How to Protect Yourself When Buying a Fixer-upper.

Published on 15th July 2014

So, you’ve saved a deposit. You’ve consulted a mortgage advisor. You’ve secured your finances. And, you think, you’ve found your dream home. Sure it’s seen better days; it’s ragged around the edges and the lay out isn’t perfect, but it’s got great bones and there’s nothing wrong that a few bottles of disinfectant, a lick of paint, new carpets and – when you’re feeling brave – may be an internal reconfiguration won’t fix… Is there?

A ‘fixer-upper’ can seem like a marvellous opportunity to either take that first step on the property ladder, or to stretch your budget further than you thought it might reach. But, while that can be the case, it’s important to be aware of the pitfalls that could be awaiting you if you wish to avoid expensive problems further down the line.

What to do when buying an older home:

  1. Survey the scene – Even as a lay person, it’s possible to get a good idea of the state of a building if you survey with objectivity. Forget how the place feels, instead look out for warning signs: mould, cracked walls, damp or discoloured ceilings, damaged roof tiles, plumbing problems, obvious electrical anomalies, uneven floors, strange smells, and signs of woodworm.
  2. Survey the scene #2 – While a professional surveyor may seem like an unnecessary expense, if you’re serious about the property you may regret the saving when encountering subsidence, heavy use of asbestos, lead paint throughout, or structural infirmities once you’ve exchanged the deeds and embarked on your renovation.
  3. Check the leasehold – The length of a property’s lease diminishes over time, which can seriously impact upon a home’s value, meaning that your amazing bargain could turn out to be a money pit. For more information on leaseholds, visit
  4. Look into the property’s energy efficiency – Adding insulation, replacing glazing and installing boilers can all take a significant financial toll, so make sure that you know what to expect upon moving in and figure the costs into your budget before making an offer.
  5.  Research local planning regulations – If you are buying with the intention of renovating a property or adding an extension (with Apropos!) it’s wise to ensure that your plans won’t be thwarted by the local council. Listed properties, period properties, flats and those situated in Conservation Areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads can be particularly problematic.

Older homes often come with many benefits; a great location; larger rooms; more storage space; a sturdier build; indefinable character, but while the heart will always play a part in a personal property purchase, give your head a chance to consider all angles before you commit, in case your pockets need to be deeper than you were expecting.

If you would like to discuss your home renovation plans with us this summer please call our customer service team on 0800 328 0033; we’d be glad to help.

Alternatively, you can click hereto order your free copy of our 2014 Brochure

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