Homelife: Plan ahead to avoid stress

Architects, planners and TV property gurus are warning homeowners of the dangers of embarking on improvements without enough preparation or planning. In a new guide, the Federation of Master Builders has brought together a panel of experts to advise people on how to get the best out of their builders, and how to avoid the stress of a disaster.
Mike Haslam, planning consultant and former president of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said: “I am always surprised at the lack of preparation people put into a planning application, even down to not discussing their plans with their immediate neighbours.” Architect Nicholas Wordie agrees: “I warn clients of the problems from the beginning, such as planning being refused, or going to appeal. My advice is to be realistic and expect surprises.”
Channel 4’s Property Ladder presenter, Sarah Beeny, believes that where a project has gone awry, it is often the client who is the problem, and not the builder. “Vague verbal instructions that are not backed up with drawings result in the builder having to second guess what the clients wants. Inevitably, the builder will sometimes guess wrongly, and this will result in an angry client.”
Former pop star turned garden designer, Kim Wilde, found herself having to wait 12 months for her chosen builder. But it was well worth it, as it give her time to sort out the planning application for her listed barn, and she struck up such a good relationship with her builders that they are coming back this year to do her kitchen.
The Essential Guide to Home Improvement covers topics from planning your project to adding those finishing touches, and even how to make your home more energy efficient. It is available free of charge through the FMB’s website at www.findabuilder.co.uk, or freephone 0800 0152522.