Home improvements

Having become a homeowner in the past 12 months, and spending more time at home than usual, I’m beginning to think about home improvements (when it is safe to do so). Specifically, we’d like to do two things:

  1. Knock through the wall between the living room and playroom and put in a large (more than double) doorway

  2. Landscape the garden - extend the patio, build a slightly raised bark chipping play area, have someone professional put some input into the design to make most use of light/space/aesthetics.

I know we could save money by doing more if the latter ourselves but we are (relatively) time-poor and cash-rich and not at all handy!

With the wall, where do we start? Do we call a builder first, or a surveyor? I’ve never done anything like this before and feel very out of my depth. The most extensive dealings I’ve had with tradepeople (in a professional context) is calling a plumber to trace and fix a leaking toilet cistern. We live in the South East of England. How much should we save up before we start contacting people for quotes etc?

Those are the two things that we want doing to our house! Knock a wall down and landscape the garden.

We got a local builder to come round and assess the wall the other week while he was concreting a floor in another room. Thankfully ours are just plasterboard so can come down with no issues. I guess if he was unsure he would ask for a surveyor? :man_shrugging:

As for the garden. I was considering hiring someone on Fivver for like £20 to do a 3D render. There are even people on there that will do architectural drawings so you could pass them to a professional to get all the bits and do it all precisely as per the design.

My problem is that I don’t know if I trust Fivver. I hate that there are people on there that do “logo designs” and stuff but I guess it’s ok for a garden design to get a rough idea what you want and then buy the bits or hire someone to do it? :man_shrugging:

I did not consider Fivver.

I need to do something to my garden, I’m on the borderline of just hiring a landscaper & paying a few thousand to just do the whole thing for me :joy:

How friendly are you with your neighbours? Have any of them had work done recently (or look to have had work done at some point in the recent past)? If you can ask them about their work that’s a great way of finding out which local tradespeople have a good reputation (or are to be avoided). You’d start with a builder, I’m pretty sure, they’d be able to assess the job and either give you a quote or advise you if you need to do any further research/surveying.

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I’ve never used them and normally wouldn’t have but it came up in a search.

To be fair some of them look pretty decent so worth a punt? Maybe when I get paid next week I’ll try one and I can report back here :slight_smile:

You’ve got me thinking if there is an online designer tool I could use, similar to those kitchen builder ones… :thinking:

Edit: It would appear there is and there are even some pre-made examples too. It is a bit basic though.

Or if not you can use checkatrade or similar as a starting point.

A surveyor is a bit over the top for a relatively bog standard knock though a wall job, a competent builder would be able to cope with it , you would need building regulations for the job though if it was a loadbearing wall , basically to assess the lintel compliance with regulations. and issue a certificate which could be required on sale of the property. Maybe check with your local council.

a large more than double door way in a loadbearing wall would be a more expensive proposition than an opening in a stud non load bearing wall, once you get outside standard openings and put doors on them … ie more than double door width the price goes up accordingly for the non standard solution.

Is the wall load bearing - a block wall in a house doesn’t necessarily mean its loadbearing, or non load bearing , the floor boards above would give a clue as in they will run in the opposite direction from the joists which will sit on a wall (loadbearing) or run parallel to the wall in question.

If its loadbearing the floor above would need propping for demolition - more expensive than not needing propping

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Be very sure about knocking a wall down. It’s something that really knocks sale potential (in my view) because separate spaces are worth more than big spaces. I know a number of people who’ve taken a walk out only to want it back later and then having to settle for a poor (sound insulated) stud wall rather than the block/brickwork that was there originally.

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lol the fashion this decade is for open plan living :slight_smile:


As it was a few decades ago. Then it wasn’t. Forget fashion, work out what works for you :grinning:

(In our second house I went the kitchen/diner route rather than knocking through front to back as every other house in the area seemed to have done. Finding one that hadn’t been knocked through in the first place was a challenge)


It certainly is. More of a family friendly / entertainment place.

It reminds me of the South Park episode where all Randy does it knock down a wall to make it more of an “open concept” :rofl:

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For all we know, the wall the OP wants to knock through could already be a stud wall.

From watching Homes Under the Hammer in the mornings more often now I’m WFH, separate spaces are important upstairs (bedrooms! privacy!) but open plan is more in demand downstairs (especially kitchen/dining areas).

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lol I love how some conversations develop on our readings of the first posts on this forum, Frank Lloyd Wrights designs next …falling water …but I only wanted to knock through :slight_smile:


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So my response to this is “what’s the alternative?” I sort of assumed this was the only route…

It’s definitely not a load bearing wall, fortunately.

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Do it myself … got some friends that have done theirs, so they’ve offered to help etc.

I completely understand this. The separate spaces was actually the reason why I love our house so much. I’m hoping that a doorway instead of an opening will be a fair compromise, although I need to think carefully about how it affects furniture placement. I’m going to mark out the proposed doorway in tape and rearrange furniture accordingly to see how we feel about it.

I’m not too worried about resale value as we expect to be here for 10-15 years so it’s more worthwhile making it work for us.

With a toddler it is more important to have separate spaces that can be kept (relatively) free of toys and can be shut off, but she can open doors now so it’s less useful but still important.