Are high house prices making it difficult for you to purchase your dream home? Well, perhaps you'd be better off creating it yourself rather than buying it. Old, derelict homes can be acquired at bargain prices and remade to fit your exact tastes, and you'd be amazed at the difference a few minor renovations can make. Bash down a few walls here, splash some new paint there, and you'll have what was previously a candidate for a haunted house tour looking better than new in no time.
It's not just home buyers who can benefit from this strategy, but property investors as well. Many have built successful careers by buying abandoned properties on the cheap and boosting their value through carefully planned renovations. Whatever your intention for the house, here are a few things you should bear in mind before setting out on a renovation project.
What's the best way to find derelict properties?
• Estate agents: Estate agents have specialised knowledge of local areas, and are more likely to know the best place in your particular area of interest to look for dilapidated properties with potential. They’re also usually among the first to know about upcoming property auctions.
• Auctions: You can visit the Essential Information Group for details on properties going to auction throughout the UK. You never know what bargain deals might be available.
• Conservation areas: Certain areas are classed as 'conservation areas', meaning they contain historically significant buildings and sites that need to be preserved. This makes them a good place to search for old properties that can be improved with a few alterations. Note that planning permission may be restricted by the presence of protected sites nearby.
Things you need before embarking on a 'buy-to-renovate' project
• Planning permission: Ourproperty.co.uk stresses the importance of determining how easy it will be to obtain planning permission before purchasing a property you intend to renovate. Permission from the council is usually not needed for internal alterations, but you may need permission from your local Building Control Body (BCB).
• Budget: Renovating a home can be expensive, making it all the more important to plan your budget beforehand. It will give you an idea of how ambitious you can be with your proposed renovations, and help you avoid getting into a situation where you've bought a property that needs more work than you can afford to pay for.
• Conduct a survey: A professional survey of the property before purchasing is essential. Qualified tradesmen will be able to pinpoint work that needs to be done that may not be evident to the untrained eye, such as problems with the plumbing or potential complications with the electrical wiring. You don't want to buy a house with your intended alterations already mapped out, only to discover that there's a pipe issue somewhere that you hadn't considered when you drew up your budget.
• Professional advice on the area: You can upgrade a property but you can't upgrade the area it's located in. Location is everything when it comes to property investment, so make sure the reason you're getting a bargain deal is solely due to the condition of the property, and is not in any way related to its location. Your estate agent will be able to help you in this regard.
Above all else, make sure you are well advised. Buying old properties and renovating them can be an extremely profitable venture if done right, but it can also be a costly one; and if anything goes wrong you might find yourself stuck with a large amount of money tied up in a house where only squatters would take up residence.