Can we take on a project house? Any positive stories?

(30 Posts)
outonyourtoytrainagain Fri 19-Jun-20 17:16:43

Want to buy in our local area but the market seems very hot and house of the type we could have afforded with ease before lockdown are now on at 10% more and going for asking price or more.

We might strike lucky by offering the top of our budget on something that we only need to convert the loft on (and that won't be urgent) but we are also considering houses that are in budget but need a LOT of work, some urgent. Eg new kitchen because the cupboards have no doors, new bathroom because of mould, new windows because of rot and mouldy sealant, new flooring as carpet is shredded or tiling/laminate cracking and gappy, removal of the concrete in the garden. And that's before you look at the work we want to do, like a side return extension to make a big kitchen diner and a loft conversion for extra bedroom.

We won't have any capital beyond maybe £5k once we purchase one of these houses. Can probably at a stretch put £1k a month towards it post-move. Is it ridiculous to be considering this? Anyone done it?

Both early 30s, one toddler. Planning another baby at some point not soon.

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Moomin12345 Fri 19-Jun-20 18:31:35

The reason why they're asking more money is because they assume people will ask for 20% off the asking price due to the ongoing economic carnage.

Moomin12345 Fri 19-Jun-20 18:32:52

Also, that kind of wreck needs at least £20k upfront to be liveable, preferably more. Otherwise it'll be hellish, especially with a toddler.

fedupandlookingforchange Fri 19-Jun-20 18:37:26

I've done 3 project houses back to back. Can be done but you have to save and not go for expensive bathrooms and kitchens, including tiles, floor covering light fittings etc. The aim is for good lasting quality.
The downsides are its exhausting, I'm just finishing house number 3 and I'm pregnant with number 2, it takes all your time and money, and there's no room in life for anything else. If I can sell this one it will have been worth it to get me the type of house I want.

isseywith4vampirecats Fri 19-Jun-20 19:20:08

our house was a doer upper when we moved in think mouldy walls as it had been empty, bedrooms needing decorating, new carpets all the way through, rewiring all the way through except lights, new kitchen that's total rip out replaster rewire the lot, some windows blown, one year later we have
had the bedrooms rewired, decorated and carpeted,
had the glass replaced in the blown windows as the frames are ok
had the leaky top of the window repointed to stop the leak
had the hall redecorated and carpeted, the kitchen has looked like a building site for the last three weeks and new kitchen goes in this weekend
front room is next on the agenda
but ours was more dated than a wreck think 30 year old axminster carpets and a 1985 kitchen so we have managed to live in it while doing one room at a time
this house you are interested in think can I live in for say up to 18 months while the work is done

isseywith4vampirecats Fri 19-Jun-20 19:24:14

and don't underestimate the cost we are probably at around 7K costs already and front room still to do which with what we want doing will probably be another 1K and ours wasn't too bad

outonyourtoytrainagain Fri 19-Jun-20 19:34:13

Moomin12345

The reason why they're asking more money is because they assume people will ask for 20% off the asking price due to the ongoing economic carnage.


Unfortunately things are going for over asking. A 3-bed period terrace which had some damp/chimney leak and issues with the brickwork, a tiny third bedroom and tiny bathroom has just gone in a bidding war above asking price. We offered ~8% under as that is our max budget. No chance.

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outonyourtoytrainagain Fri 19-Jun-20 19:35:37

Moomin12345

Also, that kind of wreck needs at least £20k upfront to be liveable, preferably more. Otherwise it'll be hellish, especially with a toddler.


That's helpful to know. I thought a project was probably unrealistic.

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outonyourtoytrainagain Fri 19-Jun-20 19:37:59

fedupandlookingforchange

I've done 3 project houses back to back. Can be done but you have to save and not go for expensive bathrooms and kitchens, including tiles, floor covering light fittings etc. The aim is for good lasting quality.
The downsides are its exhausting, I'm just finishing house number 3 and I'm pregnant with number 2, it takes all your time and money, and there's no room in life for anything else. If I can sell this one it will have been worth it to get me the type of house I want.


Thanks, that's really helpful. My husband isn't into the idea of an all-consuming project, and wants quite a high-spec kitchen (his domain). I'm also trying to save for mat leave 2.

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outonyourtoytrainagain Fri 19-Jun-20 19:41:11

I'm worried we'll be priced out if we wait for the market to settle/the pent-up demand to level off if all the asking price and above offers have boosted the valuations. But it does only seem to be the 'nice' stuff that is shifting, everything else is hanging around. No reductions though.

Everything around here is a 3-bed period terrace so there plenty of stock. Maybe we just keep looking and hope for the best

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Slightlydustcovered Fri 19-Jun-20 19:42:23

We are doing ours up now. Just to make it habitable, we removed storage heaters and condemned gas fires, replaced broken front door, put in a boiler and radiators, wired, removed some asbestos, sorted out fence at the back. It still needed kitchen, bathroom and flooring and decorating. We haven't done that as are doing the extension now at the same time so we don't have to pay twice for things. I think we spent £10k just to make it warm and life a bit easier. But if it's livable it's not so bad. Won't be particularly nice at times but we survived. Oh also have 2 preschool children. They are what makes something like this hard as you have no spare time to get the work done.

Mirrorxx Fri 19-Jun-20 19:42:51

Houses seem to be selling like that on the areas we are looking at in Manchester. But only the nice fully renovated houses sell within days.

HarrietM87 Fri 19-Jun-20 19:49:47

We found project houses were often not much cheaper than renovated ones because people like a blank canvas and the opportunity to put their own stamp on things. We bought a 4 bed terrace in 2018 and it needed full rewiring and plumbing, had no kitchen or bathroom (so couldn’t get a normal mortgage), all walls needed replastering, new flooring throughout, some structural work to remedy cowboy building work, replacing part of the roof, loads of skips to clear out all the crap then decorating...came to about £50k which I think wasn’t bad. There is still so much work to do on it though. I was pregnant and we lived in it as soon as it was rewired and had basic bathroom put in but it was hell and could not do that with a toddler. I wouldn’t recommend in your situation, especially in current climate.

Bobbinsmama Fri 19-Jun-20 19:49:57

We bought our first project house in February (me, partner and two boys aged 2 and 6 months at the time). It was grotty and the renovation has been made much more stressful due to lockdown as the tradespeople obviously weren’t working. I was pleasantly surprised by how easily we got used living with it in its current state. Now that we’ve got two rooms done and seen how lovely they look though I’m more desperate to do the rest! We’ve learned to do a lot of stuff ourselves and I’m quite proud of that. Your budget sounds a bit tight (there may well be unexpected costs) but personally I think it’s worth the project to have the house you want in the right location.

Bluntness100 Fri 19-Jun-20 19:52:20

Moomin12345

The reason why they're asking more money is because they assume people will ask for 20% off the asking price due to the ongoing economic carnage.

Don’t be daft. 🤣

sherl0ck Fri 19-Jun-20 19:56:07

We are currently doing a project house and thought we could live in it and renovate. Due to the issues we discovered this hasn’t been possible (mould hidden behind large furniture and kitchen units / gas leak / burst pipes). It has taken every weekend and most evenings and with children that means we have had very little family time. We have now spent all our savings and will move in without a kitchen or bathroom or any heating.

I would suggest finding a property that was dated and needed modernising or has hideous decoration that puts other buyers off, rather than a project.

Moomin12345 Fri 19-Jun-20 20:03:27

@Bluntness100 in Surrey that certainly has been the case, don't know about your regional market.

Are you one of these optimistic people who think that property is a magical asset whose price can only go up and up forever and ever regardless of the wider economic background? grin in which case you may be the daft one...

SerendipitySunshine Fri 19-Jun-20 20:05:52

Love our do-er upper! It is almost done now, three years in, but needed lots of work. It's cost about £20k over the years, but that included a rewire and full redecorating. We now have an amazing house, with high spec kitchen, that we'd never have afforded if it was 'done'. We did the whole 'buy the worst house in the best street' thing and it's gone up in value by about a third. I'd say go for it!

Flamingolingo Fri 19-Jun-20 20:07:32

I think taking on a fixer upper without the budget to do it is really stressful, and generally harder to not end up in some kind of negative equity at the lower end of the property market because a full renovation is pricey. We are renovating a large house, we are almost done and we’ve been in 9 months (just the bathrooms and decorating left). We will have spent something like £100k by the time we finish, and we haven’t been that fancy really.

Bluntness100 Fri 19-Jun-20 20:08:10

Seems I’ve hit a nerve moomin,,🤣

How many times does she need to state they are going above asking where she is?

Moomin12345 Fri 19-Jun-20 20:15:26

How many times? Hmmmmm. I'll take five more!

A nerve? Quite the opposite, but it seems you're heavily invested in the la la land of the ever rising property prices. Sure, when the unemployment hits 10% and the banks start asking for 20% deposits instead of 5%, that's when your property portfolio will really start flourishing and people on the dole will feel like splurging on tiny damp terraces in "up and coming" areas smile

burritofan Fri 19-Jun-20 20:18:04

I am in one of those hell houses with a toddler. It is in so much worse condition than we thought/the survey said; every bit of work we do uncovers more issues. The dust and chaos is horrendous. £5k would be swallowed up on not very much – an Ikea kitchen (though they do finance), or flooring, or some windows, or even just VAT on building labour.

We've spent £35k so far when we expected to spend £20k, plus we financed our kitchen and floor; we're out of money, the house is still a state, we have an endless DIY list, and all the toddler is interesting In is playing in the bits that aren't fixed because yay sticky-out nails and broken floorboards.

Think carefully about your tolerance for chaos and our capacity for coping with disaster.

(All that said, we've got a (will be) beautiful Victorian home in an out-of-our-league area with a huge garden, potential to convert the loft, close to a park and schools. It will be worth it one day. But this has been the most stressful, horrendous experience from day one and we're only six months in.)

outonyourtoytrainagain Sat 20-Jun-20 07:39:03

@burritofan I'm sorry it's been so stressful. I think that's exactly what I fear and although we are fairly well-salaried we have high costs (e.g. nursery is more than mortgage/rent).

Maybe best to keep saving and if the market runs ahead of us then we'll have to buy something that needs work but will have a bit more cash to put into it. Area is non-negotiable at the moment.

The other aspect is we don't know anyone with a trade, although we know someone who renovates for a living who could probably give some recommendations. So we'd have to pay for everything and DIY where possible. I think that makes a big difference?

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outonyourtoytrainagain Sat 20-Jun-20 07:47:06

@Moomin12345 I know it's not a popular world view but I would like to see a slowing down/small dip in prices. Here a glut of first time buyers is propping things up, and the EAs are (obviously) squeezing that by organising as close to an 'open house' as is possible during CV. Three other viewers arrived while I was still at a property yesterday. I'd been there for 20 minutes.

The houses on the next rung up (maybe semi-detached or have 4 beds instead of 3) in the nicest area of the city vs second nicest are only 20% more expensive than the FTB properties here, yet are not shifting. I don't know if that means anything.

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outonyourtoytrainagain Sat 20-Jun-20 08:04:13

@sherl0ck weirdly there is so little like that about. It's either very nice with original period features and a smart kitchen at £300-£325, bit falling apart but hopefully nothing structural at £280-£300 (still couldn't afford to do it at that price), or total wreck needs gutting on at £280-£325...

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