Victorian converted flat(9 Posts)
Looking to buy one but would appreciate any views of what it is like actually living in one. I'm a bit concerned about the maintenance involved, although the responsibility for this is across 3 flats there is only an informal savings account in place (which currently doesn't have much money in it). What happens if something urgently needs done?
I am starting to wonder if we are getting ourselves into something that will end up being a money pit!
My flat was a victorian conversion (owned it four years).
The expensive outlay is the roof. Find out when it was last replaced or at least overhauled. You definitely need more savings in place for roof replacement, even if that means you are saving a smaller amount now because you know it will need doing in 10 years. If you aren't saving now you are building up a large future bill. I would be very concerned if they didn't have a plan in place for this and painting the outside which also needs looking at regularly (or the windows will rot - I know from experience!).
Apart from that I really liked my flat - more character, bigger rooms and higher ceilings. Apart from the roof which is the responsibility of everyone, the other thing that goes wrong is windows- make sure you maintain them inside and out (if original wooden sashes).
Personally I wouldn't buy unless the other flats agree to a slightly more formal maintenance charge agreement to build up a sinking fund, or the roof was done in the last 5 years.
I would also find out who is responsible for the roof.
I know it's usual to think that the whole building is responsible, but a friend of mine bought a lovely flat in a converted victorian townhouse. Top floor/attic flat. the roof leaked and caused significant damage to her place, and she thought that the buildings sinking fund would cover it. it didn't as according to the deeds, she was solely liable. It may not be the same with the one you're looking at, but make sure.
the thinking behind friends situation was that only those in the top floor were benefiting from the roof...
Agree check maintenance schedule - our flat/building (albeit not an old house, just a converted building) doesn't have a set schedule for maintenance.
Check how much noise travels from any flat above you, or alternatively how much your downstairs neighbours can hear. In rented accommodation we have been on both 'sides' of this, both inadvertant makers of noise and hearing our neighbours' every sneeze. Both were very difficult to live with!
Sometimes there will be an arrangement to have carpets rather than hard floors to minimise noise. Only helps with underlay and decent carpet though. As we discovered. Obviously soundproofing is possible but more expensive.
We lived in one. Loved it. The size of the rooms and the height of the ceilings; full of character. There were 8 flats in ours and we had a management agency (not England) involved. Paid £20+ a month for cleaning of communal areas and gardening. I think I'd be wary about being top floor incase of roof problems (although we were, but didn't have any problems)
I lived in a top floor flat and really suffered from noise from the people below me. I also got their horrible cooking smells into my flat. It was a bit like sharing a house with them really, with a closed door in between me and them...
On the plus side, there was lots of storage space (built in cupboards), it had character and was more spacious than new build flats.
Is it leasehold or share of freehold?
Thanks for replies. Flat is share of freehold and floor 2 of 3. Roof has not long been replaced. I'm told it is quiet and when I have been it is, but no upstairs neighbours were at home both times. I know they have carpets though. I'm worried that if something needs done urgently and there isn't enough in the pot, we will have to find the cash somehow. This may be a problem as we're using it all to buy the flat in the first place.
When your solicitor hears from the sellers' solicitor, they should receive a management/assignment pack from the freeholder (or, in this case, whoever does the admin on behalf of the freehold company) which will say if there are any works planned. It will also tell you if there are any reserves to pay for future work.
Does the building look tatty? If you stand on the other side of the road, can you see any obvious problems with the roof (is it sagging, are there several slipped tiles?)? Can you see any evidence that the gutters are not carrying water away properly (damp streaks)? Is there vegetation growing out of them? Are the windows original and do they need work? All these will give you an idea of what may need attending to.
I think Victorian conversion flats can often have a poor layout and be badly insulated in terms of both heating and noise. I wouldn't buy one on the middle floor as you would get noise from both other levels. I would definitely want to visit when the upstairs neighbours were at home.
OP I don't think it's wise to buy any place without having a reserve fund in place for emergency situations. All buildings need constant maintenance - not only Victorian flats.
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