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Some basic questions from a renovation novice

(18 Posts)
Lightofthemoon Mon 24-Oct-11 13:57:04

Don't laugh me out the property board but I have NO IDEA how to go about a renovation.

We are currently on the market and looking around an expensive area at the same time and the idea of a renovation is appealling more and more to me. It is such a good way to get your dream house that would otherwise be out your budget.

Anyway, I have two very basic questions for starters if anyone can help me?

1) How do you get the funds to renovate?

Kirsty and Phil always say to people 'your budget is £500K so if you buy a place for £400K you can use the £100K to do it up'. However, usually (and in our case) that budget is based on how much of a mortgage you can get. So the mortgage company aren't going to go 'oh you want another £100K on top of the property price, no problem'. Presumably you actually need the cash to do the work?

2) Can you put an offer in subject to you getting the planning permission?

Obviously you don't want to buy the house before you know if you can do the work you want to. I guess you also run the risk of paying for the drawings etc. and having it turned down and you have to start again.

narmada Mon 24-Oct-11 14:21:07

1) No bank would lend you more than 100% of a house's value, if that's what you mean... so yes, you need to have the cash for the renovation, unless you have another property you can use as collateral.

2) I very very much doubt whether you could make an offer subject to gaining planning approval - no sensible seller would accept that. Planning applications can be very drawn out and I am almost certain that you have to have an interest in the property you're applying for planning permission for (e.g., you have to be the owner or owner's appointed agent).

We have just done a renovation and it's not necessarily the easy-fire way to getting a dream home for bargainous prrice: there are bound to be costs you've not envisaged and strangely doer-uppers don't always go for the price they should (IME) because people are strangely attracted to a project!

mollschambers Mon 24-Oct-11 14:24:54

Nothing stopping you having an informal chat with a planning officer re a potential purchase though. Also have a look at neighbouring properties to give you an idea of size and style of extension that has been allowed in the past.

bacon Mon 24-Oct-11 14:29:59

Cant help you on the mortgage as we pay as we go and we are a business.

Depends on how old the property is, where it is, type of property, if its graded etc.

The standard you want either b&q ready to resell or high quality.

We've found that everything is x3 times as the cheap as chips version. Renovation is tough as you dont know how bad things are behind the plaster. This is where you need that big contignacy. ie the oak lintel is wormed through - this may some of the blocks/bricks removed, props, new green oak cut to size, rebuild etc. This could be an extra weeks work. We work around the figure of £1000 per week. A good craftsman will charge £150pd or £100ish cash. Make sure with a craftman he brings a oppo as you dont want to be paying £150pd for him to mix concrete and brush the floors - bad bad practice.

With a renovation everyone is different and its an advantage if one of you have a skill as this cuts out the work. £100k isnt much as we spent that in one year with new heating system, plastering, new electrics and materials. I come from an architectural background so I have a good understanding and hubby works with machines and can work manually like a dog.

Watch Grand Designs you can see on there how they plough through the money.

Just make sure you have a sensible contingancy - not 10% more 30%. Hope this helps.

theyoungvisiter Mon 24-Oct-11 14:35:36

As far as I know you DON'T have to own a property to get planning permission on it. You just have to inform the owner of what you're doing.

But as others have said, I wouldn't make the offer conditional on it. Getting planning permission is a long, drawn out and sometimes expensive business. A seller is not going to want to wait around while you get planning permission, and if you do get permission it applies to the property (not to you) so there's nothing to stop them from remarketing the property at a higher price on the back of "your" planning permission, if you see what I mean.

A chat with a planning officer is probably a good idea - they will be able to give you a rough idea of whether what you want to do is likely to be approved or not.

Be aware that precedent is not always a very good guide - particularly if the property is in a conservation area.

Are you sure that what you want to do requires planning permission? You can do quite a lot under PD (permitted development).

I'm not an expert but we are in the middle of renovating a house so I know a bit about it from a layman's perspective.

CaptainNancy Mon 24-Oct-11 14:40:11

Sorry bacon- what is an 'oppo' please?

(great thread lightofthemoon!)

theyoungvisiter Mon 24-Oct-11 14:41:06

oh - also I wouldn't say that renovation is necessarily the cheapest option, unless you're in the trade or have access to cheap labour.

I think by the time we're finished we'll have ended up spending as much as it would have cost for a ready-to-sell property. But the thing is, at the end of it we'll have a house that's exactly how we want it.

It's definitely cheaper than buying a ready-to-sell property and then altering it to suit your own preferences. But estate agents are wise to the slap-on-the-magnolia crowd - they don't take £££s off the price just because it needs a coat of paint. If a house is very cheap it's usually because it's got major problems.

notcitrus Mon 24-Oct-11 14:42:13

Good advice above.
First question is how much can you afford to borrow (usually based on your income) versus how much the house is worth plus any savings you have. If the mortgage you need isn't that high a proportion of the value of the house, if you're selling a house already, then you may be able to borrow what you need.

If you're not extending the house, or only planning a loft conversion, you may well not need planning permission at all, but do check with local planners first. If it's listed then you would need a lot more checks about what you could do.

Thirdly, could you live in the place while work happened? We really wanted a large house in a certain location on a limited budget, but weren't scared of needing work, DIY or slumming it for a while. We got heating and granny flat revamped as soon as we moved in, followed by secondary glazing, and 5 years later we're finally decorating (but did do the loft conversion from hell which now looks wonderful). It's not a choice for everyone, but for us it was the only way to get what we wanted, and half the house is now fantastic (shame about the freezing kitchen...)

bibbitybobbitybloodyaxe Mon 24-Oct-11 14:48:17

There are very few bargains to be had in the housing market any more, especially not in expensive, desirable areas. There is enormous demand for doer-uppers in my neighbourhood, so much so that asking prices are hardly lower than completely finished properties. When demand is high, supply is usually low.

And, yes, it annoys me when Phil and Kirstie say that about people's budgets.

We have been living in our extremely tatty Victorian house for 7 years now and have only just got the money together to do the kitchen. We have spent about £15,000 on the house gradually over the years, but never had access to a pot of cash to renovate all at once, we have had to earn and save the money as we've gone along.

Lightofthemoon Mon 24-Oct-11 14:58:38

Thanks for all the answers so far.

Goodness it's giving me gitters just thinking about those people on grand designs who plough through hundreds of thousands beyond their original budget! I guess that is the problem, without the drawings etc. in place of what you want, you can't realistically budget the work.

One property I've seen would certainly need planning permission as I'd want to double the size of it. I'm starting to wonder if it really is the cheaper option from what some of you have said....

Keep the advice coming, is giving me lots of good food for thought!

sixtiesqueen Mon 24-Oct-11 22:14:41

We are 12 weeks into a renovation project which we bought in January. We are due to be back in the house by December 16th and you can see it online at

You've had some good advice here. I would second that your contingency needs to be about 20% not 10%. All sorts of things will crop up along the way. In our case, our contingency went as follows:

£2,500 extra steel beams as recommended by structural engineer
£2,400 new roof tiles because couldn't match originals
£1,500 unforseen replastering worn plaster
£6,000 Extra plumbing not correctly costed by builder
£2,000 Patio costs more than we thought
£1,000 garage door costs more than we thought
£1,500 extra electrics eg burglar alarm, outside lights, TV aerials

At the end of the day, your costings will always be out because you simply can't get accurate quotes for something until the build is underway - our garage door went up in cost after the house was built because the company now had something to actually measure!

The other thing to consider if the effect on your general finances and family. In our case we had to move out of the house, rent another property, store our furniture, move house twice. Our kids have probably suffered because we're so busy and distracted. We're really tired. Their toys are in storage. Yadda yadda yadda!

Lightofthemoon Tue 25-Oct-11 09:07:33

Wow that's a great project sixtiesqueen!

Is such a massive commitment though from what you've said. It does make me feel a bit queasy at the thought of undertaking something so big, like you say it is impossible to draw up a budget and stick to it.

Perhaps I haven't got the nerve for a renovation!!

GreenBlueRed Tue 25-Oct-11 10:27:16

It depends what you mean by a renovation though. Ideally, if you don't have much experience or much in the way of practical skills between you, you would look instead for a house that had been looked after, had the essential space as you want it so you're not massively knocking it around, but has dreadful, offputting decor, is filled with someone else's crap so it doesn't appeal to your average dim viewer, maybe needs tidying up, overgrown garden, etc.

The kind of house you can put in a seriously cheeky offer on because they're not getting much interest, but that you know with some tlc and decorating you can make as nice as the others in the street. So you aren't paying over the odds for someone else's B&Q bathroom installation or their taste in wallpaper, and you can make it your own over time as your savings allow.

However, these type of houses often have very dated wiring, heating, old boilers, etc, no double glazing perhaps, so it may be that you need to factor in those costs, and you need someone with know-how to advise you.

Whatever you buy, if you don't have the knowledge yourself, make sure you acquire enough of it from someone you trust until you're happy with what you're buying.

narmada Tue 25-Oct-11 14:05:24

greenbluered you have accurately described the house we just bought and did up! We're in greater london. I do have to say though that at least down here, there is great demand for these types of doer-upper properties that need a medium amount of mostly cosmetic work. All similar properties we looked at were under offer within 24 hours - and we looked at loads.

As a guide, we knew our new place needed: electrical upgrade (£1200), central heating installed (£4400), new flooring throughout (carpets - £2300).

Costs we didn't necessarily anticipate perhaps owing to our naivety [ahem] were: having the house reskimmed throughout because under the textured wallpaper was lurking hideously lumpy walls (£2700); removal of asbestos-backed flooring hiding under carpets and two asbestos-containing storage heaters (£700 in the end - we had a lot removed though).

Then there is the manual labour that takes not money but tiiiiiiiiiiime! - in our case the main things were: lifting carpets and some other flooring; many, many tip runs with all the waste; moving very very heavy old storage heaters; 2 12-hour days sanding back and repainting skirting boards before the carpets were fitted.

There is still lots stuff to be done on the house - e.g., it needs a new kitchen and bathroom in due course. The work to date (to bring it up to move-in-able standard) has taken 4 weeks, but that took some serious pre-planning, and nearly back-to-back scheduling of trades. I also had lots of childcare help with our two little ones from my mum, without which we wouldn't have had a snowball in hell's chance of getting things done on time.

narmada Tue 25-Oct-11 14:06:47

I should also add wallpaper stripping to that list of time-consuming but cost-free jobs. It took me best part of 2 weeks' worth of evenings after the kids were in bed.

Lizcat Tue 25-Oct-11 15:56:34

In a slow market on a slow to sell property it is possible to make an offer conditional on planning permission - I have done it. However, I took pre-planning advice that said that the planning officers would support my application and I shared this with the vendor so they knew that there was a good chance we would get planning permission.

Gotarty Tue 25-Oct-11 22:40:02

We had the funds and a bit of equity so we remortgaged but only on the value of the unrenovated property. We are currently paying a rather high interest rate on the new mortgage as our loan to value ratio was at the limit - we will end up over paying for 2 years.

We have spent a small funtune on our renovation and we have more to spend - if we sold now I doubt we'd get it back but that wasn't the point - we wanted something for us, long term.

We had to move out and although someone else is doing the work you have so many decisions to make it will consume a huge amount of your time. Usually relationships suffer - dh and I were fine but the kids were miserable and really missed being the centre of our attention, the main part lasted 8 months.

We are left with a fantastic house - but it was tough getting through it.

gaelicsheep Tue 25-Oct-11 22:49:43

My advice? If you're going to renovate make sure you love the house to begin with and want to sympathetically improve it to meet modern standards. Don't buy a house that's too small then try to get planning to stick an extension on it the same size again. That is never going to be sympthetic to the building. Leave the small house for someone who's going to love and care for it just as it is.

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