My partner and I are about to start refurbishing a 2 bed Victorian mid-terrace in East London. As part of the refurb we want to add a side-return kitchen extension and have started initial discussions with architects, but given work won’t begin for at least a few months we’re eager to get started on the rest of the house.

With plans to move in in around 8 weeks time we’d like to start on the first floor and work our way downwards, purely to have a nice bedroom to live in whilst the rest of the house is being worked on. But given each room in the house requires very similar work is it a cost effective approach to work on a room by room basis or should we be tackling jobs by type rather than by room (potentially slowing down the progress of the all important bedroom)?

We’re also a bit lost as to what tradesmen we should approach for each specific job and what the sequence should be for the jobs on our list. Any advice would be gratefully received!

The job list to date:

2 x BEDROOMS (first floor), LOUNGE and DINING ROOM (ground floor):

Open up fireplaces in 4 x chimney breasts
(Lounge will eventually have log burning stove installed, other 3 fireplaces will be decorative only)

Build and install fitted alcove wardrobes in both bedrooms
Build and install fitted alcove shelving in lounge and dining room

Add new power sockets, update light fittings and switches (including some relocating)
Address any other electrical, Internet or AV needs whilst walls are open… suggestions?

Change radiators throughout (from basic double panel style to traditional cast iron style)
Some radiators we might relocate or remove

Replace all PVC windows with real wood sash windows
(Although we’ve been advised that builders may need to remove front bay window whilst loading in materials for kitchen extension so not to tackle this yet?)

We have some damp proof work needed in the front bay of lounge, it will require addition of air bricks plus injection damp proof course with removal and reinstatement of plaster necessary

Install wooden window shutters

Install new internal doors throughout including frames

Fit new architraves, skirting and coving

Sand, stain/paint floorboards

Plaster, paint and decorate



Install new stair parts (handrail and balustrades)
Possibly replace MDF staircase (treads and risers) with real wood to match floorboards

Add new power sockets, update light fittings and switches (including some relocating)

Fit new skirting and coving

Repair, sand, stain/paint floorboards

Plaster, paint and decorate


BATHROOM (directly above kitchen)

Rip-out and replace entire bathroom including replacing PVC window with real wood sash window
(kitchen extension architects have advised us not to start on the bathroom until after kitchen is complete as movement during build will occur)

  • Lindsey Davis

    Hi Brendan,

    Good start writing a list of everything that needs doing.

    If the building is structurally sound then it makes sense to move on to the electrics and plumbing. I would get that all sorted first, doing the whole house at once, before moving on to a room by room approach to the decoration.

    If you can measure up the skirting and coving for each room, then that would be a good idea so that you can attempt to get a discount by bulk buying. This will depend on your having somewhere to store it all though while you work your way around the house.

    It would make sense to decorate rooms after the windows have been changed, but this may not be feasible if you are waiting for the extension to be done with the bay. Maybe leave the painting and anything around the window that could get damaged in the room with the bay and hold fire on that one.

    We have a set of PDFs you can download with a full guide to renovating so take a look at this for advice:

    However, I would say that getting a few rooms done which are not connected to where the extension will be, is a good idea so that you have somewhere cosy to retreat to. Just make sure you are thorough with your dust sheets and plastic sheeting in doorways to keep the dust and dirt from spreading.

    Best and good luck,

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