How to add value to a doer upper: six essential tips for home buyers taking on a renovation property

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Eight in 10 Londoners would rather buy an unmodernised house so they can put their own stamp on it

It’s no secret that home buyers on a tight budget can get more space for their money by purchasing a run-down propertyand doing it up themselves, especially in London, where eight in 10 buyers would choose an unmodernised house over a perfect ‘turnkey’ home they could add little value to.

Jackson-Stops estate agents found that buyers know they can make savings on stamp duty costs by purchasing a cheaper property, preferring to spend the money saved on renovating to suit their own taste and living requirements.

Loft extensions to create an extra bedroom are the most profitable improvement, increasing a property’s value by 11 per cent on average, with kitchen and bathroom renovations adding 5.5 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively.

Consider giving any outside space a makeover, too. Well-presented gardens can add up to 10 per cent to the value of your home, with simple, low-maintenance ones often the most attractive to buyers. Less is more – you don’t need to spend a fortune to make a big impact outdoors.

However, serious renovation projects don’t always go to plan. Before taking on a ‘doer upper’ home, make sure you do you your research and factor unexpected costs into your budget so the value added hasn’t already been spent.

SIX THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE TACKLING A RENOVATION PROJECT

1. BE SURE PLANNING PERMISSION WOULD BE GRANTED

The most important thing is to make sure your Grand Designs project would get the green light from the council’s planning office.

Some properties are listed with planning permission already granted, and it’s worth looking at what other homeowners in the area have got away with for guidance.

2. BE PREPARED FOR IT TO GO OVER BUDGET

Nathalie Hirst, an award-winning prime London buying agent, advises against getting so over-excited by the lower price tag of a run-down property that you forget the expenditure to come.

“There is obviously a discount to be had in an unmodernised house but at the same time there is a certain uncertainty surrounding final costs,” she says.

“However careful one is, renovations always cost more and take longer than anticipated. You also have holding costs and often temporary rentals to take into consideration.”

3. GET THE EXPERTS ON SIDE

Hirst recommends finding a highly-regarded architect who will be upfront with you about costs, even if you then end up not buying and they lose a potential job.

“Consider offering an advice fee as an incentive and always have back up funds – you don’t want to run out of money if an unseen problems occur.”

4. DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST

Caroline Kennaway, director of residential sales at Savills Clapham, finds fixer-upper homes are “extremely popular” in family-centric neighbourhoods, meaning serious buyers must get ahead of the game.

“A Victorian terraced home ripe for renovation can generate significant competition. Interested buyers will have done their homework, worked out their sums and factored build costs into their budget.”

5. CONSIDER HOW MUCH STRESS YOU CAN HANDLE

‘Renovation’ means different things to different people. Some may want a tired property that simply needs a fresh lick of paint and new fixtures and fittings to bring it into 2018, while others are willing to knock down walls to create their dream open-plan layout.

Budget aside, consider your main motives for doing the work and how much disruption you can manage.

6. BE REALISTIC WITH VALUATION

Above all, be realistic about how much value you can really add, and don’t overspend, advises Louis Harding, area director for Strutt & Parker.

“If you want your renovation to add value to your home, you need to know the ceiling price for your property – that is the maximum price a buyer will spend for a house on your street before they can find a similar one for the same money in a better street,” he says.

“If you’re already at your ceiling price, don’t expect further renovations to add significantly to the value of your home. If you’re thinking of a complete kitchen refit, bear in mind the value of your property and what return you’re likely to see on your investment.”