8 things you need to do before starting any big project

Whether you’re looking to build an extension or remodel your home, undertaking a large project is a big financial and emotional investment. Here are 8 things to bear in mind before you get stuck in...

1. It’s all in the planning

home office area with office table and pin board

(Image credit: TBC)

Research, research, research! This will help you understand what’s required to achieve your goal. Get advice from people already in the know, be that friends who have carried out a similar project or advice pages online. And yes, watching copious amounts of Grand Designs still counts as research!

2. Map out a rough design

This can be simple, but will help you visualise how you will use the space and should iron out any initial problems. Ask yourself how different areas will work and connect with the rest of the house and what sort of scale you’ll be working with. Don’t sweat over the details and remember to be open-minded – a lot can change.

3. Find a reliable tradesman

It’s important to find a tradesman you can trust and rely on. If friends and family can’t recommend someone, there are various websites to help you, such as The Trading Standards website, The Local Authority Assured Trader Scheme Network (LAATSN) and Which? Local, for recommended builders who have undergone a strict vetting procedure by Trading Standards.

4. Agree price and timescale upfront

Be clear and never assume. Failing to do so could turn things sour between you and everyone concerned. Communication is key at all stages to ensure everyone is on the same page. A good set of drawings and a clear time schedule will be invaluable, but be realistic. Once all parties have agreed, the opportunity for overruns and budget problems will be much diminished.

5. Get familiar with planning permission and building regulations

And don’t confuse the two! While planning permission assesses the purpose and aesthetic of a building, building regulations cover everything from structure and health and safety, to ventilation and insulation. Other approvals may be needed too.

6. Draw up a contract

This doesn’t have to be complicated. It acts as an agreement between the ‘client’ and ‘building contractor’ and should overcome all the ‘what ifs’, such as additional work and time taken.

7. Tell your neighbours


connected row houses with brick walls

(Image credit: TBC)

Whatever the size of your project, there’s bound to be a certain amount of mess, noise and disruption. To avoid resentment and anger, be honest and understanding with your neighbours from the word go.


villa with lawn seating area

(Image credit: TBC)

It may seem impossible at first, but you’ll be surprised by how much you can achieve with the right help.