People always want to imprint their personality on a building that they have just bought. The most common expression of their personality is to change the front door, whether it be its style or its colour. We have all seen unappropreate doors, modern doors in old buildings and vice versa, or a colour that was not in use when the building was built, but these are all expressions of personality and express the taste of the owner. To go further than changing the front door can have other effects on the building when it comes to selling it or increasing its value.
So what should one consider when upgrading a building?
The process usually starts when a property is being sought to live in. The first thing to be considered is the price of the property and other similar well maintained properties in the area. If it is what you want, and you cannot live without it, then that is the dwelling for you, but beware, you may want to sell it and move somewhere else, nothing is forever. You must look for value, especially if you are looking at a property that is in a poor state of repair, but has potential. Properties that need a lot of work doing to them are always cheaper than those able to be lived in, and if you are prepared to do the work then this is the property for you, but, and there is always a but, the property must still be of a similar value to similar well maintained properties in the area when you have finished. I keep saying this as it must be your rule when undertaking upgrades. You are also looking for a return or profit of between 20% and 25% unless, as I have said before, you cannot live without the property. If you find that, after you have costed out the job, it comes to more than similar properties in the area, then maybe you should not buy the property and look for something else.
First you must get a full structural survey, and make it plain to the surveyor what you want, for they have different surveys that they will carry out, and get a firm price before the survey, then get firm quotations from at least two reputable builders; if you have difficulty getting a quotation maybe you should look elsewhere. All too often people have found themselves borrowing more money than they expected or budgeted for.
The hassle of taking on the task of renovating a dwelling is what will add the value to the home, but you must choose which improvements you make wisely. Make the wrong choice and you will waste money. The improvements that add the most value to a property at the moment are usually fitting central heating, double glazing and fitted kitchens. Fitted bathrooms may not have the desired effect, for people tend not to like what they accrue when they purchase a house, it may be for any one of a number of reasons such as colour, bath or shower cubicles too small, or taps not able to be turned by old people; things worth considering when planning your own bathroom. Planning is all for kitchens, for, without giving thought to leg work, frustration can be caused at a later date; the same with electrical sockets which should be at least 2 feet (60cm) above the floor. Garages, on the other hand, can add value to the property, a single garage is out of touch with today's families, where two cars are becoming usual. Conservatories rarely recoup their cost unless they were added to enlarge the floor area of a small building and then a garden room is a better bet. A swimming pool should only be added when you cannot live without it, for they rarely regain the money spent. Loft conversions can add considerably to the value of a building; when you think about it, why build a house in the first place with large areas of wasted empty space? Cavity wall and loft insulation should be considered, but in the former case get a reputable contractor to carry out the work. Damp proofing the walls may be required for older properties, but make sure the contractor who does the survey is reputable, for many properties have been done many times.
Assuming that you have found the property that you require, whether it be dilapidated or not, and the estimates suggest that the upgrades are viable, then you have to find the money. If you have the cash you do not have a problem, but if you have to borrow you will find the attitude of lenders varies. Most lend money based on the value of the property in its run down state and on it projected future value when the work is complete. Common is 75% of the property value, paid when each stage is completed, up to 95% of the projected future value of the property. Present a schedule of work to be done to the lender, but do not underestimate the value of each section of the work, and then the lender will make a structural inspection of the property, as and when required during the stages of construction, to facilitate payments. A survey done when work is complete will insure that all work is carried out satisfactorily, the expense may be worth it. These loans can often be added to existing mortgages.
Remember, do what you want for you are going to have to live there, it's your home, you are not living in a show house, it's not a business venture. Have what you want and can afford. Do not exceed your means of being able to pay for the work done. It always helps to be able to finish off or do a job started by someone else yourself because something will always go wrong at some stage, whether it be large or small, but do not let that put you off.