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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Hello dear neighbors! 

Having rented a place in the Harringay Ladder we are now in a process of buying a 3 bed house on the other side of the Turnpike Lane station. The house is old and in need of a large refurbishment.

Unfortunately, it is in a poorer state than we originally assumed. I feel a little overwhelmed by the project and was wondering if anyone in the area has done or is currently doing a similar task. We were going to get separate contractors to do different jobs and project manage ourselves (my other half is a teacher so most work would be done during school holidays), however, I am now wondering if that would be wise. Does anyone has advice on this? If we were to go with a building contractor to oversee all or most of the job, recommendations would be most appreciated!

The renovation would involve re-roofing the extension, knocking down chimney breasts in the 1st floor and installing chimney support in the loft (current owner removed fireplaces downstairs without any support which resulted in sagging ceilings!), fitting new kitchen, bathroom, boiler, changing gas pipes, rewiring and obviously redecorating throughout. We are also looking into a possibility of creating a kitchen/dinner as the current kitchen is funnily shaped while the dinning room is dark but I am yet to find out how much it would cost as I don't think we can get away without installing a steel beam which sounds very expensive.. - is it?).

So. A mammoth job! 

It would be amazing to find someone in the area who has experience in undertaking a similar project and could advise us with recommendations and tips. 

Many thanks!


Tags for Forum Posts: builder, house reburbishment

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I've done that type of thing, first with a 1 bed flat and then with a 3 bed house on the ladder. With the flat we tried to do a lot ourselves and just got people in for things we couldn't do or found hard like the gas pipes, boiler etc. With the house on the ladder we had a  "proper" builder with team doing most of the things you mention and and left us to do decorating type things, then later on we also did a loft conversion with another builder.

If you like DIY then i think it can be fun and rewarding doing things yourself but it can be a huge amount of work. Somethings are quite easy, like making a kitchen out of ikea flat packs, tiling a wall or floor isn't too hard, our attempts at plastering were mostly a disaster. Its also very messy, once you start pulling at walls and ceilings the building dust quickly gets everywhere, we lived at the house through it all, ended up for a couple of months with just the living room habitable we tried to be careful but the dust still got in and it was crammed with all our stuff, bed, toaster and microwave for hot food, over a cold winter with only the open fire place for heating and just single cold tap outside which was a bit grim.

You may or may not need a steel beam to open up the kitchen/dinner, from what i remember of ours they had hoped not to but after they'd started they found some existing joists needed replacing anyway and it was easier to put a steel beam across, i don't remember how much extra that was but i don't think it was a comparatively huge expense.

For a builder i do recommend the builder who did our loft conversion - http://alblofts.co.uk/ - that site is for lofts but he does all the type of work you're talking about, he has electricians and plumbers etc and they seemed really competent, he's happy to fit in with letting you do bits and pieces yourself or source your own materials etc, and he was much cheaper than all the other quotes and estimates we had. If you call tell him Ant from Frobisher Rd recommended him.


We too found that the house we bought needed MUCH more work than expected and we lived in it through new roof/ceilings, rewiring, replastering, new floor, chimney breast, boiler and radiators etc. Very happy to discuss the issues we encountered and things we got wrong. Don't be afraid, it will be done. Just not soon...


I am happy to recommend  Theodoulou Building contractors, they are excellent from start to finish overseeing all that needs to be done,my neice purchased her house in january ,it needed extensive work which was carried out by this contractor the work is amazing ,not overpriced ,no stress for my niece as all she had to do was tell them exactly what she wanted and that is exactly what they did. incidently she moved in last week.They can be contacted on : 07732887204 just ask for sof.

You are seriously brave! I have had some work done in my house recently, and can recommend that you take time off if you're going to project manage, as it's a huge job and quite stressful! Saying that, if you love DIY i'm sure it will be great having your own 'grand design'.

I can recommend these guys for your roofing -  http://www.guttercleaninglondon.co.uk/ although they are called 'gutter cleaning london' they do pretty much everything with roofs, respond quickly, and are courteous and friendly.

For the internal stuff, I have already posted a recommendation for London Capital Painters in the tradesmen recommended section - Radek and his team do big or small jobs - ceilings, walls, carpentry - you name it, have years of experience, and Radek is good at managing projects too and has lots of contacts in the business. His number is 07912891266 or you can email him at radektober@gmail.com. Saying that, do make sure you get quotes from at least three people and ensure that you check their credentials. I found the building sheriff website (Radek recommended I use it) really useful http://www.buildingsheriff.com/ for checking building quotes.

Good luck! Its always nice to hear that people are doing up the old ladder properties.

Philippa (07961 164537) and her team have put in a new bathroom and tidied up a loft room for us. She's great - very honest and very knowledgeable and very easy to get on with. We would have spent more money for a worse result if we'd tried to project manage it ourselves.


We've used Ian at Go-Star electrics a few times - he's very approachable, thorough and explains everything that needs doing before doing it http://www.freeindex.co.uk/profile(go-star-electrics)_363021.htm

We did major work on our house in the Gardens about three years ago. I would suggest that what you describe is quite a big job and even if you use a main contractor you should plan to be around every day to make the hundreds of big and small decisions which will be necessary. If you project manage yourself, you'll need good project planning skills because the sequencing of work is very important - if you haven't ordered something in time, you can easily find that the builders run out of things to do. You'll also need very good communications with your builders who will need you to order all sorts of surprising things you've never heard of, and in large quantities. One thing we hadn't properly planned for was the time and effort involved in getting party wall agreements and liaising with the council's Building Control departmen (see the council's website). The latter will need drawings (ideally professional) for any structural work. We got an architect friend to do ours at low cost - its worth pulling in all your contacts. All this kind of thing has to be done up front. Unsupported chimney stacks are depressingly common - we had one which needed three beams for support in the end. We ended up needing five beams all told which cost us about a grand I think. We used a structural engineer to do all the calcs and specs: Mike Forni at http://www.orbitalconsult.co.uk/. I wouldn't recommend our builders as we ended up suing them (also depressingly common). My two main pieces of advice would be firstly to stretch your ambitions if you can afford to. Think about a side return or an extension. You will never want to do work on the house again, and it will never be so cost effective, so you might as well get it all over with in one! I really regret some of our more limited decisions. Secondly, I would honestly say that unless you feel pretty confident on what structural work involves, get a good building contractor. Trades work in mysterious ways and learning your way around them is an expensive business. All that said, it is possible to enjoy this kind of project, you will learn masses and you will feel so proud of what you've done!

I don't know if we were just lucky but our experience of the things like party wall agreements and with Haringey council planning and building control was good. We were quickly given direct phone numbers to avoid the main switch board and they were very flexible and quick with coming around when needed for inspections and were friendly and helpful with advice. We did have drawings done by an engineer for the loft conversion but for the earlier work we didn't need anything like engineers or drawings for removing chimney breasts/supporting the stack or things like putting in lintels above french doors or the kitchen/dinner, the building control officer just worked it out with the builders what was being done and the type and size of the support required.

Thank you all so much.

Right, I now know we're definitely crazy to embark on this. None of us has any experience with DIY, buildings, etc. So I guess we'll definitely need a building contractor to oversee the job.

Another major point here is finance, of course. In our case it is dictated by what we've got, not yet by what we'll definitely need. I feel tempted to state our budget here but I'm also worried you'll just say thats not enough (but i guess its not too late to pull out even though we have already invested money and time on this). Any suggestions for what the reasonable budget is likely to be - from your own experience? 

 neiltingley, it would be amazing if you could advise on contacts and pricing (yes, please!). What contractor did you use? How long did it take? How much did you spent in total (I assume there is a PM option in here if you dont want to write in the forum). 

Thanks again! 

We project managed the refurbishment of our flat from damproofing to final fittings. I too am a teacher and spent most holidays for a year working on the flat. I estimate this cut our costs by at least half and found the process very rewarding. We are going to do the same on the 3 bed we are buying now. Happy to recommend A S Heating a local Haringey Gas Engineer. He undertook all the heating and plumbing work in my current flat and we are planning to use him again in the house we are about to purchase. He was reasonably priced and did an excellent job. (07595 165972) Good Luck

I would recommend getting references, following up on the references and making sure references are real if spending in the order of 10's of thousands of pounds. From an electrical perspective make sure the person doing any work is part P registered. They should be registered to a body such as elecsa, niceic or napit. If someone gives you a nice quote as part of the A team securing business but the people turning up to do the work is B team do not speak english then wonder if they know the regulations for electrical installation work in england and wales BS7671. There is a lot of work that is not done correctly and once plastered over and cealed under floors etc there is no way of telling some problems until faults occurs in years to come. Always make sure that there is at least one person on site doing the work who is part P registered and if you have a honest person you should be OK. It may cost more to do the work correctly to standards as there are regulations that part P people are supposed to work to such as running cables in safe zones now etc etc. Spoken by a part P person myself. Regards Ian


We're doing something similar for the last 5 months - it has its moments. But overall its been a pretty positive experience.

Unsurprisingly we've had a mixture of brilliant and not so brilliant trades-men (though all decent enough people, we haven't had any nightmares). I suppose the 2 main things that I'd suggest would be:

- You may be asked to pay in instalments, which is fair enough (materials/labour etc), but make sure you hold back a chunk until you're entirely satisfied with what they've done. As long as you're reasonable about it, they'll understand.

- Go into some detail about everything you want them to do  and make sure its noted down for both of you, not just a conversation. This should include who pays for materials and what the materials should be (the plumber went ahead and fitted plastic piping everywhere instead of copper, I know it sounds nit-picking, but you'll be surprised how picky you can become when you're running the show).  This avoids any mis-understanding which hopefully makes everything a lot less stressful. Even still, unless you're very lucky, some stuff won't be right. They'll always be a snagging list at the end, so its worth confirming that they'll make good anything that doesn't make the grade (see first point).

Good luck!



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