What You Need to Know When Renovating An Old House

What You Need to Know When Renovating An Old House: Your Questions Answered

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If you are having trouble finding the appropriate house,  an older home that is showing signs of wear and tear can provide the ideal opportunity for you to create your own unique mark on it.

If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind family home or a healthy return on your investment, taking on a fixer-upper is not an easy task; however, the experience of bringing new life into a rundown residence can be an especially rewarding experience that offers plenty in return. This is true whether you are yearning for a unique family home or for a healthy return on your investment. 

Underneath the dingy fabric, you might even find some long-lost treasures, such as well-preserved examples of period architecture or a veritable treasury of original details that are just waiting to be brought back to life.

Is it worth it to renovate an old house?

In most cases, yes. Of course, some will be money pits so it is important to do your research and check that the general structure of the house is intact and that you have permission to renovate the property first - some older properties may be listed and there will be restrictions on what you can and cannot do to it.

Generally speaking though, renovating an old house is worth it because of the value it will add to the property if you come to sell it. It is not always just about the money though - perhaps you are looking for something with a bit of history, to really make your own and live in for years to come.

How much does it cost to upgrade a whole house?

According to Checkatrade, you can expect to pay between £76,900 - £138,800 for renovating a 3-bedroom house. Of course, there is a huge range of factors that will affect this. For starters, will you be doing the work yourself or will you be hiring professionals to do the work for you?

Other things to consider include:

  • How big is the property? 
  • How old is the property?
  • The condition of  the property - the more rundown it is to begin with, the bigger the expense.
  • Will you need to carry out structural work or is it cosmetic?
  • Will you be looking to extend the property?
  • What quality materials and finishes will you use?
  • How will you decorate the property?
  • Will you be looking to integrate things like smart heating systems? While these may add initially to costs, in the long run, you will find that they will save you money.
  • Where will you live while the work is being carried out? If you have to rent somewhere while the renovation is taking place, this will drive costs up significantly.

House renovation costs

Let’s break down some of the costs involved.

  • New heating system

One thing you will almost certainly need to upgrade is the heating system. The one on the property may be old and inefficient if it exists at all. Fortunately, when it comes to heating systems, there are many options available these days.

There are traditional central heating systems run by gas, electricity, or oil. These are generally cheaper to install, to begin with, so if you are on a tight budget, this could be the right option for you.

However, if you are thinking about saving money in the long term, especially given the current cost of living crisis, having an infrared heating system is definitely worth investigating. Yes, they are more expensive to start with but will cost less to run. They are far more efficient than traditional heating systems and are much kinder to the environment, which is an important factor. 96–98% of the energy that it uses is turned into heat!

  • Rewiring a house

A house may often be rewired for somewhere in the region of £5,750. The final cost will be determined by the degree of difficulty of the electrical system as well as the square footage of the property.

If a home or building has not had its electrical system upgraded within the past 25–30 years, there is a good likelihood that it will need to have at least some of its components modernised in order to meet the requirements of the current standards. It is possible that the wiring poses a risk to people's safety and is not up to the task of meeting the requirements of modern life.

If you want to perform significant remodeling work that falls under the definition of a material change in the Building Regulations, then it is highly possible that you will be required to rewire a portion of the home, if not the entirety of it. This may include upgrading the consumer unit (fuse box).

  • Replastering walls

Checkatrade estimates that a 3-bedroom property can cost from £1,500 for basic wall replastering up to £28,000 for taking off old plaster and replastering walls and ceilings - so this is a significant expense. 

Wall plastering is a specialised job that demands an application that is carried out with extreme care. You may give your walls a finish that is hardy, smooth, and long-lasting by adding plaster to them. A room that has been effectively plastered will not only assist in retaining older walls in good condition, but will also provide the ideal base for painting and contribute to the soundproofing of the space.

Small plastering operations, sometimes known as "patching up," can be done on a do-it-yourself basis, but it is typically preferable to leave entire walls and rooms to the professionals. However, this does not rule out the possibility of you being able to cut costs by prepping the space and cleaning up any old brickwork on your own.

Instead of adding big, chunky radiators to your freshly plastered walls, you could look at infrared heating panels instead. These are much more sleek and discreet, as well as more efficient. 

  • New windows

Old houses might have some beautiful window features, but they are rarely effective in keeping the heat in. Of course, if you can repair and make good on the original windows, you can save some cash, but often you will need to replace them. This needs to be done by professionals and is going to be a big expense.

You may need to check with the local authority in case there are restrictions as to the type of windows and style; as mentioned above, older properties may be listed. 

  • A new bathroom 

A new bathroom is required for the majority of renovations. The installation of a brand-new bathroom comes in at a cost of approximately £5,000 on average. Obviously, the fancier the features you want, the more it will cost. You will also want to consider the most effective way of heating the bathroom - no one wants to get out of the shower into the cold! Many older houses have high ceilings, which, while they look lovely, can make it more expensive to heat. A glass infrared mirror panel not only looks superb but is an efficient way of heating the bathroom.

  • A new kitchen

Kitchens need to be functional and efficient - they are where you do your cooking, washing up, and possibly your laundry - and for many people, they are the very heart of the house. 

Unfortunately, old kitchens rarely have the modern conveniences that we need these days, so a whole new kitchen is often top of the list when renovating an old home. Expect to pay between £10,000 and £25,000 for a new kitchen.


What You Need to Know When Renovating An Old House: Your Questions Answered

Do I need a building permit for my renovation?

To move forward with a construction project, you could require both planning authorisation and building rules approval. Even though your local council usually takes care of both, they are not the same thing and should not be thought of as such.

Building control departments are in charge of making sure that construction projects follow the rules for safety and materials. You should be able to find the building control department of your local government on the website of your local council. This website should also provide additional information about fees and who to contact. You also have the option of employing a private company that has been granted approval by the relevant authorities and may sign off on your work in the same manner as the local government.

The nature of development, whether or not it is suitable for the location in question, and whether or not it integrates well with the surrounding neighbourhood are all important considerations for planning agencies. 

Do I need insurance for my renovation? 

The majority of homeowner's insurance coverage only covers redecorating and do-it-yourself projects. Before you begin any home improvements, you should get in touch with your homeowner's insurance company to be sure you are insured during the process.

Your coverage may be subject to a variety of restrictions, but this will be determined by the work that is being done. Even if your insurance assures you that no adjustments are necessary and is content for you to move on with the process, it is still a good idea to check and be sure. This is of much greater significance if the building in question is a listed one, as repair and renovation work on listed buildings frequently calls for the use of specialised materials or methods, which can either be prohibitively expensive or difficult to locate.

Should you renovate the whole house at once or little by little?

Obviously, this depends on your budget and whether you are living in the property at the same time as renovating it. However, if you have the option, it is best to do it all at once. 

It allows you to plan more broadly, save money, and make it easier to work with contractors. 

When renovating a house, in what order should I do things?

First things first, you need a plan. Never start a renovation project without a plan. Once you have this in place, the following order is recommended:

  • Fix the structural issues
  • Strip everything back
  • Fix damp issues
  • Reconfigure the space - knocking down walls, building new ones, extensions, etc
  • Check access to the garden
  • Electrics and plumbing
  • Replastering
  • Redecorating

How long should a full house renovation take?

There is no definitive answer for this, as it depends on the complexity and scale of the remodel. You also need to factor in contractors' schedules and potential delays caused by supply issues or weather. As a very rough guide, six months to a year is what you should be looking at.

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