Am I brave enough to renovate?!(11 Posts)
I am considering putting in an offer on a house tomorrow. It needs a lot of work. It's Victorian and very delapidated, but it's exactly where I want to live, and could be lovely. I could see myself living there for a long time. But I have a perfectly adequate house already, and don't HAVE to move. Is renovating hideous? Worth it? Part of me is really excited by the idea, but quite a lot of me is terrified. What if we go over budget? End up buying a terrible money pit and fall through the floor in the bath like Tom Hanks? I don't think DH is quite as excited as I am at the prospect, but he isn't anti either. We live in Outer London, so it's a lot of money for what is essentially an old wreck. Help me decide what to do!!!
Renovating is hideous - we've done it once, forgotten the pain and are about to do it again. You need to do your calculations carefully and be as aware as you can be about what you're taking on. Have you had a full structural survey on the house? If there are specific issues (like damp, subsidence, roof problems), you should consider having specialist reports done with indications of costs to put right. Whether or not it's worth it depends on lots of factors - your tolerance for living in very basic conditions and lots of dust (we'll have no proper kitchen for about 5 months), if you have young children or not (keeping them safe), how much money you have to spend and if you can stagger the work over several years, if you have a contingency fund, how long you plan to live in the house etc. We decided it was worth it for us, but we're nearly 2.5 years in and will only be starting the major phase of work next year.
We've done several large projects - including restoring a 3500 sq ft Victorian house that had been converted to four flats during the 1950s - and have always lived on site....even with a small child!
It's not for the faint-hearted though - our current (Georgian, stone, thatched, but non-listed) house was unmortgageable with the barest of facilities when we moved in three years ago. We spent six months without hot water or heating (except the wood burner!) whilst our kitchen extension was built, but we survived......first world problems, lol!
Most of the time it's been worth it though - seeing a swan emerge from an ugly duckling is extremely rewarding!!!
Do you have to sell your house in order to buy the project? Is yours currently on the market? If you need to sell you might need to act quickly to get a buyer lined up. We (stupidly) fell in love with our next project before this one was quite finished, then had to race to get it ready and marketed before our onward purchase sold.
We have been fortunate in that - in an area where sales are fairly slow - we went SSTC within just over a month and managed to secure the next one and will hopefully be completing later this month.....
We are just coming out of the other side of renovating a 3 bed Victorian semi - still lots to do but we have carpet going down in half the house this week and I can't wait!
I agree with everything said in the previous replies. You don't say whether full on building work is required which would make a big difference to the level of disruption caused. We have done new kitchen, new boiler, full rewire, plaster skim, some damp and timber treatment, redecoration and carpets. Bathroom will be done in the New Year. I would say that the rewire and plasterwork were undoubtedly the most disruptive - both very messy and dusty and the rewire very noisy as well. We were lucky in that we could stay in our rented house until the worst was over, but even so it has been hard work with a toddler in tow.
If you go for it then don't skimp on surveys - full structural plus any specialist reports it recommends (although you may have to use a bit of common sense to decide what is just the surveyor covering his back and where there are genuine concerns). If you can find a friendly local builder to check it out as well, they will spot other possible issues. Tell them what you plan to do and they will be able to point out any glaring problems.
Definitely include a healthy contingency in your budget (and in your timescale!) Tradesmen where I am (south east) are very busy at the moment so don't bank on being able to get going straight away - we have had several frustrating delays trying to find someone good and coax them into doing the work! If you can get any quotes before you complete (obviously depends how helpful the vendor is) then that can speed things up.
If you are project managing the trades yourself then communication is key.
Good luck if you do decide to go for it. I have no regrets - this was the only way we could afford the house we wanted and now it's all coming together it's feeling like it was worth all the stress.
It is absolutely hideous. I regularly broke out in hives from the stress. Having come out the other side I feel it was totally worth it. We always loved the location but now we love the house too.
Once was enough....never again!
Thanks for the replies. Barely slept for thinking about it all! We have an offer on our house, it's lower than we had hoped but that seems to reflect the market at the moment around here. We would be putting in a correspondingly low offer. Regarding surveys, I'm not to sure on that one. I was assuming a full structural was the way to go, but other posts have indicated that they can be an expensive waste of time. I was definitely going to get a damp survey, we actually had a brilliant bloke do one on this property recently and he was incredibly thorough, so would use him again. And maybe timber? Only done one viewing so would do another one before offering. Things to do would be
Put in Central heating
Sort out possible roof probs (damp coming through bedroom ceiling)
Deal with cracks around join of ceiling/wall
Plastering everywhere given state of walls
Move bathroom from downstairs to upstairs - this requires repositioning stairs and a very small 2 storey extension on the side (ie about 2m x 3m max) I've looked on the council planning and neighbours opposite did exactly this last year so would be ok for planning permission.
Painting and decorating
Sorting out wilderness garden
The biggest positive as far as time/expense is that it's very small! Only a 2 up 2 down really, with an outrigger kitchen. But there's only 3 of us. DS is 6 so old enough to cope with a bit of roughing it.
I love the idea of creating a swan. I love DIY and sorting and organising. I also get quite anxious though and stressy.
Going to organise 2nd viewing today. Without DH because he nearly cried last time looking at the state the old lady was living in. It is very sad, but I'm trying to think that she lived her whole life in her own home and that's probably exactly what she wanted.
Anyway, rambling over, trying to sort it out in my head....
An update. Spoke to EA today, someone else had made a 'proceedable' offer (tsk, estate agent speak), and it would probably be accepted. So I had to decide today if I wanted to offer. Which I now have, and am waiting to hear back whether it's been accepted. Gah!
Did you get the house? I hope you did. Rennovation is hard, particularly if you have to live in the house but it is totally worth it and you should end up with exactly what you want. Good luck!
It's really really expensive. Ours is going to cost half a million for a total gut refurb and extension, the taxes really add to the pain! We are in London, it's about £1500 psm which I'm told is not an unreasonable price, I've had quotes over £2000 psm though it's not as much to renovate existing space than it is to extend.
You will of course end up with the house of your dreams, so maybe it'll all be worth it!
It is very hard and very stressful but ultimately for us it was rewarding.
We did a total refurb and major extension: new wiring, new plumbing / heating system throughout, new windows, replastering, new doors (internal and external), redoing the front and back garden including laying a new Victorian path, all new bathrooms, all new flooring, replacing the stairs, new kitchen, total redecoration and a ground and first floor extension as well as a loft conversion.
We did not live in it (rented for 8 months) and had a realistic budget and the stress was still unbearable at times. Don�t underestimate how much time it will take: dealing with builders every day and making decisions, sourcing materials etc is a full time job.
If you don�t have the time or the money then don�t do it.
Now that its done though its amazing to have everything just as we want it!
We didn't get it. Went to a cash buyer. Apparently there were several offers all in the same range and rather than go to sealed bids the owner decided they wanted the quickest option. We are now putting in an offer on a property that needs quite a lot doing to it ie no central heating, modernising etc but nowhere near the extent of the other one. Probably a better bet actually but the one we lost was on my ideal road so a bit gutted. Ah well. I hate buying/selling houses. If we get this one I'm going to stay in it until they carry me out feet first.
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