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Buying a fixer-upper

Tue 07 Sep 2021

Buying a fixer-upper


We’ve all seen a million TV shows about property renovation, home improvements and DIY. Whether they’re about building a grand design, transforming a French chateau or picking up a bargain to sell on, we can’t get enough of them!


The magic of TV can make complex projects look easy, but in reality, taking on a huge renovation project is not for the inexperienced, or indeed the faint-hearted. Without thorough research and preparation, you could end up sinking your savings into a very deep money pit.


However, none of that has slowed down the national obsession with property. We Brits seem to love nothing more than taking on a home improvement project or upcycling old furniture. After all, finance experts do say that it’s best to improve rather than move.


What’s more, buying a fixer-upper can be a more affordable way to get on the property ladder or buy a house in an area that would otherwise be unaffordable.


So if you have some basic DIY know-how and love the idea of a big project, read on...


Get a survey


  • If you’re thinking of buying a property that needs a lot of work, it’s imperative that you invest in a good survey, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. You definitely don’t want to go into a sale thinking the property just needs a lick of paint, only to discover a leaky roof and Japanese knotweed.


Stick to your budget


  • Before you make an offer on a fixer-upper, you need to be clear about what the renovations are going to cost you – and how you’re going to pay for them.
  • If you’re not a qualified tradesperson, ask a locally recommended builder to attend a viewing with you and provide you with a comprehensive quote before you place that all important offer.
  • When planning your budget, remember to include a contingency fund for those inevitable, unforeseen issues. 


Prioritise spending


  • If you’re buying a house to renovate and sell at a profit, focus your efforts where they are likely to give you the biggest return. This often means creating a neutral, blank canvas inside, installing a new kitchen and bathroom, and perhaps sprucing up the garden to help you sell an aspirational, desirable lifestyle.


Understand the restrictions


  • You may have grand plans to knock down walls or build an extensions on to your new property, but there may well be restrictions on what you can achieve. You need to be aware of the planning rules before you sign on the dotted line.
  • If your property is listed, you’ll have to work within even tighter constraints.


Choose your tradespeople carefully


  • Unless you’re a qualified professional, you’ll need to bring in the experts for at least part of your big project. Be sure to choose carefully. Always obtain at least three quotes for each service required, and find tradespeople through personal recommendations or online reviews.
  • Make an effort to build a good relationship with your tradespeople – you’ll be in it together for the long haul!


Renovating a property is not something you’ll do often, so learn as much as you can from this experience and don’t let the stress get on top of you. As long as the job is done well and you stay within your budget as much as possible, it will all be worth it in the end.

To talk to us about buying or selling a property (fixer upper or otherwise) just get in touch