If you are about to embark on building a new home - whether a partial renovation or full knock down rebuild - chances are this is your first time. Very few people do this more than once. Which means more than likely that you are a novice. However prepared you feel, and however much research you do in advance, nothing beats real experience in helping navigate the highs and lows of building your dream home.
Which is why we asked a few of our favourite clients for the advice they would give to first timers - the things they wish they had known before they started.
1. Choose and buy your finishings before you start building
Your architect will work with you to choose all the fixtures and fittings you need prior to the builder starting work. This includes but is not exclusive to tiles, light fittings, baths, toilets, heated towel rails, sinks, taps, shower heads, door and cupboard handles, joinery such as kitchen cabinetry, any bespoke or specialised features. Warning: if you are not working with an architect, or they do not run through this with you, you will need to do this yourself. The sooner the better. You will need to purchase and order all pieces in advance so they are available to be fitted as the project rolls out to avoid holding anything up.
2. Lighting affects paint colour
When choosing your paint, think about where it will be and how the room will be lit. Paint colours look very different under natural vs artificial light. Obviously it is difficult to test this before your house is actually built, but if you are renovating an existing home use the opportunity before renovations begin to test out some colours in rooms with similar lighting to see what you like most.
3. Always test floor board colour on your actual floor boards
Ensure you have a couple of spare floor boards to test out options. If you have chosen a wash colour, try varying the number of coats. One coat will be a light finish with lots of the wood grain showing through; several coats will be a more solid colour.
4. There are plenty of tricks to making rooms look bigger or smaller
This can be as simple as the way tiles are set - lined up, in a brickwork style, vertical vs horizontal, large vs small... One client of Harmony Build chose a sunken bath and non-square tiles to help a smaller bathroom look much bigger.
5. Small changes once you start can have a domino effect
Even if you work with an architect and plan every detail, there will be inevitable changes along the way as the project unfolds and you can see everything taking shape. Your builder and architect should be experienced enough to have planned some buffer to navigate a degree of unforeseen circumstances. However, if you or your architect change your mind on details once the project has begun, you should be aware that even what seems like the smallest change can have an impact on cost and time, as much of the project is interdependent.
6. Plan for extra time
This point relates heavily to the point above. Your builder will scope the costs and timeframe for your project according to the detail they have been given. If those details change, the project timeline (and costs as a consequence) can get pushed out.
The good news is, there are an increasing number of tools to help you plan ahead. We mentioned a few in previous blog posts such as . Even if you choose fittings from elsewhere, it can help to play with a number of the 3D planning tools out there, such as Reece and Ikea.
If you have found this post helpful, you will probably also enjoy our post on '5 things to think about when designing your home'