Renovation plans for your holiday home

With the dull days of January upon us, and Christmas but a memory, your idle thoughts may be turning to doing some renovation or expansion plans at your holiday home. What factors need to be considered?

If making money from your property is an important part of your household income, do research into how the renovation will increase the value of your holiday lets and/or onward selling and how long it will take you to recoup the money. Ensure that you have the cash flow to bridge the gap. So, if you are putting in a swimming pool in a hot climate, for example, it is sure to be a good selling point for holiday lets, but it may take 3 or 4 years to pay for itself. You might fancy a pool in the UK, but will it really recoup the funds it would take to build it?

Consider the loss of profits from holiday lets while the work is taking place. Have you factored in that for any but the most modest of renovations, your property will not be able to earn its keep for at least six months and you should assume that builders’ schedule estimates always over-run. How will this affect your overall income?

Upheaval to your own enjoyment of the property while things are going on should also be considered. If this is your holiday place it may not be liveable in and certainly not a relaxing place to be for many months, and you may need to factor in the cost of an alternative holiday or holidays for your family.

Having thought about these matters, then you need to turn to considering the build itself.

Finding a good architect or project manager who can produce plans suitable to submit to planning is your first task once you have a ball-park figure for your budget. Try to take recommendations from other home owners in the area who have benefitted from the expertise of a professional, and similarly, if you employ a surveyor. These professionals are particularly difficult to assess in foreign countries, though you may in that instance have the benefit of recommendations from other British or Irish owners. You may also get recommendations from your property management company (though then disinterested advice may be an issue).

When submitting planning applications follow carefully the process required in the local area. Surveyors and architects often have this information at their finger-tips and in some countries you cannot do any real renovation work without their input anyway. It is very important that the body who is authorised to make the final decision signs off your plans, and in some locations (Spain has seen some issues) planning permission has been found to be invalid, with buildings being torn down as a consequence. Wherever your property is located, make sure you go through the correct and complete planning process.

Finding a competent and reliable builder could be the hardest part of the exercise along with the management of the tradesmen on the project if it is a large undertaking. Relationships with builders can be testing at the best of times, but this can be aggravated further by being remote from the site, or when trying to conduct proceedings in a foreign language. Also you should ensure that you employ someone who can give you proper invoices, has the correct and complete insurance in place and follows all required building regulations. If you don’t, in some places you are in danger of breaking the law and having your building work being dismantled, and in all cases you are making yourself very vulnerable if things go wrong.

Finally, do ensure that you inform your holiday home insurance company of your plans before any work commences. This will mean that you have sufficient cover should a claim need to made as a result of the building work, say, for example, some scaffolding is blown off and damages the property in a storm) and additionally, once the work is completed your insurance company will need to re-assess your cover in the light of the extended, higher value property.