Property Remodelling – A Beginners Guide

Who can help? What will it cost? Where do I start?

Property Renovations, Extensions & Conversions in Edinburgh
(A guide to getting started)

There are probably three key questions people have when considering major work on a property (building an extension, attic conversion, knocking through a wall, etc):

  1. How much will it cost?
  2. Where do I start?
  3. Who can I contact for help?

Guidance on these questions can be found in this article.

The article is not intended as a complete “how to guide” – we’d always recommend getting professional assistance – but we hope it’s useful for those who are new to property remodelling projects.

How much will it cost?

Rather than reach for the phone and ask a builder to provide a “quote” we’d recommend a bit of online research to get some ball park costs.

These will be as accurate as a builder could provide before the job has been properly scoped out and specified. Finding a ballpark cost may help shape your thoughts on what you can afford to spend and so make conversations with architects and builders more productive.

Our online research suggested the following ball park figures for building works:

  • Single storey extension: – £1,300 to £1,700 / Sq m*
  • Two storey extensions: – £1,800 to £2,500 / Sq m*
  • Attic conversions: – £700 to £1,000 / Sq m
  • Garage conversion: – £6,000 to £12,000
  • 2m high boundary wall: – £140 to £200 / m
  • Dormer Windows: – £3,000 – £6,000

*based on the same foot print area

Of course the actual costs could be more or they could be less depending on many factors but in particular will depend on “what you want to spend”

Note that the above figures do not include the supplying and fitting of kitchens and bathrooms or indeed the costs for architects, surveyors, structural engineers or other similar professionals. They are the build costs only.

Planning Permission, Listed Building Consent and Building Warrants

There may be rules relating to what is permissible in your property and local area. For most property remodelling projects there will also be building regulations governing how the work is to be executed.

Contact Edinburgh Council’s Building Control / Planning department, explain what you have in mind and they will advise you what you will need to provide to remain compliant. ( Tel 0131 529 3550)

Very broadly, you will be required to submit an application (of some type) to the council in the following circumstances:

  • If your property is in a conservation area
  • For the change in use of a room
  • Moving or altering drains or soil pipes
  • Changing the outline or foot print of a building
  • Altering a load bearing wall

These are just very broad indications and we recommend that you contact Edinburgh Council for advice.

Architects, Surveyors and Structural Engineers 

Depending on the advice given by Edinburgh Council Building Control you may then need to have drawings produced and a formal application submitted.

Although you can do some of this yourself, generally this is where professional help is most useful and most advisable.

Architects are often the go to people for large extensions. However, a cheaper alternative can be Architectural Technicians or Architectural Designers.

In the case of, say, a knock through of a load bearing wall you may only need to submit a report and specification from a structural engineer.

If the work needed is primarily for repairs to a tenement then a Surveyor would be able to deal with all the applications and necessary specifications

Any drawings and applications produced by one of these professionals will contain detailed specifications of the work that is to be done, the materials to be used and how building regulations will be complied with. It is these that a builder will need in order to provide a meaningful and accurate quotation. Until a builder has these then they would only be able to guess (admittedly based on training, knowledge & experience) at what the full extent of the work (and therefore the price) would be.

Approaching and Choosing a Builder

Quite often people considering a remodelling project will start by approaching a builder. Some builders will try to help (or just be very keen to get a job) and provide a cost. This cost can only ever be an estimate as a full specification to quote against hasn’t been produced.

Getting two (or more) quotes without a full technical specification would mean having two (or more) opinions or guesses at what a project would cost but does not give the opportunity to compare quotes on a like for like, building regulation compliant basis. The quotes could also be hugely inaccurate.

(NB: – We are talking here about remodelling or structural projects not bathroom or kitchen refits)

Once a full specification has been produced then the time honoured method is “get three quotes and go for the cheapest.”

While we’d certainly advocate getting three quotes (where a like for like comparison can then be made) we would question whether selecting the cheapest is always the best option.

On the one hand cheapest could be the Builder who has worked out the most efficient way to deliver your job. Alternatively it could be the builder who plans to use the least qualified and experienced labour and try to cut corners when they can be cut.

There is also always the option of asking your architect, surveyor, etc to run a tender process and recommend a builder based on this.

One thing HomeForce would advocate is to choose a builder with whom you have a rapport. You are inviting a stranger into your house for what is often a fairly stressful experience. If it were me, I’d want that person to be someone I felt I could communicate with.

Arrange a quote from a HomeForce accredited builder: