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Buying a property that needs some work can save you thousands on the initial purchase price, especially in pricier areas, but it certainly comes with its own set of challenges. You need to approach a renovation project differently than a standard home purchase. These steps should be your priority when you get handed the keys.
Before you do any shopping around for furniture and paint colours, you need to know what you have to work with. It’s essential that you know how much you can spend on your renovations, which starts with working out the costs for each room, factoring in the structural work, any electrical and plumbing costs, and finishing touches.
Bigger projects like fixing the roof or rewiring the whole property should be your priority, so make sure you have enough to cover these costs before anything else, and factor in 15% more to your budget for unforeseen costs. There are always issues that arise that you haven’t planned for, so having a bit of wiggle room in your budget for these situations will mean your entire project isn’t derailed by one problem.
If you plan on renovating your property while you’re living in it, which is the case for most home renos, then you’ll need to make sure it’s safe and hygienic before you move in. When you get the keys, make the most of the empty property to do a thorough clean through of your new home and rid it of dust and grime. In older homes that have been empty for long periods or have suffered disrepair, you might be contending with pests and infestations, so you need to deal with these straight away to make sure that you’re not living among bugs and other pests. Get the windows open straight away to ventilate the property and thoroughly scrub down all surfaces for peace of mind.
Renovation projects tend to be older homes, so they’re likely to have had many owners during that time who have put their own spin on the property to modernise it. But if you’re planning on refurbishing the home and restoring it to its former glory, you need to do your research into the genuine period features of the property and work out which ones you want to retain so you can protect them so you can maintain the character of the property. It can be just as damaging to the home’s restoration to install features that wouldn’t have been there originally as to remove them, so research is key.
It’s a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised work on a listed property or a home in a conservation area, so you need to be sure that you have permission to go ahead with any planned works on your new home. Before you make a start on renovations, it’s worth checking whether your property is listed and if it is, you’ll need to gain Listed Building Consent for any alterations you want to make.
Even just painting a listed home could leave you in hot water, so it’s worth checking to be absolutely sure before you go ahead. If you need to apply for planning permission, this can sometimes take a while to go through, so it’s worth getting those applications rolling as soon as possible so you’re ready to go.
It’s unlikely you’ll forget to insure your property, but you might not realise that many home contents or building insurance policies don’t cover extensive building work, such as renovations. If you don’t address this and carry out alterations, your policy could be voided and claiming against any issues will be impossible. Check with your policy holder as to what their terms and conditions are, and if need be, take out a specialist renovations insurance policy that will keep you protected if anything goes wrong.
Even if you plan on doing much of the work yourself, there will be certain tasks that you’ll want to get the professionals in to deal with. From electrical to plumbing, dealing with supporting walls or installing full kitchen or bathroom suites, make a list of what you plan to hire contractors for so you can start researching the right teams for the job.
This might take the form of reviews, local recommendations from friends, family and co-workers or looking at images of previous work they’ve carried out that matches the style you’re going for. This will help you narrow down your search and find a reputable, reliable team to help you in your renovation journey. Since many contractors are booked up in advance, doing this step early on ensures you’re on the list and booked in so you can work to a more realistic timeline.
Renovating a doer-upper takes time and consistency. You’re guaranteed to come up against issues along the way and it won’t all be smooth sailing, but the end results make your effort completely worthwhile and it can be a much more cost-effective way of buying a property in certain areas – if you plan ahead and consider your costs carefully. Just stay focused on the goal, tick off as many of these initial priorities at the start as you can, and your hard work will eventually be rewarded.
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