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To buy and renovate or not?

17 replies 1.5K views
cherryblossomzelcherryblossomzel Forumite
500 posts
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I am looking at buying my first property. I've seen a place that should be well within my budget and is in an excellent location, both for me personally, but also for resale purposes (not that I'm planning on selling up soon).

It's a one bed ground floor flat, with 6 other small flats in the same building. It's not big, only about 39 square meters (420 square foot, if you prefer :)), but I live in something a similar size at the moment, and it works for me, so I'm not too concerned about that.

The issue is that it is in very poor decorative order. Ideally you'd need to redo the kitchen, bathroom, flooring, and paint the walls. It's pretty ugly at the moment, but it is definitely habitable, even though it feels like a grotty student flat. I believe everything works and the boiler's been serviced annually (it's been rented until very recently).

I may be able to get it for about £200k, and the estate agent reckons if it's done up to high spec it would be worth £250k. I think he's padding that, and in the current market it'll be more like £230k, maybe £235k. I hopefully wouldn't need to sell in at least the next 5 years.

Would anyone consider that a good investment? I can't get all the decorative work done immediately, so it'll have to be done piecemeal, while I live there. I know there is a buy to let investor who's already made one offer, which was rejected, but he's having another look tomorrow.

I'm new to owning and have no idea if I would biting off more than I can chew. Really appreciate any insights!
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Replies

  • DoozergirlDoozergirl Forumite
    28.9K posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
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    It's only a little place so it's a good place to cut your renovating teeth on, but you may beed to look at the plumbing and electrics first, and the state of the plastering.

    Most of everything else should be dealt with by the freeholder. What's the rest of the building like?
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
  • edited 5 October 2018 at 4:12PM
    cherryblossomzelcherryblossomzel Forumite
    500 posts
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    edited 5 October 2018 at 4:12PM
    Doozergirl wrote: »
    What's the rest of the building like?

    The outside of the building looks fine, to my inexperienced eye. This flat has its own entrance, so I couldn't see inside anywhere else. The agent wasn't sure exactly how old it is, possibly from the 20's/30's, but it was converted into flats in the mid-70's I believe, so it's been standing a good while, and hasn't fallen down yet.

    It's in a conservation area if that makes any difference.

    How do I evaluate the state of the plastering? I can ask if the plumbing/electrics have been done recently.

    Edit - Oh yes, the flat is currently empty with all windows closed. When the front door was opened the air was stale, but didn't smell damp or musty, so I'm guessing that's a good sign.
  • DoozergirlDoozergirl Forumite
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    Is there wallpaper on the walls? If so, any idea how old? If it's textured wallpaper it can often poor condition plaster behind.

    If the plaster on a wall is really old then it can sound hollow in parts when you knock on it.

    If you need electrical work doing, it will damage the plaster aswell.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
  • cherryblossomzelcherryblossomzel Forumite
    500 posts
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    No wallpaper. There were some stained bits on the wall, one in a corner of two external walls and behind a wardrobe, the other on an internal wall next to the dining table (I think). The place was filthy though.

    There was what looked like mould on the wall underneath the kitchen sink. It was dry to the touch though, and again, no smells, so hopefully nothing a bit of TLC can't fix.

    I'll go for a second look and knock on all the walls.
  • DoozergirlDoozergirl Forumite
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    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
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    Sounds hopeful if there's no wallpaper!

    Feel free to post pics of the stains. Sounds like it could be a small amount of damp that could be easily fixed.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
  • cherryblossomzelcherryblossomzel Forumite
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    Thanks. I'll try and do that :D
  • smallblueplanetsmallblueplanet Forumite
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    I am looking at buying my first property. I've seen a place that should be well within my budget and is in an excellent location...

    This is important, it's your home. :) Will you be happy there do you think? If you can get it at a good price and don't mind doing some hard work then it sounds ideal.
  • edited 5 October 2018 at 10:55PM
    thatthat Forumite
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    edited 5 October 2018 at 10:55PM
    Random thoughts that do not necessarily link to each other and you have already answered some of them too. Usually better to buy. If doing stuff yourself it is cheaper, other wise sometimes not: :D

    Big block? tall block? Lifts? Windows? Roof? heating? fire prevention? rewiring? Major works - there will be some big bill sooner or later. Service charge.

    Shared freehold? Property owner - council or private?

    Transport?

    Location, location, location.

    Close to sewage works, dump, river, flight path, big polluting factory, busy road, fire station, bordering a school, and for orientals - not too near a cemetery.

    The neighbours all around, top and bottom, and neighbourhood?

    Flats are harder to sell, and not as sought after.

    Flats over a long term can be more costly to keep.

    Limited renovation of flats and leasehold, and extra planing cost.

    Looking at property in west london, there has been a general drop in price since last year of 6% - possibly the first casualty of Brexit? Housing agent are phoning old customers to tempt them to purchase
  • We have renovated our first house and it's the only way we would have been able to buy a beautiful house in a good location on the budget we had (we had a large deposit but low income being only 21 so was the best option for us). I would highly recommend renovating your first home (if not all of them!) purely because you end up with a house that is completely your taste, it costs you less and you end up with more equity in the house. Only if you do it right though!

    Biggest word of advice would be to take a builder with you! We encountered many surprises whilst renovating (rotten joists, which would not have been discovered by a report etc) so you need to budget for the unknown. Anything that concerns you, point it out to the builder so they can take a look for you. I took my dad along (he's a builder) and he pointed out things that I wouldn't have thought about. I think him pointing out some of the negatives also helped us knock the price down!
  • phil_b_2phil_b_2 Forumite
    995 posts
    I think you should go for it if it indeed ticks all boxes apart from cosmetic condition!

    At 420 square feet you will be renovating on a very small scale, and everything will be manageable. As it is a flat I guess you won't have re-roofing or garden landscaping to worry about either.

    My last house was a full rip-out and start again job, larger than what you're facing, and it didn't seem too manic. My current renovation is 1,500 square feet and needs everything imaginable, including an excavated basement! I'd say it's starting to get a little more stressful...
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