ROBIN GOULD

Robin Gould
Should you buy a period doer-upper?
12 February 2018

Years ago the forgotten wreck that needed the special touch to bring it back to life was so highly sought after that such a sleeping beauty could often sell for nearly as much as a house that had been 'kissed' by someone else's taste. This can still be the case but there is a greater air of circumspection about renovating old buildings, especially if that property is listed.

The wreck still sells but only if the price properly reflects the work needed. This is quite right, with buyers advised to always get the facts before making a purchase. If you are going to overpay for your dream home, at least know by how much.

Practical advice is also important - is the project feasible in construction terms? How long will it take? And, crucially, is planning for alterations likely to be granted? This is not always a given, especially if listed building consent is also required. Applying for planning before deciding to buy is usually not practical so this will be down to sourcing the right advice.

The planning process for a listed building, especially one in the Grade I or II* category, is a lengthy and expensive process with historic considerations often compromising the intended project. For example, removing internal walls to create the dream kitchen often falls at this fence. It is safer to assume that buyers will have to adapt themselves to an historic building, rather than the other way around.

It is this uncertainty coupled with the prospect of writing endless cheques that puts many people off a listed building, which is a great shame. Getting good advice is always key to any purchase but especially so with an old building. Find someone who really knows about them and with recent practical hands-on experience - especially important when it comes to actually quoting prices.

Just because a house is listed does not always mean it must be preserved in aspic and never altered but any proposal must be carefully researched and reasoned. Be prepared to be innovative in the approach and flexible in what you want to get out of it.

 

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