How to Ensure a Stress-Free and Eco-Friendly Home Renovation
Home improvements and updates are an opportunity to relish and get excited about. For new homeowners, they present an opportunity to make your first property feel more homely, while for seasoned buyers they can be a tremendous way to improve a property’s value. Recent trends and data suggest that simply adding a new kitchen can increase a home’s asking price by up to 6%.
However, no renovation project is without its fair share of difficulties and obstacles, and they rarely ever go as smoothly as hoped. This, coupled with the increased pressure and collective responsibility to take eco-friendliness seriously, means that homeowners are rightfully thinking about ways they can make a greener home. It’s often believed that most property buyers are actively looking for eco-friendly alternatives to homes, from heating and lighting solutions to buildings made with sustainable materials. Suffice to say, there may be a number of challenges to solve along the way.
Don’t let this dissuade you, however, because, with the right approach from the outset, you can make your new home renovation project go as efficiently and professionally as possible, without coming at a huge environmental cost. Proper planning and consideration will give you a less stressful – and more environmentally friendly – home renovation. Follow these tips below to ensure your new renovation ticks all the right boxes.
Research Permits and Approvals Needed
Depending on your home type – be it freehold or leasehold – make sure that you have the necessary building permits and approvals. You may need planning permission or written authorisation depending on the extent of your renovation, despite some recent proposed changes to leasehold systems.
Failing to obtain these may halt your project and lead to – often costly – complications down the line. Research what local authority approvals you need, if any, and given approvals can take time, submit applications as early as possible.
Communicate with Neighbours
Renovation work is noisy – there’s no avoiding this. Therefore, to avoid any disputes, speak to your neighbours about your plans ahead of time. They will appreciate the advance notice and the opportunity to ask questions, particularly if the work may cause disruptions to shared areas or supplies.
Structural renovations may involve alterations to foundations shared with adjoining properties that could require a party wall agreement drawn up by a surveyor. This will outline cost disbursement and arrangements, should any disputes arise. Communicate openly and let them know as much as you can about the project’s progress to avoid these disputes from arising and bringing your project to a standstill.
Consider Eco-Friendly Materials
There are numerous types of sustainable and energy-efficient building materials that you can choose to include in your renovations. Using green materials not only makes your property EPC rating greener, but also comes at less of a burden on environmental resources, reducing emissions and, by extension, your energy bills.
You may wish to look at eco-friendly alternatives like additional wall, floor and loft insulation to improve natural heat retention. Energy-efficient window glazing (double or perhaps even triple strength) and high-grade sealant will also reduce unnecessary heat loss, meaning you may be less reliant on your central heating.
If decorating the walls and ceiling, opt for low-VOC (volatile organic compound) products, or ones with zero VOCs. These are harsh chemicals that can prove hazardous to the environment and human health, so opt for greener alternatives to prevent any undue issues. As far as flooring goes, you may wish to consider sustainable options like timber (certified by the FSC), recycled wood, cork or fibre.
For the kitchen, consider energy-saving appliances and water-conserving fixtures. If you can, opt for electrical or induction hobs over models that use gas as the former are statistically less harmful to the environment, while proving to be no more difficult to fit into kitchen units.
When it comes to decorating your property, you may wish to upgrade the furniture and upholstery. Consider buying second-hand items from charity shops or online marketplaces as this often reduces your upfront expenses while also using less energy than buying new.
Consult with a building contractor about eco-friendly solutions and products. They will be able to make recommendations that shouldn’t exceed your budget or impose an unnecessary environmental burden.
Hire Quality Tradespeople
Speaking of contractors, be selective when hiring builders or specific tradespeople like electricians, plumbers, painters, plasterers, joiners, and so on. Make sure that you conduct appropriate due diligence checks on the firm(s) you approach; look at their qualifications, assess their reviews, and make judgement calls about their past work examples.
Ask for an approximation or estimate before agreeing to any work in writing. Sometimes if a job seems too cheap, that’s because the workmanship can often be shoddy, thus sabotaging the integrity of your renovation. It’s a good idea to research the average home renovation costs based on market trends so you can avoid falling for a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ project, as well as not being ripped off.
Hiring reputable specialists individually, or entrusting a building contractor to oversee the full project management, reduces the risk of safety issues or problems. Be wary about paying cash-in-hand, as this offers very little consumer protection if the job goes wrong.
Plan Waste Disposal and Recycling
As is the case, renovations generate a lot of waste. Older, unused materials are disposed of or, in some cases, recycled and possibly reused if in good condition.
Planning for responsible disposal can help the entire project conserve more resources and minimise the amount of waste. Check if your local authority offers special building waste collection services or if it can make allowances for renovation projects. Often you may ask that a builder hire a skip for the duration of the renovation project.
Look for ways to reduce and recycle as much waste as possible. Donate old items to charity shops to save them occupying landfill sites, or sell furnishings no longer wanted to other residents in your local community. Salvage or repurpose any fixtures removed during your renovations, such as wood, metals or recyclable materials.
Consider Alternative and Renewable Energy
Renovations often present the perfect opportunity to make your home more energy-efficient for the future. Whether you plan to stay in the property for a long time or are planning to sell it within a few years, an investment in renewable energy solutions could be well worth considering.
Discuss options like solar panels and air source heat pumps with your building contractor to see the feasibility and long-term effectiveness they could bring. Investing in these energy solutions which use electricity to extract warmth from the air or sun, can undoubtedly reduce your home’s carbon footprint and, by extension, lower your energy bills. While they may come with a higher upfront cost, the long-term savings you can make can pay off hugely.
Your dream home renovation doesn’t have to be a nightmare. By researching material choices and maintaining an open dialogue with all relevant parties – from neighbours to tradespeople – you can reduce the stress inflicted upon yourself exponentially and still hit your energy efficiency goals with confidence.