What’s the one thing every homeowner should avoid when renovating? And why should you be ‘very, very careful’ if you’re about to embark on a self-build journey? Whether you’re looking to self-build or redecorate a room, Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud has shared his wisdom with us ahead of Grand Designs Live, which is returning at The NEC this October.
The exhibition is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the world of custom and self-build, renovations, and design for the home.
Are you looking to renovate your home with big or small projects? Or are you planning to build your very own grand design? Here Kevin speaks to House Beautiful UK to share some very important advice…
1. Renovating your home? Avoid doing everything yourself…
Kevin McCloud: ‘The simplest of things can become a great difficulty. If you’re going to build or stick an extension on, get an architect on board. They’re not very expensive and they actually give you so much better value for money. It’s such a British thing to think we can do everything, the idea that, “I’ve done DIY so I can build an extension, I’d like to do some brickwork, I’ll have a go at that.” To rely on great people seems incredibly indulgent but it’s so comforting. Surround yourself with good people who know what they’re doing, whether it’s a plumber or a project manager, an architect or a quantity surveyor on a bigger project, these are all really important disciplines.’
2. But make sure you do this one thing…
Kevin McCloud: ‘Make friends with suppliers, get to know people and see them face to face. Grand Designs Live is a great place to get face to face with the people who make the stuff that you buy and it’s also a venue where a lot of the goods on offer are made in the UK so it’s great to build relationships in the supply chain. It’s really, really important, and it’s never more so important than right now, when you can’t just order stuff off the Internet.’
3. And prepare yourself for the psychological impact…
Kevin McCloud: ‘When we move house it’s always far more stressful and disturbing psychologically than we imagine. It’s really hard to figure out and it’s because home represents so much to us. It’s safe and we cling to it in a crazy world. Right now with climate change, Covid and war, the idea of home is more important than ever and it’s a place of security. The moment you mess with that, the moment you create dust, shut a room off, knock a wall down, the moment you do any of that, you absolutely begin to destroy a sense of security. So if you are going to do DIY at home, you must prepare for the psychological impact of that. Encourage yourself that it will be fine and better once it’s done. We all want 0ur homes to be places of rest and sanctuary, and more than ever now.’
4. Remember to decorate your home for yourself – and no one else
Kevin McCloud: ‘I’m too old to be trendy and I learnt a long time ago that my taste is not your taste. My taste is not the taste I had 20 years ago or 10 years ago either. We change and our homes should be a reflection of who we are. You might have IKEA furniture or a table your gran gave you – these things may mean nothing to other people but they mean the world to you. Homes should reflect the personalities of people who live there, our homes shouldn’t look like catalogues or a double page spread. In fact, I don’t understand why people would want to copy somebody else because we’re all individuals.’
5. Embarking on a self-build journey? Here’s some honest advice…
Kevin McCloud: ‘It’s a really stressful experience, there’s no doubt. But it doesn’t always need to be stressful if you go on the custom build route – the stress is relieved and it’s all taken away from you. But I think it’s a tough gig and you need to be spiritually and mentally prepared for it, and for the fact that it can take up to five years of planning, for example. Right now, planning in some parts of the country, by law it’s meant to be 12 weeks for a standard planning application, but it’s up to 24 now, and the standard seems to be six months to get a planing response, so I’m afraid, every part of the system is stressed and it’s difficult. We’ve see so much pain from our self-builders who have gone through on Grand Designs in the past year. Grand Designs is full of pain!
‘The supply chain, all the things we care about in regards to supermarkets, driver shortages and empty shelves, all this applies to construction and worse, because the price of steel has doubled in two months, the price of timber has more than doubled in the past year, plasterboard is not being manufactured at the moment because they can’t find the paper to stick on it, and if you want concrete, many of the concrete supply companies are saying, “we can’t give you any, it will be three weeks so we won’t give you a price until the day before”. So how on earth can anybody right now plan to build anything when you don’t know if you can get hold of even the most basic materials? Even the websites of big tile companies online, they usually have a huge choice, but they’ve only got three tiles in stock. It’s really rough right now. I’d say be very, very careful right now and plan, buy your materials up front, rent a warehouse and put them in it.’
Kevin McCloud will appear at Grand Designs Live from 6 – 10 October 2021 at the NEC, for tickets and more information visit www.granddesignslive.com
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