Are you keen to move house or take your first steps onto the property ladder? If so, you may be considering taking on a fixer-upper. There’s a lot to be said for buying a house that you can move straight into. But this is not always the most appealing option. If you’ve got a sense of adventure, you want to create a unique home, and you’re prepared to wait, a project could be the ideal choice. If you’re thinking of taking on some renovation work, here is everything you need to know before you roll up your sleeves and get those hands dirty.
Finding the right property
You may have decided that you want to do work to a property, but it’s still essential to find the perfect house. Even if you plan to make wholesale changes, you need to consider the location, the price, and the size and style of the property before you make any decisions.
Setting your budget
One of the most important things to bear in mind is the cost of the project. It can be a lot more complex trying to work out a budget when you plan to do extensive work in comparison to buying a house that needs nothing doing to it. You’ll need to consider the cost of the renovation in addition to the purchase price. Before you even start looking at brochures or booking viewings, work out your budget. What do you have available for this acquisition? How much have you got to put into the house, and what kinds of mortgage offers are you looking at? When you have a figure, don’t look at anything that exceeds your budget. When you’re doing work, you’ll need to look at options that have an asking price that is significantly lower than your maximum budget in order to allow for renovation costs.
When you’ve got a budget in mind, call some estate agents, and discuss the kinds of properties you’re looking for with them. Have a look online to see what’s available, and get to know the area well if you’re moving away from your current location. If you see properties you like, book a viewing. You can’t really gauge much from an online brochure, so it’s always beneficial to see homes in the flesh. Take your time when you’re looking around, and try to use both your head and your heart. It’s important to think practically, as well as trying to find somewhere that gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling. Try to avoid making any decisions on the spot, especially if there’s a lot of work to do. Arrange a second viewing, and this time, be more methodical in your approach. Take a notepad with you, and use your phone to take some photographs. If you’re serious about the property after a second or third viewing, arrange to visit again with some builders. It’s wise to get an idea of what kind of work you could do before you proceed any further.
Before you make an offer, it’s essential to get some quotes. You need to know how much the work you want to do is going to cost, and exactly what needs doing. You may be aware of the cosmetic changes you want to make, but what if a survey flags up damp or there are issues with the foundations?
Make sure you pay attention to the survey findings. If there are major issues, which are going to wind up costing your thousands of pounds, it may be best to go back to the drawing board. Sometimes, doing a remodel can add substantial value, but in other cases, run down properties can be money pits. Not every renovation project will be suitable for every budget.
Planning your renovation
If you’ve made an offer, and you’re all set to go, you can start planning your renovation. To do this, you’ll need to work alongside building firms. You may also need the advice of an architect, especially if you plan to make structural changes. If you’re overseeing the work, make sure you visit the site on a regular basis, and you know exactly what’s going on. Draw up a list of jobs, and work out which take priority. Tackle these tasks first.
Keeping your finances on track
When work is underway, you need to keep a keen eye on your finances. Keep track of what you have already spent, and keep copies of written quotes and invoices. It’s always wise to set aside a contingency budget at the beginning of the project. If things go badly wrong or you encounter unexpected costs, you can use this fund to cover yourself.
If you don’t have money spare, and you find yourself needing to pay for a new boiler, a new roof or damp proofing, take time to find a solution. If you need money fast, think carefully about what you’re going to do. You could ask friends or family for a short-term loan, or you could apply for a loan from the bank. It is possible to borrow money online, but be careful. Always check the terms and conditions, and seek advice from a financial expert first. Alternatively, if you’ve been knocked off kilter by unexpected repairs, consider delaying other aspects of the build. If you need to repair the roof, for example, you could put the brakes on some of the interior design work. You probably won’t need a stunning guest room straight away, for example. You can complete the work in stages to make the build more affordable. Another option may be to consider your current living arrangements. If you’re renting, for example, you may benefit from moving in with friends or living at home with your parents for a while.
Gathering ideas and inspiration
Although paying attention to balance sheets and schedules is incredibly important, most people take on a renovation project to enable them to create a bespoke home. Once you’ve got the numbers sorted, and your remodel is moving in the right direction, devote some time to finding inspiration and ideas. When you’ve planned for so long, and you’ve invested time, sweat, and tears, you want to make sure your dream homes lives up to its mantle. Start thinking about what you want your home to look like. Search online, read magazines, and visit showrooms. Put together a mood board, and go for styles and themes that reflect your personality and taste. Think about how you’re going to furnish your home, and plan the layout to suit your lifestyle.
If you’re toying with the idea of taking on a doer-upper, there are a lot of things to think about. When you buy a home that’s in pristine condition, you know how much it’s going to cost and when you can move in from the get-go. With a fixer-upper, the process is a lot more complex and drawn out. You need to think carefully about your budget and incorporate both the purchase price and the cost of the remodel. There’s also the possibility of the work costing more than expected, and this is why it’s so important to make sure you can afford to find the project before you commit to buy. Every homeowner should have a contingency fund. If you’ve got the finances pinned down, and you’re ready to go, make sure you shop around for quotes and work with reputable firms. Prioritize tasks, and keep a record of what has been done and paid for, and what still needs to be completed. Once you’ve ticked off the major jobs, and the house is structurally sound, you can focus your attentions on designing a unique place to call home.
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