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Should we buy this house?

(58 Posts)
Falcon1 Sun 19-Mar-17 09:22:19

It's a beautiful Victoria property in the perfect location. I never thought we'd be able to afford something like this. High ceilings, great proportions, period details, lovely street.

However, it needs A LOT of work. Windows would need replacing, every room decorated (it's not been touched for decades), proper loft extension doing (they've got an existing loft room but it's not been done to building regs and is a death trap!) and ground floor extension to create a kitchen/family room. We would have about £150k upfront to do some of the work. The rest would have to be done gradually.

Also, and this is a biggy, it has a north-facing garden and the whole back of the house is quite gloomy. We reckon we could counter this downstairs with an extension that uses lots of glass. But would it always feel a bit cold? And I guess the back bedrooms would always be quite dark? The garden I'm less fussed about as it is long and does get some sun at the back (been there on a sunny day), but is sunlight in the part of the house we will use the most too much of a compromise?

I'm not too scared of the amount of work, but just don't want to pour time and money into a house that will never be right because of the positioning.

Views very much appreciated!

Riderontheswarm Sun 19-Mar-17 09:36:15

I wouldn't because the thought of all that work would fill me with dread. I like a home I can just move into and get on with living in it. So I buy smaller finished houses than I could afford if buying projects. But if you don't mind living in a building site for a while and tracking all that work you should go for it. It sounds like it is a rare opportunity for you to get your dream house on your budget. If you feel excited about it, it is probably the house for you.

Riderontheswarm Sun 19-Mar-17 09:37:49

'Tackling' not 'tracking' all that work.

Falcon1 Sun 19-Mar-17 09:39:47

Thanks for the response. I do feel excited but also very anxious! If it wasn't for the light issue, I don't think I'd hesitate.

Anyone with experience of formally gloomy houses they've transformed???!

user1487671808 Sun 19-Mar-17 09:40:49

We have a north facing garden and lots of glass too. TBH it's better that way as if the sun shone in I'd see all the dust and fingerprints on every surface no matter how much I clean. Also I never have to pull the blinds as it's too hot etc and bedrooms stay cool. Yes it's not all warm and the patios never sunny but it's definitely not all negative.

I'd go for it if you can face the work.

wobblywonderwoman Sun 19-Mar-17 09:42:03

Could you ask the owner of a neighbouring property to get a feel for the light issue -, if they have done work etc?

A bit of me thinks it is worth going for

Riderontheswarm Sun 19-Mar-17 09:45:57

I once lived in a house with a dark kitchen. Patio doors and extra windows, put in by previous owners, had not helped it. But it was a really gloomy kitchen that always needed the lights on and I never liked it. Your potential one may not be as problematic. Have you a picture?

OhTheRoses Sun 19-Mar-17 09:47:57

Agree with the previous poster glass extensions are actually better north facing. Just have an extra radiator fitted for the coldest weather.

Get a valuation, before and after the work. Unless you plan to stay for 20 years no point spending all that money without a reasonable return. Lathe and plaster ceilings collapse and period windows are very very expensive to replace although a good carpenter specialising in windows can halve the cost. I'd also recommend a full damp survey by a,specialist.

mando12345 Sun 19-Mar-17 09:51:48

My friends got a kitchen extension which is east facing, loads of glass. It is fabulously light all day much lighter than my West facing kitchen with normal window. She never has her lights on in the daytime.

Make sure you have plenty of good rads.

Falcon1 Sun 19-Mar-17 09:54:09

In answer to your questions, none of the houses of the street have done the kind of extension we'd like to do (another concern as what if the council refuses permission once we've bought it!).

In terms of pictures, they don't really reveal the darkness issue. But the kitchen as it is currently only has one small side window, whereas we would have the whole back of the house (including kitchen) with bi-fold doors. Worrying that this didn't help your old kitchen Riderontheswarm.

OhTheRoses, this would be our forever home so would be worth doing. And another one of the same side of street that also needs work but has done the loft is on for £200k more, so thinking it would yield a good return. It's in a very desirable location. Thanks for the tip on the carpenter and damp survey. When you say very very expensive, can you give a ball park?

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Sun 19-Mar-17 09:59:06

I'd immediately consider where you are located and the cost of the building work. £150k less 20% vat is not a huge budget.
Full rewiring, replumb, new boiler, new windows and probable plastering when all the layers come off will consume that overnight if you are in London. (I've bought two moneypits now) So you could spend it all and the place would look mostly the same.

So if you had to wait 5 yrs for a glass extension and a new kitchen would you still buy it?

The north facing thing would bother me up to a point. If the place is generally dark and dingy then it will look worse than it is. Victorian windows are generally large (££ to replace) so with a lot of white paint and the right colours it could be fine.
If it's facing out onto the moors it could be perishing even in summer 😉

SnowGlobes Sun 19-Mar-17 10:02:47

I think it depends on room size too. Our old house had a north facing study and TV room, both rooms were double aspect with large French doors and sash windows. The rooms were around 4x4.5m I guess. They were cream colours with pale wooden floors. They were lovely and light and never gloomy. In contrast we are now renting a house with a north facing open plan kitchen/diner that is huge - about 10m by 7m and single aspect. Although it's been extended with lots of glass, floor to ceiling all across the back wall - at least 10 metres, (but no skylights) it's still very dark. Even on a sunny day we need lights on. However, it has dark grey slate flooring, dark kitchen units and I wonder if that makes a difference too. If there is a neighbouring house with an extension, like another poster said, see if you can have a nosey. If you go for this maybe put skylights in if you are doing single storey, double aspect if possible and light decor as I'm sure these things would make all the difference in our current rental.

Falcon1 Sun 19-Mar-17 10:03:26

It is on the outskirts of London...

That's really interesting ReadSoftly. Thanks for the insight. Starting to feel VERY nervous now!

Not sure we would buy it if we had to wait 5 years, no. Hmmm...

OhTheRoses Sun 19-Mar-17 10:08:30

Traditional, reproduction windows about £25k per bay with sashes in each section. Get quotes for window replacements because if they are beyond refurbishment it's a haggling point.

Babymamamama Sun 19-Mar-17 10:09:07

The lack of sunshine would put me off.

OhTheRoses Sun 19-Mar-17 10:11:19

What's the square foot.

Falcon1 Sun 19-Mar-17 10:13:16

Thanks OhTheRoses. It's 1588 sq foot

OhTheRoses Sun 19-Mar-17 10:14:07

What are you paying and what's top end value for the road.

Falcon1 Sun 19-Mar-17 10:14:46

Thanks Snowglobe - good to know. We would definitely put in skylights.

GrassWillBeGreener Sun 19-Mar-17 10:16:48

We're north facing, with half the back of the house being glass with patio doors, and then a big kitchen window. Works fairly well on the whole. Can't help with the rest of it - but good luck and sounds like you could add tremendous value over time.

OhTheRoses Sun 19-Mar-17 10:25:08

Very good size to start with then

Full rear extension, probably losing a wall, needing an rsj or two, possibly reconfiguring access to drains £80,000 depending on finish.

Central heating, reconfig incl boiler, pressurised tank to get decent pressure to top floor £5-£6k. Rads extra.

Rewiring and lighting throughout £10k

Kitchen refit plus furniture into ext. £30k (not top end at all)

Family bathroom £6-£7k

Plastering, decorating £15k

Contingency damp works £20k

Good quality flooring throughout ground floor £7k

Replacement windows at front £30k, allow £2k per window at rear.

Patios/drives, etc £20k

Loft works plus bathroom £25k. What's the staircase like.

Curtains at those big bays have to be tip top. Even the simplest French pleat on a good track will be £3500 min per bay.

Falcon1 Sun 19-Mar-17 10:28:11

OhTheRoses, just re-read your post. £25k PER BAY?!! Jesus. We would need to replace 3 bays and 2 normal windows.

They wouldn't need to be replaced immediately. They work fine. It's just that there are gaps and I imagine they let in a lot of cold air. The place could be a nightmare to heat.

wonkylegs Sun 19-Mar-17 10:28:29

We bought a large victorian villa which needed a ton of work to bring it to the gorgeous house it is now. Caveat we are in the NE so costs may be different - we have spent £110k and have another £30k to go on the office extension.
We didn't incur professional fees because I'm an architect so did that and the hold management myself but have required planning because we are in a conservation area (you may not require it if you can do an extension under permitted development rules)
We could have done it for cheaper but have gone for quality & technology (smart heating system, house music system) as we wanted it to suit us for a long long time.
We replaced the sash windows with double glazed hardwood replicas which are gorgeous and cost about £1k a window (each window in a bay is counted separately)
New heating, electrics, bathrooms, kitchens, decor, new rear door, insulation under floors & in roof, gutters, partial new roof,
It took 2 years to do the bulk of the work whilst we lived here.
I hated the kitchen when we moved in and thought we had made a mistake at first as it was so pokey, dark & dingy, even I struggled with it and I can usually walk into a space and see it potential..... Now it's seriously gorgeous and everybody says how much they like it. Good lighting, good design, clean windows with no window treatments, good colour & material choices for floors, units and walls and it could be a different house.
Same goes for the playroom - it was off yellow colour with heavy drapes, dark wood and crap lighting. Now it's white with red highlights, fab lighting and a light carpet - it'll never be a sunny room but it is transformed.

OhTheRoses Sun 19-Mar-17 10:31:43

It depends on the detailing on the original window and uniformity in the road. Ours were seriously ornate.

wonkylegs Sun 19-Mar-17 10:32:15

£25k per bay sounds excessive - our biggest one which is huge (we joked with central London friends it was bigger than their studio flat) cost £4k
Ours were hardwood, with lead weights, double glazing, made to match the quirky original mouldings, each room was and still is slightly different, painted white with chrome hardware including sash locks and child restrictors

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