How To Renovate A House / Cost To Build A House

So You Want to Renovate a House in 2013 / 2014?

Are you excited by the idea of building your own house or renovating an existing one? Concerned about the cost of building a house? Then you’ve come to the right place! We’d like to talk to you about the possibilities open to you and the challenges that lie ahead…

Rising House Prices

Despite the economic downturn since 2008, there is now (at last) positive evidence of the economy picking up again – particularly in the housing market. With house prices set to rise, and an increase in market activity generally, many people in and around Manchester will be considering how to get on the property ladder – some for the first time.

Of course, rising house prices are great news if you already own a home, but if you’re a first-time buyer these price rises will make it harder to afford the house of your dreams. Nonetheless, if the market is on its way up, then buying a new house, building a new house or renovating an existing house, makes it a much better investment.

Buying a New House vs Renovating an Existing House?

Of course, many will be choosing to follow the route of buying an established property or taking up one of the fantastic ‘new deals’ many house builders are now promoting. But many of the more adventurous (in Manchester, Lancashire and elsewhere in the UK) are taking up the opportunity to renovate a house, with projects ranging from ‘doing up’ a slightly run-down property all the way to completing a full house renovation on a property that’s been abandoned or left uninhabited for years.

This latter approach can have significant financial advantages. For example, you can take advantage of reduced VAT if you renovate an existing property. Developers prepared to undertake the building of a house, or converting a barn, where one can take advantage of grants available for historic-building conservation work, might find this a very sensible financial proposition.

Renovating an Existing House – Where To Start?

Regardless of your chosen property, it is imperative that you are fully aware of your finances and funding options prior to renovating a house. These options will dictate much of what you can realistically achieve and should be used to guide all of your decisions. Knowing how much you have to spend and fully understanding how much it will cost to build a house will be the biggest control and restraint that you will have on your house renovation project.

Renovating an Existing House – Financing

If you are considering taking out a loan or other type of mortgage, then do undertake thorough research to find the best funding source and terms available. But remember, the cheapest is not always the best or most appropriate. If you’re determined to undertake a house renovation project, you must check the fluctuations in house prices in the area you want to buy. Talk to your bank. Talk to your local building society. Talk to investors if it’s appropriate.

Renovating an Existing House – Land Registry Checks

Registering at the Land Registry can – for a nominal fee – provide you with lots of useful information; including the ‘sold’ prices of properties in your favoured location. After checking with the Land Registry, it’s then sensible to consult with a local estate agent who can give you a more accurate assessment on prices (we can provide first-hand experience of many agents in the Manchester area). Other professional agents may be able to give you additional advice on house renovation costs.

Locating a House to Renovate

The best way to find a suitable house to renovate is to first visit all the estate agents located within the area that you’ve targeted. They may well be able to provide property details of houses that may need only a limited amount of renovation work. If they don’t, simply ask them to put you on their mailing list. Be specific about what you’re seeking otherwise you may end up with a barrage of unsuitable information.

As house renovation has become much more popular in recent years, the competition for finding suitable properties has risen considerably. You will therefore need to be patient. Estate agents will work hard to find a property which matches your requirements. Finding a house via word-of-mouth may be another avenue to explore. It’s always worth asking local people if they know of anything which may be suitable.

Renovating a House – Getting a Survey

With patience and hard work you will find a property, but it is imperative that you get a survey done to ensure its potential. For one thing, the location of the house is very important. Renovating a house in a relatively less expensive area rather than one in an above-average area can often save you a great deal of money. For example, many properties have benefited from superb renovations bringing real and significant financial gains.

On the other hand, some houses may appear to be a bargain but will actually require a great deal of structural work – increasing the amount of time and money you spend on the renovation. You must also find out whether the house is already fitted with electricity and has plumbing as these will cost you a great deal more to have installed if they’re not already in place.

Renovating a House – Making The Commitment

Great, you’ve finally found the house you wish to buy and renovate!

However, there are a few basic checks to undertake before finally proceeding to make an offer on the property. Firstly, if you wish to make fundamental alterations to the building’s exterior then it would be advisable to visit the local planning office for their advice. Making any structural changes – such as putting in new doors, creating an en suite bathroom or knocking down any walls – may well need permission from your local Building Control Body.

Secondly, if you are planning to add extensions onto the house.now or in the future, do first check the deeds on the house to find out where the garden boundaries lie.

Thirdly, commission a professional surveyor to gain a thorough understanding of the current state of the house structure. If any walls or parts of the roof need replacing then this is clearly going to cost you time and money. So it’s always best to get an indication before you buy (The surveyor should be able to tell you exactly how much this will cost you and you may even be able to persuade the owner to reduce the asking price. Your estate agent should be able to help you with these negotiations).

Lastly, make a plan of what changes you would like to make to the house, so you know exactly how the finished product would look. This will help you decide which rooms you want where, and will give you an indication of exactly how much work will be necessary.

Renovating Your House – Post Purchase

The first question you may find yourself asking is, “where on earth am I going to live whilst I am carrying out this house renovation?” More than any other, this decision will dictate most of planning for the renovation of the house.

For example, it may be necessary to renovate a particular floor first such that you can live in it while the rest of the house is being worked on. Other deciding factors will be based on time / cost considerations. For example, you may need to rent somewhere to live away from the site. Depending on where it is, the additional travel time might slow down the project and may be quite expensive in itself.

The second question and probably the most important one is, “who is going to carry out the renovation work?” Will you hire a renovation builder who specialises in such work (such as Tetlow Developments Ltd)? Will you need to hire separate building contractors to carry out individual elements of the work or will one builder undertake all the work? One part of the decision will be reliant on accurate cost forecasting. Another will be the question of how much control you want to have over the house renovation.

If you are planning to hire contractors independently then it’s essential you project manage what needs to be done to the house. You need to be sure who is going to do what, when and in which order. It may be helpful to hire an architect or builder to get their advice about these and / or any major structural changes.

Renovating Your House – Hiring Contractors

If you’re hiring the building contractors independently, make sure that you do not get them all to come at the same time. Plan the order in which you wish the work to happen, and make sure that this logically runs together. For example, do not ask the electricians to come after the plasterers, as they will have to work beneath the walls which have been plastered. If it hasn’t already been done, it’s also best to have all plumbing installed in the house before any of the other work gets done, as many of the other contractors will need to use water with their work. And it’s also advisable to get any structural changes completed swiftly after any plumbing work so that the main outline of the house is in place.

Try and be “on-site” as much as possible whilst you have the renovation contractors working on your house. Obviously this may be impossible if you are away from the house working, but dropping in on your lunch hours or coming home from work early occasionally will give you an opportunity to see the building contractors at work. It will also mean that they do not know when you will be there or not and will subsequently (or hopefully!) encourage them to work at a consistent pace.

It also means that you can check that the right work is being done and allow you to communicate with the contractors about work progress. If you are not going to be in the house at the same time as them for a long period of time, try to get the contractors to leave daily / weekly feedback so you can keep track of how work is progressing.

Renovating Your House – Keeping Costs Down

If you budget is limited then you should make a list of the most important tasks to be completed early on, and make sure those are prioritised first in your project plan.

Renovating a house can of course happen over a number of years, in which case you must decide what the essentials are and what can be dealt with later. For example, carpeting your house can be very expensive, so you might consider laying bare wood flooring throughout the house until you can afford them.

Renovating Your House – Sticking To Your Plan

One of the simple rules of renovating your house is; “never spend money on any change that will not increase the selling price of the house“. Although this may limit your choices, and perhaps even feel creatively frustrating, it helps you avoid making any pointlessly-expensive investments. Even if you’re planning to live in the house for some time before selling, you should try to avoid any emotional attachment.

Selecting Bathrooms

When considering the bathroom area(s) think about the practicalities. For example will the eventual occupants be likely to want a shower? A bath? Both? If you have more than one bathroom then you might be able to create a more luxurious bathroom in one area of the house and a more practical one elsewhere.

If you are planning to sell the renovated house, then the type of bathroom you install could greatly affect the price which your house reaches on the market. Showers are generally more preferable for any future house hunters due to their convenience and speed.

Selecting Kitchens

As with bathrooms, it is important to think about how the kitchen you install will increase the house price. If you can afford one, an Aga is a great investment, especially if you are trying to recreate the original period ‘look’ of the house (i.e. a historic building restoration project. Make sure the style of kitchen you go for is not too “dated” or you might have to renovate the kitchen all over again when selling. Make sure the kitchen has a wide-reaching visual appeal. Avoid fads.

Other Considerations

With any house renovations, do your research!

  • Find out how long the property has been on the market. If it’s been on the market for more than a few months the chances are you won’t make a great deal of money from it.
  • Make sure that the property you buy is worth having the money spent on it. Sometimes the property is so run down it will cost a great deal more than expected to repair.
  • Set yourself a budget and don’t go over it. When you’re calculating the budget be realistic – people often end up spending up to twice as much as they thought they would.
  • Be flexible with your timescales because problems and delays will occur. Unforeseen additional work may often need to be done, lengthening the duration of the project.
  • Get as much advice as possible from other people who have renovated a property before. They may be able to tell you things which you would never have thought about!