The cost of heavily refurbishing a flat in Brighton in 2020

Build was converting an open plan shop into residential (two bedroom flat).

Add 10% waste for all skirting, flooring and tiles.

Estimate the cost of the electrics as you go along if they're not defined by the architect or you're diverging from what the building contractor has specified. Anything to do with getting a new supply of electrics or water costs at least a grand.

Patching the roof up was an unexpected expense.

Do all your fixtures and fittings the same colour? If you go for brass taps, say, does everything else match: sockets, window handles, ceiling roses, plug holes, light switches? You will be surprised how many things are steel...

Put the washing machine right next to the dryer. Think about which side your toilet roll holder will be on. An outside tap is really useful if you have a patio/garden.

Building controls - signing off

If building control have asked for a sound test you might need to get it done before the floor goes down. If the pavement has been damaged during the build you may be asked to repair it. However, your normal builder might not be able to do it.

Double the sound insulation between floors. In fact, triple it! The acceptable minimum dictated by the sound test isn't acceptable for people, especially if there are kids running around upstairs.


Be cautious about taking on extra debt before applying for a mortgage. A credit card might get you through the build but a maxed credit card won't look good on your credit record. If possible, borrow money from friends/family and zero those unsightly credit cards.

Development loans: expect to pay 1% a month.

Itemised costs

Item Unit Cost
Howdens kitchen small 3500
Howdens kitchen medium 8500
Bathroom tiles m2 35
Engineered oak flooring m2 35
Scaffold tower 500
New water supply 1000
New gas supply 2000
Sound tests 2 vertical airborne, 2 vertical impact 500
New electricity supply 2000
Skirting board 168mm (primed MDF) m 5.59
Architrave (primed MDF) door (both sides) 42
Painter room 500
Paint 10L per room 36
Bathroom suite small (en suite) 800
Flush plate (black) 68.98
Concealed cistern 66.3
Freestanding bath 429.97
Towel rail (black) 110
Towel roll holder 14
Toilet pan and seat 124.97
Flexible pan connector 22.03
Shower waste 17.03
Basin waste 17.03
Waterfall tap 42.01
Quadrant shower enclosure 199.97
Vanity unit with sink 74.99
Shower unit 168.76
Internal fire door 100
Front door 300
Front door frame 120
Letterbox 100
Front door locks cylinder + deadlock 100
Refurbished cast iron radiator with valves/stays 200
Nest thermostat 169
Large LED bulb 24
Decorative flex, bulb holder and ceiling rose 18
Internal door handles pair 15
Door hinges 3 per door 15
Full cost of single spot (1st, 2nd fix labour and materials) 50
Single dimmer (brushed aluminium) 11.77
Double socket (brushed aluminium) 6
External wall light 35
Washing machine 350
Tumble dryer (condenser) 350
Wooden floor (engineered, click fit) m2 35
uPVC Windows TBC

Kitchen tiles


We went with white uPVC and changed the handles to silver. I'm fond of Velfac but we just went along with what the builder specified.


The kitchen and lounge ceiling are almost 3m high so I went for large skirting board. Also the standard ogee and torus profiles seem very fussy, bullnose is much simpler. Similarly for the architrave. Make sure the plumber knows how high your skirting boards are.

Working with architects

We initially used a traditional local architect but it was expensive and we weren't that happy with the results and service. So we ended up submitting revised plans from Archiplan. These were much better value. However, the architect we chose didn't come to site so there were some ommisions and features that didn't work which may have been mitigated by coming in person. In hindsight I wish I'd had more involvement at this stage. Fortunately our builder was really savvy and challenged anything that didn't make sense.


See these handles.

Build quotes

The most expensive quote was double the cheapest. We went for somewhere in-between.


We received wildly varying quotes for painting, the most expensive was thrice the cheapest.

Utility room

Options were a little limited with this room. It was originally part of an original extension with a low flat roof, consequently the ceiling height after putting down the floor and insulation is only 2.1m. The online architect had had combined this room with the kitchen space but having not visited the site he didn't realise the original external room was between.


Something not immediately apparent from the plans is that the back of the property is 600mm higher than the front. In the original plan the bathroom was on the lower level but the soil pipe was higher up at the back. The builder offered some solutions with pumps but ultimately the decision was made to relocate the bathrooms to the back and move the kitchen.


A mixture of rads from various sources. Refurbished cast iron rads seemed cheap at £50 each but with sandblasting, lacquer and valves/stays they weren't so cheap.


Went for stone tiles but remember you may need have to treat/seal them before they are laid.


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