What to Check When Buying an Old Home

Thinking of buying an old home? You might need to think of these potential problems first.

I love old homes: their exposed brickwork, the wooden beams in the ceiling, and the potential they have to become a stunning family home. They have something that modern homes just don’t have.

That’s why so many people choose them over the more contemporary options on the housing market. However, you need to be careful whenever you’re considering buying an old home because there could be problems lurking that will cost money to fix.

This post isn’t about putting you off, just making you aware. You should know what to look for when house hunting. So, here are the things that you should be looking for when buying an old home.

 

A Deteriorating Roof

The roof is the one thing that’s easy to ignore. It’s all the way up there, so you’re not about to get a ladder out and climb on it yourself. There are no obvious signs you can see, but you have to go out of your way to have the roof properly assessed. However, it’s important not to ignore this vital issue. Old homes tend to have roofs that are deteriorating and becoming weaker. If they have been neglected for a long time, work will probably be required.

 

Structural Issues

Structural problems can be very expensive to deal with in some circumstances. Of course, that all depends on what the precise structural problem is. You should always be aware of issues before you sign any documents or hand over any cash. A home’s value can be seriously limited if there are big underlying structural problems. The sooner you find out about them, the better it will be for you. A detailed survey will give you all the information you’re likely to need. Just make sure you pay for the most expensive survey as this will really show up any potential problems.

 

Hazardous Materials

There are a couple of hazardous materials that you should be on the lookout for when you’re scouting out old homes. First and foremost, you should find out if there is any asbestos present in the property. This will need to be removed by a professional team that can get it all done properly and safely. It’s a very dangerous substance so should be taken seriously. On top of that, you should find out if there is any lead in the property.

 

Signs of Woodworm

Woodworm is a problem that’s pretty easy to spot because you will see damage to any wood in the home. It looks like lots of little holes in the wood. This is a sure sign that there’s a problem that needs to be treated as soon as possible. Over time, it weakens the wood and can even lead to major collapses. There are plenty of companies out there that can offer woodworm treatment services. Make the most of them if you do find a problem.

Buying an old home can cause tonnes of problems. Window with crumbling plaster and rotten wood.

Problems With Outdated Plumbing

Old plumbing systems that have seen better days might cause you a lot of problems if you don’t deal with them in the right way. It’s definitely the kind of change that you might want to consider making as soon as you buy a property. A modern plumbing system won’t take away from the home’s period character in any way, but it will have a big impact on how you use and experience your home.

 

Damage Caused by Termites

Termite damage can be just as disastrous as woodworm damage, so you should be sure to look out for that too. Swollen floors and wood that seems to be buckling are two symptoms of a termite problem. Despite the cost, time and disruption associated with getting rid of a termite problem, that work needs to be done so don’t be tempted to put it off.

 

Mould and Mildew

Any walls in the home that have been exposed to too much moisture over the years will likely be affected by mould and mildew. These can cause gradually increasing damage to your home and its structure. You will probably notice the smell as soon as you walk into the property, so seek out the source of the problem with your nose and be sure to get it fixed up as soon as you can.

 

Old homes are great for anyone who enjoys renovation work. It allows you to put your own stamp on the property, and that’s got to be a good thing. However, don’t turn a blind eye to the problems you’re likely to face with a home that was built a long time ago because doing so will only cause you more problems later.

An Update on our Study Renovation

All the way back in December, I wrote this post about renovating our study. 

We were planning on having it finished at the end of January, but we have barely even started it. This is just a quick post to say we will renovate our study at some point, but who knows when that will be. Here are the problems we’ve come across with the renovation so far which has stopped it before it even began.

 

Problem #1

So obviously funding is an issue, and we have a wedding to pay for at the end of April . We borrowed some money out of our wedding fund to invest in a written off car. The car belonged to my cousin, and had minor damage to the bumper, front wing and front quarter panel. We got the car for free with plans to spend money on it to hopefully sell it and make a fair amount back.

We’ve borrowed money out of the wedding to buy all the parts we need (new number plates, new alloy wheels, new bumper, new headlights, new wing mirror, etc.) with the hope that we’ll sell the car before the wedding and make all our money back plus extra.

But to be able to use this money for the wedding, we need to sell the car in March/April, which means it needs to go on the market kind of soon. And it’s no where near ready. So Jay’s priority is fixing the car so we can sell it, over renovating the study.

 

Problem #2

We were going to order bits for the study renovation from Travis Perkins in December, but it said there would be two weeks delivery wait. We decided not to order the bits but get a man with a van. Unfortunately, this idea didn’t work out, so we ended up ordering our pieces two weeks later, and then having to wait two weeks for delivery again. So we’re four weeks behind.

We had quite a lot to order. We’ve redone the insulation last week, so the house is toasty. We had to buy plasterboard so we can get rid of the horrible artex on the ceiling. We also bought some other plastering bits because the walls aren’t great. We’ve got lining paper, wallpaper, and paint already, but can’t put it on yet!

 

Problem #3

Although we have everything we need to complete the study renovation, finding the time is difficult. Jay’s working a ‘shut down’ at work, which means three weeks of 12 hour days. When on earth is he going to find the time to plasterboard and skim a ceiling, put lining paper and wallpaper up, and work on the car which we need to sell ASAP?

 

This is the image I’m focusing on until we can start properly concentrating on it:

 

Home office renovation ideas. Photo collage of wallpaper, pink paint, oak desk and wooden floor

 

Our beautiful wallpaper is from Graham and Brown, and our paint is from the Valspar range.

 

Keep updated for when we do actually begin work properly!

An Interiors To-Do List for 2018

There’s something about a new year that makes us want to change everything about our lives (don’t ask me why).

You’ve already written a long list of jobs for the OH to get done this year, and you’ve decided which rooms you want to change and freshen up. It can be an exciting prospect but also a bit daunting. Your interiors to-do list is never ending, and before you know it you’re looking for somewhere else to live on Zoopla. DON’T PANIC.

What you need to do is prioritise your jobs. Instead of looking at all the jobs as a whole, break them down either by priority or by how long they’ll take. I’ve listed a few things that me and Jay have already done on the house, and what still remains to be done (boy, is that a long list)

 

A Light Touch Up

As backwards as it sounds, it might be best to get all the little jobs out of the way. These are the jobs on my interiors to-do list that I dread, and the jobs that seem to take the longest because they’re so faffy. Fill in all the holes in the walls, change the handles on the kitchen cupboards, touch up some painting. These jobs will make a big difference.

 

Warmth

I believe warmth and insulation is a priority. It’s an annoying one because you spend £100 on loft insulation, as we have just done, and kind of feel like you have nothing to show for it. It’s not like a new chair which everyone will be able to see. BUT you will feel the benefits of this one every day. 

Take the time and spend the money on keeping your home warm in winter. Because with better heating, like underfloor heating, your house will feel so much more like the cosy home you want it to be.

 

An Extension

Okay, this is quite a big job. But if you’ve been umming and ahhing over extending, it could be time for you to bite the bullet this year. You might already have the money in savings and are too scared to hand it over. Or you might have to start saving for it. If it’s something that you’ve been thinking about for a while, then work on your extension before doing any other jobs on your house.

 

Security

One thing that often gets underestimated is security. When you live in a nice area, you always think you’re going to be okay. But that’s not always a given. So you may feel better, and more secure, by looking into CCTV installation for inside and outside. Again, it’s not the nicest thing to spend money on, but it might save you money on insurance claims in the future. With security in place, you’re going to be protecting everything that you’ve built, and it will give you more peace of mind.

 

Landscaping

The last thing on my interiors to-do list is landscaping and the garden. It’s so easy to forget about the outside of our homes, but it’s what everyone else sees. Me and Jay are desperate to get our driveway done. It’ll be completely flattened, paved, and will look so much nicer. It’s also currently a nightmare to park our cars, so we’ll extend the opening to the driveway so it’s not so much of a tight fit.  

 

 

Home Improvements I’m Dying to Make

Those of you that regularly read my blog will know we renovated our entire house exactly one year ago. Home improvements aren’t easy, but this house absolutely needed it.

Luckily, we came out the other side and absolutely adore our house (you can check out my home decor Instagram for plenty of updates on how the house looks now).

There are some home improvements that I am dying to make, but it might not be cost-effective to do so. We want to make a profit on our house, but the absolute maximum we’ll be able to sell it for is around £180k because of the location. Therefore, if we spend thousands on home improvements such as a log burner, a new garage, loft conversion, etc. we won’t make a decent profit.

Just to make myself feel…better?…I’ve listed some home improvements that I would love to make, though maybe on our next house, whenever that may be.

Log burner

As mentioned above, I would LOVE  a log burner. I mean look at these:

 

Home improvements include a log burner. White living room with black log burner and white fireplace surround

Photo from http://www.sarahgordonhome.co.uk

 

 

Log burner with exposed brick behind and black fire surround.

Photo credit: https://thevintagegoodlife.blogspot.co.uk/

 

 

Black log burner with exposed brick behind it against black walls.

Photo credit: http://blog.making-spaces.net/

 

…and is there anything better than the smell of burning wood?

 

Bifold Doors

I suggested to Jay that we get bifold doors here in our dining room:

 

Low hanging pendant lights over dining table

 

They would look incredible and we could open up the whole space in summer and sit outside (although maybe we couldn’t now, because we have an indoor cat who isn’t allowed out, ever). If I was to get some, it would be from a reputable company like direct bifold doors. It would just make the space feel bigger and airier, and would be an amazing selling point when we did come to move.

 

Downstairs bathroom

Unfortunately in our house, there is just no room for a downstairs toilet. Lots of people put theirs under the stairs, however our stairs are placed stupidly. They go up through the lounge and over the kitchen, meaning we’d have to knock into the kitchen to be able to fit one in.

 

Interiors blogger truths. Kitchen with wooden floor and black granite surfaces.

See where the stairs come into the kitchen in the top right corner.

 

There is no space anywhere else to fit a downstairs bathroom, and it would cut into our living space. So is it worth it? Probably not, but I still want one.

 

What home improvements would you add to your home if money wasn’t an issue?

 

Home Improvements: DIY Or Call In The Pros?

Now that we’ve entered into a new year, one of the things that’s going to be pretty high on a lot of people’s list of priorities is home improvements.

Whether they want to sell their home or simply use the space they have more effectively, the new year often gets people thinking about the things they could do in order to get a little bit more out of their home.

And when people start to think about this, there’s one question that comes to mind above pretty much all others: do you deal with it yourself or do you bring in a professional? Here are a few things that you can consider in order to make that decision just a little bit easier.

 

Money

Money is almost always the biggest factor that people consider when deciding if they can handle a home improvement project themselves. Let’s face it, most large-scale home improvement projects are going to end up being pretty pricey when you consider the labour costs involved.

However, doing it yourself may not work out that much cheaper since you’re going to end up having to pay for all of the materials yourself, as well as pay for any tools that you might need but don’t have. At least with builders, you’re going to know what you’re paying right at the start rather than having your budget spiral way out of control.

 

Time

The other important issue is one of exactly how long a project is going to take. After all, the last thing anyone wants is to spend their days on a building site for months on end.

If you try to deal with the project yourself, then it could end up taking a long time whereas professionals are more likely to get things done more quickly.

Then again, if time isn’t really an issue for you, then you might decide that the DIY approach is better.

 

Expertise

The reality is that professional builders are almost always going to have greater expertise than any amateur and when it comes to your home you might decide that you don’t want to take the risk of making mistakes.

If you do decide to go the DIY route then there are plenty of resources out there that you can use. There’s information online about practically everything, and no matter what your project calls for, you’ll be able to find some way to learn about it. Just remember that knowing how to do something and actually being able to put it into practice aren’t always the same things.

 

You can’t often get all of these three things together. Someone who has good expertise might be quick, and will do a good job but won’t come cheap. You can set a low budget, but the job might take much longer, especially if you’re doing a lot yourself. Think about what your biggest priority is. If you want the job done quickly, you may end up paying more.

There are going to be those who know exactly what they’re doing and can handle any project, no matter how big it is, and there are others who have so little DIY expertise that they will want to call in a professional no matter what.

Most of us exist somewhere in the middle and having these things to think about can make the decision of whether or not to bring in a professional or to handle it yourself that much simpler.