Buying a fixer-upper; What you need to know when renovating run-down properties

With hundreds and thousands of old, derelict properties available in the market today, it is no small wonder that people of moderate wealth are buying them with the sole purpose of renovating them and then selling them on for a profit. Whether you’ve recently come into some money, or you’ve had your eye on a property for some time and you have finally saved up enough for the deposit, purchasing a fixer-upper can be a whole lot of hard work, or it can be an extremely satisfying experience overall.

It is important that you have some idea of renovations, construction or at least you have the funds with which to hire people who know about renovations. A fixer-upper is not recommended for first time buyers, no matter how ambitious they may be, unless they have money to burn on bespoke contractors. If you have extensive DIY experience, or have a wide selection of friends that are willing to help, all the more luck to you.

Renovate or Re-build?

So you’ve made your purchase and are now the owner of a fixer-upper. What to do now? Well one thing is for certain; you need to make a decision as to whether or not you are going to renovate the existing property, or tear down the whole building and start again from scratch. Both options have their benefits and disadvantages, depending on how much work you are willing to put into the project.

Renovations for example are good if you like the current structure and there are not too many repairs needed on the foundation of the building. If the building is beyond repair, however it might be better off to tear it down and start anew. It depends on what you plan on doing with the plot of land. Building from scratch is a great way to create your dream home, but you have to consider all the design stages and you might end up piling more money than you have into the project before it is even finished. Building a house is a big job!

Building Defect Reports

When renovating a property, it is important to know what areas of the property need the most attention, what areas should be re-built completely and what areas can be left alone for the time being. This can be anything from cosmetic damage to structural issues and support needed, for both new properties and historic properties. A building defect report consists of an in depth look at the property in question, listing any and all major and immediate defects which should be brought to attention.

These reports can cover a wide range of issues, from roof leaks to damp and timber defects, mortar pointing to individual cracking and distortion. The reports are normally commissioned before the sale of a building, but a report can be done at any time to determine the extent of potential repairs needed. This is a good starting point for any renovation and it is also a good way to determine whether or not it is more beneficial for you to start from scratch with a re-build.

Planning Permissions

For a completely new build, you will need to get certain planning permissions from your local council in order to make sure that everything you want to build is properly sanctioned in that area. You might think that, because you own the plot of land, you are entitled to build whatever you like on that plot of land, but unfortunately this simply isn’t the case. You will need to take into account the wishes of your neighbours, whether or not any building works planned will encroach on the space and property of others, or if that property is not in keeping with the overall ‘theme’ of nearby properties. For example, several home owners have found themselves having to re-paint or redecorate the exterior of their properties entirely simply because the surrounding neighbourhood did not agree on their colour scheme.

Obtaining the correct planning permissions is essential before you start building, as you could spend money building something that is initially not approved by the council, leading to more time and money wasted rectifying the issue. It can be a lengthy process, but it is essential to make sure that everything goes through the proper channels before the project starts.

Project Management

You might be fairly good at organising the building contractors, interior designers, fitters and installers yourself, or you might need a little help. There are a number of companies available locally and internationally who will lend a hand with professional project management services. These people are specifically experienced in project management, ensuring that your construction project stays in keeping with its time and budget constraints to help reduce stress on your part. They are also able to offer their advice services on suggesting recommended contractors and installers for certain areas of the construction. If you haven’t taken on a project of this size before, hiring a project manager is always recommended.

So those are the basics of starting out your new build or renovation project for an old or run-down property. At the end of the day it is entirely up to you whether or not you choose to re-build or renovate, it is just important to consider all your options before jumping into one project or the other. A property is a massive investment, so it is essential that you take adequate steps to making sure that it is both a successful and a worthwhile investment in both the short and the long term.

This article was contributed by Mike James, an independent writer in the property sector working alongside companies such as SSJ Surveyors, who were consulted over the information contained in this post.

Author: Editor

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