Your essential guide to buying to renovate

Plan the things you can and expect the unexpected

Planning a renovation project is an exciting prospect. Do it well and you could be able to buy a property at a good price, make substantial improvements and then either sell it for a profit or move into your dream home. But beware. A renovation is a major undertaking and anything can happen along the way. To help you start thinking about the possibility of renovating, read our helpful guide to planning, budgeting and managing your renovation.

Set a realistic goal

It pays to be realistic about the size of renovation project you're prepared to take on. Before you start house hunting, decide whether you have the time and budget for a full renovation or whether it's better to add value to a dated property.

Research, research, research

When you know what you're looking to achieve, it's time to find the right property. And it pays to take your time and do your research:

  • think about whether you want to buy through an estate agent or bid for a property at auction
  • find out as much as you can about a potential property (What condition is it in? How long has been on the market? How much work needs doing and profit can be made?)
  • Ask local estate agents for an idea of how much the property would be worth once you've renovated it

Ask the experts

The more you know about the work that needs doing, the more chance you have of your project coming in on time and budget. You should consider:

  • getting estimates from the trades - electricians, plumbers, roofers and damp specialists often only charge a small amount for a report
  • paying for a full, independent structural survey - this is essential for any renovation project
  • consulting an architect if your project is extensive - they could save you money by advising on better use of space and materials

Get the right person for the right job

Decide exactly what you want doing before you ask for any quotes. It's important to write a clear specification with full details of the work you need carried out. Make sure you get a qualified tradesman for each specific job and think about the order and timings of each task.

Set a realistic budget

You should always be prepared for your renovation project to go above your original estimate. So whatever your budget, it's wise to build in a contingency fund of at least 15%.

Manage the project

Do you want to manage your own project or employ an independent project manager?

If you employ an independent project manager…
They will liaise with the builder to ensure that deliveries are on time, arrange warranties, organise building regulations inspections and run the site.

If you manage the project yourself…

  • Get all quotes in advance so you can calculate your expenditure
  • Never expect the scheduled timescales - things probably won't go as planned
  • Seek as much advice as possible from anyone with relevant experience
  • Be prepared to rent, move into a caravan or live in a building site during renovations

Energy-saving improvements

The Green Deal is a Government scheme that could help you make energy-saving improvements to your home and find the best way to pay for them.

Examples include:

  • Insulation, such as solid wall, cavity wall or loft insulation
  • heating
  • draught-proofing
  • double glazing
  • renewable energy generation, such as solar panels or heat pumps

Find out more about the Green Deal

Useful contacts

Royal Institute of British Architects:
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors:
Federation of Master Builders:

The content of this article is believed to be correct at the time of publication and is provided for general information purposes. When buying or selling a property you should obtain appropriate professional advice and this article is not intended as any substitute for or supplement to that advice and must not be relied upon as such