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Is this house (fixer upper) a really bad idea?

(49 Posts)
BoyMeetsWorld Sun 21-Aug-16 09:08:11

Advice greatly appreciated, especially from those with experience of fixer uppers.

We've been looking forever and are in danger of losing our buyer if we don't go ahead. The market is totally flat and there is nothing else the right size in our area that we can afford, hasn't been for months.

This house is a 3/4 bed - the 4th being a very unofficial loft conversion. We know we couldn't sell the property as a 4 bed as won't get retrospective building regs (it has safety stairs not proper staircase). It's priced as a 3 plus bonus room so that's ok. We knew it was rough around the edges, but it's on an excellent street in catchment for the best secondary (and good primaries) in the area.

Survey has come up with:
Potential asbestos in cold water tank , chimney eaves, garage soffit
Central heating system needs flushing and boiler needs replacing, tanks are all unfit for purpose so ideally needs replacing for combi system
Utility room needs rebuilding (we were doing a garage conversion anyway but this would now have to be done in addition)
Bathroom needs refitting, bath isn't watertight and it's completely dated
Gutters all needs raking, repointing and a downpipe is missing
A couple of Windows need resealing. One needs replacing
In addition I suspect there could be funky things with the living room electrics

Before survey, we planned to do the garage conversion, bathroom and fully repaint on a budget of 20k . Now the survey has shown the heating, asbestos and other issues, not sure what to do

That 20k would be using every penny we have unless we go back and renegotiate (done that once already so don't like our chances) and wouldn't cover all the other stuff. How much do you think we'd be looking at for all that (South East)?

And is it just too much to take on? We aren't any good at DIY ourselves and have two young children though not babies. We'd need the loft as a bedroom, unofficial or not. But the location is spot on and nothing comes up there that we can afford of a big enough size. DH is determined to carry on.

I'm scared we could end up bankrupt and would be getting in way over our heads....

foodiefil Sun 21-Aug-16 09:12:01

What are the prices of properties in the area when they're 'done up'?

They say you should buy the worst house on the best street - is it?

We've just bought a bit of a doer-upper. It has damp, hole in the roof, new kitchen and bathroom etc but the price reflects that and we have access to the money to do it up and although we haven't started yet I'm already excited at the prospect of getting it right and making a bit of a profit.

I'd say go for it. Why does the garage conversion need to happen now?

ChinUpChestOut Sun 21-Aug-16 09:16:22

For me, the asbestos is the deal breaker - can you have a specialist go in and see if it really is there? If it is, you should definitely go back to re-negotiate on this point alone (in fact, the suspected presence of asbestos will probably affect your mortgage offer).

When you negotiated on the price before, did it include elements for the bathroom, central heating, windows etc? If not, I wouldn't hesitate to show them the survey and point out the problems. It's not like other potential buyers wouldn't be doing the same.

Eastpoint Sun 21-Aug-16 09:20:44

Friends of ours discovered their house had asbestos in it when their buyers had their survey done & removed it prior to completion.

Trills Sun 21-Aug-16 09:25:50

That 20k would be using every penny we have

That sounds as if what you are saying is

we can't afford to buy this house and then make it nice to live in

Badders123 Sun 21-Aug-16 09:28:51

I wouldn't
But I'm very risk averse esp when asbestos and unregulated works are concerned
I've done major works with young DC
It's not fun

Pasithea Sun 21-Aug-16 09:29:46

Our water tank and adjoining outbuilding are asbestos. We had them checked and as long as the asbestos is not damaged its ok and doesn't affect your mortgage. However the asbestos floor tiles in the living room where removed.

AddToBasket Sun 21-Aug-16 09:33:18

20k won't cover it - you'd need at least double for all that plus garage conversion. Especially if you need to do any redecoration.

thisisbloodyridiculous Sun 21-Aug-16 09:35:16

Definitely think 20k is optimistic for what you were planning, but all in with the survey results youd be looking at 60-80k. You need to renegotiate price with the vendor

foodiefil Sun 21-Aug-16 09:36:51

Trills that's interesting ...

Just to add - we've got our property for 60k less than what other properties on the street are valued at when they're 'done up'

CodyKing Sun 21-Aug-16 09:52:54

Is it possible to use your £20k to do the jobs to make it a good place to live with the option of later works?

An extra £20k isn't much for a good school education!

Go and have another look and get a specialist to look into the asbestos - it's not as scary as it was - just need a specialist to remove it -

Take a plumber with you and ask for a quote

BoyMeetsWorld Sun 21-Aug-16 10:47:27

Thanks all who have responded so far, I'm feeling very worried!

Pasithea - yes this is the same situation re the asbestos...surveyor hasn't flagged it as an immediate risk to health, in fact he's ended the survey by saying there's no reason why we shouldn't proceed. He's just stated theres a good chance it's there but if undisturbed would not be harmful. The problem is, because he flagged that the heating system needs changing, the water tank will need emptying to change for a combi boiler - surveyor suggests taping up the asbestos tank & leaving in situ in the loft eaves. To make the loft habitable as a full time bedroom (even unofficially) obviously the person living up there is going to be in constant fairly close proximity to that unused tank, and the chimney flues which have been flagged as containing asbestos potentially, although they would be on the other side of the eaves boards. Also the garage soffit is bound to be disturbed whilst doing the garage conversion.

Do you think it would be reasonable to ask that the seller pays for an actual asbestos survey, at least, prior to completion and if it does confirm asbestos pays for removal prior to completion? Or is that likely to be pushing our luck as survey didn't say it was an immediate threat to health?

The garage conversion needs doing straight away because it also contains the area containing the freezer which won't fit in the kitchen, and the utility/downstairs bathroom otherwise the property isn't big enough for us - it's actually smaller than our current house without this. With it, gives us a full playroom too for the kids.

We renegotiated price down last time based on fact that we'd gone 20k above asking price because property got into a bidding war. This was pre Brexit. We argued that post Brexit we felt we were paying over the odds. We're still paying slightly above asking. It's definitely the worst house on best street scenario.

I'm doubtful if they'll drop the price more though. I've been getting quotes from absolutely everyone to try and juggle possibilities and priorities but find it all overwhelming and DH just has a totally "it'll all be fine" attitude which terrifies me..if we run out of money, what then? Oh and it's a big hike in our mortgage anyway compared to our current property so our disposable income is going to be massively hit.

BoyMeetsWorld Sun 21-Aug-16 10:51:49

Forgot to say, we don't have much choice about moving...our current school catchment is shocking when kids move to secondary so it's just a case of when not if. If we lose our buyer we could be in trouble as we had hundreds of viewings and only the one offer, and the market is so awful now. So I do understand where DH is coming from, despite feeling he is being too blase, we feel a bit trapped...

CodyKing Sun 21-Aug-16 10:54:03

Id you don't ask you won't get - that simple - you could try and then they say no! But it will keep appearing on any future surveys!

You have nothing to lose in renegotiation with things that the surveyor has discovered -

Suggest an electrical survey as well

Could you rent whilst you sold yours or have family?

CodyKing Sun 21-Aug-16 10:55:20

Ok - so one offer in 100a of viewings - what makes the other house any different? They will be up against it as well

BoyMeetsWorld Sun 21-Aug-16 11:25:07

Yes that's true Cody but round here it's even more about catchment than some others as we are a grammar area .... Our current house is a 'bad' catchment, New house one of the most desirable, hence why it went into bidding war whilst ours was a nightmare to shift and went below asking. Think the asbestos survey is the bare minimum though... Would we renegotiate that or do we get our solcs involved?

CodyKing Sun 21-Aug-16 11:38:03

Ring the estate agent and ask them to put it forward - it's not about legal requirement more a general mental agreement prior to completion

Put a time limit on it -

PuraVida Sun 21-Aug-16 12:13:00

The current advice for asbestos is to manage in situ. That's to be aware of its presence but to not disturb it

JT05 Sun 21-Aug-16 12:42:31

It sounds like your house is 60/70s built when asbestos was widely used.
We had asbestos soffits for years, they were painted over and caused no problem. When the time came to change them the company fitting the new ones had a licence to remove the asbestos, all in the price no problems.

Asbestos in the chimney eves, try to find out exactly where, ours was just as the redundant chimney exited the roof. When we sold it was OK to encase that bit of roof, so it was not exposed.

Davidcameronscat Sun 21-Aug-16 12:52:52

There is a school of thought that says buy the worst house in the best street. Long term the catchment for school is very important, if you can manage to live in the house and do it up as you go along I'm sure it will be fine, and if it isn't you went into a bidding war to get it. Someone will buy it in the future.

TeddyBee Sun 21-Aug-16 15:08:46

The flue pipe in our side stack was asbestos - it was bricked in when we bought and when we built the extension the builders removed it and completely wrapped in rubble sacks and then the City of London took it away for free. I had no idea, but we get one free asbestos removal each year. Maybe your council does a similar service?

BoyMeetsWorld Sun 21-Aug-16 16:10:47

Would you be concerned about proximity of the tank / chimney flues asbestos in the eaves to the loft conversion bedroom? We can't vacate whilst works are done so would need to be living there the whole time. I'm concerned removing it could make more chance of fibres flying about up there than leaving it alone where it is...

TeddyBee Sun 21-Aug-16 21:39:13

Not especially. If it's wrapped, and it's 'good' asbestos anyway, there's very minimal risk.

trinity0097 Mon 22-Aug-16 07:06:51

Just about all surveys say that the heating system needs replacing, IMHO old boilers last far longer than new ones and unless the boiler isn't working you'll have a good few years worth of life in the boiler if you keep it serviced.

Humptynumpty02 Mon 22-Aug-16 08:30:12

We've just had asbestos treatment in our house, the flue (ground floor to roof) was asbestos, same for a sheet covering the boiler cupboard, artex on every ceiling throughout. When we spoke to the surveyor on our concerns he said to us 'the lady who lived here before lived here for 40 years and nothing happened to her, you'll be fine'. That said, we got the whole lot removed, no biggie whatsoever.

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