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Top tips for indoor home renovations in the countryside

White countryside cottage with a thatched rood and green door.
With more time spent at home in the last few months, many of us have been looking at ways to improve our personal spaces. Whilst many people have gone down the DIY route to help give their homes a new lease of life, others have opted to use the time for a larger scale home renovation. From improving your home office space, or restructuring the communal areas of your home to make them work better for you and your family, home renovations have become hugely popular. In fact, more than two in five homeowners have planned to renovate or extend their home since the beginning of the pandemic.* 

Whether you’re looking to restore a period property, you’re undertaking a farmhouse renovation or looking to modernise your country home, there are many ways to approach a renovation, but what are the key things to consider and where should you start?

Planning your renovation 
There can be lots of unexpected problems when it comes to renovations, which is why it’s always a good idea to have a thorough plan and schedule of work. It’s important to build some contingency time into this plan, just in case things don’t go as smoothly as you would hope. 

You will also need to make sure you have adequate renovation insurance to cover your property once works begins (it can also be called and referred to as building work insurance or house refurbishment insurance). This is particularly important if you plan to use money from your mortgage to fund the project. Some mortgage providers will require proof of insurance before they release the funds. 

It’s also important to let your mortgage provider know if you’re making any renovations, even if you don’t plan to use the money from the mortgage to fund this. This is because it could potentially invalidate your standard mortgage policy.

Planning permissions
It’s important to make sure that whatever work you carry out, especially if you’re looking to extend, falls within the planning criteria of your local council. In 2019, the rules on extensions were relaxed meaning that the maximum length an extension can be built without the need for full planning permission was doubled to six metres for terraced and semi-detached houses, and to eight metres for detached houses. While this has made things simpler for things like smaller scale kitchen extensions, or those wanting to create more living space, you do still have to notify your local council.

There are some exceptions to these rules and there can also be different restrictions depending on the age of your house, whether it’s listed or whether it’s within a conservation area. Before any work begins, it’s important to find out the permitted development rules for your area by visiting your local council website. You can also find out information about your area from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ MAGIC map which allows you to see geographical information for a specific region, all of which has been collated by various government bodies:

In the countryside, an area of land can contribute to the beauty of its surroundings, so any plans for building work that would impact the landscape or beauty of the area may face setbacks. Similarly, in areas of outstanding natural beauty or national parks, the focus is on making sure any renovations don’t effect the visual form of the area. As the land here is likely to be protected for its natural benefits to its surroundings, both visually and environmentally, it’s important to read up on the specific restrictions of your local area. 

Finding the right people
Taking the time to find the right tradesmen to work with is also crucially important for any renovation project. Having the right professionals on hand from the outset will help you to properly assess your space and decide on a plan that fits your needs as well as your budget, avoiding any potential mishaps later in the project. They will also be able to advise you on the best materials to use, and their availability which will also help you to budget and ensure that you achieve the finish that you really want, at a price you’re happy with. 

If you’re not sure where to start with contacting tradesmen for your renovation, there are many websites dedicated to providing information on local property services, such as well-known site,which also allows you to see reviews from people who have used a tradesmen’s service, as well as price guides for specific jobs.

Even the best-laid plans can have unexpected hiccups, especially when renovating older properties, so it’s important to have some leeway in your budget so you don’t get caught out by unexpected costs. 

Improving your rural home energy
Renovating your property is a great time to think about whether your home energy is working as efficiently as it can be and the first step is establishing which fuel is best suited to your property, especially if you’re looking to incorporate some eco-home improvements.

Oil has traditionally been a popular option for rural homes, providing homeowners with hot water and heating right when it’s needed most. 

If you’re looking to switch to a more sustainable fuel option**, renovating can be a great time to make the transition from oil, which is quite costly and has a negative impact on the environment in comparison to other fuel options such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (or LPG for short) LPG***.  

LPG is not only efficient, but versatile too, meaning it can power everything from your hob to your heating. LPG boilers for central heating are also generally quieter than their oil equivalents and the process of installing an LPG heating system can also be more affordable. With a higher number of Gas Safe registered engineers than OFTEC (oil boiler installers) technicians, it can be a simpler process for you too**.

With all the same functionality as LPG, BioLPG is a great option for those looking for a lower carbon alternative. BioLPG can reduce your carbon emissions by up to 38% compared to oil and 15% compared to standard LPG***. Made from a blend of waste, residues and sustainably sourced materials, BioLPG works in the same way as LPG, so switching isn’t a problem and you can keep the same tank and even the same boiler.

When is the best time to think about home energy during a renovation?

This should be part of your initial renovation plans as pipework and the placement of your boiler will be extremely important. 

Involving a heating engineer from the outset will help you to plan and avoid any issues further down the line. They’ll be able to survey your property and asses how you use your heating and hot water. This will allow them to establish where best to install your boiler, as well as considering how the space might evolve into the future. For example, you might want to add underfloor heating in a few years or extra radiators, which could affect the placement of the boiler. 

You can find a local LPG qualified Installer through Calor’s handy find an installer tool: 

If you’re keeping your boiler where it is, renovating is a good opportunity to service your boiler to ensure it’s in the best condition and just in time for you to enjoy your newly renovated home! 

Let there be light
Whether your property is new or old, there’s plenty you can do to revamp your home and we’ve gathered some of the top renovations rural home owners might want to consider, starting with looking at your windows. Installing larger windows has been a big trend in the past year, with many people wanting to link their indoor and outdoor spaces in a seamless way. Installing larger windows in your home is a great way to increase the amount of natural light and can make the rooms in your house look more spacious. 

Not only that, but having more natural light around your home is thought to contribute to a better sense of wellbeing. This could be a great option for those renovating in rural areas with more scenic views to enjoy. 

Bringing the outdoors in
Many of us have found more ways to keep ourselves busy in our gardens over the past year and if you’re in the countryside you may find yourself with the space for additions such as a conservatory or an orangery, which can be a great way to connect the outside to your home. 

With the the merging of outside and indoor spaces becoming increasingly popular, being able to open up sliding doors to your garden or patio can make your home feel more open and spacious. So, whether it’s mid-summer or winter, it can provide a great option to feel like you’re experiencing more of the outdoors. 

Multi-functional spaces
A large proportion of the country have had to adjust to living and working under the same roof, which has prompted many to think about how they really use the spaces in their home. Perhaps your dining room doubles up as a home office, or you’d like a little more space to be sociable with friends and family? If so, thinking about ‘zoning’ your home can be a great way to approach your renovation. 

With open-plan living still high on the design agenda, thinking about using colour schemes and different materials to create distinct spaces within an open-plan area is a great way to develop practical spaces that can evolve with you and your family’s lifestyle. 

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to renovating your property, but having a thorough plan, trusted tradesmen and a clear vision of your end goal will ensure your improvements enhance your home for many years to come.