Planning a Building or Restoration Project for Your Edinburgh Home

Whether restoring an Edinburgh period home, adding an extension to your property to create more living space or converting a dilapidated warehouse to an ultra-modern dwelling it’s important to get the right advice from the outset. Here, Edinburgh builder Mackenzie Hughes lays out the key steps for a successful development project to help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

Speak to a reputable builder first.

When you decide to embark on a building project speak to a reputable builder first about your ideas and objectives before approaching anyone else. An experienced builder, with an eye for detail, will be able to advise on the ‘buildability’ of your project – in other words, can your objectives be achieved, or will a compromise need to be reached? Your builder can also pull together the right team of professionals to carry out the work. This will include the most suitable architect, a structural engineer (if required) and the tradespeople with the necessary skills to deliver your objectives. Your builder can also be your main point of contact who will oversee your project from start to finish which will free up your time and minimise the disruption to your regular routine.

Choosing your builder

Choosing the right builder to take care of your project can be a daunting task so how do you go about it? Personal recommendation from people you trust is a good starting point although there’s a world of a difference between a builder who can bolt a basic extension onto a house and one who can successfully undertake an ambitious project to realise your vision so don’t just take the recommendation at face value…ask them the right questions to validate their experience before committing yourself. Some other key points for consideration are as follows:

Is your builder insured?

If your builder asks for a substantial upfront payment before any work is done alarm bells should be ringing as they may not be around to complete the project leaving you high, dry and out of pocket.

Is your builder financially stable?

Always credit check your builder to ensure they have the necessary financial standing to undertake your project. This is especially important just now with the economic effects of a global pandemic hitting many businesses hard.

How reputable is your builder?

Is your builder reputable? Can they provide testimonials from satisfied clients and other professionals in the industry? Can they pull together the right team for your particular project? Gather all this information at the early stages and it can save you a world of pain further down the line.

Setting your budget

Whether you have a firm figure in mind, or simply a rough idea of the funds you would like to allocate to your project discuss it with your builder at the earliest opportunity. They will help you set a realistic budget so there aren’t any nasty surprises as the project unfolds. Here are just some of the factors to consider:

Architects fees – An experienced builder will have worked alongside various architects over the years. By discussing your objectives with them, they will recommend the most suitable architect and the fees you can expect to pay within your budget.

Structural engineer – A structural engineer may be required depending on the nature of the project. An example could be if you wish to remove an internal wall to create an open-plan living space; or perhaps add an extension which is taller than a single storey (your builder should also be able to advise about planning permission). Your builder can appoint a structural engineer if required and build their fee into the budget.


Restored door handle painted in gold leaf

Specifications – The specifications of the fixtures and fittings you choose will have a significant impact on your budget, so it makes sense to plan from the early stage. For example, one of the starting points when planning the colour scheme of a room is, surprisingly perhaps, to choose your curtain material first. Then there’s the lighting to consider. For example, if you would like to showcase your art collection there are various lighting options available that won’t damage your investment. You can read more about lighting your art collection in our previous blog by clicking here.

It’s best to specify as many items as you can from your wallpaper down to your ironmongery and a good builder should be able to help you budget accordingly.

VAT – Most builders will present a quote which will not include VAT. This is because not everything is vatable. For example, carrying out work to a listed building may not be subject to VAT, whereas a project for a non-listed building will be. Fixtures and fittings will have VAT added as will the fees, but again your builder should guide you on this.

If you would like some guidance on planning your own building, restoration or extension project speak to Mackenzie Hughes. Rest assured that we will always give you the best advice from the outset. Contact us on 0131 557 4966.

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