How much will it cost?
Costs depends on several factors such as the scale and nature of the project, the precise location, type and size of your property, as well as the level of specification or finish you are looking for. Having worked out a preliminary layout with you, we immediately give you an accurate estimate of how much your renovation or refurbishment will cost. If you have a fixed budget, we work with you and discuss options that are achievable for that cost. We always respect budgets and are set up for agile project management to control costs and time effectively. Please note, we rarely take part in tenders.
From time to time, where a tender has been awarded to another builder on cost, we sometimes hear that the costings on the job actually rose after the project had been awarded as items had been ‘overlooked’ by the successful bidder when preparing their tender, missed off and then added for a revised estimate submitted at a later date. Of more concern, is often these unforeseen costs add to other areas and require additional consultancy or management time, driving costs up still further and often over our initial estimates. In addition, valuable time can be wasted and added to the project, further driving up the cost by income lost or rents being paid out whilst waiting for work to be completed.
This simply does not happen to our project costings and scheduling.
We are able to provide the following approximate costs per m² for refurbishments. These are valid as at April 2014, and provided for 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.
- To refurbish 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 house renovation, the figure is closer to £2500 – £3000 per m² as we need to take the roof, gardens, railings etc into account. A house will generally have more areas of cost to take into consideration than would appear at first glance.
- Basements generally work out at £6000 – £7000 per m². Around 60% of the cost lies in excavation and the creation of a shell and a structure. The remaining 40% accounted for by finishing, including lighting, flooring, heating etc. As with apartments, economy of scale applies, so a bigger basement will lower the cost per m².
How long will it take?
We are builders with our 20 years experience renovating residential property in conservation areas, listed buildings in central London. We can answer confidently on the time required to carry out the construction work on various typical refurbishments.
One element you must consider, before building work even begins, is to allow sufficient time for planning applications, costing, designing and checking of your property 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, or securing planning permissions in conservation areas and listed buildings.
For the building work alone:
- On a straightforward project, such as an apartment refurbishment, we typically estimate 4 months, assuming the work has been well orchestrated and planned, and items like the kitchen ordered in advance.
- For house renovation or complete refurbishment, we typically estimate 6-7 months (perhaps as much as 8 months if there are particular complications).
- On a whole house requiring the addition of a basement, we estimate 10 months, easily extending to 12 months.
One thing that is guaranteed to ruin a project is to try to rush. Less haste and more speed is the mantra. There is also a strong relationship between the three main project variables.
This triangle of variables always applies: if you want a high quality finish to be achieved quickly it will usually be hugely expensive. If something has to be sacrificed, we would recommend being patient so quality is maintained and budgets managed.
We are frequently asked by couples expecting a baby whether their project can be completed and ready in time for the impending arrival. Our considered view is that by trying to force through a refurbishment project in a rush is a recipe for disaster, and simply not worth the added stress during what should be the most exciting and happiest time in your life.
Can I chose my own architect and interior designer to work with you?
Of course. We have worked with several leading architects and interior designers chosen by our clients over the years. We recommend working with BuroArchitects as communication and understanding between the architects and our team of local builders is outstanding. Other architects we have worked with previously include Buro Architects, David Le Lay Architects, Beaver Mull architects, Peter Wadley architects, Charles Rutherfoord architectural design, Joshua Berry architect as well as other residential architects in London.
I want a reputable builder after working with my architect for months. Would you take it on?
We would be pleased to discuss your project with you if your property is local (in the boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster), and the renovation and refurbishment is of an appropriate size (£300,000 plus). Please note, we rarely take part in tenders.
How would you define and help create the style of property I want?
Whatever style preferences you have, we place great emphasis on layout and storage. We work with you to create practical, beautiful spaces for you to enjoy living in and be proud of. As we work routinely with leading interior designers and architects, we are adept at creating solutions specific to residential property in London that meet and hopefully exceed your expectations.
Do you only work in Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster as your portfolio suggests?
We carry out residential property renovation and refurbishment in prime central London only. High quality residential refurbishment requires continuous close supervision so we work in areas with minimum travel time. Based in Chelsea, just off the King’s Road, we routinely renovate and refurbish properties in the royal boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. We also undertake larger projects further afield, such as in Battersea, Clapham, Richmond, St John’s Wood, Hampstead, Dulwich or Highgate.
How can I be sure the work will be carried out properly and to the highest standards?
We have an excellent reputation and are more than keen to keep it! You will be in good company, previous property renovations we have carried out have featured in publications such as GQ, Elle, Vogue, Tatler, House & Garden and the Sunday Times.
For additional peace of mind, we directly employ our own team of builders and craftsmen, (some have been working for us for over 20 years). This experience and familiarity reassures clients that buildburo are capable of completing your project, will be courteous to your neighbours and experienced in renovating your type of property. Each stage of renovation projects we carry out is also checked by an independent Quantity Surveyor before payment is released, checking quality and pricing. You are continually reassured our building work has been carried out to most exacting standards.
We also take pride in post contract maintenance or “snagging” as it’s know in the trade. All renovation and refurbishment projects have little things that need sorting out after the work is finished and we attend to these quickly and without any fuss.
Do you have a minimum and maximum size of project?
Each building project requires the same close supervision, large or small. This results in a certain amount of fixed overhead so it is simply not economical for us to work on any job whose value is below £300,000. Our largest single contract value to date is £2.85m, for remodelling a block of flats, adding a lift and a 2 storey penthouse.
We have the manpower, resources, project management experience and expertise to undertake any residential property renovation up to £6m.
What can I do to help make my project a success?
Naturally, everyone involved in your project wants your project to be a success, especially you. The best way to ensure this is to allocate enough of your own time for working with your architect (BuroArchitects or your own preferred architectural practice), communicate your wishes and give your honest opinion whilst keeping a keen eye on costs. Once your project gets to the site stage, make sure you (or your representative if you are unavailable) attend a site meetings with Buildburo. This allows you to visualise proposed changes before any works begin. In short – stay on top of things and keep asking questions if you are unsure of anything.
Would you provide references so we have confidence in appointing you?
Of course – we are always more than happy to give you whatever references you require. As well as viewing our portfolio on this site, clients are invited to visit previous properties we have worked on that are similar to their projects (provided the property owner agrees). We also have several client testimonials and examples of previous work published in titles such as Tatler, Vogue, GQ and House & Garden.
Is it possible to add a basement if there is no/only a shallow basement at present?
In strictly technical construction terms, anything is possible. It’s worth checking with BuroArchitects, or another reputable architectural practice about your chances of getting planning permission for a basement. BuroArchitects have a great deal of experience securing planning applications in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.
If you are considering adding a basement to a Grade II listed building in Kensington & Chelsea, you will not be allowed to build anything beneath the footprint of the existing building. However, you may excavate beneath the garden. In Westminster you may be allowed to build under both the house and garden.
Can I combine two flats into one in a mansion block in Kensington & Chelsea?
Physically, this is certainly possible. As with other questions regarding substantial changes to properties you own or are considering buying, we recommend discussing with those who have experience. BuroArchitects are experts in obtaining the permissions required for such a project. Different boroughs have different views on combining two apartments into one, some allow it and others don’t. Buildburo have combined a number of adjacent apartments over the years.
My builder went bust halfway through my 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 they won the tender and could bring in some quick money to prop their business up. This is one reason 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 need my property redecorating, would you do this?
Unfortunately not. We only carry out decoration work as part of a renovation or refurbishment we are working on.