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Fallen in love with a house in need of lots of modernisation

(30 Posts)
CountFosco Sat 03-Dec-16 23:21:46

Help! There are some lovely 1920s 4 bed semis near us that I've had my eye on for an age. One came up for sale so we had a viewing today, no-one else is interested yet (joys of living in the north). It's very competitively price but is currently unliveable and needs a ton of work, there's some damp (a flat roof and some leading round a chimney need replacing and a bit of mildew in a cold pantry) and some cracks which will need some proper investigation plus it needs a new kitchen (unusable at the moment), possibly a rewire (at best some work on tidying up the electrics and adding extra sockets), a new bathroom (and preferably putting in a loo downstairs), and an update to the heating (currently linked to an ancient Rayburn) not to mention a complete redecorate. But it's virtually untouched with regard to all the period features (original parquet flooring in the hallway - sigh!) so with a ton of money thrown at it it could be fabulous. And the others I've seen for sale generally need some work to put things right but at least this one takes that into account with the costings.

So what do we need to do before we put in an offer? A full survey obviously to decide how serious the damp and potential subsidence is, another viewing with a builder to get costs for doing it up and possibly adding a small extention. A chat with architect BIL on best reconfiguration of dining room/kitchen/utility room/downstairs loo. A chat with our mortgage providers to see what we can borrow and how to manage where to live while the work is being done (bridging loan vs renting vs ???). A discussion with an estate agent about putting our own house on the market at a rate that allows us to sell quickly. A chat with a sensible person about throwing all our life savings at a house?

Am I missing anything? How have other managed moving into a 'project' house with 3 primary age kids. We must be crazy right?

Gobbolinothewitchscat Sat 03-Dec-16 23:24:30

A visit with at least one trusted builder unless money is no object

WhatsGoingOnEh Sat 03-Dec-16 23:24:53

Do you love it? Does it make your heart sing? If it does, you're not crazy; in fact, it might end up being the most sensible thing you ever do.

My parents completely renovated a house when my brother and I were at primary school. We barely noticed! But even now, the smell of Nitromorse makes me remember my childhood. smile

SailingThroughTime Sat 03-Dec-16 23:27:04

Yes. It will take lots of the time, attention and money that you could be using to have a fun time with your family. Kids are a one chance only thing. Unless you have a mountain of cash to gut the house and sort it out before you move in, don't do it. I'm speaking from experience. You don't get those days back and a nice house is a poor return for that.

CountFosco Sat 03-Dec-16 23:37:45

Do you love it? Does it make your heart sing?

Yes. It has everything we want in a house, it's in a great area (same street as my best friend!), big garden with fruit trees grin, 3 reception rooms, 4 bedrooms, off road parking, period features. It has the potential to be absolutely gorgeous. Even DH who has no imagination can see it will be fab when it's done up. I actually really like that it's a project, we'll be able to do it exactly as we like it rather than having to live with e.g. a kitchen that doesn't work for us.

A visit with at least one trusted builder unless money is no object

DH has already spoken to a good builder about doing a visit with us. We have a sensible amount of money to spend on renovation but it's a bit scary because it is our life savings. I like the feeling of having a big cushion, but I should get a promotion next year and will increase my hours at the same time which will help as well (although the added responsibilities at work plus taking on a project house is a bit scary!).

CountFosco Sat 03-Dec-16 23:43:43

Unless you have a mountain of cash to gut the house and sort it out before you move in, don't do it.

There is no way I'd live in the house in its current state. And having dealt with building projects at work I know they are stressful enough when you can pay for them let alone trying to do it piecemeal. We do have savings so the question is can we do the work with those (plus possibly a small increase in the mortgage). And where do we live while doing the work?? And how much will that cost?

wowfudge Sun 04-Dec-16 08:04:23

Lack of a kitchen may make getting a mortgage on it very tricky. It will depend what is there.

CountFosco Sun 04-Dec-16 11:53:39

There's a sink, plumbing, and the old rayburn. So there is a kitchen, it was just last updated sometime in the early 1970s and has not been maintained.

FlowerOfTheValley Sun 04-Dec-16 14:18:32

I've just bought a house deemed a project. Kitchen and bathroom was last updated in 1960. No heating. Electrical and plumbing work needed. Entire house needs decoration inside and out.

Everyone thought I was mad to buy it and I thought I'd get it and think "what have I done!" So far, very early days, I'm so pleased I bought it. I love it even though it will probably be February before I can move in.

I looked at my budget worked out what HAD to be done before I moved in and worked out I could afford the essentials. A lot of the redecoration, outside painting I can do myself and the rest I can live with for now. On that basis I decided it was do-able.

Get an idea of what you have to spend before you move in obviously allowing rent etc as well and if you have sufficient funds and can live with the rest for now then it might be worth pursuing. Good luck!

blankmind Sun 04-Dec-16 14:51:29

Does the Rayburn work? If so, and it's oil or gas fired, as it will be on 24/7 it'll make the fabric of the building much warmer and dryer than any form of 'ordinary' Central Heating which switches on and off.

Before you decide to commit Rayburnicide, have a long hard think and investigate similar substitutes if it's beyond help, different makes do different things, cook, heat domestic hot water, provide CH for up to 15 or so rads etc. Obvs depends on size and layout of kitchen etc. but once you've lived with one, (Aga here) it's hard to imagine being without one.
As well as the practical aspects, it also provides other benefits, like a warm place where poorly children can sit in the night whilst you clean up and get them re-settled. If the kitchen ceiling is high enough, get a rack type airer on a pulley to dry your washing, for free. Never pick up a clammy teatowel or towel again. Everything in adjoining cupboards gets pleasantly warm, good for towels, crockery and utensils. The kitchen is always welcoming because it's warm.

One thing to bear in mind with old property is the cost of doing job A has to be added to jobs B,C,D and at least E that weren't evident when you decided to do job A, but they have to be done beforehand. that's what can eat away at your budget.

As you love it and it makes your heart sing, go for it, but don't be in a rush to get it perfect, do enough to be able to live in it, then take it slowly from there.
Good Luck fsmile

YelloDraw Sun 04-Dec-16 15:42:25

Only if you can afford to get it don't in one go, whilst you aren't living there.

I started off doing som 'light cosmetic' work to my new house. The costs and problems keep adding up! Do A and realise that B needs sorting. Whilst you've got the floorboards up you might as well do C... and on and on.

It is pretty shit living in a building site with no bathroom (do have a toilet and kitchen) and there is only me. Would be rubbish with children in the mix.

Tenpastlate Sun 04-Dec-16 15:55:31

If you love it and you can afford it, go for it! We rented for a few months whilst we made our house liveable, we just worked the rental into our budget.

PookieK Sun 04-Dec-16 21:49:27

If you really love it then do it. We moved into a 'project' 8 months ago with a primary age child and have lived here through a rewire, walls knocked down, central heating installation, sanding the very old stained parquet flooring downstairs etc etc. Despite the chaos and never bloody ending dust everywhere I just love it here. The house makes me feel happy and has a warm lovely feel and the garden is gorgeous, private and full of wildlife.
It is all very do-able but my top tips would be:
- Put anything into storage that you can. Shifting boxes from room to room is a complete pain and the less stuff in the house the better and easier it is.
- during the big jobs like rewire, worth going on holiday/stay with family or renting airbnb for a week or so.
- live in the house for at least a month before doing anything to get a feel for it. You don't know things like where the light falls, how you'll best use the rooms or where the right place for sockets will be until you've actually lived there for a bit.
- take photos before, during and after, it really helps remind you when things get stressful that you are making progress!

Enjoy 🏡😀xx

PookieK Sun 04-Dec-16 21:50:54

Oh yes, and whatever your contingency is, double it!!! There are always things which come up you don't expect...

whatsthecomingoverthehill Tue 06-Dec-16 16:22:44

I tend to think it is much better to but a 'project' house than a just OK house. you'll end up doing everything in a just OK house anyway, but the project house will be much cheaper. Our first house was a bit rundown, but liveable and we ended up doing most big jobs - windows, electrics, bathroom, kitchen, central heating - but we paid much more for it than if it had been a bare shell. Some things you would need to watch out for, particularly if it has been empty for a while, but it sounds like you're on to those. I'd say it would probably be worth getting a timber specialist to check out the joists and so on too.

I'd also think about how unliveable it really is. Kids generally won't give much of a stuff. If you can sort out the must do stuff straight away it really doesn't matter if you end up with walls needing plastering etc, you could cope. (Though would obviously be easier if you could rent while the work was going on).

dotty2 Wed 07-Dec-16 16:14:14

We bought a project last summer, had 4 months with it empty before we moved, and had it rewired, new plumbing, new central heating, some new ceilings, mostly replastered, new kitchen and one bathroom fitted before we moved in. Moved in last December. Since we moved in, everything has been much slower and we still haven't finished sorting flooring, decorating, curtains, further bathrooms, window restoration etc. We have been doing some work ourselves (decorating, curtains), but mostly paying to have things done.

Would I do it again? I'm honestly not sure. I do feel like I've lost a year or more of my life and got really out of the habit of doing fun things like bike rides and days out at the weekend, not been inviting people round because it's a building site, and slightly grown apart from the rest of the family in the meantime because DH and I have been so preoccupied. Also a whole year of no garden because it was a complete wilderness. (We both work full time, so obv if either of us had time during the week that would be easier). So don't underestimate how all-comsuming it will be.

In terms of costings, when we did our back of the envelope, the things I massively underestimated were bathrooms, flooring and curtains. Even if you make them yourselves, curtains for a big bay window in a high ceilinged old house will cost at least £300 a window. Also, we really need lots more furniture but can't afford what would look good (and don't have time to trawl auctions - that's my plan once the decorating's done...) Good luck.

CountFosco Thu 08-Dec-16 23:17:16

Even if you make them yourselves, curtains for a big bay window in a high ceilinged old house will cost at least £300 a window.

Thankfully we already live in an old house with high ceilings so curtains are something I do know how much they can cost (considering taking some of the curtains from our current house with us to save on that cost). I was so excited when I realised the window on the stairs here was a standard size and I could get a roller blind from IKEA for £10 instead of getting one made to measure for £200+ like I've had to do for every other room with a blind!

We're doing a second viewing with a builder on Saturday to see what he quotes us to see how possible it is, I think we should be able to renovate it but would like a small extension as well. The estate agent says they've had 11 viewings so far but we're the only ones who have come back to them. Hoping most of the others have seen the cheap price (it's going for ~ £100K less than a house on that street normally does) and thought 'Oh, I can afford that' and have been put off by fact that it needs £££ spent on it to get to to liveable conditions. Really surprised a developer hasn't bought it yet, thank goodness we live in the north.

Another good thing - the garden is actually in a not too bad a state. Mainly grass but has mature trees round the edge, including 2 apple trees. Grass has been cut regularly. Suspect builders putting in an extension might bugger it a bit though and at this time of year it's difficult to assess the number of weeds.

dotty2 Fri 09-Dec-16 11:20:08

That does sound positive - good luck. Ours actually had been bought by a developer while we dithered after a first viewing, but that sale fell through and I heard on the grapevine (friend of a friend of a friend kind of thing) that it might be coming back on the market, and we bought it before it did. So one thing that sustained me through the dust and financial worries was thinking that I'd saved it from having all its original windows etc ripped out and that maybe because it was quite so random that I even heard about the developer's sale falling through that it was meant to be. (The developer was doing another one a couple of streets away and had ripped out original fireplaces. Sad.)

sweetstemcauli Fri 09-Dec-16 11:39:37

You will lose money if you over-improve, that is to say when your purchase costs added to the cost of modernising equal or are larger that a realistic selling price once the works are finished. The market will only tolerate a certain price level in a street or an area so only touch it if money is no object.

sweetstemcauli Fri 09-Dec-16 14:02:28

The developer was doing another one a couple of streets away and had ripped out original fireplaces. Sad.

Agreed, but there are buyers don't want the hassle of fires when there is CH, and blocking off the aperture also gives more space. The old fixtures sometimes don't fetch that much, so it depends when you catch the refurb as to wether you can get the developer to leave the fireplace (btw affect indifference or they will get your money off you!).

A great place to get good curtains for a bay window in a 9' -10' ceilinged room is eBay or similar. Lined ones would cost you £100 - £200 with interlined at about £300 or more. I have just been through this exercise!

birdladyfromhomealone Fri 09-Dec-16 14:25:20

If the house is unlivable it is unlikely you will get a mortgage.
My DH is a developer and buys such houses.
It needs a working kitchen, toilet and a form of heating ie basic standards to live hygienically.
unless you can pay cash and remortgage once you have the basics installed it might not be feasible

CountFosco Sat 10-Dec-16 12:38:29

It needs a working kitchen, toilet and a form of heating ie basic standards to live hygienically.

Well it does have a working toilet, a kitchen with a plumbed in sink and rayburn so those basic standards are all there. However I know myself too well to fool myself into thinking I could live in it in its current state. There's unlivable and unlivable isn't there. I love it and want it but I'm not going to buy it until I know we can afford to get the basics sorted to a modern state before we move it.

scaryteacher Sat 10-Dec-16 13:11:28

It needs a working kitchen, toilet and a form of heating ie basic standards to live hygienically. If it has a Rayburn, however ancient, then the heating and cooking are sorted. Anyway, many people have beautiful kitchens, but live on takeaways, or ready meals, which just require a microwave and a disposable plate!

birdladyfromhomealone Sat 10-Dec-16 20:56:36

Good Luck Op update us when your offer is accepted. It really is very rewarding to do up a house how you want it to be smile

birdladyfromhomealone Sat 10-Dec-16 20:57:26

It doesnt sound as its as unlivable than in your OP then?

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