The hardest part when making home improvements is actually taking the plunge and getting started. Most people take their time when it comes to big changes. This makes sense. Houses and people are complex and unique. It makes sense to get to know what you want before you take action. Most of the things that you see in our Open Eco Homes are the result of many years of careful thought, planning and implementation.
Consider what you want your home to become. Often a plan starts with some back of the envelope ideas that people find a compulsion to write down. These first ideas are incredibly powerful and keeping a record of them to refer back to can help you remember what you first wanted to achieve when you started out.
While you are planning is it also important to bear in mind that at every stage in the process there are a few ‘easy win’ actions and opportunities that can help you to get the most out of your eco home journey. So whatever stage in the planning process you are, we hope you find something useful in this section. For those wishing to start with small steps you will find information on this page on Easy Win Actions and Making the most of Opportunities. For those ready to get started on bigger projects, you might want to focus on Creating a Whole House Plan.
Sometimes we only have a small amount of time and money to invest in home improvements. While all homes are different and it is hard to know what is suitable for your home without having a proper assessment done, there are a few easy actions which are suitable for most homes.
Some tips on the order to do things:
Easy wins can help you get started, notice more, and think about what you want. Make sure your improvements are high spec, doing the best job possible rather than ones you’ll regret later as inadequate.
When money is tight and time to research is short, these easy win actions are a good place to start. Take a look at our ‘Easy wins’ information sheet for more inspiration.
There are moments when you have to work on your home that can be great opportunities to put in eco-measures. There are also some jobs that are more efficient and easier to do together.
If you’re planning an extension or another major change such as fitting a new kitchen or bathroom, re-decorating, changing things when a child leaves home, use the opportunity to retrofit other parts of the building.
If you can’t retrofit an entire house, but use one room more than any other, why not make that room particularly cosy? The cost of retrofitting a single room is much cheaper than a whole house and could make life a lot more enjoyable. This could be particularly the case for older people who need a safe cosy space that can be heated cheaply to keep happy and healthy.
If you are ready to tackle a larger project working on more of the house at once, you will need a plan for the entire home. There are two key pathways you can take to achieve this:
Retrofit Co-ordinators or Architects can explain your options and help develop a good plan. They can oversee the building work too. Be ready to summarise your aims and what you want your home to become – along with your budget. Talk about implementing the plan in phases, if needed.
To find professional help:
Most people decide to go with a professional but it is possible to create your own whole house plan. If you decide to do this, you’ll need to be prepared to spend a lot of time researching and preparing for your retrofit.
Transition Cambridge have a useful tool on their website that can help give you some ideas of where you could start and what type of help you’ll need with your home improvements.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy provides advice and information on a wide range of energy saving topics. This is to help people understand all about different forms of insulation, how to get the most out of the heating in their homes, as well as help understanding their energy bills.