Purchasing an older property in the UK is not for the faint-hearted or for those who shy away from a little hard work. Depending on how old the property is and the state that it is in when you purchase it, you could find that it holds all sorts of surprises in store for you, some of which are likely to be immensely expensive and not necessarily easy to spot at first glance.
Aside from any structural damage, dry rot, dampness, or infestation, you will have other factors to deal with, as old houses were built with a completely different quality of life in mind. This is especially true of workers’ cottages, typically with just two rooms on both floors, which were mainly used to sleep and eat in, so they tend to be somewhat bijou and compact.
#1 Redecoration and modernising of the whole home
You might quickly find that it will not just be the kitchen and bathroom that will require your attention – it could be the whole house. When it comes to modernisation, you may find that the property requires a total rewire and the addition of radiators or heaters alongside a boiler to provide warmth and hot water.
You will also have to think about redecorating each and every room. No doubt, when you finish the last room, you will be a lot wiser and a dab hand at any DIY décor that you happen to stumble across, but in the first instance, you may even need a bit of help working out how to remove old wallpaper quickly, easily and effectively.
#2 Smaller rooms
Even if you are looking at houses that aren’t as small as the old worker’s homes, you will find that room sizes are still small, although there may be a couple more of them downstairs. This can mean that you will be thinking about knocking down walls to enlarge them so that they fit in with modern life and the large items of furniture, such as sumptuous sofas that seem to be currently in fashion.
This can add to your expenses, especially if the wall you want to remove is a supporting wall and will require a beam to support the upper levels. You should certainly get the opinion of a qualified builder before taking a sledgehammer to any wall, just in case.
#3 Awkward layouts
You may find that the layout of the house doesn’t actually allow you to knock down internal walls in order to enlarge the current rooms, so your other option is to extend out the back, sides, or even front of the property. For this, you will have to make sure that you have the correct planning permission or building regulations in place, although it may be allowed under permitted development. You will also need an architect to supply drawings, which will also cost money and eat into your budget.
With awkward layouts comes the difficulty in moving bulky furniture in and around the house, and you may find that you need to remove windows or doors to get your larger items in. However, thin hallways with doglegs and other tight bends are obstacles that you will need to consider when purchasing your furnishings. There is little more embarrassing than having to decline a delivery that is stuck in the middle of your property while continuously apologising to a hot, bothered, and highly frustrated delivery person who has spent the last hour or so struggling to get the item that far.
#4 Kitchen and bathroom refits
You will also have to face the expense of refitting a kitchen and however many bathrooms you happen to have. Although these can be fun to design and shop for, it can be another matter when you have to go a week or more without one or the other while they are being fitted when you are living on the property.
Thanks to takeaways and microwave meals, kitchen basics can be generally moved to other areas of the home and utilised, although lack of preparation space, or the convenience of having running water downstairs can, after a while, get more than a little frustrating.
The lack of a bathroom is a different matter. Most old houses in the UK only have one bathroom (if they are still in their original state). This is because, originally, the toilet would have been an outhouse affair, either in the garden or attached to the exterior of the house. Most of these have now been moved inside the properties either by sacrificing a bedroom or being housed in a downstairs extension to the rear of the property.
If your property already has carpet laid, you will probably want to rip it up, especially if it looks like it has been down for a while. For this, you should not underestimate the convenience of a skip hire, as you will also be able to fill it with other rubbish that you come across within the property. However, you should ensure that the company that you chose to hire the skip from is happy to accept the types of waste you are going to fill it with; otherwise, you could find yourself either facing a larger bill or having to remove the items yourself before collection takes place.