Make Your House Your Dream Home (Renovations101 Summit)

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Planning a renovation or building your dream home is very challenging. This summit provides important tips for running your project smoothly and nicely.

The summit hosted 5 guest speakers. Each one covered a different area of renovations and interiors.

Following you will find worthy advice on how to plan, budget, save money, and hire professionals.

Architect in a renovation project

Light designer in a renovation project

Audiovisuals in a renovation project

Builder in a renovation project

Interior designer in a renovation project

How to master organisation when doing a renovation project


Architect in a renovation project

Our director HMO Architect and WindsorPatania Architects Giovanni Patania spoke about what an architect can do within the development process, and how he can fit in your team. Moreover, he talked about getting planning permission.

Here following you will find the main take-aways you should keep in mind.

What can an architect do within the development process?

First of all, an architect will meet with you and ask you what are your living wishes. You will be asked about what kind of project you have in mind, extension or full building, and what you want it to feel like.

This phase is followed by the design appraisal, which is necessary to check if the project is feasible. It’s important that everything complies with the planning and building control regulations. In this regard, you might also want to check our planning permission guide approved faster, on how to get an HMO planning permission approved faster.

The second step is doing a measured survey. A lot of people underestimate this step, but it’s crucial for the concept drawings. If you are working on an existing building, you can’t do concept drawings without a measured survey.

You’d also need existing drawings (plans, sections, elevations) before getting to the concept drawings. Once you have existing and concept drawings, then you can get to the planning process.

After that the concept drawings have been approved by the client, they can be submitted to the council. It usually takes a couple of weeks for the acknowledgement period.

The council will validate the application, and provide you with a certificate. This document will be really important in case you will want to sell the property, in the future.

After the application has been accepted by the council, it’s time to talk about the building regulation phase.

The architect will go on-site and collaborate with different professionals. They will prepare the documentation that will be submitted to the building control offices.

Finally, after building control gives you permission, the construction process begins. Now we will provide the builder with the tendering pack. This is a very detailed document, containing all the information for the building team.

A good architect will help out with quality control, to make sure the builder follows the instructions. At the very end, building control will sign off a document for refinancing and selling the property.

This is why it’s really important to keep a good relationship with building control. An architect can support you in this step as well. You can find out how we walk our clients through the whole process on our About Us page.

How an architect fits in your power team

An architect should be at the heart of your team. He should cover the role of lead consultant, as he manages all the consultants for you. He should liase with:

  • the leadership team ( quality surveyor, project manager, client) -consultants team, regulatory authorities
  • building team
  • marketing team, in case of larger projects
  • Parting wall, if you are doing a loft conversion or an extension that includes a party will with neighbours
  • SAP consultant for EPC certificates

When do you need Full planning vs Permitted development?

You can apply for PD (permitted development) when it comes to extensions, such as ground floor rear extension, dormer extension, hip to gable loft conversion, side or first-floor extension.

You must remember that dormer extensions must be done at the rear, and cannot be in the front of the property under PD. But you can always have skylights at the front, facing the road.

When it comes to extensions that are deeper than 3 m, or listed building, or conservation areas, or flood risks, then things change. In this case, you will need to apply for a full planning application.

To sum up

Before getting on site you should make sure to have:

  • planning approval
  • building control approval

Only then the construction team can head on site. A lot of people forget about building control’s approval and this could stop your works or, at worst, get you fined.

Light designer in a renovation project

Krishna Mistry is a light designer and taught us how to use light to enhance each space in our renovation projects. If you want to learn more about her, visit her page. During the Renovations101 summit she highlighted how many houses have a great design, but poor lighting.

Following you will finds her main take-aways.

What is the best light type for a residential project?

Natural light affects our mood, as our bodies follow the circadian rhythm. As the day goes on the light increases, and so does our energy.

After midday, light intensity decreases to get our body slowly ready to rest time. It’s important that the lights in our home follow the same path and don’t disrupt our sleep cycle.

For this reason, she recommends led lights with 2700K for residential projects. If we are talking about offices or universities, or places that generally need increasing productivity, you should aim at 4000/5000K.

Which are the main light options to consider?

Lights can have different purposes: create ambiance, highlight features or target objects. Some options she suggests to take in consideration are:

  • Unable lighting- this is new in the market, it changes color as u decrease or increase the intensity
  • Dimmability – no needed in laundry, utility, etc. but they should be in living spaces
  • Beamangle
  • CRI – colour rendering index is important if you are using colours in your home. We measure CRI from a scale 0-100. Anything about 90 will get the most accurate colour portrait in your home.
  • Adjustability – to direct the light perfectly 
  • Glare control – to reduce the potential of the light
light designer renovation

Audiovisuals in a renovation project

Mike Ranpura from SmartlifeAV talked about how to build a smart home. He showed us a lot of products and options during the summit.

Hopefully you haven’t missed it, but if you did you will find our main takeaways here following:

How much does smart lighting cost?

When it comes to smart lighting your best option is to get a remote with different scenes, such as kitchen scene, living room scene, and so on.

This will allow you to adjusting the light by pressing only one button.

In this case, the costs for a single room would be a few thousand pounds, while for the whole ground floor and exterior they would gravitate around £12K.

If you plan to install this technology in your whole house, then you can expect to be spending around £20/25K.

While if you plan to hire a light designer, costs would raise up to £30K, as the light system will most likely be set up in circuits.

A different type of speaker for each room

When it comes to audio, you can set up speakers in all your rooms. You can find different kinds of speakers on the market.

You’ll need to pay particular attention to ceiling speakers, especially if there is an inhabited space above. In this case, you’ll need to make sure to have fire hoods that cover 30 mins in case of a fire.

In the living room you might want a nice system for watching tv, Mike suggests a surround system with 5 speakers.

While in the garden you can place outdoor speakers, which will be partially installed in the ground. There are different designs and heights you can choose from.

audio renovation

Builder in a renovation project

Sanjay from Refurb-it-all showed us some of his fantastic work, if you didn’t get to watch it on time it’s a pity. We will list some of his best advice below to follow for your next project.

Why a good relationship with the builder is important

It’s really important to develop a good relationship with your builder, as he is the one realizing your project physically.

Especially the building control authority, as they are the ones that will release your certificate at the end. But before building a solid relationship, you have to make sure the builder is someone you can trust.

Two questions to ask your builder are: if he is aware of CBM 2015 and F10.

If they are not aware of the latter two, then they don’t comply with the law, and you would probably want to look for someone else.

CBM 2015 is about health and safety regulations. Keep in mind you are initially responsible for the H&S to the site as the owner. You may hand responsibility to the contractor later on.

What are the main challenges for the construction manager?

The top 5 challenges for construction project managers are:

  • budget constraint, Sanjay suggested to save about 10% for rainy days. He also stated to negotiate for the initial deposit and give as little as possible, such as 5% to start the job. Also, leave 5% at the end of the job.
  • time management 
  • unrealistic expectations
  • poorly defined objectives
  • hazard management (H&S)
builder home renovation

Interior designer in a renovation project

Charley from James Violet Studio is an interior designer and architect. During her talk, she advised us on how to choose an interior designer and make sure they are experts at their job.

She also dispelled a myth and dived deep in what interior designers actually do.

How to check if someone is a qualified interior designer

First of all, it’s important to make sure you are working with someone that actually has the skills they declare.

One way to do it is to check if they are part of regulatory SBID (Society of British and International Interior Designer) or BIID (British Institute of Interior Design).

Before taking part to these institutions, interior designers will get their qualifications and past works checked on.

How does the interior design process work?

The process is made by:

  • Design concept direction – brief and imageboard 
  • Detailed design phase 
  • Procurement and implementation – placing orders, suppliers

Why and when do you need interior designers?

Working with an interior designer is ideal to maximize potential space. They can collaborate with architects to plan space, and build functional environments.

They also take care of furniture selection, lighting design, wallpaper and fabrics, project management, and site coordination.

They will help you create your perfect dream home and coordinate every room, according to a specific design scheme.

You should bring interior designers in at the early stage, so they can collaborate with the architects and builders.

If you need planning permission or a facade or structural, electrical, and plumbing, these are all architects’ jobs.

But, if you want to change the finishes, lightings, or move nonstructural walls (partition), an interior designer can definitely help you.

interior designer renovation

How to master organization when doing a renovation-project

Harri is the founder of Renovations101 and other than organizing this amazing summit, she provided us with her key 3 essential steps to renovate.

  • Be organized – organization is essential to run your project smoothly. For this, you might use a filing system ( such as Trello) a calendar or a to-do list.
  • Plan your budget – use Excel to budget like a master. Another tip is to get a minimum of 3 quotes for the job you need to complete, this and searching for pricing on google will give you a better idea of the costs.
  • Research and plan – visit show homes, visit showrooms, create idea books and check social such as Houzz, Instagram, and Pinterest. One bonus tip is that showrooms may have displays on offer, so you can save on your budget while still getting quality.


These were the best takeaways of the Renovations101 summit, now you have all you need to start on your next renovation project.

But if you’d like help to create a space that suits your habits, or need help figuring out your living wishes, don’t hesitate to get a free quote.

The HMO Architect team will be ready to help out through the whole process, so you can relax and focus on your next project.

Picture of Giovanni Patania

Giovanni Patania

(Architect Director, Co-Founder)

Giovanni Patania is the Lead Architect and Co-Founder at HMO Architect and Windsor Patania Architects.

Originally from Siena, Italy, Giovanni worked as a Project Lead Architect at Foster+ Partners, designing Apple stores across the world,

An HMO Investor himself, Giovanni understands property thoroughly, both from an investor's perspective and technically, as an Architect.

With over 15 years of HMO development experience, working on over 150+ HMOs and a 95% Planning and Building Regulation success rate, Giovanni has the expertise and credentials to help you on your HMO journey."



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