By now, we’ve all seen countless TV shows devoted to DIY, home improvements and property renovation. Whether they’re about building a grand design, transforming a French chateau or picking up a bargain to sell on, we can’t get enough of them!
The TV experts often make big projects look easy, but in reality, taking on a large-scale renovation project is not for the faint-hearted. Without the right research, preparation and knowledge, you could end up sinking your savings into a money pit.
However, that certainly hasn’t slowed down the national obsession with all things DIY. These days, we Brits seem to love nothing more than taking on a home improvement project or upcycling an unwanted piece of furniture. After all, personal finance experts do say that it’s usually best to improve rather than move.
What’s more, buying a fixer-upper can be a great way to get on the property ladder or buy a house in an area that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.
So if you have some basic DIY know-how and love the idea of taking on a big project, read on for our top tips and advice.
Get a survey
• If you’re thinking of buying a home that needs extensive work, you should invest in a good survey so that you know exactly what you’re dealing with. The last thing you want is to go into a sale thinking the property just needs a lick of paint and a new carpet, only to discover a leaky roof and rising damp.
Set your budget – and stick to it
• Before you consider making an offer on a fixer-upper, you need to be very clear about what the improvements are going to cost – and how you’re going to fund them.
• If you’re not an expert in this area, ask a trusted builder to come with you to a viewing and provide you with a full quote before you commit.
• Incorporate a contingency fund into your budget as unforeseen issues are almost certain to crop up.
Prioritise your spending
• If you’re buying a house to do up and sell on at a profit, you should focus your efforts where they are likely to reap the biggest return.
• In most cases, this means creating a neutral, blank canvas inside, installing a new, modern kitchen and bathroom, and perhaps doing a little work in the garden to help you sell an aspirational, relaxing lifestyle.
• If you’re buying a home to live in, you can afford to take your time. Tackle the kitchen, living room and bathroom first. The bedrooms and other reception rooms can always come later.
Be aware of restrictions
• It’s easy to get carried away and envisage pulling walls down or building extensions to create new, bigger spaces. But there may well be restrictions on what you can achieve, so it’s important to be fully aware of the planning rules before you sign on the dotted line.
• If your new property is listed, you’ll be subject to even tighter controls.
Choose your tradespeople carefully
• When you undertake any large-scale renovation project, you’ll need to bring in the experts for at least some of the work. Make sure you choose wisely. Get at least 3 quotes for each element of the work, and find your tradespeople through personal recommendations and/or online reviews.
• Make an effort to build a good relationship with your builder and other tradespeople – after all, you’ll be in it together for the long haul!
Finally, relax and enjoy the process. Renovating a property is not something you’ll do often in life, so learn from this unique experience and don’t let the inevitable stress get on top of you. As long as the job is done well and you stay within your budget, it’ll all be worth it in the end.
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