Buying a Property with Potential
05 October 2022
Renovating a property gives you the perfect opportunity to start with a blank canvas and put your own personal mark on it. However, there are many things to consider when taking the leap of buying a fixer-upper house.
Finding and assessing your property
Make sure you know your budget when starting the search for your property, and remember to keep money back for renovating.
There is always a chance of uncovering some unknown issues; especially with an older property so pay close attention to the Home Report and make sure you get a surveyor to assess the structural condition of the home. Bring a checklist of the most common problems found in older properties such as rewiring or no heating.
Have realistic expectations
Don’t torture yourself looking at flats or houses that are out of your price range. Set a strict and realistic budget and don’t forget to factor in moving costs, LBTT, legal fees and a contingency budget too. A big positive of buying a fixer-upper is that it will probably be cheap to buy but make sure you calculate how much it will cost to renovate.
The design process
After buying your property, it’s worth deciding what it’s best features and assets are (perhaps its large kitchen or view). But don’t forget that certain hidden problems may only arise once work has begun on the property.
Don’t change everything right away
You must live in a property to know what you want it to be like. Lianne Brunton bought her three-bedroom tenement flat in Edinburgh in 2019 and she has redone the property from scratch. Lianne used YouTube to teach herself to tile and do panelling in her hallway and advises others to give it a go! “I had never renovated before but I always been keen to learn new skills – I grew up on a farm so always got stuck in and was willing to try new things.
“Try something first – you might do it and find it’s easy. I taught myself to tile in lockdown on YouTube and I did the panelling in the hallway myself. If I do a little bit every so often it is easy to do.”
Lianne started her renovation with the kitchen. She says: “It was grotty. It was a lowered ceiling and the room had been split into two. I wouldn’t have bought it if that wall couldn’t come down as I wanted a big kitchen.”
Lianne’s flat has two bathrooms: a small cloakroom one with a toilet and sink and a bigger one which originally only had a bath and sink. She began by adding a toilet to the main bathroom and then renovated the smaller bathroom and gave it a new sink.
“I have not had to do much to my bedroom but I gave the one I rent out a good coat of paint and sanded everything,” Lianne says. “I have not touched the living room so it’s my next project. There's a fireplace I want to lift up and a lowered ceiling.”
Lianne says she gets her inspiration from Pinterest and looking at ESPC properties for sale and screenshotting her favourite parts. She adds: “Since I am from a farm I have gone down the country route. I get Farrow & Ball colours colour matched at Johnsons. The bathroom has no windows and colours can look different in no natural light.”
Get multiple quotes
Lianne advises renovators to get a variety of quotes on the price of different renovation projects “You should get multiple quotes – don’t just take the first one. Being a young female, some people take advantage and quote a higher figure.
“Try to use trusted people. I am a member of the Edinburgh Gossip Girl Facebook page and people ask for recommendations there and I've used those people who are highly reviewed.
“I was lucky to have nice neighbours – I work away from home so I had to trust tradesmen.”
Make a checklist
Create a list of everything you must do and buy before you begin the renovation project. Consider what are must have’s and the things you are willing to compromise on.
Lianne says “Plan what you need to do before you start. Write a list for everything in order of how you will do it,”
Learn to save and shop around
Renovating doesn’t have to break the bank. Lianne has saved money on a lot of things she bought for her flat by shopping around and using Gumtree and sales.
She adds: “I bought all of the bathroom stuff in January sales but I have not scrimped on quality and managed to find some bargains.
“I sold so much stuff on Gumtree. I was amazed I sold the sink within an hour for £30.”
Overall, never be put off by the daunting prospect of renovation – the long days and nights when your home is complete chaos are exhausting, however, it’s all worth it when you manage to create a home exactly how you want it.