Just bought my first house & it needs lots of work. Where do I start?!(15 Posts)
I'm in the process of buying a Victorian terraced house. I'm a first time buyer so I'm very excited but also terrified! Not least because the house needs quite a bit of work. We've done the calculations & have a modest budget in place, the problem is that we don't know where to start!
The house seems in good (structural) condition, but it's been rented out for years (been empty for a while, too) and so the kitchen&bathroom are essentially unusable and need replacing. Also, we're thinking of breaking through the wall between the dining room and the kitchen, to create a bigger brighter place. Apart from that, the house is in a good state (upstairs rooms are fine).
My questions are:
1) In what order would you tackle these renovations? I'm assuming we should do the structural work first, and then the kitchen and bathroom. Also, we'd like to rip out the carpets downstairs and restore the floor boards. Am I right in thinking we should do this last?
2) One of my main worries is the time line of it all: We are currently renting and are thinking of keeping our rented place for maybe a month or so after completion, so we can do some of the work before we move in (we both work and have small kids so this seems sensible). But of course we don't want too much of an overlap because of the rent&mortgage costs! Is a month enough to do the bulk of the work (don't mind work happening once I live there but it needs to be liveable - flushing toilet, useable cooker etc.)?
3) Should I go ahead and pencil contractors in even though we don't yet have a completion date? I'm worried that if I leave this until I've completed, I won't find a builder with availability, and that this would cause delay.
4) I've heard that I need a structural engineer to approve the removal of a structural wall. Does it take long to get such approval and if so, would it be wise to get this before we complete?
I'm basically clueless, so any advice would be very welcome!
yes, you need to get started getting quotes. Make it clear that you haven't exchanged yet - and if this is the case, you may not be able to get access to the place.
with your already heavy load I'd keep the rented place for two months at least.
Work top to bottom, that way you're not lugging materials and waste through areas you've already finished
bitter voice of experience
Coldtoes The bitter voice of experience is exactly what I'm looking for:-)
special I was worried someone might recommend keeping the rented place for longer... It's so expensive keeping both places going at the same time! How long do you think it takes to rip out a kitchen and put in a new one?
Thanks so much both!
We overlapped one month on our last move (sold to BTLers, handily). In that month we did (or got someone else in to do)
Kitchen, including tiled floor
rip out ensuite and cloakroom
reinstate one stud wall
Reinstate one internal doorway
paint living room, dining room, 3 bedrooms
carpet 3 bedrooms and lay wooden floor in dining room
clear the loft and garden of a skip full of rubbish (thanks for that, vendor)
The rest we are still doing in dribs and drabs 3 years later.
Would I do it again? No.
BUT we made two mistakes. Firstly, we forgot to budget for things like skip hire and curtain poles/ curtains/ window locks and handles/ getting the locks changed, which really added up and stopped us doing the ensuite straight away. The second mistake was that we didn't allow ourselves enough time.
If you can do two months it might hurt much less, and you could maybe save money by DIYing more?
I'd say you can live without a kitchen if you can put a microwave etc somewhere else, to shorten the time you're paying rent and mortgage. Bathroom is more critical (to me). We moved recently and had the boiler replaced after we moved in - it was bloody miserable not having heating and hot water for 48 hours so maybe worth working out which services will be off at which points when you're talking to builders so you can plan to be out/away?
Good idea to get boiler done - ours is limping on until Spring gets a bit warmer before retiring the poor overworked lump. In retrospect, it should have been higher up our list.
You have to do less than you think before you move in, and sometimes it's a good idea to live in a house and see how it flows before doing to much.
Having said that, look first at the electrics. If they need replacing, you will have to do that first, followed by the boiler/central heating. And the roof/damp-proofing/woodworm/insulation.
It's tempting to start with kitchen/bathroom, but in all honesty if the electrics/plumbing are right, they can be done over a few days, whereas wiring/plumbing/replastering means being in a right mess for weeks.
So, if I was you, before I moved in I'd do the above plus knocking the rooms together.
I'd pull up carpets and give the whole thing a really good clean. And paint the two rooms knocked together.
If I had time I'd think about kitchen/bathroom, but it's amazing what you can live with if it's clean.
I'd tackle it a similar way to MaryZ.
Have the electrics and boiler / central heating system checked over, get any work done as a priority.
Get the wall knocked down and the rooms opened up.
Rip up the carpets, hire a big sander and get it all sanded and cleaned up.
Everything else can be done as and when. Bathroom won't take long at all really, most lengthy thing is tiling if the plumbing is all good.
Kitchen isn't too problematic if you're not moving gas pipes etc around. Don't forget to allow for more sockets than are there now.
We are renovating while living in the house.
The only thing that is really important is that you have a working loo and running water. And depending on the time of year you may need heating too. Everything else can be worked around. The only things we had done before we moved in were insulation, windows and electrics. And we could have lived with all the but the last of those...
We lived in the dining room for months. We had a fridge freezer, some cupboards giving me bench space, a microwave, kettle and a slow cooker, pots and pans etc., a gate legged table, a sofa bed and a blanket box which acted as storage. Oh and popup samsonite travel cot for our DD who was 5 months when we moved in. We did park the BBQ outside the patio door too. I have fond memories of BBQing outside in the dark and the rain in october... One other room was usable and that was used for storage for the rest of our stuff.
One thing I would recommend is stripping everything you want to strip (walls, floors, etc before you move in). Oh and check for Asbestos. If that needs removing it's a lot less hassle to do it when the house is empty.
I would do bathroom first
Then move in
Then just put an electric cooker in kitchen, microwave and sink along with a table
Then if you still want to take wall down set about doing kitchen, wall and dinning room
Then have a rest
Then tackle one room at a time as you have the money
Are storing floor boards is a wonderful idea and you can hire a sander and do all the floorboards yourself. Then varnish
but be aware come the winter you will keep the worms warm and it's draghty and cold.( looks good and cost me £10 per room) I know so I had carpet put down when I could afford it ten years ago. Now redecorating I have done two rooms upstairs and put engineered oak in which is warm.
My dinning room though I have redecorated and taken carpet up, even with a large rug covering most of the floor - it's bloody drafty. It's OK as summer is coming.
Come September though and I will be hopefully redecorating lounge and put down oak flooring in both rooms for looks and warmth.
I agree with Maryz, we're in the process of renovation st the moment (in stages while we live in it) - you need to get the infrastructure of the house sorted first while you are not living there - electrics, plumbing, knocking through. You really need to think about where you want stuff to go, e.g. radiators can be moved but floors need to come up to do this; same goes for light switches and powerpoints (floors up /chasing through the walls for wiring).
You do need advice if you're removing a structural wall, have a look at the planning portal I think it's called , or your local council website may have some advice. You may also need building regs approval for some of the work.
If you've not exchanged yet you can ask the current owners / estate agent if you can go over there with a builder to start getting some quotes. Ask around everyone you know to get a good recommendation and ask them when they could start, how long it would take, what they would want to do first to get it done most efficiently
If you're knocking down a wall, you may need a structural engineer to do the steel calculations for you. It's taking us months to get our architect to provide the building regs plans for the engineer.
And it's so boring but better to get it over and done with, while you're sorting out your wiring and plumbing insulate your loft. It's a messy job so you want do it while you don't have nice floors to mess up. Insulate and board it out. Otherwise you're heating the outside. You should also insulate under floor boards but Piglet John will advice on this.
And I agree with other posters. A working loo, a sink, a microwave and a sandwich toaster is all you need for a month. Oh, and a cannister vacuum cleaner - especially if you have to vacuum out old roof insulation.
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