• Questions to ask yourself
  • Two different approaches: pros and cons
  • Our approach and some thoughts

That’s a tough question I wish I had an answer for. The best time to renovate your house will depend on many variables and your own circumstances. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, I’m afraid. This article may not give you a straight answer, but I’m hoping it helps you organise your thoughts, which will, in turn, help you find your answer.

I’ve divided the content into three sections:

  1. Questions to ask yourself
  2. Two different approaches: pros and cons
  3. Our approach and some thoughts

1. Planning the best time to renovate: some questions to ask yourself

I find writing a helpful tool for making decisions. Open a Word or an Excel file, or grab pen and paper. Whatever works for you. Answering some general questions will help you have a good idea of your current situation and circumstances. This, in turn, will help you make an informed objective decision, instead of a rushed one.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself before deciding when’s the best time to start your renovation project.

  • Is the new house in a liveable condition?

If it’s not, there’s not much to think about – you need to renovate before moving in.

  • Do you need to move in quickly?

If the house isn’t in a liveable condition, you’ll need to start renovating so you can move in as soon as possible.

  • How big is the renovation project?

Any home renovator will tell you that renovation projects are always bigger, longer and more expensive than you expect. That said, there are renovations and renovations. Updating a bathroom isn’t the same as a complete renovation requiring structural changes, a new layout or an extension. The bigger the project, the more planning, time, effort, money and energy it will require.

  • Can you live in the house during the renovation or would you need to move out?

If you can’t, you need to think about where to stay in the meantime and how long can you afford that.

  • Do you plan to live in the house for a long time?

If you’re renovating with a view to move up the property ladder reasonably quickly, you may want to renovate as soon as possible; this will allow you to enjoy a newly-renovated home for a few years before moving out.

  • Do you have additional big personal or professional commitments at the moment?

Renovating a house is stressful and exhausting, even if it’s not you doing the actual renovation works or DIY. Constantly thinking, searching, discussing and making decisions drain your energy. In an ideal scenario, you’d want to renovate when you have no other big personal or professional commitment apart from your regular ones.

2. Two different approaches to home renovations: pros and cons

1. Renovating before moving in or as soon as you move in


  • The renovation nightmare is over (more or less) quickly.
  • You don’t have to wait too long to enjoy your renovated home.
  • It forces you to adopt a very focused and practical approach to making decisions, as you need to move on quickly from one thing to the next.


  • Not enough time to recover from a stressful situation (buying a house) before getting into another stressful situation (renovation).
  • Risk of making wrong renovation decisions, as you haven’t used the space for long enough.
  • Having to make too many decisions in a short period of time may lead to rushed decisions and decision-making fatigue.

2. Renovating after living in the house for a while.


  • You’ll be able to better figure out what works and what doesn’t after living in the house for a while.
  • The more you wait, the more you can save and the bigger the renovation budget.
  • You can start planning long before the renovation starts in a more organised and calm way, which will help make quicker final decisions during renovations.


  • If you wait too long, you may end up not renovating at all if your circumstances and plans change.
  • The longer you wait, the more time you’ll spend researching. In some cases, too much information can become overwhelming, making it harder to make decisions.
  • The longer you wait, the higher the risk of old things breaking down. You may find yourself having to choose between temporary solutions or starting renovations earlier than planned.

3. Our approach and some thoughts

When we bought our previous house in Oxford, we lived there for a year before renovating. This allowed us to use the space for long enough to better decide the type of renovation we’d go for. Initially, we thought we’d need to replace the bathroom and the kitchen, and we’d also do some other smallish renovation tasks. The longer we lived there, though, the more we realised that only a full renovation would solve all the issues we were spotting. We ended up changing pretty much the whole layout, demolishing outhouses, creating a new staircase, adding an extension, taking down walls… and it turned out to be the best approach because we got the best out of the house, which sold well and quickly when the time came.

Our approach with renovating our current flat in Edinburgh remains the same: live here for a while before starting renovations. In these last four months, we’ve spotted a number of things that don’t work, changed the way we use different rooms, shuffled furniture around and come up with different layout ideas. Our main renovation plans are clearly defined now and we got planning permission just a few days ago. Works will start at some point this year, but not anytime soon. I’m spinning quite a few plates at the moment working and studying Scots law to sit an exam in May.

When do you think is the best time to renovate? 

Share your thoughts on this Instagram post

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Bear in mind that this blog is for informational purposes only. The content published in The Home Reporter does not constitute legal advice and you shouldn't rely upon it as such. I won't be liable for any loss or damage resulting from or in connection with your use of this blog.

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Irene Corchado Resmella

Irene Corchado Resmella

I'm a Spanish freelance translator living in the UK since 2011. After fully renovating and selling a Victorian end of terrace house in Oxford, I recently relocated to Edinburgh with my Scottish husband.

In The Home Reporter I share everything home and lifestyle – from renovation stories and interiors inspiration to tips and anecdotes about buying a house, working from home and relocation. Lover of bright spaces, wooden floors and matte finishes.

Find me on Instagram.

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