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10 things to consider before buying a renovation property in the UK

Before you buy that 'fixer-upper', it's worth considering these points on design, finance, and planning.

5 min read

When it comes to buying a new house, if you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves, you might have been tempted by a ‘fixer-upper’. These renovation projects can be hugely rewarding and allow you to buy property typically out of your budget, thanks to a reduced price tag.

However, those savings do come with their own price. Renovations can not only be time-consuming, but they can also sometimes cost more than they save. To make sure you’re purchasing a home right for you, bear these key factors in mind...

Building or decoration?

The most important question to ask is: what will you be renovating?

Is your property just simply dated? In need of nothing more than a fresh lick of paint and a new kitchen? Or, does the building itself need some TLC? Perhaps the walls are cracked, the roof a mess, the glazing as thin as paper.

If the latter is true, then you’ll be looking at a project that’s both more time consuming and expensive. If you’re not sure about the condition of your property, you can get either a surveyor or architect in to advise before purchase.

Is your property residential?

Another major consideration should be the classification of your potential new home.

If it’s a classic residential home, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you plan on doing up an old barn or church, then you’re going to need to apply for ‘change of use’ permission during the planning stage. It’s worth noting, this permission isn’t a guarantee, and if refused, you wouldn’t be able to reside in the building you’ve purchased.

Again, if you’re unsure about your chances of securing planning, get an architect involved to advise beforehand.

Planning permission

Speaking of planning permission, change of use won’t be your only concern.

If you’re extending or altering the exterior of your home, you might need to apply for planning permission. However, this could be avoided if you’re within your permitted development rights - a scheme introduced by the Government to allow more homeowners to make alterations.

Learn what work is included within your permitted development rights.

It’s worth bearing in mind, permitted development rights do not extend to…

  • Flats
  • Maisonettes
  • Some new developments
  • Homes in conservation areas
  • And listed buildings

This last one is important, as many people choose period properties as their renovation project. While restoring old homes to their former glory is an amazing project to undertake, beware that listed buildings can prove tricky in the planning stage. You’ll face much greater push back, with a greater emphasis on retaining the building’s distinctive features.

Location of the property

Location, location, location - it’s the most important factor in buying a home.

While you’ve most likely considered local transport, schools and amenities, you’ll also need to factor in renovation costs. Those who plan on renovating a property in London are going to pay a lot more for any construction elements than someone having work done in Folkestone. Why?

Because the higher living costs around London pushes the prices on contractors up. Likewise, if you want to renovate a property in a remote location, transportation costs will increase your budget.

Budget needed

Budget is a huge factor to renovations. If you’re doing this as a cost-effective way to buy property, then you want to make sure your renovation costs don’t spiral out of hand.

Discuss with an architect the level of work required and then look into your finance options. Superficial changes (fittings and decoration) can be done cheaply, especially with some DIY, but knocking down walls or extending are bigger commitments.

The good news is, there are plenty of finance options out there for homeowners, with many home improvement products on the market.

Hidden details

When it comes to renovation, it can be easy to get lost in the big picture. Where will your kitchen go? What kind of flooring do you want? But alongside this, don’t forget to pay close attention to those hidden concerns.

Such as…

  • Foundations
  • Plumbing
  • Electrics
  • Roof

These four things are vital to our everyday home lives but can be overlooked in the exciting first viewings. Not only that, repairing or replacing these items are incredibly expensive and not something you want coming as a surprise.

Again, having a surveyor on board can help avoid these surprises.

Do you have nice neighbours?

If your home shares a wall or boundary with a neighbour, you’ll need next door’s consent for any renovation work that may affect it. In most cases, this can be a painless process. With a party wall surveyor (or by yourself) you’ll service notice about your work and if you get written consent in 14 days, you’re good to go. However, if consent is withheld, then you’ll need to arrange a party wall agreement. This can often be a costly legal dispute, taking around 3 months to secure.

Learn more about party wall matters.

Professionals required

Will you go for DIY or get a professional in?

For small renovations, some good old fashioned elbow grease might be just the thing, but for those more substantial projects, you’ll likely need some help.

Professionals you might get onboard could include…

  • Architect
  • Surveyor
  • Structural engineer
  • CCTV surveyor
  • Party wall surveyor
  • Project manager
  • Contractors

Some of these will be a must-have, while others might seem an indulgence. For instance, many assume architects aren’t needed for restoration. However, it’s worth doing your research. Architects are masters of unlocking potential, so if you do nothing else, having one run some concept designs on your property could help you get the maximum value from your new purchase.

Learn more about the benefits of architects.

Ceiling prices

Ceiling prices send a cold shiver up the spine of anyone looking to add value to their home. If your area is affected by a ceiling price, it means that no matter how much improvement you undertake, your home is unlikely to exceed a certain price point on the market. This can be a nightmare if you’ve just invested a large amount of money into a pricey extension. For this reason, we highly recommend researching the house prices in your area before you commit to any costly project.

Where will you live?

If you’re undergoing a major renovation or extension, then time spent on your home could go anywhere between 7 and 15 months - and this is if you’re diving right on in. Many homeowners take years to get their home finished.

However, the most important question you should ask is: when will the property be livable?

If you’re having work done to the roof, pipes, electricals or even an extension, your new home might not be suitable for habitation. This means, along with everything else you’ve budgeted, you need to factor in potential short-term rental fees.

Want to learn more about renovating your potential dream home? Book in a call with our team. We offer free consultations, meaning expert advice is only a click away!

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