If there is one piece of advice that you listen to it should be this: get organized in advance of your build. Once the chaos ensues you’ll be more interested in checking progress, understanding next steps and moving random pieces of furniture around to try and “avoid the dust”. I put that in quotations because you won’t be able to avoid the dust. It will take over your life for at least a year after the build.
What do I mean by getting organized?
- Make a list. Early on you should identify any extra bits you want doing, to ensure you don’t forget as you go along. Often during a build, you will identify other small projects and you should take advantage of having easy access to skilled tradesmen. Obviously, these jobs will have to be paid for, so don’t think you’re getting something for nothing.
- Write down every question. You’re always going to have questions to ask your builder, but at the moment it’s easy to forget about the concern that kept you up until 2 am. Writing everything down in a centralized location will enable you to be fully updated after each meeting. I found this helped to manage my expectations and provided a small sense of control in an otherwise chaotic situation.
- Understand the process. Similar to the above, you should get a clear understanding of each step of the build. There will be delays and changes to the plans, but knowing the steps will allow you to better gauge progress. Don’t just assume that how you might do it, is how a professional will do it!
- Shop around. Knowing what you want before your build starts will make the process run that more smoothly. That doesn’t mean you have to purchase absolutely everything straight away, but if you can identify (and record) what you want in advance, you won’t be the cause of any delays. Think about designing a kitchen for example. Are you going to want pendant lights anywhere? If so, can you get an idea for the style and price you want and save a few options to return to?
- Physically prepare for the disruption. Depending on the size of your build, you should seriously consider whether a storage unit is right for you and when you want to move everything into storage. I was a bit deluded and thought it would be alright – that the builders could work around the few possessions we owned. I was wrong and about two months in we had to scramble to find a unit that could accommodate our possessions. It was a nightmare and by that point, everything was covered in dust so in addition to boxing and moving everything, we also had to clean it.
I think that just about covers it? That said, I would love to hear about what you have learned and any advice I might not have covered. Every build is different and so the considerations beforehand are different. Please, share!