House hunting can be a very stressful process. Not only do you have to work out whether or not the asking price represents good value, but unless the house is in walk-in condition you’re going to have to figure out how much additional money you’ll need to turn it into somewhere you’d be happy living.
Do as much research as you can before you make any offer and make sure the alterations you intend to do are possible. If you’re in any doubt or the numbers don’t add up to your liking, be prepared to walk away. Here are seven steps to follow to help you make the right decision.
Figure out the cost of any work you plan to do
Be very wary of spending too much. If houses on the road have a value of €650,000, for example, doing work that pushes the total purchase price up to €850,000 isn’t a good idea.
Try to get an expert opinion on what the work might cost. It’s a good idea to visit the house with someone familiar with current building rates. A builder or an architect, for example, will be able to guide you on how much you should budget. Be wary about guidance from family members or friends as they may be too emotionally invested in giving you honest or impartial advice.
Talk to the neighbours
Are there any houses on the street that have had work done? Ask if you could chat to the homeowners about their experience. While it may be too much of an imposition to expect them to let you take a look around, most people when approached correctly, will be delighted to chat with you about their house hunting and renovation experience. This is a great way to find out about any issues they encountered when doing the work and is particularly relevant with older properties that often have hidden pitfalls which are impossible to detect until the works have started.
Consider getting a building survey done
If you’re comfortable spending some money before you’ve made an offer you might want to go ahead and get a building survey done. A building survey is something you will need for the bank if you are borrowing to purchase the house. This survey will reveal any areas that need to be addressed such as damp and structural issues. A building survey is a great starting point for helping you determine how much work needs to be done.
Get professional advice while house hunting
Another good house hunting important tip is to seek professional advice from an architect or a builder to determine if the work you are hoping to do is possible. Run a planning search for the street. 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 the precedents for work similar to what you plan to do. You’ll also be able to see any conditions on similar developments. If some of the houses on the street have had dormer windows refused, for example, it’s likely this is not something you will be able to do.
Can the house be adapted to suit your needs?
Another area to watch out for is whether or not you will be able to alter the house to suit your requirements. For example, if you plan to convert the attic to gain an additional bedroom you’ll need to be sure there is sufficient headroom to make it work. If not, then the house might not be the right one for you.
Find out if the house is a Protected Structure
When house hunting, it’s important to find out whether or not the property you are viewing is protected as this will mean making changes will require a conservation report and planning permission. If you’re not sure, you can check this online by searching your local council’s Record of Protected Structures.
Are you prepared to wait
If it’s merely the budget stopping you from getting work done straight away could you live in the house as it is until you can afford to do the job? There’s a lot to be said for waiting and living in a home before making any substantial changes. Life moves very quickly as needs change just as rapidly. If you can get the house to a point where you could live there comfortably for a few years, it may be a wise decision. If not, it may be best to keep looking.
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