How to Renovate or Remodel Your House

Last week sunday I went to a church in ‘Surulere’ Lagos state with a colleague. The project is an uncompleted church building work, though we were asked to come and give advice on the finishes of the house, but our encounter opened our eyes also to errors the parishioners hitherto took for granted.
Hence what we specified in some parts of the project is more of renovation then.

To renovate your building you need to do a self assessment of yourself, list out the problems and your expectations also consider your purse too.

Firstly go for a professional to take a closer look at what you are planning to do before going ahead. He will draw out plan according to your budget and give you the best options available. In our case, when we got to the church after going round and listening to the clients, we proffered solutions to some problem areas. Furthermore we discovered that the building is about 7meters from high tension cable.
Hence we have to advise them against erecting more structure on the ground. The town planning regulations requires a minimum of 45meters setback from the church therefore the plan could not be approved though they have finished building the project, so the only thing is to advise them to limit their spending, town planning issue is a big one presently in lagos, the house could be demolished anytime.

Moving on, the architect will be most favourable to come out with the design and plan based on your budget. After you have both agreed on his recommendations, then the next thing is to look for what you can do yourself at least to save time and cost. Packing, cleaning and clearing sites of debris can be done by you. Looking for a good subcontractor that you must have worked with before could be done by you or leave it for your consultant.

Just as I said in our own case government permit for the church is not attainable, we couldn’t just think of drawing the attention of the authorities, but for you, get the government permit to continue if not, what you will be doing will be illegal especially when it involves large scale remodeling of your building.

What you must look out for

Number one thing to consider is the structural implications on the building. Consider the foundation, is it strong enough and okay to sustain the building because of activities that will be going on the building is likely to be subjected to serious vibrating forces- somebody is hammering, another is dropping cement on suspended floor and other activities are taking place. If the foundation is not satisfactory what can be done to reinforce or strengthen it all this you need to know.

Check other structural elements like columns (pillars) and beams are they in good shapes? From the new design are some of them going to be knocked off, the roof frame is it made of steel or wood? Why and how will your renovation/remodeling work affects it.

The windows are they in good shape? Do they allow water into the house are you thinking of replacing them?

Now check the carpentry works especially in roof, some of them may have been affected by rain water drops from leakages of roof and the roof itself, is the materials used for it okay? If not then you may be thinking of replacing them.

Look at the walls there may be cracks all over and probably a large percentage of plaster may have been falling off what you need to do in such case is to pull down the weak portion or the quadrant around it before you replaster, you may have to apply wire mesh (small tiny wire nets) before the plaster to be able to hold it firm .

Something that we also noticed lest I forget, in the church we went to, we noticed that the fence grill (fence iron) was almost directly under the high tension cable, we had to advise them to remove those iron and replace with ordinary block because they are bound to conduct electricity from those high tension cables, infact one of the church members told us that atimes when people around tries to work on their television antennae, they always experience electric shock. So you see why these laws are actually for our good.

The floor is another area you need to take adequate attention of, do you have some portion of the building uneven or there are some areas that retains water until it dries out, then this is the time for you to take assessments of all.

The services is as well very important, how is the water from your wash hand basin running? Where is it being chanelled to, check all pipes and replace any bad plumbing materials.
The wiring of the house is also very important, any socket in bad shape? What of the entire wiring are those wires naked and exposed to human beings?
The ceiling you are using is it due for replacement? If yes are you thinking of getting one that has good insulating strength? Many of these questions and more you need to ask yourself however you will have to tackle each task based on priorities and what you have in your pocket.

An architect with decades of experience

1 Comment

  1. You site is very educative.I wish to say more grease to your elbow.Please do add pictures of different stages you are discussing.And please what short course can I read to be a qualified builder so I can handle projects. I have a BSC in Political science but my calling is more into buliding. I even have trade test in electrical and Refrigeration.I do wiring most times and draw bulldings for some of my friends.Thanks

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