by Uma Casa Portuguesa

Things to know before renovating a home

Amy Buxton Amy Buxton
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If you're thinking about snapping up a cheap property in order to carry out a full renovation, you need to know everything you can before you bid and we're going to help you with that today. 

Estate agents know that run-down properties are a dream for experienced developers, who have a team of contractors they can commission to revamp them. However, for novices in the field, there are some key bits of information you need to know before you start, which is why we're going to tell you all of them! 

Don't feel like we're trying to scare you off taking on a renovation project; we just want you to have all the facts before you make a decision.

1. Get a proper building report

  by Od Nowa MEBLE

We know that this is a common sense step, but you'd be shocked at how many people don't get a formal building report before buying a renovation property. It might just look a bit tatty and outdated, but what if there are more serious problems that you can't see? 

Don't forget to take a good look at what the house is built on too, as a hidden clay mine could spell disaster!

2. Be prepared to have competition

You might assume that ramshackle old houses won't be very popular, but think again! That property that you think you're going to be able to snap up for pence could actually sell for a lot of money, if property developers see it too! 

Get ready to have some serious competition and prepare for it by getting all your financial ducks in a row, just in case a cash offer will swing the purchase.

3. Don't get ripped off with your survey

Surveys are a bit of a strange one. Legally, you have to have one to buy a house, but technically, they don't give you a huge amount of information and what they do tell you comes with a disclaimer that it could be incorrect. 

It doesn't fill you with confidence, does it? If you can, get two surveys done, by different companies, so you can compare and contrast their notes and recommendations and don't get suckered into an 'in-depth', more expensive one, as it won't tell you anything new!

4. Maintain a tight schedule of works

modern Kitchen by Novodeco

If you are going take the plunge and take on a renovation property, you need to design a tight schedule of works, so you can maximise your profits. 

The longer repair work goes on, the less viable equity you will enjoy in the house, so always hire a team that you know and trust and make sure they agree, in a contract, to your timescales.

5. Be prepared to replace the electrics

Old houses frequently need the electrics replacing and this is a time-consuming and costly job. 

You can't get around this, as nobody wants to buy or live in a home with faulty switches and crackling sockets, so always factor a re-wire into your budget and time frame.

6. Keep an eye out for radiators

When you're viewing a potential property, always keep an eye out for radiators. This is especially crucial in older or rural properties, as you'll be shocked at how many of them have no central heating! 

A modern convenience that very few people are willing to live without, heating will be a big undertaking, if there is nothing already in place, and you don't want to realise that halfway through the project.

7. Have a handle on subsidence

Subsidence is a scary word and brings to mind images of leaning houses and crumbling foundations, but there are different levels of seriousness, so get acquainted with all the facts. 

You might find that a property has the potential for subsidence, which can be prevented with some simple measures, thus saving you thousands, but if underpinning is required, that's going to swallow up a huge amount of cash!

8. Beware of damp

It's not only bathrooms that get mouldy and damp, so as you view properties, make sure you are looking for the signs! 

Crumbling, soft bricks, black stains on the walls and, in serious cases, water running down the walls are all key tells. Damp can be difficult to deal with, so you need to know how serious it is, before you bid!

9. Ask yourself if the house is habitable

This is a key question, as many people will move into a renovation property, to keep costs down while the project is being completed. Is there a usable kitchen, a functioning bathroom and at least one room you would be able to sleep in? 

If the answer is yes, it might be possible to live in your property as you revamp it, but if not, you will have to think about the costs of living somewhere else until you can move in!

10. Look for rotten wood

Replacing wood in a home might not sound like a big deal, but it soon adds up! 

Rotten architrave, door frames and floorboards quickly become a costly endeavour and could be indicative of a pest problem too. Try to get some pictures of any rot you find, so you can show an expert.

11. Don't let cracks put you off

Cracks in the facade of a house can look scary, but don't necessarily mean the house is splitting in two and about to fall into the ground.

A lot of properties develop hairline cracks, inside and out, so make sure you know exactly what you're looking at, before you discount a house.

12. Don't automatically rip out a ground-floor bathroom

Ground-floor water closets might seem old-fashioned to you, but did you know that homes with them sell for more than their toilet-less counterparts? 

Having more than one bathroom is a valuable commodity in a family home, so don't see a downstairs bathroom as wasted space, simply give it a modern makeover!

For more renovation tips, take a look at this Ideabook: The big question: renovate or relocate?

Did we tell you anything you didn't already know?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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