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Buying and Renovating Tips

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  • Buying and Renovating Tips

    Buying and Renovating Tips

    With property prices spiralling out of control, many home buyers have found that the only property they can afford are those needing renovation. Perhaps that’s the situation you’re in, too. While such a tactic will get you into a home, it still is a decision that must be entered into with eyes wide open.

    If you’re considering buying and renovating, here’s some advice designed to keep your plans on track and within budget.

    Create a separate budget

    Before you even start looking for property, it’s crucial to put together a separate renovation budget. And because you never really know what you’re in for, always factor in additional funding to cover those unexpected costs that almost always crop up.

    Knowing how much you’re able to spend on renovation really helps when it comes time to choose a property. If a home needs major structural work and that’s not within your budget, the property may not be right no matter how low the asking price.

    Do your research

    Always be suspicious of a property with an unusually low asking price, especially if it’s been on the market for a while. There’s usually a reason for that low price and you need to know what it is. Unless you have a sizeable budget and a lot of patience, it’s probably best to avoid property requiring extensive renovation.

    But that’s not always the case, especially if the property is located in a desirable neighbourhood. If you can buy a home, make the required renovations and afterwards still sell for a profit, then the property might be worth a closer look.

    The bottom line is this: Always know the full extent of the necessary renovations. Once you know what’s needed, determine the work you can handle and what you’ll need to contract out.

    Seek expert advice

    If you’re unsure the extent of renovation required or the costs associated with a certain type of renovation, you can always obtain quotes from area professionals. Besides obtaining a more accurate estimate of costs upfront, you may gain some “insider’s” knowledge which is almost certain to help later on.

    Check permitting requirements

    Don’t forget to check local permitting requirements before considering any type of renovation. Permits can add unexpected costs and time delays; two problems that can drastically alter your budget as well as your renovation plans.

    Remember this isn’t television!

    When you watch those popular “do it yourself” home renovation shows such as Property Ladder you might think the work looks easy. But what you don’t see are the many hours of footage that have been edited out. While it appears to take the homeowners just 30 minutes to tear apart the bathroom and put it all back together, in reality that renovation probably took many days and involved many hands. Always make sure you can commit not only the money but also a substantial amount of time to complete the necessary renovations.

    Buying and renovating property is full of challenges and isn’t right for everyone. But if you’re up for a challenge, the results are often well worth the effort.

    If you've got it, Property Flaunt it! - www.PropertyFlaunt.com

  • #2
    Very helpful, thanks


    • #3
      A good article, which I can say I had the benefit of doing some years ago. After the mortgage was in place (nice and cheap in view of the state of the house) and an extra secured loan, we were ready to go. The house was a wreck but fortunately after checking everything meticulously, the house structure itself was fine and very little significant work had to take place on the house. The house just needed some heavy duty redecorating and some double glazing to save on the heating bill, which I assume was enormous before in view of the state of the windows. On the plus side, and luck you may say, we bought the house in 1999, just as the world market in general and the British housing market in particular was going through a strong period of growth. With the refurbishments, and a bit of economic fortune, the house doubled in price after just 3 years. If I can in the future, I will only buy a wreck. They have so much more character than the standard new build and the house feels a lot more like it's actually yours after the work is done. Good luck on any house buying where the house needs a lot of work, bear in mind the warnings that the main article gives, but note that if it goes well, it will go really well.


      • #4
        You are so right about the hours edited out!!
        Still, the sense of achievement helps to dull the hours of pain once it is all completed

        Also, until you have done it you will struggle to come up with an accurate budget, so best double whatever you think it might possibly cost. In the unlikely event you have money left over it will then be a happy bonus.


        • #5
          Re: Buying and Renovating Tips

          With house prices rising to such high levels, buyers are finding it harder and harder to afford the house of their dreams. This has lead to an increase in renovation, with the subjects ranging from run down properties to houses which have not been lived in for years or even decades. It is even becoming increasingly popular to take on barn conversions. Although the plot and barn which you buy may be relatively cheap, the amount of money you need to spend on these types of renovations is great due to the level of necessary structural work.
          Before you start

          Regardless of your chosen property, the most important thing you need to take stock of is your finances. These will completely dictate what you do, and will guide all of your planning. Working out how much you have to spend will dictate how large the project will be, and how long it will take. If you are thinking about taking out a loan, then shop around for different ones that are available so you get the best interest rates. If you are planning to buy a house, then check and see how house prices are in the area you want to buy. Sometimes these can fluctuate greatly, and an estate agent will be able to let you know when the best time to buy is, so that you can get the best value for money.
          Make sure you plan exactly what you want from your renovation, whether it is in your current house or what you want from the house that you will buy. By planning ahead, you will save yourself a great deal of money, and will not be stuck with any nasty surprises later on. It will also make finding a suitable house, if you are looking for one, a great deal quicker and easier.
          Finding a house

          The best way to find a suitable house is to look through different estate agents. As renovation has become much more popular in recent years, the competition for finding suitable properties has risen considerably. Therefore, you may be on an estate agent's books for many months before they offer you anything. Stay patient though, as the estate agent will be able to find you a property which matches how much work and how much money you are willing to spend. They will also have a rough indication of the requisite financial investment to make it habitable. Finding a house through word of mouth may also be possible and it is worth asking people if they know of anything which may be suitable.
          Once you have found a property, make sure you survey its potential. The location of the house is very important, renovating a house rather than buying one in an above average area can often save you a great deal of money. On the other hand, some houses may appear to be a bargain but will actually require a great deal of structural work, increasing the amount of time and money you spend on the renovation. Also find out whether the house is already fitted with electricity and has plumbing, as these will cost you a great deal more to have installed.

          Before you buy

          Before you buy a house, there are a number of things which you should check so you do not get any nasty surprises when it's too late.
          First, check how easy it will be to get planning permission for the house. If you wish to make any structural changes, for example putting doors in to make an en suite or knocking down any walls, then you will need permission from your local Building Control Body (BCB) - in most cases planning permission from the council is not needed for internal alterations (with some exceptions).
          Also, check the deeds for the house to find out where the boundaries lie for the garden, in case you want to add any extensions onto the house.
          Get a surveyor in to see exactly what state the structure of the house is in. If you need to replace any walls or parts of the roof this is going to cost you time and money, so it is best to get an indication before you buy. The surveyor should be able to tell you exactly how much this will cost you, and you may be able to agree with the owner to get some money off the asking price. Your estate agent should be able to help you with these negotiations.
          Make a plan of what changes you would like to make to the house, so you know exactly how the finished product would look. This will help you decide which rooms you want where, and will give you an indication of exactly how much work will be necessary.
          Once you have brought the house

          One immediate question is whether you are going to live in the house while renovating. This decision will dictate the order in which you renovate the house. It may be necessary to complete one floor first so that you can use this one to live in while the rest of the house is developed. As ever, the deciding factors will be cost and time, either of renting somewhere off-site or potentially holding up the renovation process by moving around the house.
          Next, you need to decide whether you are going to hire a building firm to take control of the work for you, or whether you are going to hire contractors independently. Again this will depend on how much money you have to spend, but another factor is how much control you want over the renovations. If you are going to hire the contractors independently then it is essential that you have a plan of what needs to be done to the house. You may find it helpful to hire an architect or builder to get their advice about structural changes.
          If you are hiring the contractors independently, make sure that you do not get them all to come at the same time. Plan the order in which you wish the work to happen, and make sure that this logically runs together. For example, do not ask the electricians to come after the plasterers, as they will have to work beneath the walls which have been plastered. It is advisable to have plumbing installed in the house, if it is not already, before any of the other work gets done, as many of the other contractors will need to use water with their work. It is also advisable to get the structural changes completed swiftly after the plumbing, so that the main outline of the house is in place.
          Try and be on-site as much as possible whilst you have contractors working on your house. Obviously this may be impossible if you are working, but dropping in on your lunch hours if possible, or coming home from work early some days will give you an opportunity to see the contractors at work. It will also mean that they do not know when you will be there or not and will subsequently (or hopefully!) encourage them to work at a consistent pace. It also means that you can check that the right work is being done, and allows you to communicate with the contractors about how the work is going. If you are not going to be in the house at the same time as them for a long period of time, try and get them to leave daily or weekly feedback so you know how the work is progressing.
          If you are limited with your spending amount then make a list of the most important tasks to be completed. Renovation can be done over many years, so you should decide what the essentials are. For example, carpeting your house can be very expensive, so one alternative, if possible, is bare wood flooring throughout the house until you can afford to lay carpets.
          One of the simple rules of renovating your house is never spend money on making a major change that will not increase the selling price of the house. Although this may sometimes limit your choices, it means that you are not making empty investments. This rule applies even if you are planning to live in your house for a considerable amount of time before you sell. Try not to get too emotionally attached to the property.


          When you are putting your bathroom in, think about the practicalities, for example whether you want to have a shower or a bath. If you have more than one bathroom then you have greater luxury and can put both into the house. If you are planning to sell the house once you have renovated it or, if you are interested in selling it in the future having lived in it for a few years, then the type of bathroom you install could greatly affect the price which your house reaches on the market. Showers are preferable generally speaking due to convenience and speed, which is an important factor for house-hunters.

          As with bathrooms, it is important to think about how the kitchen you install will increase the house price. If you can afford one, an AGA is a great investment, especially if you are trying to recreate the period of the house through furnishings.
          Make sure the style of kitchen you go for is not too dated, otherwise it could mean that you have to renovate the kitchen again if you wish to sell the house in years to come. Also, make sure the kitchen generally has a wide-reaching appeal and avoid fads, so you do not put certain people off the house.
          Things to take into consideration

          • Do your research – find out how long the property has been on the market. If it has been on the market for more than a few months it suggests that you will probably not make a great deal of money out of it.

          • Make sure that the property you buy is worth having the money spent on it. Sometimes the property is so run down it will cost a great deal more than expected to repair.

          • Set yourself a budget and do not go over it. When you are calculating the budget be realistic – people often end up spending up to twice as much as they thought they would.

          • Be willing to be flexible on your timescales. Often problems will occur or further work may need to be done which will lengthen the duration of the project.

          • Get as much advice as possible from other people who have renovated a property before. They may be able to tell you things which you would never have thought about, and will greatly improve your project.


          • #6
            Re: Buying and Renovating Tips

            Really handy article, this kind of work does take time to get right and people need to factor in how much it is going to cost them to get things done. We are looking at doing self build in France but that seems like a very daunting task at the moment what with the language barrier.


            • #7
              Re: Buying and Renovating Tips

              Alison, a former lawyer, is now a full time consultant, assisting buyers from all nations and with all types of budget buy, restore, renovate or build their dream homes in Italy. She has faced many a challenge on behalf of her client, and plenty more as a direct result of her client going against her advice! Therefore she is best placed to tell you how to and now not to approach your Italian property purchase.
              If you’re dreaming of living la dolce vita, you want to retire to Italy or just buy a home and make it your own, this report contains some very relevant and useful information and advice for you.
              The number one piece of advice is Research Your Location! I.e., before getting carried away with dreams of restoring that crumbling former monastery in Tuscany that you so fell in love with, or extending that mountain chalet with breathtaking views of the Dolomites, it is imperative that you carry out your due diligence on the specific area and location of this, your dream property.
              This is especially important where you’re considering renovation works of any sort, as that seemingly idyllic property might just happen to fall within a conservation area dogged with stringent planning restrictions, and even more severe sanctions imposed for breaching them! Or your home might be caught within an area of significant archaeological interest - which could mean kissing goodbye to those plans of digging a pool you so hoped to cool off in during those scorching summer days. Perhaps the property is located in and around an earthquake zone – this could seriously affect your insurance premiums, not to mention the structural considerations and limitations you and your engineer (“Geologo”) will need to address when making changes to the building.
              If, after reading that top tip, a renovation project now sounds like too much hard work, and you’d rather simply buy an apartment in a new development for example, research into the local area, the transport links, local attractions and amenities is still vital, especially if you are hoping to use the property as a means of income through rental. Seek advice from, or even better still, instruct an Italian speaking project manager who can guide you through the whole process by reducing the pressure and stress of finding and securing your dream home.
              The second top tip is Make sure it’s legal, or be prepared to pay the price! Although parts of Italy are often perceived as being vastly more “flexible” than other countries when it comes to bending the law, ignorance of the rules is still no defence, regardless of whether you’re a foreigner or not! You may be surprised by how many local surveyors (“Geometras”), architects and building contractors are prepared to turn a blind eye, (often only when the price is right), to illegally extending the footprint of your property by overseeing and putting in that extra room or slightly bigger kitchen you were so hoping for, but which the council (“Comune”) and planning offices refused to approve – no matter how much money you offer them!
              If you choose to go down this route of ‘back handers’ and rule bending, be warned that there are risks involved. Even if your Geometra allegedly has ‘the right connections’ with the local planning office and the Forest Rangers (“Corpo Forestale”) – who incidentally are notorious for their impromptu site inspections - and even if you’ve managed to complete the whole project without any questions being asked, remember that there could be other complications further down the line. For example, you may be financing your renovation project via a mortgage from an Italian lender. This means that the lender, (usually a bank), will be granting you a loan based on plans previously submitted and approved by the relevant bodies and local jurisdictions. On completion of the works the lender will instruct its own expert/surveyor (“Tecnico”) to inspect and sign off the project before any funds are released. Any discrepancies or variations to the original drawings, (even the change in the positioning of a window or door by only a few centimetres), will be spotted by the bank’s expert and duly noted.
              If the terms of the mortgage dictate that the funds are released in instalments, but the bank is informed that you have not complied with the terms of the original plans, you not only risk having your future instalments frozen until you’ve rectified the issues, but you may also incur substantial additional costs to remedy the issues, (depending of course on whether you need to knock down a wall or lower the ceiling height of you entire house for example!), in addition to possible fines or sanctions by the Comune or relevant body, depending on who catches you out and whether that well connected Geometra of yours can get you out of hot water.
              Lastly, you should bear in mind that carrying out unauthorised building work of any kind may result in complications if and when you ever come to selling your property. When the prospective buyer makes enquiries with the the local land registry office (“Catasto”) they will be sure to spot that what’s on paper - i.e., on the official plans outlining exact layout and dimensions of the property – doesn’t match up with the reality of the building they’re thinking of buying! Either way, be warned that taking the unauthorised road to your dream home can be paved with unexpected, pricey and sometimes unpleasant surprises!
              Just ensure you seek the right independent advice in advance, to discuss the possible implications and repercussions on the options available, so that you are able to make an informed decision and feel as comfortable (as you can be) with whichever route you decide you take. These are just a couple of issues to think about when embarking on a property project in Italy. It is essential that you are fully aware of what’s involved and what steps to take to guarantee compliance with regulations and to ensure the smooth running of your purchase or redevelopment project. There will usually be a multitude of parties involved in the process, ranging from estate agents, notaries, bank managers, lawyers, builders, local surveyors and planning offices. Keeping on top of a project and all parties involved can be a challenging task even for those who speak the language and understand how the Italian buying and planning process works. Appointing a Project Manager who, for the duration of the process, is able to take the burden off you by overseeing and managing some or all of the aspects of your purchase or project can be crucial to ensuring your purchase or project runs smoothly, on time and within the budget.


              • #8
                Re: Buying and Renovating Tips

                Thanks for the useful tips


                • #9
                  Re: Buying and Renovating Tips

                  I will very soon shift to new place and it is important to me to get all the things done in a proper way and the tips here are necessary to keep all the things properly and well managed.


                  • #10
                    Re: Buying and Renovating Tips

                    Found this very helpful, just wish i noticed it earlier :/


                    • #11
                      Re: Buying and Renovating Tips

                      I advocate that all Homeowners have a Regulated Builder undertake an Unbiased Independent Home Inspection, as Surveyors can be scoundrals and often work against the Prpoerty Seller. A Pre Sale Home Inspection would enable the Homeowner to get everything shipshap before the dreaded Surveyor gets his hands on your property!


                      • #12
                        Re: Buying and Renovating Tips

                        It all comes down to planning doesn't it? And being realistic. Buying a house is the biggest purchase most people ever make, so thinking things through and not just jumping in with the heart is good advice. No one wants to end up with a lemon.


                        • #13
                          Re: Buying and Renovating Tips

                          nice tips dear. i think it is very helpful post to those people which is interested in property business......


                          • #14
                            Re: private house sales, selling tips

                            Selling tips

                            Making your sale a success

                            First impressions are vital when selling your property, we have devised a list of helpful hints on making your sale a success. We want the potential purchasers to feel like your home will be their new home.
                            It might sound obvious, but the cleaner and tidier your house is, the better chance you have of selling your home.
                            • Mow the lawns and make sure the gardens are tidy.
                            • Flowering hanging baskets and pots look attractive and welcoming and are well worth the investment.
                            • Ensure all paintwork is in good condition, particularly paying attention to the entrance door to your home. If necessary give a quick coat.
                            • Spring clean your home and keep it tidy when conducting a viewing.
                            • Your kitchen is the heart of your home, which means no washing up left on the drainer and a sparkling cooker.
                            • Make sure carpets and floors are vacuumed and swept.
                            • Ensure bedrooms are tidy and beds are made, especially children's.
                            • Your bathroom should be gleaming; it is one of the rooms which can really help make an impression.
                            • Neutral colours and de-cluttering rooms will promote a sense of space.
                            • Pay attention to smells, because potential purchasers will when viewing your home. It sounds obvious, but a pleasant smelling home with the aroma of fresh fragranced flowers, air fresheners, pot pourri or a pot of coffee is much more likely to appeal to buyers. If you put in a little effort you could make a tremendous difference when it comes to marketing your home.

                            In preparation gather all paperwork together making a portfolio in readiness for a serious potential purchaser who may want to see them. E.g. EPCs, utility bills, and any guarantees of any works that have been undertaken on your property.
                            When taking a picture of the front view of your property it is advisable to remove any cars, caravans etc from the driveway that may be obstructing the view of your home.
                            Be vigilant when giving people information and arranging viewings.
                            Most people contacting you will genuinely be interested in buying your home. When arranging a viewing, ensure you do not to tell anyone exactly when your home will be empty. When someone is viewing your home, it is advisable to have someone with you and to ensure all valuables are out of sight.
                            Always take the full details of people, who view your home, including their: -
                            1. Name
                            2. Address
                            3. Contact telephone numbers including a landline telephone number

                            When conducting a viewing take control by giving the potential viewers a tour around your home. Point out all the positive points of your home, after all no one knows your home better than you do.


                            • #15
                              Re: Buying and Renovating Tips

                              Are there any good websites out there on property renovations??