Jason Park is a property developer with 20 years’ experience. As well as renovating rental properties, he has restored and rebuilt 8 properties for his family to live in over the years including a 20-room chateau in France that featured on George Clarke’s ‘Build a New Life in the Country’ TV series.

Here he shares his top tips for keeping renovation projects running smoothly:

‘Why are we doing this again?’

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when jumping into a project is not pinning down why you are doing it. This can lead to spiralling costs because you didn’t set out with a firm plan and a realistic budget.

Dated colour schemes, worn out flooring and depressing lighting can come into sharp focus. But don’t go with a knee-jerk reaction and jump into a makeover or redesign without the proper planning.

Think about what are you actually trying to achieve. What is your key goal? Is it a more functional space, cosmetic improvements, or necessary repairs? Usually one is more important than the others and you’ll need to focus on that first.

You’ll still need to make a plan, even if it seems like a small project. For example – a simple change of colour in your living room; do you need to pre-order anything? When are you going to do it? How will it affect your daily routine? Who is going to be coming into your home and when? Whose job is it to move the furniture, and where will it go?

Have a definitive budget and be disciplined. This will allow you to keep focused on your initial objectives. It is very easy to be distracted by fabulous images in magazines or social media, or so-called great online offers for that amazing sofa and to-die-for table lamp.

Bear in mind what can’t be changed so easily and what your budget will allow. Whatever you do, it has to work with the fixtures and fittings which can’t be changed. This is a classic budget-blowing mistake: ‘Oh! - well we’ll need to change the carpet now, it doesn’t work with the new wall colour!’.

Keep your main objective in mind, and plan accordingly.

Build or Bust!

No matter the size and scale of a project, there is always a budget attached to it.

Building costs (both labour and materials) have risen sharply since Covid and are now likely to cost 25% more than before. A £100K extension could now set you back £125K; a dramatic rise in just a few years.

This cost increase has led many people to change course, and swap their extension plans for a reconfiguration of the space they already have.

I can almost guarantee there is a better layout in your home that would give you better flow, versatility, and usable space. The reality is that we now need to work smarter to achieve more bang for your buck!

A kitchen extension or house reconfiguration may seem highly complex and out of your comfort zone, but you can add more value and greater savings than you think.

Building work tends to fall into three categories; taking things down, moving things around (a lot!) and building things back up.

You can help most trades on site by doing some of the donkey work. Even if you have a full-time job. Effective communication with your builder, plumber, or electrician will always ensure the project works more efficiently and will therefore be less stressful and more economical.

Communication is key

Make sure you have a conversation onsite with the main contractor prior to any works. Ask not just what is being done but how it is going to be done from a practical standpoint. Any person worth their salt will need to know important information before any work commences, to make sure it is done in the most effective way for your budget and convenience.

They might seem trivial points, but important factors can often be overlooked:

Have neighbours been informed of works which might create noise or cause disruption?

Where can trades park their vehicles?

Where are building materials going be stored inside and out depending on requirements?

How and where are any waste products going to be dealt with?

Do all trades have access where required, keys etc…?

Are water, electricity, and toilet facilities available?

Keep in touch - Speak to your builder daily even if by text or email. Your question may seem silly or obvious but asking helps you to understand and gives peace of mind. It also often acts as a reminder or prompt for your builder, even if they wouldn’t admit it!

95% of problems, mistakes, oversights and failure can trace the root cause back to poor communication.

Stay ahead of the game

You will have to make decisions throughout the course of the work, not just at the start. So keep a picture in your mind of what you want from your completed project.

Your tradesperson knows what’s coming next in the process and should be able to prompt you on the decisions that need to be made to keep things moving. For example, if there are lighting cables that will be covered by the end of the week, knowing the wall light position and height is essential. That decision may be dependent on your desired wall light so choose in advance where possible.

Building plans, no matter how detailed, do not account for your specific type of light fitting, or if you change your mind on something. By making as many decisions as possible ahead of time, you will avoid delays and changes of scope. Time is money!

Keep the site clean and tidy

This might raise a few eyebrows, but in my experience cleanliness is next to godliness. Yes, a building site is inherently dirty but there’s no reason it can’t be regularly cleaned up and materials stored tidily and safely. Bonus tip: when choosing a builder, ask to see a current site as well as finished work. A messy site is an unsafe site. If it looks chaotic with rubbish everywhere, think twice about using them.

You can help trades out by cleaning up at the start or end of the day, making it easier for the people working on site to move around efficiently and think clearly.

There are countless ways to save time and money during a building project; and – with some careful planning - many of them are within your control.

A stunning barn conversion in Bay Horse near Lancaster