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to want to buy a cheaper house and renovate?

(35 Posts)
OhTheConfusion Tue 25-Sep-12 23:20:08

DH and I are house hunting... this is ment to be fun sad

DH wants to buy somewhere pretty much ready to move into and has focused his search on this only as he sees it as the easiest way to move and we can re-decorate a little while down the line when the money is available.

I want to buy somewhere that costs less but needs a good pinch of modernisation. No extensions or anything required but would need new kitchen, bathroom, a few walls knocked down and a lot of plastering/decorating.

BOth houses are in the same street, roughly the same size and 'kerb appeal', but the one I like is a good bit cheaper.

AIBU to want to spend the spare money on making the cheaper home perfect for us rather than setteling for someone elses tastes etc just to save any hassle? The DH works away from home so it would be me and the DC's there for most of the work.

Northernlurkerisbackatwork Wed 26-Sep-12 00:00:32

Look for a third option! You and dh have entrenched views now. Somebody is always going to feel resentful if you go fo either house. You need a third way.

Lueji Wed 26-Sep-12 00:32:13

Who would do the big renovations?
Professionals or you?

I have done that with a flat and a house and it's hard work and things take forever to get done.

Also, do work out how much the renovations are likely to cost and see if they are worth the price difference.

The benefit is that you end up with your own signature on the house, instead of someone else's taste.

mercury7 Wed 26-Sep-12 01:32:16

house hunting is meant to be fun?? hmm
I dont remember ever expecting it to be!

tunnocksteacake Wed 26-Sep-12 02:51:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LesleyPumpshaft Wed 26-Sep-12 06:53:09

I can see it from both sides OP. We bought a fixer-upper and the survey didn't pull some of the problems we encountered. Expensive problems too. As a result, we spent most of our budget correcting structural issues. Money that would have got a nice kitchen and bathroom. sadangry

DP really wanted this house and he got his way. I still feel resentful about it!

A house in need of renovation might end up costing more than you think. Thinking it will be cheaper could end up being a false economy, and it could also take a very long time to finish the work.

nellie02 Wed 26-Sep-12 08:10:03

I agree that a cheaper house may lead to paying the same. Don't forget that a run down house usually means that little maintenance has been done.

However, if you do go for the cheaper house, you will know that the work had been done properly, and you can make it work for you.

OhTheConfusion Wed 26-Sep-12 08:17:50

The houses are both in need of cosmetic work over time to make them seem like 'ours', but the house I like would need a few walls removed to make family kitchen. Both need new kitchens but could be used in the mean time. They are accross the street from each other too... numbers 21 and 22 confused

The difference is buy taking the cheaper house we would have around £50,000 to do the work now, but if we take the more expensive house the saving would need to begin - big time!

We would have someone in to do the work with me overseeing it. I don't mind it costing the same overall... only we would have £20k less overall as lower mortgage.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 26-Sep-12 08:27:33


Buying cheaper and using the money to get the house how you want it is just good common sense. I did the same thing wink

I figured that as I would want to change the bathroom and kitchen etc eventually anyway, I was better of getting it all done in one go. Otherwise it would have kept being put off until the right time which never comes, and meanwhile I'd have to live with things I didn't really like.

I think if you are going to be the person dealing with the renovations and living most of the time in the house, your opinion does carry slightly more weight than DHs. I was on my own with two small dc when I had all our work done. It wasn't easy but it was very doable, and I'm glad all the disruption at home took place when the do we're small enough to find it exciting, rather than finding it a pain to have to do homework in amongst the chaos, as well as doing exams, going from primary to secondary etc.

Remember that a house that is seemingly well maintained could have as many issues as one that isn't. Dodgy electrics, a crap hot water system and central heating etc don't show, and there is every chance that both houses are simelar in things like that.

cozietoesie Wed 26-Sep-12 08:29:26

In my experience, you need to get to know a really thorough and practical surveyor who can quickly go over both houses with a fine tooth comb. The more expensive and already modernized one might have been bodged. (It might, of course, have been done beautifully but you can't always tell because fresh paint and wallpaper can hide a multitude of sins.)

You also need to have to hand a reliable bunch of tradesmen. It's quite possible to have works done quickly, cheaply and easily - but you don't want to find yourself in a 'situation' with a Dubious Enterprises Ltd.

If you've got both of those, and an accurate idea of what condition the houses are each in, my instinct would always be to go for the 'fixer upper'. You can do what you want to them - and after the basics (eg structural, fixtures and plastering) have been taken care of, you can really, if necessary financially, do the rest at your leisure, even with DCs around.

steben Wed 26-Sep-12 08:37:57

It really depends on the kind of people you are - me abs dh very nearly bought a fixer upper in hindsight it is the luckiest escape we ever had. We bought somewhere ready to move into and have only really needed to decorate 3 rooms and effort of doing that has nearly resulted in divorce several times. I dread to think what would have happened if we had had to got a place a s come home from busy jobs with DC and start sanding skirting boards wink

So if you have bags of energy, money and time/motivation go for it grin

OhSoSimple Wed 26-Sep-12 08:42:09

Hmmm I have bought a fixer upper twice. Without children it was great. With children (second time) we had to gut the house. I won't do it again, it was horrendous not having a kitchen, no heating, no bathroom for even just a few days, floorboards up all over the place, replastering etc etc. I felt like I missed a year of my children's lives and I would never do something on that scale again.

We didn't have any choice though as it was one of only 3 houses for sale in the village.... and we couldn't afford the other 2.

diddl Wed 26-Sep-12 08:43:08

What actually needs doing in each house?

Are either of them fit to move into?

I couldn´t have a bigger mortgage just for the sake of plastering a couple of walls & doing some painting.

But I think you need to be honest about what needs doing/what you would like doing/costs/how long you can/will wait.

cozietoesie Wed 26-Sep-12 08:46:26

Well those stories are why you need a good surveyor.

Basically, OP, you really need to have the facts (real facts) at your fingertips before you decide. Your DH may not be keen in the abstract because he's probably imagining a future where he comes home from work and spends all of his spare time with a screwdriver or paintbrush in his hand. Not saying he should have no spare time input but it has to be planned as a proper project with timescales and responsibilities clearly agreed and adhered to.

OhTheConfusion Wed 26-Sep-12 08:55:28

Will talk with DH tonight and suggest we have a survey done on both.

Both houses could be lived in. Both need decorated (but only the one I like needs plastered) and we would both want to put in a new kitchen and bathrooms to them overtime, but could only afford to do this now if we take the cheaper house. From the home report it seems the house I like would need a new boiler to make it more fuel efficient too.

I would just rather have a slightly smaller repayment each month and a house I love, decorated and fixed to suit our family for the sake of a few months work. Also I hate getting semi comfortable and then starting to rip out things wehn we have saved up again.

Also my parents live close by so we could eat with them or stay over when kitchen/bathroom being done, but could live in th house for the walls being moved etc.

nellie02 Wed 26-Sep-12 09:04:23

Also, it's worth bearing in mind things that won't change with renovations. E.g. does one have a south facing garden, less overlooked etc.

Personally, I'm with the buy for less and do up camp. Especially since the difference in mortgage would be greater because of interest...

LesleyPumpshaft Wed 26-Sep-12 09:08:01

On the good side, buying a fixer-upper allowed us to pay off our mortgage and we own the house outright. On the bad side, the renovations are still in progress!

tiggytape Wed 26-Sep-12 09:09:29

We bought a fixer-upper because we didn't have enough money for a finished house in our area. Never again!

Seriously, it still isn't finished and I am sick of the constant rounds of mess and dust and not being able to unpack things where you want them and having builders clomping around the house at 8am on a Saturday - that's if they turn up at all! And this is years down the line for us.

It goes so much slower because everything costs at least double what you budget for there are always hidden problems only found when you rip out an old kitchen or look at a ceiling before moving a wall. All the money you thought you'd be spending on a lovely new worktop or on painting the hall in fact gets spent on correcting dodgy plaster or fixing a pipe that's been silently leaking for 10 years and rotting the floor.

If you have worked out, using worst case scenarios, exactly what each job will cost and how long it will take, then have doubled both those figures and added about 20%, and you are still happy with the result then go for it. But even then I'd say the constant disruption to your life and the feeling that the house you bought never actually becomes a home but just a building site and a project makes it not worth it. As you can tell I feel a bit scarred by the whole thing to the extent that if I had the money I would move rather than ever finish it now.

Fishwife1949 Wed 26-Sep-12 09:12:46

Why nit buy a cheaper house and stick a conservatory and a loft o much cheaper

And house the size we have now would cost about 500 thou but we brought a small house and put a conservatory and a loft for 27k

YANBU at all but seriously, this house renovation lark is not as easy as all these tv shows make it out to be!!

It's a massive headache and can be from start to finish, even worse if you have to live in it whilst the work is being done.

My DH ( a builder) did this with our house thankfully before we had DS but I never ever want to do it again.

bubalou Wed 26-Sep-12 09:28:43

I haven't read the replies but from someone that has been through this I would honestly say - go for the house that is ready.

Me & DH bought our house 5 1/2 years ago. It was a lot bigger inside then any other houses in our price bracket but needed modernising.

Easy we thought - chuck in a new kitchen and a bit of paint etc.

We are still working on it now - obviously it costs a fortune even doing it cheaply to do up a house.

We needed all the windows replaced, the conservatory and the utility room too = £20,000. New kitchen & utility room units which we finally got last year £15,000 and we are finally about to get our new bathroom this month - don't wanna know the cost.

In the meantime we have decorated some rooms but all ceilings needed skimming so it has been a slow process and has left me resenting the house and never really feeling at home.

Me & DH both look forward to moving into our 'dream home' in about 1-2 years and trust me - it will be a house that needs nothing other than paint!!!!

grin Good luck

CassandraApprentice Wed 26-Sep-12 09:46:43

We went for a house needing work - despite having a proper survey done several things were missed. We've ended up finding alot of problems that have taken longer and cost more to fix than expected.

I resent the amount of time and money it's already taken. Even with young DC we've done a lot but there is more left to do. It has been five years and we have at least another 18 months and then we want to put it on the market and move across counrty to where DH now works.

I also thought it could be fun doing the decorating - after years of renting but it hasn't been and I now know DH really dosen't like DIY despite what he said prio to buying. I've found it hard to get it down round the DC - and sick DC and workmen in turning off stuff and needing access is a nightmare.

I've also found depit family saying we can stop with them when it comes down to it they are not always happy or school gets in the way.

I do know people who've done it with big old victorian properties within five years- once pre DC and the house was lovely and once with small DC again lovely house but the debt and stress was huge and put the entire family under strain.

LesleyPumpshaft Wed 26-Sep-12 10:10:36

tiggytape, I know just what you mean about hidden problems. DP did a bit of replastering and we discovered that the lintel above the living room window was made of wood, rotten and has a huge ant's nest in it! Tbh, we thought the sloping floor upstairs was because it was an old cottage. It turned out that the joists also needed to be replaced.

The worst thing is that all of it is expensive and you can end up spending thousands and the house looks no better than it did before. Meanwhile you've blown the money you had for the nice new worktop etc.

tiggytape Wed 26-Sep-12 10:13:55

bubalou - I resent it too. It has never felt like a real home even after all this time because it is just one huge hassle after another. That sounds terribly ungrateful as I know so many people would love their own home to do with as they pleased (we used to rent too so I appreciate the flip side of living somewhere where they won't even let you put a mirror on the wall) but I feel that even when / if it is ever finished, I have come to only associate it with all the worry and stress and upheaval it has caused us.

I've told DH that when we move again I want a house that doesn't even need a lightbulb changing!

bubalou Wed 26-Sep-12 10:21:32

Haha - I completely know what you mean tiggytape

I'm not being ungrateful. We have a house bigger than we need. But we have exactly the opposite of what we need!!!!

We have a large 4 bedroom house with a conservatory, utility room and an extra room (games room) downstairs. I'm not bragging - I don't want them!!!!

There's only me, DH and DS aged 4. We don't even use 3 of the rooms in the house. It's just wasted.

What we don't have is a big garden which we would love as we bought the house before we got married and had DS. We also have a house that's not decorated / finished yet in the way I want - even after 5 1/2 years!!!!

The next house will have the big garden I want and no plastering / new kitchens / new bathrooms or holes in the roof that were missed on the survey!!!!!!!!

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