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Are we mad to do up a house that needs LOADS of work?

(44 Posts)
Pinkjenny Wed 29-Jun-11 10:11:18

I started this thread a while ago, as we had an offer accepted on our house, and we put in an offer on a house that needed lots of work, offer was then withdrawn.

Anyway, we've now had a cash offer, and the house that we liked is still available. It needs:

2 x new bathrooms
New kitchen
Chimney breast knocking out
New flooring
All windows need to be replaced

I have an 18mo and a 4yo, and am reluctant to rent somewhere while the work is carried out, bearing in mind the amount we have had to reduce our property.

So, my question is, are we mad? My mum is banging on and on about how it's too much work, it's too stressful etc etc, and she is really putting me off, which is infuriating dh.

I am a massive stresshead, so would definitely find it difficult, dh is the opposite.

Pinkjenny Wed 29-Jun-11 10:29:32


kitsmummy Wed 29-Jun-11 10:52:11

God no, it's not that bad. I'd take on a house like that (and have done) in the blink of an eye. It's not like you need to add a massive extension or anything like that. It's just cosmetics and people will be in doing the work for you. It will be dusty but I really don't think it will be unbearable, and it won't last too long. And think how you can put your own mark on it without paying for someone else's taste <disclaimer, I love doing up houses>

Sidge Wed 29-Jun-11 10:55:42

I wouldn't but then I'm one of those lazy caaahs that wants it all done before I move in.

Having lived in houses where we've done the kitchen, bathrooms, plastering, redecorating, flooring etc I've had my fill of living in a building site, so would want to move in when it's all finished and cleaned.

But the work you want doing is not too major really, as long as you can put up with dust, mess, builders, and maybe get it all done in one hit if funds allow.

Sushiqueen Wed 29-Jun-11 11:42:04

I'd go for it.

We have just offered on a house where we are already planning long term work. We have been messed about a bit and a fallback.

That is a house where it would need complete rewiring, plastering, decorating, enlarging the bathroom, building a ground floor extension and knocking a few walls down etc.

We could have done it exactly as we wanted and are almost disappointed that the other one now seems to be moving along.

Just think of the end result and decamp to your folks for a couple of days when the dust gets too bad.

After living in new builds for the past 10 years, I can't wait to get to an old house again and have a house how I want it.

Ponders Wed 29-Jun-11 11:47:16

If you can afford to rent somewhere, even though you'd rather not, then do that & get it all done in one huge dirty go before you move in - we have done it the other way, bit by bit, & I would never do that again!

GooseyLoosey Wed 29-Jun-11 11:53:13

We bought a house that needed gutting totally (part was derilict, rest was damp with woodworm, new wiring, plumbing, no mains gas, woodworm, 1950s kitchen and bathrooms and a layout that must have been designed by lilliputians).

We were lucky enough to be able to move out and live somewhere else. Do not underestimate the stress large scale building work can put you under. Also make sure that you can actually afford to do what you want to do - cost it properly and then add 10% to the figure you come up with.

Make sure you take up references on any builders you use. Good ones can make such a difference to a project. Bad ones make your life hell.

I would never do it again, but on the otherhand I love the house I now have and do not think I could have afforded it or got it any other way. It was probably worth it but there are times when I would have said it was not.

Think carefully and be realistic.

SootySweepandSue Wed 29-Jun-11 11:55:33

Bear in mind that tradesmen will need mainly clear rooms to work. Where will your things go to enable this? It adds in quite a bit of time moving furniture around constantly and IME they don't do this themselves a lot of the time.

Think about how long gas and electrics will be off and if you can live like this. You may have minimal supply for a while ( we had 2 plugs for 3 weeks!).

bibbitybobbityhat Wed 29-Jun-11 11:58:05

If you can afford to have all the work done more or less as soon as you move in ... then yes.

If you are thinking, we'll find the money to do it up as we go along ... then NO.

<<looks folornly at bare plaster walls and v unpleasant carpet 6 years after moving in>>

lachesis Wed 29-Jun-11 11:58:14

You're mad not to rent somewhere else with children that young whilst such work is being carried out.

It really isn't a matter of just decamping to your family for 'a couple of days'.

The plumbing and wiring work in the kitchen and bathroom will mean you will be without power and facilities during that time.

If you're living there, you'll realise just how bad life without running water is.

Hullygully Wed 29-Jun-11 12:01:54

i'd do it.

Pinkjenny Wed 29-Jun-11 12:01:56

We would be able to afford to have the work done in one hit straight away. We don't have any family members to 'decamp' to, it really is renting or moving straight in.

Hullygully Wed 29-Jun-11 12:02:21

You could move out for a concentrated fortnight of plumbing

Hullygully Wed 29-Jun-11 12:02:54

Stay in a b&b for a week/go on a cheap caravan holiday etc <voice of experience>

Pinkjenny Wed 29-Jun-11 12:07:37

Hullygully - dh did actually mention that. His exact words were, 'I mean, how much would a Travelodge cost for a fortnight?'

snice Wed 29-Jun-11 12:07:47

can you afford to get it all done in one go? If so I'd buy a cheap caravan to park on the drive and camp in it for 3 months whilst the work is done. Once finished sell the caravan on ebay. If you can only afford to do it piecemeal I'd be less keen.

feckwit Wed 29-Jun-11 12:07:55

No it would be ok, just chaotic! We had to move in to ours and renovate whilst living in it.

We have:

Put in new central heating including re-siting the boiler.
new kitchen
new bathroom
new loo
replaced all flooring with either carpet, wood, laminate or tiles.
Knocked into an outhouse to convert into the house
Added a conservatory
replastered various walls and ceilings
new light fittings
redecorated every room

Just starting on the garden now which is a tip!

Our house had been empty for 3 years and the elderly couple had done no upgrading in the 50 years they lived here other than new windows which they got with a grant and central heating being installed (but was not working and needed replacing) just over 20 years previously.

Pinkjenny Wed 29-Jun-11 12:09:00

feckwit - do you have dc? If so, what are their ages and how have they coped?

notcitrus Wed 29-Jun-11 13:24:44

Is that all?
Go for it, but get as much as you can done before moving in.

We're 5.5 years into our 10-year project - down to the 'fun' decor but no money, and ds has slowed it down a bit. Didn't really notice the lack of roof for 6 months, given ds was born just after it happened!

sixtiesqueen Thu 30-Jun-11 12:06:51

I moved into a similar house at the end of january with two children ages 18 months and 5.6 years. You can see our renovation blog at:

It's VERY hard work - the 18 month old has now turned 2 and that's improved things a bit (she's less curious about things like hinges and light switches). The other thing is the massive expense and the stuff that goes wrong all the time - you will see from my blog that our front door is currently jammed shut (has been for a fortnight) and we are going in and out of the garage instead. This may seem like a minor point but it's cost us:

£440 for a new door
£80 in woodstain, and equipment
Cost of glazing, fitting a letterbox and lock
Cost of having new keys made
Cost of having it fitted.

In total we're probably looking at nearer £700 just for the front door. To top it off, I bought the wrong door stain and in taking it back to B and Q I dropped it and it burst all over the boot of my car on the way to work.

I don't meant to put you off - I don't regret buying the house - but it's important you know what you are getting into and what it will cost. You may need a slush fund for emergencies like the one I describe and you might need to move out of the property for some short periods. I enjoy property renovation, but it's a huge disruption to the kids - about 60% of their toys have been in storage for a year now.

Pinkjenny Thu 30-Jun-11 13:45:40

Thanks sixtiesqueen - will read your blog with interest.

houseproject Thu 30-Jun-11 15:19:10

To me that seems like a small'ish project but then again ours is major and includes a big extension!

2 x new bathrooms - do one bathroom and then the other
New kitchen - most people have to cope with this in any house if you have been there a period of time. Can be disruptive but you cope by living on take aways, having a fridge in the dining room etc for a week at most.
Chimney breast knocking out - this will be very dusty, best to be out of house when it's done, ask the builder to seal up rooms if possible and expect some cleaning afterwards but shouldn't be more than a couple of days, end to end.
New flooring - again it's the issue of having to clear out rooms e
Replastering - worst part is clearing out the rooms, if house big enough then it helps as you can move into spare rooms. Expect 1 day per room
All windows need to be replaced - non event - can be done in 2 weeks, you'll hardly not notice unless it's winter!

I would certainly go for it - you can be out of the house at times and it's really not that major.It takes time to sort out kitchens, bathrooms, flooring etc and that's what I find tough when you are having to cope with bored youngsters.

northerngirl41 Thu 30-Jun-11 16:11:09

Doesn't sound too horrific - as others have suggested, you can do a bit at a time and live in the rest of it as you work.

Having said that there are some jobs you can't do room by room, notably plumbing and electrics. (And flooring if you're having it all levelled and the same throughout.)

Pinkjenny Thu 30-Jun-11 16:19:36

sixtiesqueen - your blog is amazeballs. Love it. Your house is beautiful. Well, you know, it will be. Sooo much potential.

Ponders Thu 30-Jun-11 19:22:29

sixtiesqueen, I just read your bit about not being able to ventilate the family room if it's raining. Velux windows (our ancient roof one anyway) can be left very slightly open - latched, obv - even when it's raining. They may even have a trickle ventilation thingy, but couldn't swear to that

I love your blog but do not understand why a broken lock meant a new door...confused

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