How do you budget for maintaining a really old house ?

(22 Posts)
nextchapterplease Fri 08-Apr-16 17:33:23

DH and I have fallen for a 17c grade 2 listed farmhouse.
We weren't really expecting to but there you go!

We have made a tentative offer which won't be accepted and are now frantically trying to reassure ourselves we aren't biting off more than we can chew if we go for it , as we would clearly need to up our offer to secure it.

We Know quite a bit of work has been done, internally it's pretty immaculate and the heating etc is all new. We expect some quite major roof repairs to need doing ( hence tentative offer!) but apart from beams we aren't too surer what the other killer costs could be?

We will be able to create a bit of a 'sinking fund' from the process of selling our house in London - and we hope to be able to continue to save something monthly to keep it topped up - but that would be for everything ( 2 DC and holidays !) and we worry that if this wasn't sufficient we would be stuffed! Our incomes won't dramatically increase so we need to be sure this is affordable.

How on earth do we estimate this?

Thanks if anyone has any advice

lalalonglegs Fri 08-Apr-16 17:42:52

I'm not sure you can estimate costs and, if you are already feeling worried, it might be an idea to walk away - or at the very least not be pressured to increase your offer. Ultimately you will have to work out what pleasure the ownership of this property will give you and how much expensive and perhaps fiddly repairs will take away (remember, even a straightforward bit of maintenance could involve the conservation officer and a listed building planning application as well as getting hold of specialist tradespeople etc). I've owned two listed buildings (one II and one II*) and I would recommend getting the measure of the local conservation officer before you proceed - s/he could make your life very difficult and you don't want to be stuck with an arsey one so proceed with caution.

nextchapterplease Fri 08-Apr-16 18:16:42

Thanks lala- that's good advice. It's so hard as most of the property we like in the area is going to pose at least some of these issues.
There have been lots of successful planning applications before which exceed what we would need to do and we have a relative with a similar style property who can also advise on practicalities. Also DH is a surveyor who would actually probably really enjoy all the 'specialist' stuff !
It is just scary not knowing what hidden costs could come our way.
What should we at least think about - doors , windows , heating , roof , beams ?

nextchapterplease Fri 08-Apr-16 18:18:16

Oh and it's definitely a house we would love - not something I have ever had before.
Just a bit scary.

ChopsticksandChilliCrab Fri 08-Apr-16 18:29:52

Septic tank, electrics, roof, sash windows, asbestos, boiler, chimneys have all caused us problems and cost us a fortune, and we aren't even listed.

nextchapterplease Fri 08-Apr-16 18:46:38

Yikes chopsticks yes that's the kind of thing !
This house is on mains drainage so one less thing - obviously I know this is guesswork but if we budgeted say £50k over 5 years would that sound sensible assuming brand new roof and heating and Windows ?
It's a 4 bed house .. Or am I wildly deluded and that wouldn't even scratch the surface ? Just have no idea so want to make sure there would be a reasonable pot.

peggyundercrackers Fri 08-Apr-16 19:01:24

It's hard to estimate set see it or know the size of it. Lots of houses round about us are listed however the owners all seem to ignore the conservation rules and change Windows to upvc or wood, change drainage from cast to plastic etc. And no one seems to bat an eyelid.

If your DH is a surveyor I would have thought he would have a better idea of costs than most of the people on this thread.

GrandmaJosephine Fri 08-Apr-16 19:10:09

Changing a listed building without permission is a criminal offence (up to 2 year imprisonment or unlimited fine) and there is no time limit (unlike unlisted buildings) which you can be requested to restore it. Beware and be nice to the neighbours!

https://historicengland.org.uk/advice/hpg/uwandhc/offences/

nextchapterplease Fri 08-Apr-16 19:46:14

Thanks yes I know I am asking the impossible really!
As for DH - he isn't a residential surveyor , works in property investments so although he would like and enjoy the processes it isn't his day job at all.

peggyundercrackers Fri 08-Apr-16 20:14:11

Grandma yes I know it's an offence but no one bothers about it let alone the conservation officer. I know a couple of people who have been told they can't do something but they have done it anyway and nothing happened. I guess in the big scheme of things there are more important things to worry about.

GrandmaJosephine Fri 08-Apr-16 21:38:34

Oh yes, I have a friend who didn't bother with her listed property. When she sold she just had to provide an indemnity policy.

I think I would be too scared though!

RingUpRingRingDown Sat 09-Apr-16 08:32:51

When buying our current house - a big grade 2 listed house, C18th - the surveyor advised always to have an emergency fund of £10k that you can access immediately for repairs etc. This has proved to be good advice.

nextchapterplease Sat 09-Apr-16 15:29:42

Thanks ringup that's really helpful. That's the sort of thing I was thinking we would do. Hopefully we will also be
Able to build up some other savings that we would be happy to dip into.

Tiggywinkler Sat 09-Apr-16 15:37:09

Get quotes before you buy.

I've got a rotting Victorian 6 bed in the Midlands - it's the dream house, but it's a money pit.

One quote to replace the windows was - wait for it - £67k. And it needs a new roof.

Make sure you know what you're getting into!

nextchapterplease Sat 09-Apr-16 16:19:13

Thanks Tiggy that's exactly what we are trying to do.
The house appears to be in great condition the current owners have spent money on it and the roof is the only thing we are aware of that will need work so far. It's just not knowing what might go wrong / crop up - though that is true of any house we but just that the costs are higher due to age / listed status .

goldenlilliesdaffodillies Sat 09-Apr-16 17:21:31

I have lived in a Grade 2 listed house for 14 years. It hasn't been a money pit as the previous owners had really looked after it. When we bought it we were lectured that we were custodians who had a responsibility to look after it for future generations (which we have). We have made changes (with planning consent) but ones we wanted to make rather than had to make.

You need to find a friendly builder who you trust and hang onto him! I think if you repair minor things as you go along they won't turn into major things (eg broken tiles/small leaks etc). Also do get on the right side of the planning/listed building consent people.

We are now buying a Grade 2 * listed house. Fortunately the owners have also lovingly looked after it.

nextchapterplease Sat 09-Apr-16 23:18:48

Thanks goldenlillies that's very positive - I think I saw you on the buyers and sellers support thread and you are maybe at the end of the process? If that's correct then well done!

I guess the challenge we feel is not having direct experience and hearing both ends of the spectrum from friends and family. How on earth do we know if they house has been patched up or lovingly cared for.? I suppose we are erring on the side of caution but equally if the survey throws up something dramatic we can always discuss the numbers again.

ChairoftheBored Sun 10-Apr-16 06:32:55

Just to offer a different view on listed consent, we are in the process of buying a Grade II listed property, which has had some changes (all sympathetic and certainly nothing as horrid as uPVC Windows) without listed consent. You cannot meaningfully indemnify against this - our solicitor insisted a retrospective application was approved before proceeding, which to be fair our vendors did immediately.

It is a criminal offence and the liability passes on with ownership, so get to know your conservation officer and be his/her friend. They can also point you in the direction of local heritage grants which might help with costs.

goldenlilliesdaffodillies Tue 19-Apr-16 09:47:37

Next chapter- yes we are moving today!

I would agree with Chair- the house we are moving also had work done unlisted about 20 years ago. The owners had to get retrospective planning and our solicitor wouldn't let us exchange until every tiny bit of planning was found!

slicedfinger Tue 19-Apr-16 09:55:18

We kept a £30k emergency fund when we had a huge old house. £10k that we could access immediately. We dipped in and did the (enormous) windows over time. Other bits like heating/wiring we knew about in advance. The only surprise we had was some dry rot which no amount of surveying could have foreseen. I think that cost about £5k to fix.

Bohemond Tue 19-Apr-16 10:03:33

You need to find an expert surveyor - do not use the one from the mortgage provider. Find one locally with experience of these types of properties.
We have a 600 year old (unlisted - phew) house with all of the usual accoutrements - septic tank, cob walls, 1970's heating and electrics. Our surveyor highlighted everything that could be a problem and we then called in a couple of specialists to look into them. Luckily we were moving locally so knew electricians, plumbers etc.
The upshot from our surveyor was that whatever the problems the house was a bargain at the price we had agreed.
Good luck!

BayTrees Tue 19-Apr-16 11:55:34

Hi. We are in the process of buying a grade 2 listed house. Our local conservation-officer-to-be charges to respond to any question, which was not explained on the website or printed information. We are waiting for a detailed building survey, from a specialist in old and listed properties. One of the main reasons for selelcting our surveyor was that his report should include a breakdown of likely costs over the next 5 years and an idea of the costs. The house looks well maintained and I know it has had roofing work recently (couldn't tell but was detailed on the seller's paper work). We will use the survey information heavily to plan for the next 5 to 10 years. Good luck!

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