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Buying old property

(16 Posts)
Gonzo33 Mon 30-May-11 05:16:47

Just a bit of advice really. I have seen the most amazing house within our price range (aren't they always amazing) but it was built in 1786. Now my mother (who I ignore in the main anyway) is dead set against us buying this house due to it's age.

Before exchanging contracts and such like I would like a full structural survey and homebuyers report. Can anyone think of anything else? Maybe an electrical report (although the electrics have been updated within the last 5 years).

SouthGoingZax Mon 30-May-11 05:42:15

We're in a similar position - about to exchange on an 1870 property that is a bit run down.

We went for a full survey - cost about a grand but was useful as it confirmed what we thought would need doing and reassured us that we hadn't missed anything big.

We've budgeted for re-wiring, and a few other things too.

It's likely that the house will have been re-wired at some point in the past 25 years - and presumably as it's been lived in it has some sort of heating - you might want to get that checked out if it's old - but you can bet the electrics and heating don't date from 1786!!

In some ways your mum should be reassured - it's proved that it is sturdy enough to stay standing and habitable for over 200 years!!

Gonzo33 Mon 30-May-11 15:01:34

Thank you South. The house currently has a family in situ, and has oil fired central heating. It is a converted forge. It is also not a listed property.

My Mum is a natural worrier, whereas I am more of a risk taker. I am looking for a forever home with my husband and 2 children as he is due to stop travelling around the world for work in the not too distant future.

As a matter of interest, who are you looking at to insure your home for buildings and contents?

lalalonglegs Mon 30-May-11 15:18:47

If it's Georgian, there's a good chance that it is listed which will complicate any renovation plans you may have.

I wouldn't bother with electrical report - if the work is 5 years old then it should have been signed off by NICEIC to show that it is up to spec.

SouthGoingZax Mon 30-May-11 19:00:22

Were going with home protect (just for the first year) - not bad price - of course you never know if it is any good until you have to claim!
We used Compare the market to get the best price.

notcitrus Mon 30-May-11 19:23:29

Full structural survey - definitely! Homebuyers report is just a valuation with a bit more detail, for people who don't want to get a structural survey, so you don't need that.
We got a great survey - guy spent the whole day in our run-down 1905 house - and not only did it explain the current condition but it also told us symptoms to look for, when said symptoms would need attention, what that needed, and what organisations to ensure workmen were registered with.

Emergency insurance very useful for the first year of owning a house. How's the roof?

Selks Mon 30-May-11 19:36:38

Is it a listed building? Make sure you know if it is or not, and if it is what listing is it under - each is different and will have significant implications for what you could or couldn't do with it.

Be aware that it can cost more to renovate / repair an older property as you often need to use specific and more expensive materials....and that if you start doing one job it often has a domino effect unearthing more jobs that need doing.....

I'm in a cottage that dates from 1740 myself, and I love it. Solidly built, quiet, characterful.

manchurian Mon 30-May-11 20:29:30

Most insurance companies will be able to give you quotes for period properties, so I wouldn't worry about this. I've been with Direct Line in the past and fell into the "pre-1837" category. If it's not a listed property this should help with bringing down premiums.

manchurian Mon 30-May-11 20:31:24

And as others have commented, if it's still standing after 250 years it's probably very solid! Most old buildings are much better quality than current new builds.

SybilBeddows Wed 01-Jun-11 18:47:30

I've always lived in old houses and my parents did a big renovation project on a lovely Georgian house when I was in my early 20s.

They're not necessarily well-built just because old - the builder who did my parents' house said the Georgians were often cowboy builders, but that probably wouldn't apply to an ex-forge, he was talking more about the kind of townhouses that got put up in a rush to make a fast buck.

I wouldn't dream of buying one without a full structural survey.

Sometimes problems are intractable and you just live with them (eg our current house - which is a 1760ish cottage - has one slightly damp wall which hasn't responded to any of the things suggested by various experts over the last 10 years) but you do have to think 'how much would this put off future buyers if we want to sell?'

Personally I think an old house is less of a risk than a newbuild; in general if it's stood for 200 years it'll be fine, as other people have said. UNLESS something has changed around it - eg we saw one house which had a massive damp problem as a result of an estate being built uphill from it which changed the way the water was draining down the hill. But that is quite an unusual situation.

You might want to join SPAB or at least look at their website.

MoreBeta Wed 01-Jun-11 18:54:42

Be very realistic on the cost of repairs and renovation both immediate and ongoing. That is the biggest mistake almost everyone makes in buying an old property. They always have problems you can't see until you get in there and they just keep on coming.

An old property is really like spending money on a luxury - it makes no sense, costs a fortune but you do it because you just want to enjoy it. If you have the money then do it but not if it is going to bankrupt you as you will begin to hate it.

expatinscotland Wed 01-Jun-11 18:55:56

I'll never again live in a property that old unless it were completely done up or was minted.

OMG, I'm glad I was renting because that place was a money pit! It was freezing, too.

Nope, couldn't do it.

northerngirl41 Wed 01-Jun-11 19:15:29

We got the full survey - it was worth its weight in gold. It should tell you all sorts of interesting things - stuff to look out for: rot work, roofs, electrics, plumbing... Those are the things which affect the whole house and make it unliveable. Since there are people living in it, it's probably okay!

We knew our electrics needed doing and that the boiler was probably only good for another year or two and that there was rotwork needing done and that we'd need to reline the chimneys so we could budget for that and also negotiate the price based on it.

Our dippy neighbour bought with only a home survey and then discovered pretty much the whole house needed gutting - hers was even worse than ours and we'd budgeted £20k of renovation. She had no idea what she was taking on and is desperately trying to sell.

Stuff to ask about them selling you along with the house: any guarantees on work they've had done (windows, electrics, roof work, rot work); big thick curtains for the windows (it's amazing what some weatherseal paint and some thick curtains can do!); any ladders they have (for those blooming high lights!!).

As if you'd want to live in a little new-build box - PAH!!!

Gonzo33 Thu 02-Jun-11 07:16:46

Thank you everyone, your help is greatly appreciated. It was always my intention on getting a full structural, I just wanted to know the good and the bad of owning such an old place.

Up until now I have owned no older than 1970's properties. My Nan owned a 1930's house prior to where she lived now and I liked the room and the features of that too, but this house just grabbed me.

vesela Wed 15-Jun-11 21:24:15

It's funny - my first thought was yes, that's old. Then I remembered that my parents' house is mid-to-late 18th century, and growing up I always wished it wasn't so recent! My friends all lived in 17th-century farmhouses... (north Lancashire/Yorkshire border area).

Bunbaker Wed 15-Jun-11 21:37:08

Our last house was about 200 years old and was beautiful and in a lovely situation with stunning views. But it was isolated, it cost a fortune to heat, we had one damp wall that didn't respond to any kind of treatment and we had woodworm in the dining room that we couldn't get rid of. We also kept getting problems with mice in the loft. We spent about £10k on it when we first moved in, but as time went on we got more and more worried about the damp and the woodworm so we sold it and moved to a 7 year old house.

This house doesn't have rooms that are as big, but it isn't the same as all the other houses round here as it isn't on a housing estate. From a practical point of view it is much, much easier to run - easier to clean, cheaper to heat, everything works, it is dry and we don't have woodworm.

The problems you need to look out for are: damp, wet rot, dry rot, woodworm, death watch beetle, mice to name but a few. Also bear in mind that you will need planning permission for some renovations eg new windows. I would also get a plumber in to check the plumbing and heating.

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