If you’re considering sinking your teeth - and cash - into a property that needs major renovation, what are the essential things you need to know?
It’s unlikely the UK’s obsession with DIY is going to disappear any time soon, with homeowners spending more than £40bn doing up their homes in the last five years, according to research from NAEA Propertymark.
But whether a fixer-upper is the only way you can afford to get on the property ladder, or you’ve always dreamed of taking on a project, you need to be prepared if you want to make it a success.
Here are five top tips from NAEA Propertymark, the UK’s leading professional body for estate agents, on buying a fixer-upper.
1. Location, location, location
As with any house purchase, location is key and can affect the future value and desirability of the property. When viewing a fixer-upper, be sure to scrutinise the surrounding homes and how they’re maintained.
There’s also an old saying in property that you should aim to ‘buy the worst house on the best street’ as you potentially stand to gain the most by adding value with renovations.
2. Renovation vs. cosmetic improvements
Depending on your current situation, consider the amount of work a property needs. If you’re hoping to complete the work as soon as possible, you might not want to tackle a home that requires major renovation to make it habitable.
Although it’s likely to result in reduced returns on investment, minor cosmetic improvements such as painting, laying new carpets, replacing windows and refreshing the kitchen are less costly and time consuming.
Above: This three-bedroom 1930s house in Woodford Green, East London, looks like it's barely changed since it was first built. It's the perfect renovation opportunity if you can afford the £625,000 asking price.
3. Be clear on budget
If you’re serious about making an offer on a fixer-upper, you need to be clear on what the improvements will cost. If you’re not planning to do the repairs yourself, ask a trusted builder to join you at a viewing to estimate the costs.
Additionally, figure out what materials and furnishings you will need to buy and how much they will set you back. Always remember to add on a buffer to the total amount in case unexpected costs pop up.
4. Get a survey
Whatever home you’re buying, you should never skimp on a survey. Homebuyers should not make the mistake of thinking the mortgage lender’s valuation report is a comprehensive home survey.
If you’re purchasing a home that needs work, employ a surveyor who will act completely on your behalf, to give you impartial advice on the property.
5. Be committed
Although you can save money buying a doer-upper, issues can pop up along the way which can push the project timeline back and end up costing you more money than first anticipated.
Consider the pros and cons of the purchase beforehand and if you go ahead, remain committed throughout. It might be hard work, but it’ll be worth it at the end when you’ve got your dream home.