There is a lot to consider when buying any property. When buying an older house, there are even more things to think about.
The lure of that characterful old cottage can be strong with its warm and charming features. However, behind that charm, the more mature home can hide a multitude of problems that could turn your dream into a money pit.
You should listen to your head, not your heart; even the best laid love story can end in costly divorce. If an older property has caught your eye, follow our top tips for a happy marriage with a mature home:
1. Get a detailed survey - always invest in a full structural survey. Although it may be a little more expensive, it is vital to understand the potential cost of any repairs before committing to a purchase. Identifying issues at an early stage may also give you an opportunity to reduce your offer.
2. Check your financial viability - before putting in an offer, ask a builder to provide you with estimate of costs - this may also help when negotiating an offer.
3. Is the property a listed building? - generally older properties will have building restrictions so check with planning and building control that you can proceed with your plans for your new home.
4. Be realistic - take off the rose tinted glasses: old building projects can be extremely stressful so review the task ahead, your budget and timescale before you proceed. Do not be afraid to walk away.
5. Are there visible signs of potential problems?
From the outside: Note any damage to the roof which might be allowing water in. Gutters and downpipes that are blocked or broken should ring alarm bells. Plant growth on walls can indicate damp.
From the inside: Look behind curtains, under carpets and into cupboards for signs of damp and, if possible, investigate the roof space. Open windows and doors to see whether they operate correctly and inspect joinery for signs of decay.
Cracks, building walls, sloping floors or crooked windows or doors are always a concern and might indicate serious structural defects. This may be due to historic settlement or, worse, decay within the structure or subsidence, possibly caused by nearby trees or damaged drains.
6. Contingency - There may be further defects that come to light once work has started - you should add 20% (or more) to your budget to cover unknown costs.
7. Wind and water tight - These two basics must be a priority. Older roofs begin to leak and crumble, thereby losing their insulation properties and causing more costly repairs. Older windows are usually single pane and as such provide less insulation for properties.
Before buying your beloved older home you should plan to make the property wind and watertight as a priority.
And last but not least do not forget:
8. Homeowner's Insurance - The cost of homeowner insurance is often overlooked. Insurance is an expensive essential no matter what type of house you buy. However, insuring an older home can be more expensive as older homes carry more risks. Remember to call around and get quotes from insurance companies. Imagine the horror of buying your dream home only to discover that your insurance policy is either unaffordable or does not cover unforeseen hazards.
9. Will your new age appliances fit? - Older homes were built when household items were smaller than they are today. Therefore the doorways were built much narrower and shorter than they are today. It is best to measure all the doorways and entrance ways before making an offer on a senior home.
Measure your commercial grade double ovens and American style fridge. New doorways can be built, but again this is another cost to add to your ever-growing list.
Buying a centenarian home is life -altering. This home will become your new baby (and babies are expensive!). All potential costs must be factored into the purchase of an older home.
If you decide to take the plunge and buy one of these aged beauties then take your time, make many to-do lists, and hire experienced professionals along the way. It can be an amazing fun-filled journey. Do you have what it takes to ride the relic roller coaster?
Should you require further information or a no obligation quote please talk to our property experts at Bedell Cristin.