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Large house vs location vs extend - really need some opinions

(44 Posts)
LittlePickleHead Mon 20-Jan-14 10:08:25

Not sure if anyone's read any of my previous threads but I must seem completely fickle as we just can't decide what to do, buying a house is proving really hard.

Need to make some decisions today so could really do with opinions! We love where we live, are priced out of houses (and situation getting worse).

Option 1 - need to decide whether to offer on large, 4 bed, edwardian house, new kitchen bathroom etc, needs painting but on the surface that seems to be about it. Is within a short drive of where we are, but area is v quiet with nothing much around, so we would have to drive everywhere including to school. But house is amazing and the reason we can afford it is because of where it is. I am worried about logistics and feeling lonely in this house, but I'm not sure how rational that is

Option 2 - a flat, larger than our current one, really close to where we currently live. We've offered but it's already had loads of other offers, so we need to decide whether to go to our max. We can literally see it from our current place, and would be spending a lot of extra money for basically our flat with an extra bedroom. But We would still be v close to train, swimming pool, schools, shops and our friends which is the biggest draw (plus it's gorgeous)

Option 3 - extend. I'm having some initial architect consultations, and this would be the cheapest option (though still expensive!). But the timescales are fairly lengthy, we would need to move out to temporary accommodation, and we'd be lucky to be finished before Christmas by what I've been told. The process is not quite as straight forward with a flat as no permitted development, so there we potential pitfalls that could mean the project is a no go (though this is not too likely)

On paper 3 seems most sensible, but it feels risky, and it's also a stop gap solution as wouldn't be big enough long term.


LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Jan-14 12:16:37

Look on your local councils planning portal to see if any proposals similar to yours have been approved recently. That should give you some comfort regarding how risky option 3 is. Personally, adding value to your current place in the more expensive location and saving on moving costs / stamp duty is probably the better financial option. As long as you don't mind living in a flat, go for your preferred location.

Good luck!

MerylStrop Mon 20-Jan-14 12:22:39

How old are your kids?
If they are still at primary make sure of your secondary options. That would swing anything for me.
Also if at secondary, being close to school is good for social things, otherwise you will spend lots of time being a taxi/not much good for burgeoning teenage independence.

I'd probably go with Option 2.

3 sounds like a lot of effort for a temporary solution.

What does your heart say?

kitsmummy Mon 20-Jan-14 12:38:43

House for me every time. Flat v large house in quiet (but not bad presumably?) area. To me, this would be a real no brainer!

LittlePickleHead Mon 20-Jan-14 12:59:49

Thanks for all your opinions, one vote each! Although option 2 is removed as we've been outbid more than our top amount.

I haven't really checked out secondary options near the house so that's a good point. They are good where we currently are.

The large house has been on the market a little while with one agent and then they recently appointed a second who we viewed with. It does slightly concern me that it hasn't sold in this market?

Oh, and a flat same as ours has been extended two doors down which is a good sign, our is just slightly more complicated as we have to incorporate rear access via stairs for the first floor.

LittlePickleHead Mon 20-Jan-14 13:01:10

Oh and my heart says extend but then freaks out a but over the timescale and disruption that it involves...

pootlebug Mon 20-Jan-14 13:02:52

We used to live in a house where you had to drive everywhere. It was fine while I was working 5 days a week, but not nearly so good with a small baby....when we moved I felt like I'd 'escaped'. I would never do it again; location within walking distance of school, friends, shops etc is really important to me.

LittlePickleHead Mon 20-Jan-14 13:07:21

I think that's how I feel pootle (have small baby and lots of groups and friends local). The house is beyond what we ever thought we'd get, but there is obviously a reason we can afford it!

I just worry we'll regret it? But if dd is going to school a drive away it will be harder to get to know people locally.

LittlePickleHead Mon 20-Jan-14 13:07:52

I mean i worry we'll regret not getting such an amazing house

wetaugust Mon 20-Jan-14 13:08:59

Option 1
Couldn't live in a flat. Where would you go on a lovely sunny day?

LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Jan-14 13:10:09

Go with your heart. You clearly sound like you'd be more happy living in your flat than leaving your current set up.

Not everyone has to live in a house. In most big cities around the world, living in an apartment forever with a family is common place. We have a relatively small mid-terraced house and our friends have asked why we don't move further out where we could get a much bigger place. However, we'd rather trade of more space for the area we are in so I totally get where you are coming from.

With that said, I won't lie to you. Building work is incredibly stressful. My husband and I refurbed our flat before we sold it a while back and we are near the end of a major refurb and extension for our new house. Before you do it, check with a few estate agents that it makes sense financially considering it isn't a final solution to your space needs. If you can add some value it will help you move on when the time comes you may have to buy a bigger place.

PrimalLass Mon 20-Jan-14 13:23:25

I'd probably extend for now. I'd love a house with views and space but am not prepared to move out of our village to get them.

LittlePickleHead Mon 20-Jan-14 13:25:48

Wetaugust - we are ground floor with a lovely garden! If we extended it would include a kitchen diner with doors onto the garden. Plus we are surrounded by parks here.

Londongirl - considering what we could create by extending would be roughly similar to the flat we just lost out on, and that has just sold for more than £120k on top of what we've sold ours for, I'd assume that it would be financially worth it especially if we stayed a few years.

The building work is a biggie though, and we'd need to move out completely for most of the work as it would need to be internally reconfigured. So would need to factor those costs in.

RCheshire Mon 20-Jan-14 13:33:55

We spent 15 years between city centres (London & Manchester) and whenever we drove through somewhere quieter we would say "who on earth wants to live somewhere we you have to get in the car even to get a paper or a pint of milk?". We've now lived 3 years somewhere where we need to get in the car for a paper or a pint of milk! It took about 3 weeks to adjust.

I understand that some/(many?) might hate it, but it is genuinely hard to know without trying.

Not terribly helpful I know seeing as you can't 'test-drive' the house for six months.

LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Jan-14 13:48:40

Even in London, what you are doing won't cost 120k so I would definitely do the work, make some money in the process and enjoy living in my neighbourhood for a bit longer.

Until you actually feel you need a house (which is totally personal, not based on any objective set of facts), I doubt the house will make you happier than being near your friends, amenties, transport etc. There is a lot more to quality of life than owning a house!

Go with your gut instincts about what makes you happy rather.

lulupeg Mon 20-Jan-14 14:12:04

Hi LPH, I've responded to a post by you before (about the house you dropped out of) and read about your plight. I do feel for you, as I live locally to you and it is intense round here at the moment and doesn't help any families trying to eek out more space. Is the bigger place in Catford? I personally think Catford is going to speed through gentrification as people are getting more and more priced out of other places. I think I'd go for the house option (and I don't even drive!!) as you'll still be able to catch up with friends when you do school drop offs and so on but I love having a house as opposed to a flat (although agree it's a weird British quirk!). We've just done a hideous amount of work on our house but I've loved the freedom of having the whole building to work with. Also round here houses are rising exponentially versus flats so I think it might be wise to jump even if the area is less well developed/ more boring currently as the demand for family homes (and even in London, those traditionally wanting a house) is not going to dampen soon. If I was a BTL investor I'd be buying 3/4 bed victorian terrace houses in Catford as I think the area will change - everywhere around it is lovely. Not sure if this helps! Everyone has quite different view it seems!

PrimalLass Mon 20-Jan-14 14:12:58

I agree - do the building work and use any extra equity you create to buy something else in your neighbourhood.

LittlePickleHead Mon 20-Jan-14 14:31:51

Thanks lulu - the house is on catford/Bellingham borders, on quite a busy long road, it does feel quite cut off from even the surrounding areas.

I do agree it will gentrify and from that point of view it should be a good investment, but I still get a little sad feeling that we won't just be a short walk away from the lovely museum, cafés, swimming pool, parks etc. I think we may be a little too spoilt by our current location though!

I'm so shit (obviously grin) at making decisions.

lulupeg Mon 20-Jan-14 14:43:56

That's so weird, was just going to send you link to a house near there... But can't make it work. It's near the big Sainsburys on Winford Rd, 30s house, I've found out from experience they make brilliant family homes and not too far from FH etc.

MummytoMog Mon 20-Jan-14 14:45:56

Building work is horrific. I'm getting to the light at the end of the tunnel with ours now, but it's been a long, miserable, cold, dirty slog. And expensive. In London, I think you'll always make your money back, but factor in the misery too ;) We moved out from our flat in Hackney, with many nice things and people in walking distance, when DD was a tiny baby. I miss it, I won't lie, but all of my friends have now moved out as well, and I wouldn't be near any of them any more if we had stayed put. And I needed the extra space and the massive garden. Garden is a little too big now tbh. Must buy more chickens or have another baby.

We extended because we couldn't afford what we wanted without going even further out and stamp duty is such a killer (as well as the rest of the costs associated with moving) that even though we've really really stretched ourselves to do this work, it will almost certainly add more than the cost to the value of the house. It's a bit more complicated for us, because £30k or so has been spent on rectifying the world's most hideous and dangerous loft conversion which hasn't really added to the value ifyswim. But we should still make our money back on the final value.

oscarwilde Mon 20-Jan-14 15:04:20

Ha ha, context is everything. I thought you were talking about a move to the sticks completely from your description. Option 1 is still in London? Seriously there is no grocery store within walking distance?
Assuming you don't want to pay for private school+bus etc I would make a decision on the basis of access to schools. Everything else is just a case of getting used to it.
I would go Option 1, then 3, then 2 (though I know no longer an option)

As someone who lives in SE London, I think you could quite easily spend £120k extending a flat, putting in a new kitchen and reconfiguring the layout of the flat. In. A. Heartbeat sad You won't lose money but you won't do it for £40k either.

LittlePickleHead Mon 20-Jan-14 16:23:37

shock do you really think it could cost £120k to extend?! I'm not sure we'd be able to borrow enough to do it if that's the case.
And no it's not completely in the sticks, but still a good stomp away from the nearest corner shop. My reference to driving was more to go for a coffee, swimming, browse round the shops etc. there is a park across the road though!

Argh I'm wavering again now. If it did cost that much then I'm not sure it would be worth it in terms of all the pain if the building work

LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Jan-14 16:27:39

I am extending a mid-terraced house by over 500 sqft. It's a gut renovation in Dulwich (back to brick, all new walls, stairs, bathrooms, flooring, kitchen, lighting, heating system and rads). The build cost is 120k and the total costs are 220k.

Based on what you've said, it sounds like you are doing a side and possible a rear extension. Including new kitchen, unless you do something really crazy, I'd guess 65k.

LittlePickleHead Mon 20-Jan-14 16:29:21

It's just a rear extension (3mx9m) and internal reconfiguring to include new kitchen, bathroom and flooring. Plus architects costs.

I was thinking under £80k all in?

LondonGirl83 Mon 20-Jan-14 16:34:42

What internal reconfiguring are you doing? Are you changing the location of the kitchen and bathroom? Is your architect project managing?

Even so, I would say your budget is realistic as long as you aren't installing a 50k kitchen and doing the bathroom in exquisite tiles costing 600GBP psm.

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