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Listed house with problems - DH wants it, I'm really scared, WWYD?

(30 Posts)
movingangst Fri 25-Sep-09 17:00:31

I'm a namechanging regular as the details may identify me.

We've offered on this B-listed house (actually the upper half of a house with 2 flats below) subject to survey. Survey reveals recommended 30K worth of work - some of which would be shared with the other flats. Solicitor says we wouldn't have to do all that work immediately and could just do the minimum every few years. We could ask for a few grand off the asking price but wouldn't get the full amount (especially as our offer was low to start with).

Trouble is, DC2 is due in the spring and I'll be off work for a while, we're already maxing out financially if we get this house, so after doing a few grand's worth of work, we'd have no more money. And what if something else needed doing down the line? Plus I don't want to be always negotiating with new neighbours over their share of costs. I'm just overwhelmed by the potential for this to become a nightmare.

DH lurves this house and wants it so much; I can see it's nice and meets our needs but it isns't perfect and doesn't set my heart racing so much, so I really would like to walk away at this stage. We can't agree. Would love any advice.

movingangst Fri 25-Sep-09 17:08:59


I'll bump again this evening for later crowd...

Northernlurker Fri 25-Sep-09 17:12:22

Do you know if the other flat owners are even willing to pay their part of the costs? Sounds like a total nightmare to me - expensive and with other people involved.

What exactly are the works involved? Can you list them?

EldonAve Fri 25-Sep-09 17:14:58

what is B listed? I thought stuff was grade I or II?

YouLukaStunning Fri 25-Sep-09 17:18:46

Surveys on old properties are always scary.

Do you have the recommended work listed in order of priority and time scales suggested?

Listed properties do tend to need a pot of money in reserve at all times. You never know what will crop up.

You could put in a new lower offer but it's important to find a house you both love I think

movingangst Fri 25-Sep-09 17:19:39

It is the same as grade II I'm pretty sure.

movingangst Fri 25-Sep-09 17:20:15

Thanks for replies - have to go out but will be back later.

NorbertDentressangle Fri 25-Sep-09 17:21:10

Not sure what you mean by B-listed but if you mean listed in the way I think (as in Grade I or II) you need to be careful as they tend to very very costly to work on.

Personally I wouldn't take one on unless I had a very hefty amount of money .

EldonAve Fri 25-Sep-09 17:21:28

Beeny always seems to recommend meeting with the local planning officer to discuss the place and what they will allow etc

HerHonesty Fri 25-Sep-09 17:22:11

30k = 60k. possibley 90k if its listed. the question you have to ask yourself if is will you ever have the 30k? what would happen if it turned out to be 90k? would it just mean paying of the mortgage a bit later or financial ruin?

EldonAve Fri 25-Sep-09 17:22:55

The other question is how easy will it be to sell on?

GrendelsMum Fri 25-Sep-09 17:47:43

We were in much the same situation last year. DH fell in love with a Grade II listed house with a severe damp problem... and we bought it. Luckily, it turns out that I really enjoy planning and overseeing the building works, and my job's compatible with this. Less luckily, it turns out that DH hates bulding work and finds it all very stressful. Yes, he was the one that insisted on buying the house. hmm

Actually the listing won't necessarily add vast amounts to the cost, and conservation officers are not automatically fearsome beasts of evil. So I wouldn't say that having a B / Grade II listed building is any worse than doing any kind of building works, if anything very slightly better as you can get the conservation officers to offer you lots of advice. What is expensive is having an older building and doing a good job on it. But on the other hand, I have solved a large proportion of the damp problem with my own labour, no outside people needed, so it's not always as expensive as you might think - sometimes you just need to find out the right thing to do and do it yourself.

You can usually have a brief chat to the conservation officer before buying, but they won't want to spend a lot of time with you because they have a lot of people phoning up about what they might want to do with properties they might buy. If you know what conservation officers are looking for, it's not particularly hard to negotiate with them.

However, we have enough money to do all the work that we want to, plus a reserve pot. I'd be very nervous about buying a house that needs work if I didn't have the money and needed to negotiate with other flat holders.

Could you tell us a bit more about exactly what needs fixing? We could try to work out how serious it actually is?

movingangst Fri 25-Sep-09 18:02:35

Thanks for these replies, they're really helpful.

The majority of the work is repairing roof and chimneys, which is the bit that the other properties would share, but no we don't know if they have the means to pay for it or would be willing to. The survey puts the work at being necessary within up to 6 years and we would plan to be there for longer than that, so it would need doing eventually. The garage roof also needs a lot of work, cost not shared, though that could be put off longer.

Some things need doing sooner like some damp and patch repairs to prevent damp getting in, as well as redecoration, kitchen and bathroom which we knew about anyway but all add to the cost.

Another factor is we have only had the damp and roof fully surveyed, as they came up on the valuation survey. There could be all kinds of other things we don't really know about. As these two surveys have thrown up so much, I'm worried plenty of other things could turn out to be necessary that we don't yet know about.

Just writing it all down I know dealing with all this isn't what I want or need... I'm pg and hormonal, next year I'll have a newborn (as well as DC1 starting school) and be hormonal... but DH is so keen and only wants to see the positive side. Because the solicitor is saying it's OK and not as drastic as the survey suggests, I think DH thinks it's all cool. But I think what the solicitor means is you can manage it if you're really keen to go ahead, by putting stuff off - but that doesn't make it a great idea, does it?

Northernlurker Fri 25-Sep-09 18:09:02

So the electrics, plumbing and indeed foundations could also be shot but you don't know about that?

I think your dh is living in cloud cuckoo land tbh. Buying a house that stretches your budget to the max - yes ok most people do that. Buying a house that stretches your budget to the max and needs work - yes people do that and it works out. Buying a house that stretches your budget to the max, needs work, requires negotiation with neighbours to proceed and is listed so work must be done in a certain way and to a certain standard - no a lot of people don't do that!

I bet your dh is keen. One assumes when you're in said money pit prising nails out of the baby's hands and keeping your toddler from falling into holes he'll be off at work and just come home in the evenings to have the rows about how much more it's costing than you thought? If you're on mat leave you will be spending a lot of time in this place. You need to assert your wishes!

movingangst Fri 25-Sep-09 18:28:12

Yup that's right NL... when you put it like that, it is madness, but when I'm talking to DH, he makes me feel like I'm being drastic by wanting to walk away, and the solicitor says it's fine so what's the problem?

I will be showing him the thread!

Northernlurker Fri 25-Sep-09 18:32:40

The solicitor isn't living in it and will be earning a fee from handling the sale - you pull out his fee is less!

Movingangst's dh - get a grip man - it's a lovely house - but your wife is a lovely woman too and it's quite nice to have her as she is with all her marbles intact grin

mmrsceptic Fri 25-Sep-09 18:37:39

I would run a mile. A man can come and tell you what to do in your house. You can't use those tiles, you have to use these hand-fired homegrown organic clay fantasy bank account tiles. You can't have that guttering you have to have this period style cast iron guttering. You can't go on holiday you have to replace the roof. I would be away like <pouf>. Unless you absolutely love that sort of thing (ibid: Grendel) it will be ghastly.

HerHonesty Fri 25-Sep-09 18:57:18

wtf does a solicitor know about renovating a listed property. its like taking legal advice from a builder. and you wouldnt do that would you?

EldonAve Fri 25-Sep-09 19:00:03

I would also be put off by having neighbours beneath me

YouLukaStunning Fri 25-Sep-09 19:19:05

I wouldn't be buying a house with these sorts of issues without having a full survey done. If and when you do you have a full survey you're likely to be terrified by it all if just the valuation survey has scared you.

Jux Fri 25-Sep-09 19:59:13

Don't do it if you haven't had a full survey. It really is worth it on an old house, particularly if it's listed.

We nearly bought a beautiful Regency house (oh boy do I still want it) but we had a full survey done on it and discovered all the pipes would need replacing (lead), the roof was buggered, damp of both sorts, the kitchen was 'new build' but was held together with mastick and likely to need re-building with two years, and worst of all, asbestos all over the place including the roof so we couldn't have done the work on the roof until the asbestos had been removed and do you have any IDEA how much that costs?

Get a proper survey so you know exactly what you're getting into or else don't get into it. Really.

Katisha Fri 25-Sep-09 20:04:00

I wouldn't do it now. the house before this one was 350 years old and needed a lot of work. Our first DC was born there and it was just awful living among the mess and chaos and bloody endless projects. Was fine for DH as he was out at work all day and not in among it all with a non-sleeping baby and dust and stuff everywhere.

Do it all in a few years time when you have got your energy back. In the meantime go for somewhere with fewer issues. That's my considered advice!

Katisha Fri 25-Sep-09 20:05:57

I might also add that my heart wasn't in it when we bought the house (unlike the previous listed house which I had loved on first sight, and unlike the current house which felt right straight away.)
So if you want to walk away I think your instincts should be trusted.

Heated Fri 25-Sep-09 20:10:48

Unless your dh is some kind of DIY god, then no. It's madness to go to the max of your budget with an extra 30-60k needing spending. You are also always going to have to consult and get ££ out of 2 other parties. Sounds the stuff divorces are made of!

saltyseadog Fri 25-Sep-09 20:13:00

I wouldn't do it either. I think those properties are for when you're in your 50s, your kids have left home and you can afford to set light to £50 notes every day....

We just did up a Victorian townhouse - it cost £80K to do up. It was simply 'tired', not completely run down or listed. We thought that it would be about £40K to do <hollow laugh>. When we sold it this year, we lost money. Fortunately we hadn't borrowed on the mortgage to do the work <shudder>.

Good luck with whatever you decide, but do tread carefully.

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