Buying a house 101: what to consider when you buy a doer upper home

When we were looking at a home to buy, we came to the conclusion that we could either buy a really nice flat which didn't need much doing to it or buy a house which needed a LOT of work. We came to the conclusion that we would eventually have to move from a flat within a few years, it was never going to be a 'forever' home. Whereas we could buy a two bedroom house and really be able to stay there and build a home. We could take our time really doing it up to our tastes without having to worry about spending all the money and then having to room because we would outgrow it.  Taking on a doer upper is a huge task and at times it can feel too much. It's not for the lighthearted at all! But if you want to go down the same path as us then there are a few things I think you should consider...

1. Work out what your budget is to do the renovations and double it. We were pretty lucky that my dad is very handy so we have saved a hell of a lot on labour costs. But not everyone has this resource! Labour is probably the most expensive part of saving for a house and it's very easy to forget about it. Costs tend to spiral out of control and you have to be prepared for it!

2.  Dealing with structural issues is so much more expensive than dealing with cosmetic issues. make sure you have a full survey if you're buying a doer upper. That way you don't have any nasty surprises waiting for you when you start the work.

3. Consider which rooms are the most important to you and which rooms you can live without doing. For us we wanted to make sure the downstairs looked ok so we decided to concentrate on the kitchen and the living room. You'll have to accept that it won't all get done at once and it will be a work in progress. You have to order each room in importance.

4. Be prepared to live in a building site for a while. The reality is you simply won't have the money to overhaul the house completely - unless you're very lucky! We ran out of money within a few months and now have to live in a half done house for at least a year in order for is to save up to do another project.

5. We used a few tradesmen for jobs that my dad couldn't do such as plastering and electrics. Always make sure you get a tradesman that someone has used before and has been recommended. Don't just pick one out of the yellow pages. Ask around friends and family to find people you can trust.

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