Large house vs location vs extend - really need some opinions

(44 Posts)

Not sure if anyone's read any of my previous threads but I must seem completely fickle as we just can't decide what to do, buying a house is proving really hard.

Need to make some decisions today so could really do with opinions! We love where we live, are priced out of houses (and situation getting worse).

Option 1 - need to decide whether to offer on large, 4 bed, edwardian house, new kitchen bathroom etc, needs painting but on the surface that seems to be about it. Is within a short drive of where we are, but area is v quiet with nothing much around, so we would have to drive everywhere including to school. But house is amazing and the reason we can afford it is because of where it is. I am worried about logistics and feeling lonely in this house, but I'm not sure how rational that is

Option 2 - a flat, larger than our current one, really close to where we currently live. We've offered but it's already had loads of other offers, so we need to decide whether to go to our max. We can literally see it from our current place, and would be spending a lot of extra money for basically our flat with an extra bedroom. But We would still be v close to train, swimming pool, schools, shops and our friends which is the biggest draw (plus it's gorgeous)

Option 3 - extend. I'm having some initial architect consultations, and this would be the cheapest option (though still expensive!). But the timescales are fairly lengthy, we would need to move out to temporary accommodation, and we'd be lucky to be finished before Christmas by what I've been told. The process is not quite as straight forward with a flat as no permitted development, so there we potential pitfalls that could mean the project is a no go (though this is not too likely)

On paper 3 seems most sensible, but it feels risky, and it's also a stop gap solution as wouldn't be big enough long term.


LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Jan-14 12:16:37

Look on your local councils planning portal to see if any proposals similar to yours have been approved recently. That should give you some comfort regarding how risky option 3 is. Personally, adding value to your current place in the more expensive location and saving on moving costs / stamp duty is probably the better financial option. As long as you don't mind living in a flat, go for your preferred location.

Good luck!

MerylStrop Mon 20-Jan-14 12:22:39

How old are your kids?
If they are still at primary make sure of your secondary options. That would swing anything for me.
Also if at secondary, being close to school is good for social things, otherwise you will spend lots of time being a taxi/not much good for burgeoning teenage independence.

I'd probably go with Option 2.

3 sounds like a lot of effort for a temporary solution.

What does your heart say?

kitsmummy Mon 20-Jan-14 12:38:43

House for me every time. Flat v large house in quiet (but not bad presumably?) area. To me, this would be a real no brainer!

Thanks for all your opinions, one vote each! Although option 2 is removed as we've been outbid more than our top amount.

I haven't really checked out secondary options near the house so that's a good point. They are good where we currently are.

The large house has been on the market a little while with one agent and then they recently appointed a second who we viewed with. It does slightly concern me that it hasn't sold in this market?

Oh, and a flat same as ours has been extended two doors down which is a good sign, our is just slightly more complicated as we have to incorporate rear access via stairs for the first floor.

Oh and my heart says extend but then freaks out a but over the timescale and disruption that it involves...

pootlebug Mon 20-Jan-14 13:02:52

We used to live in a house where you had to drive everywhere. It was fine while I was working 5 days a week, but not nearly so good with a small baby....when we moved I felt like I'd 'escaped'. I would never do it again; location within walking distance of school, friends, shops etc is really important to me.

I think that's how I feel pootle (have small baby and lots of groups and friends local). The house is beyond what we ever thought we'd get, but there is obviously a reason we can afford it!

I just worry we'll regret it? But if dd is going to school a drive away it will be harder to get to know people locally.

I mean i worry we'll regret not getting such an amazing house

wetaugust Mon 20-Jan-14 13:08:59

Option 1
Couldn't live in a flat. Where would you go on a lovely sunny day?

LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Jan-14 13:10:09

Go with your heart. You clearly sound like you'd be more happy living in your flat than leaving your current set up.

Not everyone has to live in a house. In most big cities around the world, living in an apartment forever with a family is common place. We have a relatively small mid-terraced house and our friends have asked why we don't move further out where we could get a much bigger place. However, we'd rather trade of more space for the area we are in so I totally get where you are coming from.

With that said, I won't lie to you. Building work is incredibly stressful. My husband and I refurbed our flat before we sold it a while back and we are near the end of a major refurb and extension for our new house. Before you do it, check with a few estate agents that it makes sense financially considering it isn't a final solution to your space needs. If you can add some value it will help you move on when the time comes you may have to buy a bigger place.

PrimalLass Mon 20-Jan-14 13:23:25

I'd probably extend for now. I'd love a house with views and space but am not prepared to move out of our village to get them.

Wetaugust - we are ground floor with a lovely garden! If we extended it would include a kitchen diner with doors onto the garden. Plus we are surrounded by parks here.

Londongirl - considering what we could create by extending would be roughly similar to the flat we just lost out on, and that has just sold for more than £120k on top of what we've sold ours for, I'd assume that it would be financially worth it especially if we stayed a few years.

The building work is a biggie though, and we'd need to move out completely for most of the work as it would need to be internally reconfigured. So would need to factor those costs in.

RCheshire Mon 20-Jan-14 13:33:55

We spent 15 years between city centres (London & Manchester) and whenever we drove through somewhere quieter we would say "who on earth wants to live somewhere we you have to get in the car even to get a paper or a pint of milk?". We've now lived 3 years somewhere where we need to get in the car for a paper or a pint of milk! It took about 3 weeks to adjust.

I understand that some/(many?) might hate it, but it is genuinely hard to know without trying.

Not terribly helpful I know seeing as you can't 'test-drive' the house for six months.

LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Jan-14 13:48:40

Even in London, what you are doing won't cost 120k so I would definitely do the work, make some money in the process and enjoy living in my neighbourhood for a bit longer.

Until you actually feel you need a house (which is totally personal, not based on any objective set of facts), I doubt the house will make you happier than being near your friends, amenties, transport etc. There is a lot more to quality of life than owning a house!

Go with your gut instincts about what makes you happy rather.

lulupeg Mon 20-Jan-14 14:12:04

Hi LPH, I've responded to a post by you before (about the house you dropped out of) and read about your plight. I do feel for you, as I live locally to you and it is intense round here at the moment and doesn't help any families trying to eek out more space. Is the bigger place in Catford? I personally think Catford is going to speed through gentrification as people are getting more and more priced out of other places. I think I'd go for the house option (and I don't even drive!!) as you'll still be able to catch up with friends when you do school drop offs and so on but I love having a house as opposed to a flat (although agree it's a weird British quirk!). We've just done a hideous amount of work on our house but I've loved the freedom of having the whole building to work with. Also round here houses are rising exponentially versus flats so I think it might be wise to jump even if the area is less well developed/ more boring currently as the demand for family homes (and even in London, those traditionally wanting a house) is not going to dampen soon. If I was a BTL investor I'd be buying 3/4 bed victorian terrace houses in Catford as I think the area will change - everywhere around it is lovely. Not sure if this helps! Everyone has quite different view it seems!

PrimalLass Mon 20-Jan-14 14:12:58

I agree - do the building work and use any extra equity you create to buy something else in your neighbourhood.

Thanks lulu - the house is on catford/Bellingham borders, on quite a busy long road, it does feel quite cut off from even the surrounding areas.

I do agree it will gentrify and from that point of view it should be a good investment, but I still get a little sad feeling that we won't just be a short walk away from the lovely museum, cafés, swimming pool, parks etc. I think we may be a little too spoilt by our current location though!

I'm so shit (obviously grin) at making decisions.

lulupeg Mon 20-Jan-14 14:43:56

That's so weird, was just going to send you link to a house near there... But can't make it work. It's near the big Sainsburys on Winford Rd, 30s house, I've found out from experience they make brilliant family homes and not too far from FH etc.

MummytoMog Mon 20-Jan-14 14:45:56

Building work is horrific. I'm getting to the light at the end of the tunnel with ours now, but it's been a long, miserable, cold, dirty slog. And expensive. In London, I think you'll always make your money back, but factor in the misery too ;) We moved out from our flat in Hackney, with many nice things and people in walking distance, when DD was a tiny baby. I miss it, I won't lie, but all of my friends have now moved out as well, and I wouldn't be near any of them any more if we had stayed put. And I needed the extra space and the massive garden. Garden is a little too big now tbh. Must buy more chickens or have another baby.

We extended because we couldn't afford what we wanted without going even further out and stamp duty is such a killer (as well as the rest of the costs associated with moving) that even though we've really really stretched ourselves to do this work, it will almost certainly add more than the cost to the value of the house. It's a bit more complicated for us, because £30k or so has been spent on rectifying the world's most hideous and dangerous loft conversion which hasn't really added to the value ifyswim. But we should still make our money back on the final value.

oscarwilde Mon 20-Jan-14 15:04:20

Ha ha, context is everything. I thought you were talking about a move to the sticks completely from your description. Option 1 is still in London? Seriously there is no grocery store within walking distance?
Assuming you don't want to pay for private school+bus etc I would make a decision on the basis of access to schools. Everything else is just a case of getting used to it.
I would go Option 1, then 3, then 2 (though I know no longer an option)

As someone who lives in SE London, I think you could quite easily spend £120k extending a flat, putting in a new kitchen and reconfiguring the layout of the flat. In. A. Heartbeat sad You won't lose money but you won't do it for £40k either.

shock do you really think it could cost £120k to extend?! I'm not sure we'd be able to borrow enough to do it if that's the case.
And no it's not completely in the sticks, but still a good stomp away from the nearest corner shop. My reference to driving was more to go for a coffee, swimming, browse round the shops etc. there is a park across the road though!

Argh I'm wavering again now. If it did cost that much then I'm not sure it would be worth it in terms of all the pain if the building work

LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Jan-14 16:27:39

I am extending a mid-terraced house by over 500 sqft. It's a gut renovation in Dulwich (back to brick, all new walls, stairs, bathrooms, flooring, kitchen, lighting, heating system and rads). The build cost is 120k and the total costs are 220k.

Based on what you've said, it sounds like you are doing a side and possible a rear extension. Including new kitchen, unless you do something really crazy, I'd guess 65k.

It's just a rear extension (3mx9m) and internal reconfiguring to include new kitchen, bathroom and flooring. Plus architects costs.

I was thinking under £80k all in?

LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Jan-14 16:34:42

What internal reconfiguring are you doing? Are you changing the location of the kitchen and bathroom? Is your architect project managing?

Even so, I would say your budget is realistic as long as you aren't installing a 50k kitchen and doing the bathroom in exquisite tiles costing 600GBP psm.

I'd go for option 2, but I live in Milan, most of us live in flats, and there are many amazing ones. Also, I like living close to school and general amenities.

enriquetheringbearinglizard Mon 20-Jan-14 16:53:47

So it's option 1 or option 3 now?
I'd choose a house over a flat every time, but that's mainly because I like having the power over my own affairs rather than a leaseholder or other owners of the freehold.
I've also had bad building experiences which puts me off extending really.

Have you asked a local Estate Agent about their feelings for value with your plans?
Are you likely to have more children and importantly have you found out any more about the school situation?

Try to imagine yourself owning the house and how you'd feel driving up to it, coming home to it, actually living in it and see how that makes you feel.

MummytoMog Mon 20-Jan-14 16:54:09

We've managed to spend nearly £140k on adding 62 sqm, side and rear double extension, a loft conversion, fitting out three bathrooms, a utility and a kitchen and various remedial works along the way. Also had to demolish a large garage, move the boiler and completely rewire the original house as well. Mind you, the VAT didn't help. I'm feeling a bit aggrieved that HMRC are chasing DH on his tax for this year when they've had the best part of £20k in VAT for this build.

YellowDahlias Mon 20-Jan-14 17:23:16

If you went for Option 1 are you going to switch your daughter's school in the Autumn or keep driving her to the old school for as long as you can stand it? If you want to keep her at her current school then I think Option 3 is the most realistic one unless there is an Option 4 or 5 in the future.

Whilst it is probably not a long distance in actual distance, it will be in London traffic terms. You've got a younger one right? Would they go into childcare near the new house or the old house? How would that work?

What do you like about the area of Option 1? If it is only the house, then I suspect you might regret it.

BronzeHorseman Mon 20-Jan-14 17:31:03

Option 1 would get my vote, I love Edwardian houses.

Creamycoolerwithcream Mon 20-Jan-14 17:36:43

Option 1 probably but only if you are going to build you life in the new area. What are the secondary schools like for option 1 and 3?

dueanamechange Mon 20-Jan-14 20:40:28

I read one of your other threads where you missed out on a house in Catford. I know a few people that live around there, the nice roads with the nice houses do seem to be in the middle of nowhere. All of these people I know drive A LOT. As you have pointed out you are a short drive from a lot of nice places, including where you are now. To me part of living in London is having stuff on your doorstep and not having to get in a car, so Catford would not personally be for me, although I can see why people move there, there is a touch of envy at the big houses. It is attracting a lot families. I personally view it as being more like living in an outer suburb of Bromley, everyone I know drives all the time and whenever they need to shop seem to go to the Glades, (or whatever it is called now), and swim at Beckenham Spa. Depends what lifestyle you want.

I live in a flat in an excellent location. And I would stay here forever over a house I had to use my car every time I needed something.

Location. Trumps all.

Yama Mon 20-Jan-14 20:52:07

I would go for option 1. I'm not a gardener but boy do I love my garden.

Londongirl - we'd have to change both bathroom and kitchen location to make it workable, so I am aware that is more complicated. I guess we'll know more after the initial architect's consultation.

Still feel torn, but dueanamechange's description of life just that bit further out makes me feel a bit glum. Yes it might be an amazing house, but we may as well be outside of London if we have to go the the glades to do our shopping (no offense to anyone living in bromley but shopping centres are not my thing!). It's not what I want really, I like the little independent high street where we are now.

I suppose option 4 is carry on waiting for something else to come up whilst prices continue to rise, or option 5 is bite the bullet and just leave London for a commuter town now.

Or option 6, do nothing. Haha too many options for my indecisive brain to manage!

TheLeftovermonster Mon 20-Jan-14 22:49:47

Location for me, plus secondary school options. And you already have a garden, so that's ok.
If you do the extension in stages and time it right, you might just be able to avoid temporary accomodation. Possibly.

LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Jan-14 23:09:44

I think your 80k budget is fine. It's really how long is a piece of string. Moving the pipework won't be that much more-- I've done it. The main thing will be how much you spend on all the new flooring etc.

If you make an additional 40k doing up your flat when it comes time to sell, you might not have to make the same sacrifices moving now would entail.

If you do go for option 3, have your architect do a detailed scope of works that the builders will price with a quantity surveyor. That an negotiating a 5% retention were the best thing we did. Have your architect value all work done before paying as well.

Good luck with whatever decision you make!

MillyMollyMama Tue 21-Jan-14 00:38:44

You would need to look at £1300 per m3 for the extension build. Internal reconfiguration usually means re-plastering and new skirting etc., floor levelling and all sorts of problems tend to arise. Fitting a bathroom and kitchen costs way more than the costs of the bath, tiles, flooring, cupboards etc. You may need new plumbing and electrics and heating. How much DIY will you do? I would say £80,000 was very very tight and would cover not much more than the extension and a bit of reconfiguration internally but not much by way of kitchen and bathroom. If you have difficult entry and exit the costs are higher. Architects fees on top.

Tyranasaurus Tue 21-Jan-14 07:13:28

If it were me I'd buy the Edwardian house, but you sound much more like you want to stay in your flat.

One thing to think is that you'll always have regrets even if you make the 'right' choice. We chose the big house in the middle of nowhere and there are days when I despair of the fact that it's a 10min drive to the nearest takeaway and even then it's not very good. However I remember being much more unhappy in my small city house having no space a tiny garden and neighbours on top of us.

LondonGirl83 Tue 21-Jan-14 12:22:06

I remember how hard it was to try to find the costs of things online before we did our first refurb. As we are both in SE London, here are costs sqm from the quantity surveyor that by builder used in our contract to give you an idea of how much it might cost you:

Extension @ 1,500 per sqm (27 sqm extension) = Total 40k
High-end bifold doors- 2.5k-5k
Underfloor heating in extension (if you want it)– 2k
New flooring installation only throughout flat @ 30 spm (100 sqm flat)= 3,k
Plastering throughout large 2 bed flat – 2.5k (max)
Painting a large 2 bed flat- 2.5k (max including doors and woodwork)
Reconfiguring pipework- 3.0- 5.0k (max)
Tiling bathroom @ 55 per sqm- 1,1k (floor to ceiling is 20sqm in decent sized bathroom)
Bathroom and kitchen *installation costs*: -2.5k GBP (for good sized kitchen and first and second fix plumbing for bath / shower / sink
New skirting and misc joinery= 1k
Total = 58.0-64.5 GBP for building work

To this I would add circa 20% (12% for your architect if you are also using them as project manager, with the balance for Party Wall agreements, building control, planning, Thames Water for new connections / build over arrangements, the structural engineers fees and the measurement survey).
Total 12.5 GBP for fees

To this you need to add the cost of the flooring you want to supply, the kitchen, worktop and appliances you want installed and the bathroom suite and tiles you need. Also, if you are adding any new lighting, you need to budget for the costs of the pendants etc. If you are replacing any interior doors or the front doors that would also need to come on top. The cost of all of these things totally depends on your spec and can be as much or as little as you want. A decent kitchen from Ikea is just 3k but a designer kitchen from Plain English can easily be 40k....

I don’t know what your plans are but if you need to do any of the below it would come on top of what I mentioned above:
New boiler- 2,000 max
New fuse board- 400
Wiring- 300 GBP for each new circuit of wiring
Each new light fixture or socket you want wired – 65 GBP per electrical installation
Removing load bearing wall- 1k for each wall (plastering and engineering fees and building control fees already covered above)
If you need to replace any windows that can also be very expensive if you go for sash windows...

Also, you probably will need to landscape after the works as your garden will be wrecked which again, depends on what you do and the size of our garden.

You can keep costs down by getting french doors instead of bifolds or not bothering with underfloor heating and doing some of the painting yourself. I found Aston Matthews has the best quality to price ratio for bathrooms and using Ikea or a local cabinet maker for your kitchen is much cheaper than going to one of the big retailers.

Thank you so much for your comprehensive post LondonGirl, I can see how easy it could be to spend a ridiculous amount. I think our budget is pushing it, but maybe the architect will be able to think of ways to make the build less problematic. I really hope it is at all feasible or we've lost our 'can't move' backup plan!

HabitualLurker Tue 21-Jan-14 21:07:30

I commented on one of your other threads as I'm in a similar situation. Just got a place in Lower Syd by the very skin of my teeth, though we've only just started the process so it could all go horribly wrong still.

Honestly, I have the same feelings about Catford. I think it will gentrify pretty quickly so I'm not that bothered about the general scumminess, and actually I prefer a bit of scum to loads of identikit chi-chi shops (unlike my DP who thinks it's horrid). The big but is transport. However much the area improves over the next few years those areas with nice Victorian/Edwardian houses will still be nowhere near a train station.

It's a real bugger. I think the are to the west of the stations might be do-able transport-wise though. Might be worth still looking round there?

You are right habitual, the transport I think is what is killing that area for me. It does feel so remote, and I think there will always be a certain amount of people put off (although east dulwich can be a trek to the station at points and it hasn't seemed to suffer!). I think we have discounted option 1, I walk everywhere right now and I think the switch to being stuck on a limb is too much of a deal breaker right now.

West of the station would be ideal for us actually, I'm trying to get to see a property there this week.

So lucky with your Sydenham house, I really hope it all goes through for you

HabitualLurker Tue 21-Jan-14 21:29:32

Thanks Pickle. Peversely I wouldn't be that upset if it fell through as my head is saying that Catford would be a much better investment. Not sure I could convince the OH though.

That's true about ED and transport. Although, the roads between Lordship Land and Barry Rd are still relatively near bus routes. It seems like most of the Corbett Estate isn't near buses, and even if it is you'll end up stuck on the South Circular trying to get somewhere (which reminds me.. the South Circular is the other thing that makes me go eurgh).

On the other hand, Bromley Rd always seems pretty free of traffic. So, if you ended up nearer that end you could easily hop on transport up to the stations and the action end of things.

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