A Guide To Renovations by HomeNotes

Everyone, meet Jane & Amy, aka the founders of HomeNotes. For those of you who may not know what HomeNotes is, let us just say in short that it’s your go to platform for all things renovation. From budget planning assistance to structural work process guidance, these guys can supply you with a wealth on knowledge on all areas and are your guide to renovations.

Both being architects, they’ve spent years helping people navigate the ups and downs of renovation projects. They’ve walked alongside numerous individuals on their renovation journeys, witnessing the common pitfalls that can lead to budget overruns, project delays, and a lot of unnecessary stress. So, together they realised just how crucial the initial preparation stage is for the success of any home renovation. Thus, this sparked the launch of their great platform, HomeNotes. Together they aim to be a helping hand for renovators, aiding them to achieve their renovation goals while staying within their budget. Something that aligns with Topology’s ethos also! From online courses to personalised consultations, and engaging webinars led by industry experts (yes, we’re a guest speaker!) HomeNotes is amazing platform for anyone feeling a little overwhelmed.

So, in this blog post we’ve picked Jane & Amy’s brains on all things renovation, to help myth bust and give clarity on key areas we see clients ask us questions on time and time again. Thank us later! 

If someone is at the initial part of a renovation process and has no idea what to start, what would your advice for the first step be?

There are 2 crucial steps to start any project on the right foot.  First up, crafting a budget that’s grounded in reality. This lays the foundation for everything else.   And secondly, sketching out a detailed brief. Think of it as your project’s roadmap – it lists out all the things you’re aiming to accomplish.

Why are these steps so vital? Well, think of them as the compass that guides your entire project. Taking the time to ensure your budget is doable and your brief captures your aspirations is like giving yourself a solid head start. So before you dive in, make sure these steps are locked in place. Your project will thank you for it!

As the property owner, is there any insurance you can / should take out before a renovation? Or any terms you can put in place to protect you from issues with contractors?

Making sure you and your contractor are on the same page from the get-go is a must. That’s where an industry-recognised contract, ready-made and good to go, comes in. It will safeguard both you and the contractor, and set the ground rules for how you will work together – how you’ll team up, and what’s the plan if things take an unexpected turn.

But wait, there’s more! This standard contract is like your project’s handy checklist. It covers all the essentials you need to have in order. Plus, it spells out the insurance details that both you and your contractor need to have locked down before the work even starts.

Is there any renovation ‘jargon’ out there, which you could explain in laymans terms for our readers?

(e.g. ‘out to tender’ or ‘building control’ or ‘permitted development’ etc – key phrases along those lines you hear builders / architects etc say often that the average person might not know what it means or entails?

Don’t let the jargon throw you off – understanding some key terms will help you have more productive conversations with professionals and ensure your project runs smoothly. Here’s a rundown of some of the main ones you might come across:

  • Tender: This is simply the process of gathering quotes from contractors to build your project. It’s like shopping around for the best deal.
  • Building Control: Think of this as the rulebook for your project. It’s a legal requirement for your work to adhere to a set of standards known as the Building Regulations. These rules ensure that your building is safe, comfortable to occupy, and easy to maintain. A building control inspector makes sure your work aligns with these regulations and gives you a certificate to prove it.
  • Permitted Development: This term covers the things you can do to your home without needing special permission from your local council. Think of it as a list of home improvements you can make without jumping through too many hoops. But keep in mind, there are still criteria to meet, and not all properties have the green light for permitted development. So, it’s wise to check with your local authority to see what your home’s permitted development rights are.

Top 3 tips for managing a kitchen & bathroom renovation in one go

Tackling two major spaces for a renovation at once? Brace yourself – it’s like doubling the fun, right? But seriously, you’ll want to make the process as speedy and slick as you can.


Tip 1 – Master the Art of Planning: Even for a small space, planning is your secret weapon. Sketch out that layout, pick your favourite fixtures, materials, and all those finishes in advance. This nifty trick saves you from last-minute “oops” moments that mess up your budget and kick your timeline off track. The best part? Having everything ready to roll before your contractor shows up means they won’t hit any snags when they’re getting down to business. Oh and remember to check lead in times!

Tip 2 – Talk the Talk (with Your Contractor): Before your contractor dives in, have a little chat. It’s like laying the groundwork for a successful partnership. Share your plans, make sure they’re achievable, and let them throw in some expert suggestions or clear up any questions. This pre-game chat keeps everyone on the same page and avoids any curveballs once the hammers start swinging.

Tip 3 – Temporary Living Hacks: If you’re going to be a trooper and stick around during the makeover madness, here’s a tip: set up some temporary living arrangements. 

You don’t have to start camping in your backyard – just ask your contractors to whip up a makeshift kitchen or bathroom. It’s like home renovation survival mode. And trust us, that’s a heck of a lot cheaper than checking into a hotel.


If you don’t fancy that, think about scheduling the work so you can still access your essentials. It might mean a little extra on the bill, but hey, sanity’s priceless.


Tackling two major spaces for a renovation at once? Brace yourself – it’s like doubling the fun, right? But seriously, you’ll want to make the process as speedy and slick as you can.

 What do the HomeNotes guide to renovations courses cover & what’s the price?

The HomeNotes Getting Started’ course is your compass for those vital initial project preparations. Join us this September for a special ‘Guided’ version of our course where we personally take you through our tried-and-tested method for creating a budget that’s rooted in reality and a comprehensive brief that leaves no stone unturned. 

We’re be there to guide you through each step with a blend of professionalism and approachability. By the time you complete the course, you’ll have the tools to expertly structure your project. This includes the invaluable knowledge to choose the right professionals who will keep your project firmly on the path to success.

PLUS we’re offering a discount on our regular price, check it out here!

Come and join our founder Athina & HomeNotes for a one-off webinar on a guide to renovations on a budget. We’ll tackle key topics centred around keeping renovation costs down as low as possible – sign up here – it’s FREE!

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