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House Hunting Made Easy: Expert Tips to Find Your Dream Home

By September 5, 2023Home
Fallen out of love with your home

House hunting can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel pressured and distracted by the many steps involved. However, it’s important not to lose sight of the critical factors you should pay attention to. Otherwise, you could miss some crucial details that could significantly impact your decision. With that in mind, here’s some advice for selecting the right home for you and your family. By following these tips, you can feel confident that you’re making the right choice and avoid any regrets or problems down the road.

house extension prices

Do the Math

When deciding on how much to offer for a house you must have a clear picture of what you will need to spend to make any necessary changes once you’ve bought it.  Be wary of spending too much. If houses on the road have a value of €750,000, for example, doing work that pushes the total purchase price up to €950,000 isn’t a good idea.

I visited a home recently where the asking was €650,000, which seemed really good value for the area, but the amount of money required to bring the house up to standard and create better living space was in excess of €450,000, bringing the total spend to well in excess of what homes in the area are worth.

Try to get an expert opinion on what the works might cost. It’s a good idea to visit the house with an impartial builder or architect. Family members or friends may be too emotionally invested to give you honest advice. Take the advice on board and do your sums. Be prepared to walk away.

Seeing the potential in some properties on the market can be a challenge. Years of neglect and dated décor can be a real obstacle to many people but don’t be seduced by an immaculate walk-in condition either.

Parking Space

In your house hunting, don’t underestimate the importance of off-street parking. Even if this isn’t a priority for you right now, it’s important that you plan for the future. You might not have children now but struggling to find a parking spot off the street with a boot full of groceries and a toddler won’t be much fun in a few years time. We had clients who sold their newly refurbished home when a house on the same road with off-street parking came on the market.

Ground floor extensions or garage conversions are also popular ways to create more living space. They are excellent options for families with young children who need more space or for those caring for ageing parents who may need a ground-floor bedroom. When planning an extension, it's important to consider the local planning regulations and the cost and practicalities of the project.

Square Footage

When house hunting, try not to become obsessed with square footage. When it comes to a home bigger is not necessarily better. Instead ask yourself whether or not the house can be adapted to suit you? Look at the proportions of the house and the garden. Building an extension might mean you lose valuable garden space or you might find that the original front room becomes redundant.

Location Location Location

Think about the site – things like orientation, neighbouring properties and trees will all have an impact your home. You can do anything with a house over time but you can’t control the site or what surrounds it. My advice would always be try to find a house situated on a good site.

Run a planning search for the neighbouring areas and lands surrounding the house. This is an easy thing to do – all of the councils have a planning search facility that works by typing in an address. It will let you see what development is planned for the area and what the precedents for work similar to what you might plan to do yourself are. You’ll also be able to see any conditions on similar developments.

Attic conversions: One of the most commonly botched home renovation projects

Can you add value?

Look for any opportunities to add value in the future. Can the attic be converted for example, In smaller homes with small gardens this may be the only way to gain additional space. The addition of a bedroom and bathroom can increase the value of your home by as much as 15pc, but you need to make sure you have the headroom to convert the attic space. Unless you plan to add a dormer window or Velux style roof lights to the front of the house, an attic conversion is exempt from planning.

Small scale domestic extensions, including conservatories, do not require planning permission to the rear of the house if it does not increase the original floor area by more than 40 square metres and the house has not been extended before. Otherwise, the combined floor area of the proposed extension and the floor area of any previous extension, including those for which you got planning permission, cannot exceed 40 square metres.

For terraced or semi-detached houses, the floor area of any first floor extension should not exceed 12 square metres. Again this figure should include any previous extensions carried out.

And the old adage holds true that given the choice, always go for the worst house on the best road rather than the best house on the worst road.

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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