for your entire family to live comfortably? Does that mean you might need to think about extending your kitchen? Or converting your loft into a bedroom?

Your vision might be totally different, but before you begin planning, ask yourself what it is you want from your dream home. Do you want it to be a functional family living space, or are you more interested in creating a quirky, unique living space dotted with personal touches? Don’t worry about floor plans or the technical side of things just yet – try to focus on what you want to get from your home improvements.

Once you figure out the purpose you want your home to serve, it’s time to take action and start to formulate a plan.

Do lots of research

Now you have a feeling for how you want your home to be, you can start the initial stage of planning. You’ll want to start by doing as much relevant research as you can.

First of all, the most important thing to look into is how much things are going to cost. Whether you’re just redecorating a room or you’re knocking things down and extending, you’ll need to consider the costs involved at each stage.

If you’re planning on hiring contractors, don’t be afraid to ring up several companies and ask for a quote. This will help you form a rough idea on how much you can expect to pay for different services. In most cases, you’ll probably have to hire a contractor to do a lot of the work. Unless you’re simply redecorating or have a wide range of DIY skills, it’s often best to leave it to the professionals (builders, structural engineers, electricians and plumbers).

You should also look into whether or not you are going to need permission to carry out the work. If you’re thinking of an extension, loft conversion or any outbuilding, you may have to request planning permission. You shouldn’t need this if you’re only planning to redecorate or make small changes to the interior of your property, unless it’s listed of course.

You’ll also need to make sure your extension plans pass building safety regulations too, as you won’t be allowed to proceed should they not. A structural engineer should be able to guide you here.

Budgeting is key

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to turn your attention to how you’re going to finance each aspect. To stop yourself from spending beyond what you can reasonably afford or leaving work unfinished due to lack of funds, you should set yourself a budget.

If you’re using money from savings, look at the amount of money you have set aside and assign it to different areas of your build. Use the figures you collected during your research as a rough guide on how much things will cost. If you’re considering taking out a loan to fund the work, you should still assign the cash to different sections to make sure you don’t overspend.

For example, if your plans are to extend your kitchen, you may have to assign a budget for things like:

-          The contractors themselves

-          Flooring

-          Construction materials

-          Paint or tiling

-          New kitchen counters

-          New appliances (unless you choose to keep your old ones)

One of the best ways to budget effectively is by setting up a spreadsheet. With your research in hand, assign a maximum spend to each of these different areas and update your spreadsheet with how much you have spent on each section so far. Below is an example of how you could structure your spreadsheet.

  Building work  Flooring     Paint         Contractors    Total         Over/Under spend
Construction Budget £12,000 £200 £300 £4,500 £17,000  
Spent £12,075 £300 £50 £4,450 £16,875 £125 underspend
Furnishings budget £1,200 £1,000 £450 £600 £3,250  
Spent £1,000 £1,250 £400 £500 £3,150 £100 underspend

Providing you keep track of everything you’re spending, you should know immediately if you’re spending more than you intended to. This should help to prevent you spending over your budget.

That’s it for part one. In the second part of our guide we’ll discuss how you can go about financing the changes, adding value to your property and getting the right people in for the job. 

Click here for part two >