Please check the following list of frequently asked questions for an answer to your query. If your question is not answered here, please contact us using our form, or by calling us on 020 7352 5250.
What do you mean when you talk about a refurbishment?
We work only on complete refurbishments. This is where no-one is living at the property and we redo everything from scratch. If you are refurbishing your current home you must thus be prepared to move out for the duration of the refurbishment. The refurbishment will always involve new electrics and new heating. It may also involve a total reworking of layout and the relocations of bathrooms, for example. In short, it will involve a fairly major overhaul of services and structure.
How much will my refurbishment cost?
We are able to provide the following approximate costs per m² for refurbishments. These are valid as at April 2014, and are provided for your initial guidance only. They include generous, high quality, made-to-measure storage (similar to that you will see in our photographs) as well as high quality kitchen installation and carpeting.
- For the refurbishment of a simple mansion block apartment, costs tend to be between £1600 – £2500 per m², depending on the size of the apartment. Smaller apartments work out at a greater cost per m² because the cost of the kitchen is no longer spread over such a large area.
- For refurbishing a house, the figure is closer to £2500 – £3000 per m². This is because when estimating a house we have to take into account the roof, gardens, railings etc. A house will generally have more areas of cost to take into consideration than are apparent at first glance.
- Basements generally work out at £6000 – £7000 per m². Around 60% of the cost lies in creating a shell and a structure, with the remaining 40% accounted for by finishing, including lighting, flooring, heating etc. As with apartments, economy of scale applies, so a bigger basement size will lower the cost per m².
How long will my refurbishment take?
We are builders and so can answer confidently on the time required to carry out the construction work on various typical refurbishments.
It is important to point out, however, that you must allow sufficient additional time for the planning, costing, designing and checking of your project to be completed properly. It often comes as a surprise to clients (particularly those who have not lived in London before) how complex and protracted the process of obtaining the licence from a managing agent in an apartment building can be.
For the building work alone:
- On a simple job, such as an apartment refurbishment, we estimate 4 months. This is assuming the work has been well orchestrated and planned, and items like the kitchen ordered in advance.
- On a complete house refurbishment, we estimate 6-7 months (perhaps as much as 8 months depending on complications).
- On a whole house requiring the addition of a basement, we estimate 10 months, easily extending to 12 months.
The one thing that is almost guaranteed to ruin a project is to try to rush it.
A triangle of variables always applies: if you want a high quality finish to be achieved quickly it will thus be hugely expensive.
We are frequently asked by couples expecting a baby whether their project can be completed and ready in time for the arrival. Our view is usually that forcing through a refurbishment in a rush is a recipe for disaster, and it is simply not worth the added stress at what is already a pressured time in your life.
Will I need to to move out during my refurbishment.
You will. We are frequently asked to carry out total refurbishments of homes, with the addition of a basement, by people who propose to live in the upper half of the house while we do the lower half and then move down to the lower half while we do the top. This would simply be too stressful an experience for everyone involved, and so we are unable to accept projects where this is a requirement.
I have spent months working with my architect and we are now looking for a reputable builder to carry out the construction work. Would you be interested?
We would be pleased to discuss your project with you if your property is located in one of our core areas (the boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster), and the refurbishment is of an appropriate size (£400,000 plus). Please note that we rarely take part in tenders.
I just need my property redecorating. Would you do this?
Unfortunately not. We do not carry out decoration work unless as part of a refurbishment.
Do you have a minimum size of job?
We typically take on refurbishments for which there is a build budget in excess of £400,000 + VAT. In certain circumstances, we will take on projects with a budget in excess of £250,000 +VAT. Please contact us to discuss your project.
What can I do to help make my project a success?
Naturally, you want your project to be a success. The best thing you can do to ensure this is to allocate your own time to working with your architects (whether they are a firm you have chosen independently, or our sister company Buro Architects), communicating your wishes, inputting your opinion and keeping an eye on costs. Once the project gets to the site stage, make sure you (or your representative if you are really unable) attend site meetings with us. In short – stay on top of things. We welcome this kind of involvement from our clients.
My builder has gone bust halfway through the job. Can you help?
When a builder goes bust, it is usually a sign that the firm was in trouble on its previous job and probably under-costed your job to ensure it won the tender and was able to bring in some more money. This is why we always advise against accepting the cheapest tender, especially if it appears to offer to complete the work for a significantly lower sum than other bids you have received.
Unfortunately, we are unable to take over projects in these circumstances. Much as we would like to help, it is impossible for us to guarantee the quality or integrity of any job we have not had control over from the beginning.
I have found a property I am thinking of buying. I have some ideas about changes I’d like to make, but I’m not sure if they would be possible. Would you come and have a look?
If the property is located in Kensington & Chelsea, or Westminster, and if your proposed refurbishment is of an appropriate size, we would be pleased to view it with you. We can often say a lot about the potential of a development simply from looking at the plans, however. So far as what is technically ‘possible’ in construction terms, the answer is ‘almost anything’, providing you have the money to spend on achieving your ambition. Our colleagues at Buro Architects will be pleased to advise you, even at an early stage, on what you would be likely to be permitted to do by the planners in the area where the property you have found is located.
I am looking at buying a house, but I want to add another bedroom and bathroom. Can you tell me if they can be squeezed in?
Contact us and we will arrange for architect Gordana Mandic, who leads our sister firm Buro Architects and is a partner in our parent company Tyler Mandic, to look at your plans and give you a view. Alternatively, feel free to contact Gordana directly.
I’d like to add a basement to a property. How do I know if it’s possible? The house has no basement/only has a shallow basement at present.
In strictly technical construction terms, anything is possible. But it’s worth checking with our sister firm Buro Architects about your chances of getting planning permission. They have a great deal of experience in making successful planning applications in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster, and will be pleased to advise you. If you are looking at a Grade II listed building in Kensington & Chelsea, you will not be allowed to build anything at all beneath the footprint of the existing building. You may, however, excavate beneath the garden. In Westminster you may be allowed to build under either.
I have two flats in a mansion block and I want to knock them together into one apartment – would this be possible?
Physically, this is certainly possible. As with other questions regarding substantial changes to properties you own or are considering buying, please contact us and we will arrange for you to discuss your plans with our colleagues at our sister firm, Buro Architects, who are experts in obtaining the permissions you will require. Different boroughs have different views on connecting apartments. Some boroughs allow this, while in others it is impossible to get permission. Call us, or contact Gordana Mandic at Buro Architects directly, and we will be able to give you an idea of what can be achieved.