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Find a house to restore (UK)
Voiced Tuesday March 22nd 2011
By Eva. B
Do you ever watch the numerous restoration programs or drive by a dilapidated house and think about you could restore this to the house of your dreams?
It’s very alluring to have a unique property with our own individual stamp on it. And what better than one you have lovingly restored yourself?
Finding the Property
This will normally take some research and knowing where to look. Derelict properties and abandoned land are a huge waste of resources and the Government is committed to regenerating urban sites, including vacant commercial property, to minimise greenfield development. According to Government stats, there are around 750,000 empty properties out there. Check with your local government for information on any properties in your area.
Also good renovation properties are normally available in most property auctions. Auctions are a great way to pick up properties in need of a bit of TLC and plots of land for sale. If you spot a potential property whilst out and about enter the address into Land Register Online and for £3 you’ll find out the name and contact details of the owner, if there is a mortgage on the property, and how much it was bought for if it has been sold since April 2000.
Some land, however, is unregistered – in other words the Land Registry does not know who the owner is. This does not mean that there is not an owner; it is simply unregistered. In this case you need to speak to the Empty Property Officer at the local authority. Your negotiating skills may be put to the test, as many of the council’s are reluctant to release information for fear of encouraging squatters and arsonists. If you don’t know the address of the property you can use the Aerial Land Locator system, also available on Land Register Online, or download a form and send it to your local Land Registry office.
Adventurous types may be interested in renovating a historic building and there are various listings for these. Damned Beautiful and Heaps of Delight are published by Save Britain’s Heritage (SAVE). English Heritage publishes Buildings at Risk.
Empty properties are also a good find. Put a letter through the door or search online for websites that advertise these buildings for sale or rent. The Empty Homes Agency runs a campaign to bring abandoned properties back into use and their website is packed with practical advice.
Research, Research and Then Research Some More
It really pays to check with the local council for planning permission and restrictions before you start all your lavish renovations. It’s all well and good having good design ideas, if you are not granted permission will you still want the property? Period, listed and conservation properties have very strict guidelines about what you can and cannot do. Make sure you look into all of these before deciding to buy.
Safety is also essential, which is why adhering to the appropriate Planning Permissions and Building Regulations is important. The structure of the building, electrics and plumbing, and its environmental efficiency clearly need to comply. If you discover a commercial property that oozes potential, you’ll need to make a formal ‘change of use’ application to your local planning department, although they aren’t guaranteed to grant it.
The Price, Do Your Sums.
Ok so a rundown barn may have a very attractive buying price, but make sure you work out all the costs involved first. Get prices from builders or architects on what is a rough guide to renovate the property. Include this with the buying cost and see if the end cost of the house is justifiable. Check the sale prices for similar houses in the area as a guide to whether you will be getting back the money you have invested into it. A lot of people fall into this trap and end up spending way more money than they will be able to recoup by selling.
Are you Really Prepared?
Think also about if you are going to be living in this house whilst it is being updated. Can you live on a building site? Will it cause friction with your loved ones? It is a BIG commitment; make sure you go in with your eyes open.
Whether you buy a derelict house that’s only good for pulling down, or have found a plot of land to build on, you’ll need to understand the world of self-building inside and out. Buildstore is a great source of information on everything from financing the build to perfecting the design and choosing the right materials.
Getting the finance to buy a dilapidated home can be difficult as lenders often view these properties as a risky investment. Some building societies now offer ‘brown’ or ‘eco’ mortgages which cater specifically for people wishing to refurbish empty and dilapidated homes.
As soon as you feel you’re getting close to finding the ideal spot, you’ll need to make sure you’re well prepared. Arrange a mortgage in principle, line up a solicitor to deal with the legal side, and surveyors and builders to assess the condition of the property. Also, put aside a buffer of funds to cover the inevitable unexpected costs.
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