Buying Houses To Renovate

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Image showing houses to renovate in the UK
A house with renovation underway. Photo © Ian Calderwood (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Finding Houses To Renovate

So many people have a long held dream of the perfect home in the perfect location with an interior that they have designed for themselves. This is a dream that is achievable if you can find a property that needs renovation and if you have the funds, energy and expertise to carry out the work.

Finding the right property to renovate is just the start of a long journey. There are lots of empty properties in the UK that would make excellent family homes if a renovation was completed. In this article we will look at finding houses to renovate and provide some important information about how to start the process of this complex but rewarding project.

Photo of a house being renovated
buying a property to renovate means obtaining the property at a lower cost, possibly at a house auction. Photo © Trevor Littlewood (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Empty Houses In The UK

In September 2020 figures showed that there were some 216,000 empty houses in England alone that had been unoccupied for more than 6 months.

In addition, the total homes reported as currently vacant topped 600,000. Given these figures you would expect that finding houses to renovate would be simple but this is not necessarily the case. The right house in the right location for the right price might be difficult to find.

Photo of some empty houses for sale
There are plenty empty houses and buildings for sale suitable for renovation. Photo © Trevor Littlewood (cc-by-sa/2.0)

How Can I Find A House To Renovate?

Some diligent research and effort is required when looking for houses to renovate. If you want to stay in the same area then a local estate agent is the first port of call. Many agents have older empty properties on their books that they are not promoting simply because they don’t look good in the window.

If you have some time to spare you can tour the local area looking for houses to renovate. There are some signs that will help you recognise a property in need of renovation. A rundown property that appears abandoned is a sure sign of a house in need of renovation.

Look for neglected gardens and broken or boarded up windows. A rundown house may just look slightly shabby and you will soon be able to recognise a house in need of renovation.

Off Market Properties In The UK

If you personally visit an area in which you would like to buy a property to renovate, it is possible you may come across an old house or cottage which is not currently on the property market, but which may be sold by the owner.

The more places you search the more likely you are of a successful outcome. Online property sellers are also becoming popular with many houses being sold without officially going onto the market. A check with the Land Registry will reveal the owner of any property that looks interesting. This will also show the last price paid for the property.

Photo of a cottage ready to renovate
You may be interested in buying a house to renovate and rent out to tenants. Photo © Craig Wallace (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Whether you are intending to renovate a house for your own use or become a landlord and rent the property to tenants with an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, visiting a property auction could be a good first step. Property auctions can be cheaper than buying through an estate agent.

Bidding At Auction On Renovation Properties

Property auctions are great places to look for houses to renovate. If an estate agent has been unable to move a rundown property they often send them to be sold at a property auction. There are several things to think about when bidding on a potential renovation property. First, think about your maximum budget.

You will need to have enough funds to buy the house and also complete the renovation. Keeping some money back in a contingency fund is also sensible as property renovation projects frequently go over budget. Additionally, don’t forget to factor in fees at the auction and for the legal process of changing the name on the deeds.

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Viewing An Auction Property

Viewing a potential property is essential before you consider making a bid. In this way you can make a forecast of potential costs and how long it will take to complete the renovation. Another important job is to check out the location and compare prices of other houses. This will allow you to make a judgement about whether or not to bid on the property. If your bid is successful it is time to start making a schedule for the work.

How To Start A Renovation Project

Creating a schedule of work is the first step to a successful renovation. This begins with an assessment of the current condition of the property and allows you to place jobs in order of priority. Check out whether you can get a grant towards the renovation and deal with the essentials first.

These are a few of the most essential jobs that should take priority. Make sure that the structure is stable, deal with damp and rot including obtaining a damp survey on the property, perform any major building work, make sure the electrics are safe and ensure the property is weatherproof.

Photo of an older house being renovated
If you plan to renovate an older house make sure you have the right planning permission in place. Photo © Carole (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Remodelling Or Renovation?

Remodelling a house may well require planning permission. If you are remodelling you could be changing the use of rooms e.g. adding a bathroom, knocking down walls to create a totally different space or adding an extra room. A minor extension like a small conservatory may not need planning permission but it is always best to consult the planning authorities.

The normal renovation of a house is unlikely to need planning permission. You can put in a new bathroom, change a kitchen and get new windows and doors without the need for any planning application. Fencing or a wall around the boundary is another matter so consult the authorities before erecting large barriers between your house and the neighbours. Always check with your local authority before commencing any kind of work.

Renovating A Rural Property

There are some interesting rural buildings in the UK that could be renovated and turned into beautiful homes. Houses in the countryside are limited by planning regulations but you could find a redundant church or chapel, a barn or even a water mill that could be suitable for renovation into a home.

There are also a lot of properties located along the coastline of Britain which are suitable for renovation.

Old redundant rural buildings often have more space for conversion into living quarters. Additionally, you may be lucky and get some stunning and unusual features like stained glass windows or original stone arches. Professional help is generally required when converting this kind of property into a home and if the building is listed there could be regulations about what materials are used.

Photo of an old house to renovate
Depending on your part of the country there may be grants available for your property renovation. Photo © Mike Quinn (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Can I Get A Grant To Renovate A House?

There are some government grants available towards renovation but these often apply to making improvements to energy efficiency. A Green Home Grant Voucher can contribute up to £5,000 towards improving insulation, low carbon heating and moving to renewable energy. Local authority grants may be available and you can find out about these by contacting your local council.

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