Almost all properties have some potential for renovation — the key is assessing design and financial potential before committing.
All renovation projects start, of course, with a house that needs some work. Whatever the motivation, the original house is key, because if you choose badly, then your work will almost certainly be in vain. So what you’re after is that magic word ‘potential’ and assessing that from the hundreds of thousands of properties for sale each year isn’t as easy as you might otherwise think.
How to Find a Renovation Project?
Renovating a house is an exciting, potentially profitable project. From discovering original features hidden under years worth of dust or the chance to put your own stamp on something - or perhaps the best route to getting a bigger house in a better area than you would otherwise be able to afford.
Whilst a quick look at renovation opportunities for sale will undoubtedly bring up many ‘houses in need of modernisation,” not all of these will necessarily offer value for money. Renovating a house can bring about a set of issues that will need to be resolved before your dream home can emerge - and these issues tend to involve hidden costs. Being aware of these and having a step-by-step plan of action should mean the project remains on schedule and budget.
When first viewing the property, look for its potential in terms of what could be done with its design and the financial potential it could eventually offer. Is there enough outdoor space to extend, for example? Have neighbours been successful in gaining planning permission to carrying out similar works to those you are considering?
If you are interested in the house, get in touch with a chartered surveyor. They will be able to carry out a building report which should highlight any areas of concern and give you an idea of any essential repairs that will be needed and what they might cost.
Before you Begin
Before you even begin to assess the design potential and structural condition of a property, there are a few basic things to ask yourself:
Is it in a good location? This could mean that it is in an area known for its good schools or transport links, away from any main roads or next to land that is likely to be bought up by a developer.
Is there scope for off-road parking where there isn’t any?
Have neighbouring properties recently been extended (indicating that local planners are open to the idea)?
These are all things that are fixed and can’t be changed, unlike rotten windows and a damp problem.
The first place that most people this would go for design help is a professional designer or architect, but it doesn’t make sense to spend on design fees before buying a house - so the duty falls on you, the potential homebuyer, to work out what can be done in the name of renovation and improvement.
Firstly, consider the basic things that need to be done in design terms to bring the house you’re considering up to your requirements.
How many extra bedrooms or bathrooms will it need?
These ‘essentials’ will form the basis of any renovation works. Secondly, number and size of rooms aside, assess the problems with the layout and look internally.
Do the rooms flow?
Have previous extensions created ‘corridor’ rooms that seem awkward?
What about orientation and room positioning?
Do the main living areas overlook the garden or view?
What about the position of what will become the master bedroom?
Is the only bathroom downstairs?
Lastly, consider the exterior. Assess windows not just for rot, but aesthetically.
Can the external cladding be improved?
Is there room in the roof for conversion?
Is the garden big enough?
What is a Schedule of Works?
A schedule of works is essential to anyone renovating a house. It basically outlines every single job that needs to be done from start to finish of a project, in the right order.
Below is a typical schedule of works for a house renovation, although yours might look a little different.
Your architect or builder will be able to advise you.
Current condition assessment
Stop further decay
Dealing with damp
Major building work
Do You Need Planning Permission?
There are several consent checks to consider before starting work on your house renovation, including:
building regulations approval
listed building consent
To avoid delays begin your schedule of works with those projects that do not require planning consent.
If you are building near the boundary of your house renovation you should check whether or not this work is affected by the Party Wall Act. It is also wise to get your solicitor to check your title deeds or lease - there may be restrictions relating to development of the property.