Most people who are looking to buy a family home will end up buying a home that needs renovating. Some homes are perfect home renovation material while others will turn out to be a disaster – costing enormous amounts of money and stress without really adding value to the home or improving your quality of life. But how do you tell the difference before you buy your fixer upper? We’ve compiled some tips to help you make the best decision when looking at fixer-uppers to purchase and then renovate to be your perfect home.
Know what you want in your renovatED HOME
Before you start to look at houses sit down and draw up a wish list of everything that your ideal home will be. (This is the Design Project Brief.) Then set them in order of priority. You will need to know how many bedrooms and bathrooms you will need. Do you need off street parking, if so for how many cars? What are your needs for outdoor space? Go through and list everything that you want in your home is much detail as you can. If you already have an architect or designer you can sit down with them and they will help you to create the design project brief. Knowing what you absolutely must have in a house will be of enormous value in ruling out houses that don’t fit the bill and helping you see the possibilities in other properties.
Look beyond the ugly in your fixer uppeR
Open your mind (and close your eyes!) Just because the house is old, dirty, dark, cluttered, messy, tasteless and maybe even smelly doesn’t mean this home isn’t a gem. Remember that you’re not buying the home to live in as it is. You will be tearing out that ugly carpet, repainting the walls, removing the 1970’s curtains and updating the kitchen. Be aware that what is off-putting about a house may just be superficial and easily and cheaply fixed. Even if you can’t visualise what the house could be, your architect will help you to create a wonderful home out of what presents as a disaster. If the house is presented very badly, but ticks all the boxes in other areas you might have found your perfect home for a bargain!
Know the structural soundness of the house
If you only do one thing before buying a house it has to be getting professional building and pest reports done on the property.
Unless you are planning to completely demolish the entire structure you need to be sure that the existing walls, structural beams, floors, roofing, plumbing, electrics etc are all up code and structurally sound. Having to completely rewire a house or replace all the floor joists because of termite damage or deal with asbestos removal can eat up enormous amounts of your renovation budget. Are you planning on adding an extra storey? Then have a structural engineer check that the existing walls and footings can support the added weight. Also you need to know if the existing building is up to code to prevent you spending your renovating budget on replacing things like balustrades and railings.
Consider the floor plan of the house you want to renovate
If the floor plan is something that you can work with and you need to create only minimal changes this will dramatically affect your renovation budget. Knocking down walls, adding structural beams, relocating bathrooms and kitchens all add to the building costs considerably. So, a good layout means that your budget can be directed towards other things like improving the finishes and fittings and adding new spaces and will move you a lot further towards creating your perfect family home.
Buy the worst house in the best street
It’s a cliché but it’s true to look for ‘the worst house in the best street’. This is a good start to help ensure that you are adding real monetary value and not over capitalising on the property. You can check what the other houses in the street have sold for recently and compare these prices to your renovation budget to see if you will be able to carry out the renovations that you want without overcapitalising on the property. It’s always best to get professional advice from a real estate agent or a valuer, especially if you are planning to on-sell the house after you renovate.
Check the planning controls before you buy your fixer-upper
Check with your local council and other authorities to see if the rules and regulations that apply will restrict what work you can do to the house. For example if the house is in a heritage area this will limit the changes you can make in terms of colours and materials, what can be demolished and visibility of new work from the street. Controls such as floor space ratio and height limitations may mean that you aren’t able to add the number bedrooms you need or extend the living area to suit your family.
Check the home buyers contract details
Have your solicitor look over the contract for you and check for issues such as easements and the location of the sewer line all of which can restrict where you can build or result in higher building costs.
Know your buying and renovating budget
If you know what your total budget is for buying and renovating your home you will be able to assess whether a home is right for you. You will also need to calculate all the costs associated with buying and then renovating the home. Remember to include fees, taxes, inspection and conveyancing costs. You need to find a home that fits the formula:
buying costs + renovation costs + fees & charges + contingency = your budget
If you’d like more information on home renovation budgets you can read our article here.
Extra things to check for before buying your fixer upper
Purchasing your new home is one of the biggest decisions that you will ever make. Without being properly prepared you will be overwhelmed by the process and may make unnecessarily costly mistakes. So, do your homework, talk with experts and you will be well on your way to buying the fixer-upper what will one day be your perfect home.
Visit our website for more information and find out how we can help you to achieve your perfect family home www.archetypestudio.com.au