About to take on a big renovation project

(22 Posts)
TheCollieDog Sun 25-Nov-12 13:59:50

Please tell me your success stories! Oh, and the mistakes you made & traps for the unwary ..

Big job move from north to south, and the eye-watering house prices in the south ... I've found what I think is a gem, and very affordable, although the building survey seemed to be saying "Don't buy this, you fool!"

There's nothing structurally amiss. It's a locally listed (poss Grade II according to the EA, but not according to the council listing) Georgian terrace townhouse, facing south with 4 good big bedrooms and the original attic usable also.

It's the current owner's family home, but they have done not a skerrick of maintenance on it. Which means that the staircase bannister rail is entirely original, but broken, the fireplaces are original but not in working order, and so on. No central heating, eeek.

I shall probably get an architect to oversee the whole thing, but I think I shall put central heating in straight away, as that will dry out the house, which it really needs.

So, tell me your war stories (and any recommendations of good tradespeople in the SW).

JingleBel Sun 25-Nov-12 14:17:40

Get an architect.
Worth every penny.
We are in mid renovation at the moment.

TheCollieDog Sun 25-Nov-12 14:24:05

I agree about architects: I'm currently renovating another old house after 7 years of tenants, and some general work needing to be don, and he is WONDERFUL! Unfortunately, the wrong end of the country for where I'm moving to ...

His fee is really very modest in relation to the usefulness of his expertise & advice, and the fact that he just sorts everything out for me.

betterwhenthesunshines Sun 25-Nov-12 15:21:29

Just a word of warning - you will find builders prices eye watering too. And a Georgian house that hasn't been maintained could end up costing you a fortune. Are you sure you want to take all that on while you are settling into a new area?

HappyAsASandboy Sun 25-Nov-12 15:49:08

No advice, just sympathy grin

We're half way through rennovating a grade II listed Georgian farm house (so similar windows, stairs, fires etc. we did have heating when we moved in though (though it was a crazy pipe layout, clapped out boiler in a stupid place, insufficient radiators etched).

We've been at it for nearly 4 years. No money architect and doing everything except plastering ourselves at the weekends. It is back breaking and soul destroying, but is the only way we will ever afford to live in a house like this within 2 hours commute of central London.

It is all doable and learnable and bearable if you want the result enough.

My bigest piece of advice is not to have twins 2 years in to a four year project. It makes it much harder and stretches the timeline out to 8 6 years grin

Good luck. I hope you fall in love with your house as much as I love mine grin

GrendelsMum Sun 25-Nov-12 16:08:17

Without wishing to be rude, how much money have you allocated for renovations? How much money have you allowed for yearly ongoing maintenance once your renovations are complete?

TBH, renovation is not a vast amount of fun. You could probably spend your money on several things that would be much more fun, e.g. several really amazingly good holidays over the course of the year. Frankly, you might well be able to have as nice a house by moving into somewhere less outwardly attractive but needing much less work doing - because that idyllic house is rather less idyllic when covered in plaster dust and endless chores that need doing when you get home from work.

You have to keep telling yourself its a wonderful experience / project / will be all worth it when it's done / saving part of the nation's heritage, etc. I'm coming to suspect it's all a bit of a con. Can you tell that renovations here are going rather badly atm?

whiskeytangofoxtrot Sun 25-Nov-12 16:14:36

More sympathy here.
We are just at the other end of a renovation - not quite such a major one as what you're suggesting - the whole job has been about 17 weeks and have had contractors to help. We did get an architect - he helped to some extent with local listing.
We will be eating baked beans for the foreseeable future, not going on holiday either. DH and I aren't giving each other Christmas presents either.
The house will be lovely/it is all worth it etc etc etc
BUT the upheaval has been quite a lot - hard for DC to play when all the rooms are full of building materials/other furniture that is being temporarily rehoused etc.

We have just completed a rather extensive renovation of our listed house, and I would second GrendelsMum on making sure you set an adequate budget for the works, and make sure you have a healthy contingency fund (spreadsheets will become your best friend).

Listed houses also tend to cost more to maintain, for example, replacing glass and rooftiles usually means reclaimed or handmade rather than modern, mass-poduced products.

Make sure your surveyor has experience of looking at listed buildings - he should know what the Red Book is. SPAB is also helpful for advice and for finding sympathetic builders and products.

One last suggestion, I would suggest drying out the house slowly, as otherwise you might find that the shock of the sudden heat causes more problems.

GrendelsMum Sun 25-Nov-12 16:31:27

Watch [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT5NiDGbnVM&feature=relmfu this] before it's too late and you can still back out!

GrendelsMum Sun 25-Nov-12 16:31:51

Trying again with this

Pannacotta Sun 25-Nov-12 16:41:01

We also bought a renovation project. Despite having renovated two houses before we didnt have children then and this house much bigger and needed much more work.
It isnt listed but it is old and very tall, so work needed to the roof/gutters/windows usually needs scaffolding, which is very costly.
The rooms have very high ceilings so costs for plastering/decorating are much higher than we have had previously. Tackling dodgy electrics/plumbing in an old house is a big issue too as you are never sure what you will find until you start.
Sorry to sound negative but it is best to go in with your eyes wide open, have a healthy budget and get a really good team of builders/professional services in place. You also need huge amounts of tolerance and patience...
If you can do all that then you'll be fine!!

skaen Sun 25-Nov-12 16:42:55

We have a grade 2 listed Georgian House which has needed new roof, pointing, kitchen, bathrooms etc. DH and I reckon that the renovation has come in at about £800 per square metre (and that doesn't include nice to haves like ground source heat pumps). Maintenance wise, we put £250 aside each month to cover maintenance which will become a sort of sinking fund to cover new boilers etc.

Can definitely recommend GSHPs - though you will need a fairly large area of land to run the pipes around, or be happy to dig a very large, expensive borehole.

GrendelsMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:56:37

Oh dear - have we fully put the OP off?

discrete Mon 26-Nov-12 21:01:34

HappyAsASandboy you have made me laugh out loud...we are currently on year 7 of our 5 year project....with dcs 1 and 2 lying on either side of me. We are also doing all the work ourselves (including plastering) and it's erm...time consuming.

Toomuchtea Tue 27-Nov-12 09:24:35

I see your 7 and I raise you 13, and we are now moving. I love our house, but have now reached the point where I do not want to spend the rest of my life chained to it.

OP, if you still go ahead, make sure it's water tight before you do anything else.

TheCollieDog Tue 27-Nov-12 14:36:44

No you haven't put me off! I've been < ahem > w*rking multishirking I roughly know what I'm getting into & have a budget of around £80-100k to spend over a few years. The house is around £100,000 cheaper than similar ones in the city I'm moving to. It'll cost me the same in the end, but the house is entirely liveable (family selling it live there now) and I can spend the extra £100k in my own time.

Although the surveyor calls it a "less favoured area of central Xtown" Everyone I speak to who knows the town says it's a bargain. But it's for me to live there for the next 10 years, no small children, but far-flung large family and thousands of books -- both of which need accommodation (the books mote permanently than the family).

So I think the £800 psqm is probably about right. I don't do DIY, but I can also live in a fairly spartan way -- I've done a few winters sans central heating and so on in my time. The price etc means I can spend

And this house is a gem, although the list of things to do. eeek Still, I tell myself not be a ninny, and also that a family has lived there quite happily for 30 years ...

discrete Tue 27-Nov-12 19:24:54

Ah, toomuchtea, we'll never make it to 13 I'm afraid - schooling here is dire and the dc will be teenagers by then and in need of some sort of social contact...

We're fairly likely to move onto another insane renovation project, though, we've got the bug!

Violet77 Tue 27-Nov-12 19:37:24

We are on year five of our five year project. Very good considering a couple of small people appeared as if by magic.
Its hard on a relationship and family life. It will get you down looking at what is still left to do once the novelty wears off.

You do get exactly what you want though which is great and more for your money.

My tips insulate like mad, it will pay off in a large house. Spend your cash where you will feel it most, quality doors, floors, kitchen will always pay back. Do your most used room first. We did room by room rather than bits all over at least then you can close the door and be in a lovely room.

Good luck i love love love my house now but there have been many times i wobbled when looking at the concrete floor and nasty paint.

Toomuchtea Tue 27-Nov-12 22:44:21

discrete, my dc are now at the end of school. We keep saying we are NOT going to take on another project, and getting distracted by projects.... I do think I have another house left in me, but I need a break first.

discrete Wed 28-Nov-12 20:24:54

Ah, yes, we are certain to take a good while to carefully choose the next - and live in nice rented accommodation that someone else has to worry about while we do so.

Unless we just happen to come across that perfect house just after we sell this one, that is....

Toomuchtea Thu 29-Nov-12 09:47:40

You know, that's our plan exactly...

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