Before trying to fashion a des-res home out of a decrepit doer-upper, it’s worth taking some time to think about whether restoring a wreck is a good option for you:
- Don’t buy a wreck without decent reserves. It costs a lot of money to develop a property, and you can’t fund it on credit cards or overdrafts. Save up or borrow responsibly – the Property Guide has featured many adverts for part-finished wrecks whose owners budgeted badly and ran out of money.
- Do consult experts. Surveyors can tell you a lot about a property’s condition. It’s also worth getting estimates for major jobs that might need doing on a property before you buy it, such as finding out how much a dozen windows would cost to replace. The more quotes you get, the better you can budget.
- Don’t cut corners. If you’re the sort of person who always chooses the lowest quote and boasts about “bargains”, then the shark-infested waters of property restoration are almost certainly not for you. Tired and dilapidated properties can’t be done up on a shoestring without looking shabby and cheap.
- Do the essential improvements first, so that if funds run low, you can either sell up and move on or release more capital through re-mortgaging. It also makes sense to do things in a logical order; there’s no point carpeting before wallpapering, or doing the walls before replastering the ceiling.
- Don’t believe a vague “artistic streak” is all you’ll need. Just because you’ve always fancied stippling a wall or making a climbing frame for your children, that doesn’t mean you have the artistry and persistence to arrange quotes for construction, submit planning applications and so on. Many skills are needed.
- Do remember that details are all-important. Genuinely classy homes have numerous touches like chrome radiators, recessed spotlights and solid wooden doors – it’s not just about painting and decorating. This is especially important if you’re doing a property up to sell it on, when buyers must be wowed.
- Don’t assume that reality television has shown you the way. Those slickly-edited Channel 4 programmes don’t tell the whole story about living in a half-finished, barely-habitable building site without running water or heating. If you have a young family or other work commitments, that’s not viable.
- Do it to add your own personality. If you want to personalise your next home, buying a wreck can offer a blank canvas where everything is customisable to your tastes. If you’ll be able to enjoy the results for many years, it might even be worth slumming it during development work, or staying with relatives.