It is a rare person who can find exactly what they want in a home. There is usually a compromise to be made: a little further out of town for a bigger garden, a kitchen that will need replacing for a master suite that has everything or a decent sized building with all the rooms in the wrong places. This is what we go through when we buy, and why so many go the knockdown rebuilds path.
Though renovating is not always the answer, there is something in the wisdom that as long as you find a good plot of land in the right location, the house that is on it at the moment doesn’t have to be anything special. You can get exactly what you want as long as you have the energy and the money to pull it off yourself.
Here is what to look for.
Location is Everything
There is just one thing that you cannot change about a house: it’s location. This means that before you do anything, you must decide whether you like the setting and if it is worth spending extra time and money to put something you love in this location. There’s no point in building a dream home somewhere you hate, is there?
When you are buying for location only, you can afford to be a bit more open-minded about the property you are looking for. Instead of looking for something perfect, look for potential to make something perfect. In other words, rather than judging the facade hideous, imagine what beauty could be there instead. Or rather than looking at a bunch of tiny rooms, imagine the space you would have by knocking through.
Potential comes in many forms and when you start focusing on that instead, you will see that there are many fixer-upper properties that could be within your budget with money spare to achieve your ambitions. With this in mind, have a look at smaller properties you could extend, properties that need a lot of TLC and properties that are on auction too.
When you are looking at your property, the structure is the most important thing. Unless you are willing to flatten the whole building and completely start again, you at least need to make sure that what is there can stand up to your renovation ideas.
It is a good plan to take a builder to the property on your second viewing and ask any questions you have to make sure it is worth your time. Renovation builders are used to working with all kinds of weird and wonderful things and will be able to tell you what is possible and how much it is likely to cost. This will give you an idea of how well suited a property really is.
Extending up and out is the most common type of home transformation and can add value to most properties too. Keep this in mind when you visit much smaller properties as extending may not cost as much as buying a house with that space already.
If the structure is not up to change then it may actually be worth knocking the current building down and completely starting again. This might sound radical but if you have a big enough budget, it may be more economical than trying to alter what is there. Keep this idea in mind and contact a local architect for some advice.
Financial Wiggle Room
With every viewing, you need to bear in mind how much financial wiggle room you will have after you have sorted out the move, the mortgage and all the hidden costs that suddenly seem to add up. This will give you an idea of how much you will have left to renovate. Doing the math now should give you time to either save up for a little longer or adjust your expectations to fit with your current flexibilities.
For some people, renovating a house is a short term project that is simply about sorting everything and then moving in but for others (who are significantly more patient) renovation is a waiting game that could take years. If this is you, then buying a smaller house in a prime location now is a good idea as it is likely that the area will increase in value making your investment worthwhile. If you can’t wait, then expect to pay more but get what you want faster.
With proper planning and a little more imagination, you will soon be able to see the potential in all kinds of properties you thought would never suit you. When you have the determination to get what you want, you will soon see that almost anything is possible.
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