Home Renovations: A First-time Buyer’s Guide

Home Renovations: A First-time Buyer’s Guide

Expert Advice

For people who enjoy a challenge and want the satisfaction of putting their own stamp on a property, renovating a property is a fantastic opportunity. But as with any home improvement project, it’s a task that requires plenty of planning in order for your venture to pay off.


For first-time buyers, there’s even more to think about. While it can save you considerable money in getting on the property ladder, the prospect of taking on such a big project can be daunting, particularly if you’re trying to stick to a budget. So, it pays to do your research beforehand.


Assess the property’s potential



One of the challenges associated with a home renovation is the risk that the property will wind up being a money pit, costing far beyond what you’d budgeted for it.


First-time buyers often have a limited budget to work with, which can make this a valid concern. Before you make a purchase, it’s worth the investment in a survey to provide feedback on which repairs need carrying out, so you can plan for the costs.


But it’s also important that you assess the property carefully yourself too. Look for properties in locations close to amenities, schools and outdoor spaces, and it’s also worthwhile looking up the ceiling value of properties in that area. This will enable you to gauge what your return on investment might be once your renovation is complete.


When you’re viewing properties, look out for big ticket items that will cost a lot to repair or change, such as a roof repair or window replacements, as these will use a significant portion of your budget.


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Budget thoroughly



Budgeting for your renovation is key. It’s not just your mortgage costs you need to consider when you take on a renovation, something that mortgage brokers Town & Country Mortgage Services agree with: “one of the most common, and sensible, questions we get asked is ‘how much will my mortgage cost?’. It’s a good question, because your mortgage is probably going to be your biggest outgoing each month and it’s important to know that what you want to do is affordable, both now and in the future”.


With your mortgage taking up such a large chunk of your wages each month, you need to be sure that you can afford to pay for the likes of redoing the floors, knocking down walls and refitting kitchen and bathroom suites.


Budgeting and anticipating costs, as well as factoring in extra as a contingency for unexpected costs, will keep your renovation in check as you work through tasks.


Apply for permissions



You may own the property, but you may still need to apply for planning consent, depending on the project you’re tackling. Is the property you’re renovating a listed building; is it in a conservation area; are you changing the materials used? These types of questions are vital to ask before you begin any work.


Regardless of whether you need consent for your plans, you will still need to comply with building regulations and you might also need a party wall agreement with your neighbours too. Some projects, such as converting a garage or a loft conversion, may be classified as a permitted development, but check with your local authority first.


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Schedule your renovation



A home renovation is a daunting project to take on, whether you’re experienced or not, so defining what you want to change and the order of events can help the process go more smoothly.


Be very clear about the steps required to renovate your home before you begin, prioritising any works that will ensure the property is water-tight and secure, such as roofing or damp prevention. Some renovations might impact others, such as wiring needing to be carried out beforehand, so factor these into your schedule too.


Seek out reliable contractors



A property renovation is a far bigger project than just improving the decor or adding new carpets to a room. It requires reliable, skilled tradespeople to ensure that the work is completed to a high standard for long-term safety. Make sure you seek out contractors with plenty of experience and positive reviews for peace of mind, and check that they are registered with trade bodies.


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Final thoughts



Property prices are on the rise and as a result, first-time buyers are adjusting their expectations and considering alternative routes to getting a foot on the property ladder. With a home renovation project, you could save yourself money by seeing past the initial work to what a property could become with a bit of care and attention.