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Please note that if you choose the 'e-learning' (course on USB) method, be aware that due to current covid-19 restrictions there are some countries we can not send USB sticks to.

We recommend you choose the online learning method as all online courses provide access to download course notes to access offline or print. If you do require your course to be supplied on USB stick then please contact us first to check availability for your country.

Qualification - Diploma in Home Renovation

Course CodeVSS012
Fee CodeDI
Duration (approx)2100 hours

Make an investment in future with this home renovation course.

Learn how to renovate homes and gardens. The beauty of the course is that you can continue working while you learn. Earn while you learn. Develop skills in masonry, construction, carpentry, landscaping and more. Work through the course supported by our excellent and enthusiastic tutors. They are there to help you every step of the way.

Study 18 core modules of 100 hours each, then choose two 100 hour elective modules.

If you are not sure which modules would suit you the best, our tutors are more than happy to help and advise.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Diploma in Home Renovation.
 Carpentry BSS100
 Cottage Garden Design BHT110
 Home Garden Expert Course AHT101
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Landscape Construction BHT111
 Landscaping I BHT109
 Marketing Foundations VBS109
 Masonry Work BSS101
 Research Project I BGN102
 Starting A Small Business VBS101
 Workshop I BGN103
 Advertising and Promoting BBS202
 Green Walls and Roofs BHT256
 Healthy Buildings I BSS200 (Building Construction and Health) BSS200
 Natural Garden Design BHT215
 Research Project II BGN201
 Healthy Buildings II (Building Environment & Health) BSS300
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 9 modules.
 Bookkeeping Foundations BBS103
 Business Studies BBS101
 Ecommerce BIT100
 Sales Skills VBS108
 Bookkeeping - Applications BBS203
 Permaculture Systems BHT201
 Research Project III BGN202
 Business Planning BBS302
 Thesis Preparation (Research Project IV) BGN301

Note that each module in the Qualification - Diploma in Home Renovation is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Finishing Touches Add Value

The bulk of your financial and time investment in any renovation can fail to realise the return you hoped for if you don't ffinish the work well.

The finishing touches to any job can be the differnce between it being judged mediochre or exceptionally high quality.

You will learn about many of these finishing techniques in this course. 
Finishing timber for instance, is an extremely important consideration which should not be overlooked. Timber which is out of sight, for instance timber studs used inside walls or the inside of the carcass of a chest of drawers may require no finish other than perhaps preservative. Timber which is visible may require finishing to prepare it for use e.g. timber flooring, or for aesthetics e.g. quality furniture. Paints provide the most durable finish, but stains, waxes and varnishes are other options. In some cases a rustic or plain wood finish may be preferable where timber is simply sanded or planed smooth.


Whether you intend to leave your woodwork project with a natural wood finish or you intend to paint, stain or varnish it, you will need to ensure that the wood has as smooth a surface as possible.   

Using a Plane

For rough sawn timbers you may have to start smoothing with a plane or jointer (planer) if you have access to one. This allows you to make timber to different thicknesses to those which are available pre-planned. Before you begin to plane:

  • Secure the timber in a vice.
  • Examine the plane and adjust the depth of the blade to avoid taking too much off.
  • Rub a little candle wax onto the plane to help it move smoothly.
  • Examine the wood grain so that you are sure to be planing with the grain, and by the same token avoid planing across the grain.
  • To avoid blunting the blade, always life the plane rather than drag it back to where you started.

A typical planing sequence would be to start with a jack plane and finish with a smoothing or polishing plane.

  • Jack plane - used to remove rough areas of timber and flatten surfaces. 
  • Fore plane (trying plane) - used for final flattening of a surface. 
  • Smoothing plane - used for finer smoothing of timber.
  • Polishing plane - used to create an even smoother finish than the smoothing plane. 

To rip down a rough-sawn board:

  • Start with one side and look for any raised areas. Plane these down. Flip the board over and plane the other side flat.
  • Stand the board on edge and plane the upper edge flat. 
  • Rip down the opposite edge to within ⅛ inch of the final desired width using a saw.
  • Plane down the edge to the desired depth.  

Some timber surfaces may be prone to tear out where holes appear during planing. This is usually due to grain anomalies such as cross-grain or curly grain. Try planing in the opposite direction and reduce the blade depth to overcome this. If that doesn't work you may need to sand out the imperfections.

Smoothing a Face Edge and Face Side

When planing a piece of timber you can choose a face edge and face side to smooth if you don't need the other faces to be so accurate.
You can check that the face edge is straight by resting a steel straight edge on it and noting any discrepancies. Plane these down.
Check the face side is flat and level by placing a square on the face and moving it all the way down observing whether any gaps or raised areas become apparent. If they do appear, plane them down as required.  


Electric sanders can be very useful for large projects since they may considerably reduce the labour involved. In other cases sanding by hand may be more practical or preferable depending on the intricacy of the work. We covered different types of sanders and sandpapers earlier in the course. You may wish to re-read some of that information now. Some general sanding advice is as follows: 

  • Sand with the grain - you should sand with the grain in most cases since if you sand against the grain you risk making deep scratches which can be hard to get rid of. In some instances it may be necessary to sand against the grain but even in these cases the sanding must be finished by sanding with the grain otherwise there will be blemishes in the surface. An orbital sander can be used where two grains meet at right angles (but only apply light pressure). 
  • Hand sand curves and difficult to reach areas - don't be tempted to try and do this with an electric sander.
  • Use a series of sandpapers with each being finer than the previous one - you will need to judge the timber with a feel test and visual inspection to decide how coarse a sandpaper you begin with. If there are rough edges, scratches and dents to the surface then you will need to start with a fairly course sandpaper. Scratches left by a coarser sandpaper will be smoothed out with progressively finer sandpapers.
  • Take your time - often, having spent time making something there is a tendency to hurry through the sanding because it is quite a time-consuming task. However, a little more time spent now will reap dividends when your final project is free from surface imperfections.

If you follow these steps then your timber will have a perfect surface to receive any other finishes.


Start the home renovation course at any time to suit you.

Earn while you learn, studying in the comfort of your own home, supported by our friendly, enthusiastic and highly experienced tutors.


Meet some of our academics

Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.
Yvonne SharpeRHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.
Timothy WalkerB.A.(Botany), RHS.M. Hort., P.G.Dip.Ed.

Check out our eBooks

Starting a Garden or Landscape BusinessExpert advice on how to get started in your own garden or landscape business! Packed with valuable business advice, horticultural and landscaping knowledge, and practical ideas - this book is a must have for garden lovers. It is great for anyone thinking about (or already involved in) a horticultural, landscaping or garden business. This updated re-print is only available as an e book. Originally published by Simon & Schuster. 125 pages
Starting a BusinessThinking of starting your own business? Many businesses fail, but this doesn’t need to happen! This is a concise, easy to read ebook which alerts you to all of the things that commonly make a difference to business success or failure. Seven chapters include: A Reality Check, The Product or Service, Managing a Business, How to Find Customers, How to Make a Sale, Delivering the Product or Service and Pitfalls to Avoid. 51 pages
What to Plant WhereA great guide for choosing the right plant for a particular position in the garden. Thirteen chapters cover: plant selection, establishment, problems, and plants for wet areas. Shade, hedges and screens, dry gardens, coastal areas, small gardens, trees and shrubs, lawns and garden art.
Water Gardening This book is designed to inspire and educate presenting you with a wide range of possibilities and at the same time, raising your awareness and understanding of how water can be used in any size garden to add interest, coolness and life.