How to prepare your house for builders: 10 things you must do


When getting ready to receive contractors into your home it’s important to prepare your property and protect your belongings to ensure everything is safe for the duration of the build. Get started with these 10 must do tasks.

1. Speak to your insurance provider

When your build works start you’ll be handing over part or all of your property to become a works site. It’s important to notify your insurance provider that works are occurring and check that you have the right insurance in place to cover your property and possessions during the build.

2. Talk to your neighbours

Keeping on good terms with your neighbours throughout your build is all about clear communication and resolving issues quickly before they get to the point of frustration. Make sure your neighbours have a mobile number to call if there’s a problem, whether that’s yours or a person on your team such as a project manager or architect (check with them first that that’s ok!).

Asking if they have any special circumstances where quiet would be required can go a long way to calming potential tensions. It might be they work shifts or have a baby’s nap times to consider. Ask your builder about notifying them when there’s going to be particular busy/noisy work.

3. Decide if you're going to stay put

Living on-site while works are being carried out will add time to your build and should be agreed with your contractor ahead of signing contracts. The reason being that each day the site will have to be tidied, the work area will be more restricted and often the contractors will have to work around you, slowing them down.


Living on site: Should I stay or should I go?

It’s tempting to try and ‘live in’ while your house is being extended or improved. Here we explain why that might not be the best option

If you plan to stay in your property for all or part of the works it’s important to try and keep your living area and the works area separate.

If the layout of your property allows, create a works entrance and a home entrance. This might mean contractors entering the worksite through the rear of your property and you using your front door, then building a temporary wall to close off access between the two.

This secures the site area for your contractors and keeps your temporary living space safe which is particularly important if you have children that are living on site with you.

4. Find storage

Your property should be clear for works to start on the agreed contractual start date. To create space you will need to remove all furniture and possessions from the agreed work areas. If there are rooms in your property where no works are being carried out you may be able to use them as a store. These rooms should be locked and sealed shut to prevent dust and works debris from entering. Even when sealed dust still seems to find a way to get through so it’s a good idea to box up or cover your belongings with a dust sheet.

If there isn’t enough room in your property to store your belongings, it may be necessary to use a storage company or if you have enough space, to hire a storage container for the duration of the works.

5. Move out

You may need to move out of your property for the duration of part of the works.

Finding alternative accommodation that is local to allow frequent visits is preferable. This might be renting somewhere through a local forum or air bnb. Or if you’re lucky staying at a friend or relative’s home.

If your property has enough space and good access it might be cost effective to consider renting a caravan rather than rented accommodation.

Just as it is advised to have a financial contingency for your works, it’s also important to prepare for the build to take longer than your contract states. Any additional time needed to complete work will of course mean your move in date changes too, so it’s worth planning accommodation that can cover this if need be.
FYI – You don’t need to communicate this forward thinking to your contractor as they might see it as a green light to take longer with the works.

6. Build a temporary kitchen

If you’re going to be cooking regularly in your property while the works are underway, rather than just using a microwave, get your contractor to fix you up a temporary kitchen in a room where limited works are occurring.   This could be a stand alone version from Ikea that needs to plumbed in, or use part of your original kitchen if it is being removed. Good items to have – slow cooker – toaster, kettle, mini fridge.


Photo: via IKEA

7. Prepare to be uncomfortable

Living on-site is difficult and a bit of an endurance test. The dust is constant, and living with a continual flux of people in your home can be hard.

In addition, you will need to be prepared for times when the house is cold due to openings for the works, possibly noisy at night due to tarpaulin, or scaffolding making noise. Get prepared and buy electric blankets / portable radiators/ear plugs.

8. Ensure you remove any valuable belongings

Whether living in, or moving out of site it’s important for everyone on-site that you ensure that there are no valuables left out or accessible in any part of the house.

You may feel that this is not necessary if you know and trust your contractor and their team. But, during works, there are lots of people coming and going and sometimes things do go missing or break.

When this happens it can be a real shame for everyone, causes suspicion and breaks trust.

Better to avoid the issue altogether by moving anything of value to a secure place.

9. Protect the existing house

There may be elements of the existing house that need to be protected during the course of the works. This might be your front door, or a hallway carpet.

Self adhesive film can be used to protect carpets and more rigid surface protection sheets to protect floors, walls and other surfaces from knocks.

Talk with your contractor about what elements need protecting and how they intend to do this.

10. Don’t forget about the builders!

As part of your building contract, you will need to agree what facilities the builders are allowed – and not allowed to use. This usually includes options for water, phone, electricity, and WC.

A dedicated WC for the contractors is important, this might be a portaloo if there is room on your property or an internal WC that will be accessible for the works.

Contractors will often set up a temporary tea making area, but it’s nice to consider where this might be and plan a space where meetings and breaks can be held.

Finally sometimes if you’re living off-site contractors might want or need to have people sleep on site, either for security or through necessity. It’s good to discuss this ahead of time and agree on some rules about how this will work.
Try to keep in mind: Renovating doesn’t have to be stressful

By putting in the right preparation now, and entering into the process with patience and a sense of humour you can create the home that you want and enjoy the process!

We have created a FREE Renovation Budget Guide that unpacks all the figures of a project – from building costs and professional fees to those extra expenses that no-one tells you about. This will put your construction budget in the context of the whole project’s costs and make sure you’re considering all those added extras from the outset.

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