If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying an old property to do up yourself then you’ll already know that while this can be hard work, you can also reap great rewards; a renovation gives you the opportunity to personalise the house more, reduce future maintenance costs, and even add value to the property. Getting the space just how you like it is especially important if you’re buying a house to move into, but can be equally beneficial if you’re planning to rent the house out or sell it on to another buyer.
Some buyers opt for a self-renovation project, especially if they have experience in home maintenance or are from a relevant profession, but using contractors can be beneficial if you’re not very experienced or don’t have the time to dedicate to the renovation. Taking the time to consider the cost and time investment in a renovation is crucial as rushing into a purchase could leave you to deal with an expensive project. Before investing in a house in need of a facelift, there are some key things you should consider:
1. Have A Budget - And A Buffer!
It sounds obvious but cost is the most important factor when considering a renovation. If you’re buying to let then consider what the property would need in order to be rentable - and make sure you have an idea of rental prices in that area to help you calculate how soon you’d see a return in investment. If the main renovations needed are a new coat of paint and some fresh carpeting then your budget would be much lower than if you’re planning to refit the kitchen and bathroom or even carry out an ambitious extension. As a general rule of thumb, make a list of everything that would need doing to make the property livable, from small fixtures to complete refits, conduct research into prices and even get some quotes.
It’s very important to be realistic with your budget - lots of home owners end up spending double their budget due to unforeseen issues. It’s worth adding at least a 20% buffer to your initial budget to avoid running out of money and being unable to complete your renovations. Although the cost of a property in need of work will be cheaper, you should assess the costs of major adjustments at the outset (and be realistic about the delays and unexpected issues that you might run into). Even if you’re not the builder type, think about how you can carry out less technical jobs to keep costs down, such as stripping wallpaper or taking old carpets to the dump yourself.
2. Location, Location, Location!
It might sound cliche, but location is a very important factor when you’re assessing houses to purchase and renovate. Buying in a high-value area might mean that the house costs more but you’re more likely to see an increase in value within the first couple of years. Do some research on Zoopla and Rightmove to see what houses in the same street are being rented or sold for as this will help show whether you’re likely to rake in the cash short term! On the other hand, you might find something in an up-and-coming area for a more reasonable price which could be a really savvy investment. Taking stock of the surrounding property prices will provide an idea of your upper property value limit while uncovering your target market demographic can help ensure that you’re making renovations that are relevant to people who might rent or buy from you.
3. Take Precautions: Does The House Have Costly Structural Flaws?
Even if you’re buying a house that doesn’t need many alterations, you should always commission a surveyor to develop a building report; a structural report is essential if you’re considering making substantial alterations to an old house. This should highlight any major structural issues that could eat into your budget such as subsidence which is more common in older houses. Unlike with a new build, you aren’t starting with a blank page so it’s important to uncover any difficulties early on in the process.
4. Consider The Legalities Early On
There’s nothing worse than buying a house and having big plans only to find out that you can’t make the adjustments you wanted due to planning permission requirements. Before you sign on the dotted line, you should make sure that planning permission is attainable. Is your building listed as this can significantly limit what you’re able to change? However, for smaller, internal renovations, planning permission may not be necessary so you’ll be able to get started straight away.
5. Do You Have A Schedule To Stick To?
Do you have a particular timeframe for completing the renovations? Accept that there will always be some delays when carrying out a renovation so ensuring that you have a detailed plan can significantly improve your project timeline. You’ll need to consider the order that building work needs to be carried out in. For example, any electrical rewiring would need to be completed before any redecorating and you’ll want to repaint before making changes to the flooring/carpeting.
Having a master schedule is key and it’s also worth breaking down the project into specific chunks such as the ‘kitchen remodel,’ ‘plumbing alterations,’ and ‘bathroom upgrade.’ You could consider hiring an experienced project manager if you don’t have the availability to be on site every day so make sure you factor their costs into your overall budget.
Plan, Plan, Plan To See Renovation Success!
While no plan can ever be foolproof, it’s always important to have a plan B. If you were planning to flip the house to a new buyer and end up spending more than you initially budgeted on your home renovations, you may want to rent it out for a couple of years until property prices are more favourable. Conducting plenty of research at every stage of the renovation process can help you make the best investment and ensure that the renovation goes as smoothly as possible. There’s no one-fits-all approach when buying an older house to renovate yet it can be an extremely rewarding project - and you can see some truly transformational results!