Planning Your Refurbishment – Defining a brief, budget & timescale

If you have a home requiring a little love and attention or are maybe thinking of buying a home or premises in need of renovation here are some tips that will help you on your way.


The most important thing before you start your project is to define what it is you wish to achieve and try your best to stick to it. Many people make the mistake of not defining what they truly want from their refurbishment and end up changing their goals as the project progresses. This in turn increases the budget. The more definitive you are with your brief the more exacting you can be with your budget and cashflow. The more exacting you are the more controlled you are of the overall project.

Questions to ask when creating your brief are:

a. What is my end goal? A larger kitchen, a second bathroom, to let more light into the property, more space etc. Whatever the ultimate goal is, define it and put it on the list.

b.  What are my Must Haves? Is there a specific thing you just have to have and won’t negotiate on? When renovating my own home I specifically wanted a retro fridge, a new bespoke handmade kitchen and wooden shutters on my windows. I would not budge on these items and made sure I factored them into my brief and then in turn my budget.

c. Where is their room for movement? Laminate instead of semi-solid or hardwood? Do you really need new tiles in the bathroom? Can the walls be papered instead of replastered? These are all viable questions that will have a knock on effect on your budget. If you can identify your Must Haves you can also identify the things that you can be flexible with.


Unfortunately if clients don’t do their research when it comes to cost and renovating it is very easy to see things escalate out of control.  Most people just don’t have realistic knowledge of how much things actually cost. It is only when you start itemising the requirements of the job and start ringing would be contractors that’s when you can really get a handle on estimating your outgoing spend.

Again it goes back to the brief and your must haves. What can you skimp on and what is essential. Make sure to get 2-3 quotes from different tradesmen and suppliers you will be surprised the difference in price from company to company. Use websites like, word of mouth is great and LinkedIn is actually a great one too which people wouldn’t think of.

Once you start building your budget and collating your contractor list you can start getting an idea of when your project is likely to start and more importantly, finish.


Setting a realistic timeframe is of the utmost importance. Also what a client might think is realistic might not be realistic to a contractor so bear that in mind. Try and use a main building contractor who will sub-contract out the electrics, plumbing etc so that they have full management and responsibility for the tradesmen onsite every day. If you decide to have your own electrician or carpenter on site then you are responsible for making sure he or she is onsite every day when they are supposed to. If you use a main contractor looking after everyone it does help to keep everything running reasonably smooth.

Make sure you agree specific stage payments throughout the project. This is so the project isn’t delayed in any way. I once had a project where my contractor didn’t ask for any money and when I queried why there was no one on site one day he said he hadn’t been able to pay them! After that I made sure staged payments were made regularly to him so as not to delay the project in any way.

If you have a specific timescale in your head – 1st July, Christmas week – it could be anything, always factor in 1-2 weeks of delay sometimes longer depending on the scale of the project.  Anything can happen and if it can happen, it will!

So there you have it – Brief, Budget and Timescale. The basis of your successful renovation project.

To get some inspiration for your prospective project check out Tall Boy designs Instagram page!