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Restoration & Refurbishment

Where do we start with it all... and in what order?

My partner and I are about to start refurbishing a 2 bed Victorian mid-terrace in East London. As part of the refurb we want to add a side-return kitchen extension and have started initial discussions with architects, given this won't begin for a few months we're eager to get started on the rest of the house.

With plans to move in in around 8 weeks time we'd like to start on the first floor and work our way downwards, purely to have a nice bedroom to live in whilst the rest of the house is worked on. But given each room in the house require very similar work is it a cost effective approach to work on a room by room basis (or at least floor by floor) or should we be tackling jobs by type rather than by room?

We're also a bit lost as to what tradesmen we should approach for each specific job and what the sequence should be for the jobs on our list. Any advice would be gratefully received!

The job list to date:

2 x BEDROOMS (first floor), LOUNGE and DINING ROOM (ground floor):

Open up fireplaces in 4 x chimney breasts
(Lounge will eventually have log burning stove installed, other 3 fireplaces will be decorative only)

Build and install fitted alcove wardrobes in both bedrooms
Build and install fitted alcove shelving in lounge and dining room

Add new power sockets, update light fittings and switches (including some relocating)
Address any other electrical, Internet or AV needs whilst walls are open... suggestions?

Change radiators throughout (from basic double panel style to traditional cast iron style)
Some radiators we might relocate or remove

Replace all PVC windows with real wood sash windows
(Although we've been advised that builders may need to remove front bay window whilst loading in materials for kitchen extension so not to tackle this yet?)

We have some damp proof work needed in the front bay of lounge, it will require addition of air bricks plus injection damp proof course with removal and reinstatement of plaster necessary

Install wooden window shutters

Install new internal doors throughout including frames

Fit new architraves, skirting and coving

Sand, stain/paint floorboards

Plaster, paint and decorate



Install new stair parts (handrail and balustrades)
Possibly replace MDF staircase (treads and risers) with real wood to match floorboards

Add new power sockets, update light fittings and switches (including some relocating)

Fit new skirting and coving

Repair, sand, stain/paint floorboards

Plaster, paint and decorate


BATHROOM (directly above kitchen)

Rip-out and replace entire bathroom including replacing PVC window with real wood sash window
(kitchen extension architects have advised us not to start on the bathroom until after kitchen is complete as movement during build will occur)

1 Answer from a MyBuilder Restoration & Refurb Specialist

Start with electrics and plumbing first which is your first fix. This kind of work will cause most disruption and damage and likely be the highest costs.
. This kind of work tends to run through the whole house making finish any room difficult until it is all complete but bedrooms might sustain the least damage allowing them to get finished first.

Get a decent plumber and electrician round to quote and go from there. They are probably quite likely to know other trades. If you can get one builder to do the whole lot or at least all of the first fixing then this will be much easier.

It sounds like you don't know too much about building. Trying to organise and manage various different trades on a largish project can be demanding of builders even with a lot of experience. Find an excellent builder to do as much as the work as possible would be my advice.


Answered 20th Jan 2015

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