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Is it madness to buy a property that needs gutting vs a move-in-ready home?

(15 Posts)
Brown76 Mon 23-May-16 01:22:25

We've just sold our 1 bed flat in London and are looking for a 3 bed house. We've seen a couple that need little to no improvement (although both could be extended to add another bedroom if we like), one is an ex-LA freehold house, another is a more pricey period property at the very top of our budget. But, having said that we didn't want to do any work and knowing that we are both hopeless at DIY and have zero experience of doing any kind of building work beyond getting a decorator to paint some walls, is we are tempted by a wreck that we could possibly buy cheaply for cash and borrow to do up. Maybe its watching too much homes under the hammer that has persuaded us that this is even a feasible idea. We both work and have one child, and don't want to spend our free time picking out tiles and arguing with builders and yet....we are tempted. Is it madness? Would you do this with no DIY-savvy? Need to think about making offers and so confused!

RockMeMomma Mon 23-May-16 01:28:57

Don't do it unless you have a shed load of cash and very competent reliable trades people to do the work. Get it surveyed before you finalise the sale. We bought a doer-upper and it's a nightmare. Hoping to sell (we're in negative equity) and buy a turn key finished house.

KickAssAngel Mon 23-May-16 01:37:28

It is madness.

DH and I did this a couple of times before we had DD. I can't imagine doing it with a child. What about when there's wet paint and they can't go in certain rooms? Holes in the floor? No doors on any rooms? No water or kitchen or heating?

If you don't like and aren't used to doing this kind of thing, it will be twice as expensive and take four times longer than you can possibly imagine. you're also unlikely to get a loan to cover the cost as banks aren't happy to lend money on a not-yet-in-existence kitchen.

Many times we ended up staying up til 2 am to finish something that couldn't be left, then got up for work the next day. I've also finished work then got home and started painting almost immediately, right up until midnight, for days or weeks on end. Sleeping on a mattress on the floor with all your clothes in boxes isn't fun. The tools and equipment to do this kind of thing are also expensive, so don't save a whole load of money, but working with builders can be frustrating. Things like plumbing and wiring HAVE to be right, first time. I've ended up rushing around at midnight while water pours through the ceiling onto the bed I'd planned to sleep in.

So it if you really feel able to embrace years of living in mess and dirt, no free time, no spare money and no time or space for your DD to have fun.

Having said all that. We did make money on it!

sepa Mon 23-May-16 02:03:22

Before we bought our house I couldn't even paint a wall but both OH and I HAD to buy a crap house to stay in the area we grew up in. I remember one time thinking that we had taken on too much and there was too much to do that I lay on a wooden floor in the house and cried myself into a nap.
It took us 4months in total with 1 handy man to work at the house full time and we came and went. We did everything - knocked down walls, new doors, installed gas supply, new kitchen, new Windows, painting inside and out.
We now have a house which is decorated to how we want(ed) it pretty unpractical now we have a DC
Would I do it now I have a DC? Not if I had the choice/funds to buy a house which was fully finished

sepa Mon 23-May-16 02:06:03

Also, we had a place to stay whilst we did the work so didn't live there HOWEVER your home insurance doesn't really cover you for more than 30days away from living in the property

BaggyPantz Mon 23-May-16 02:12:02

Oh god no. Never again. You need time, money, no children, and DIY knowledge or reliable tradesmen who will be happy to work for cash at a cheaper rate.

We chose to buy a do-er-upper, in order to get the location, size and garden that we preferred but it's still not finished 6.5 years later because we've had to borrow loans for everything, so it has to be done as and when (and the fucking car keeps swallowing up any savings we eventually scrape together).

Good luck but unless you have the money to pay people to get the work done asap, and still make a decent profit on the house, it's SO not worth the stress!

SendGinQuick Mon 23-May-16 02:55:52

If you're not into DIY I wouldn't recommend it OP, unless you've either got loads of cash to pay other people to do it or you want to spend the next 12 months learning more than you thought possible about paint and plumbing...
(says the person who's just bought an absolute shed of a Victorian farmhouse to do up with a 9 week old in tow...)

It's fun but it will cause arguments! hmm

Gobbolinothewitchscat Mon 23-May-16 06:17:21

What are your family circumstances?

We totally redid our 5 bed semi last year - including adding on a loft extension. I had a 2 year old, a 1 year old and was pregnant. It was very hard but I wasn't at work so available daily to supervise builders etc

We are now hopefully going to buy a detached fixer upper and do that. I'm praying it won't be so bad as our previous build as most if the work needs done on two sides of the house - eg an extension and a kitchen diner.

We had a good amount of money to do the work and an excellent, recommended builder. I wouldn't have been able to cope if we were doing things piecemeal. In fact, one of my friends is very depressed after buying a fixer upper which is crawling along at snails pace due to os k of cash and a DH who doesn't really prioritise getting the work done.

You also need to make sure you have somewhere to stay where really messy work is done - like taking down ceilings and factor in costs such as having all of your stuff in storage

Brown76 Mon 23-May-16 06:25:50

Thanks for the responses. Almost unanimously 'No'!

@RockMeMamma We might have a shed-load of cash, only because we think we could get it for £70k under our max budget as 'cash buyers' and then borrow against the house (mortgage after purchase) to do all the work.

@KickAssAngel - we definitely wouldn't live there, we've been told we can stay (in one room) at my mum's, which would be a bit of a squeeze but hopefully for maybe 6 months tops?

@sepa thanks for the point about the insurance, I hadn't thought about that shock. We do have a couple of mates in the trade who would moonlight, but only on the finishing off i.e. installing kitchen, decorating. We'd have to get a builder in and probably plasterer, electrician, plumber all probably plus VAT @ 20%....

Hmm, the more I think about this, it is madness. Plus it would probably end in DH and I at each other's throats. But it's so tempting!

tittysprinkles Mon 23-May-16 07:47:48

We did it and it was great. However we did have a good sized budget, personally recommended tradesmen and we weren't living in it at the time. Any other variations on this scenario could have turned it into a nightmare.

WhatKatyDidnt Mon 23-May-16 12:32:22

Don't do it OP. It's hideous. It's so hard to find good and available tradespeople in London - they can pick and choose their jobs and name their price. You will spend months and months living in unbelievable dust with more decisions to make than you ever thought possible. If you can afford a ready to move in house just buy that instead!

mrsmortis Mon 23-May-16 14:16:57

I've not had that bad an experience of it. Though we went in knowing that it was going to take years.

We bought a 1930s house that had been empty for 18 months. It didn't need much structural (we replaced one ceiling) but it needed new electrics, insulation, a new bath room, new kitchen, new heating, etc.

Before we moved in we did the insulation, windows and electrics. We knew we had enough money to do that at the outset. Every thing else has been done in dribs and drabs as we've had the money. It's taken 6 years and we are down to one reception room and the hall/stairs/landing needing work.

I've really had no problem with it on the whole. You just move around the house as you need to based on what work needs doing. DD1 was 6 months old when we moved in and DD2 came along 3 years later. They've never known any difference and don't have a problem with it. We did our kitchen just before DD2 was born and DD1 used to take her toy drill into the kitchen to 'help' Daddy and Grandpa (note I have done my share of the work but at 8 or 9 months pregnant it was agreed I should stay out of the way - my job was to keep everyone fed and watered instead).

Sunnyshores Mon 23-May-16 18:10:17

It will cost far more than you think, take far longer, be far more stressful.

As you both work FT how would you manage the builder? Order things? check deliveries? Answer questions? Make decisions? Let alone you admit you dont know anything about building/DIY - I just dont see how it would work, if this major build you need to be onsite daily.

BoboChic Mon 23-May-16 18:17:50

I've just moved into a property that needs a new kitchen now because I had the old one ripped out just before I moved in. The rest of the property is pretty much perfect (bar one bathroom which can wait awhile) but the kitchen alone is making me feel daunted. A whole house? No thanks!

silversixpence Tue 24-May-16 20:37:13

We would say the opposite - having just done this while working part time and living in the house with 3dc youngest aged 9m! We had to do almost everything except rewiring. We were not living in the house for the first 3-4 weeks but were in after the initial plastering and painting was finished. The downstairs had no flooring other than dirty floorboards, and there was no central heating. We still have some bits to do two months on but it has been absolutely worth it. The house has probably already increased in value by 50-60k at least and we are living in an amazing area we wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise.

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