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Bringing an Empty Home Back to Life

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With more 279,000 houses standing empty for over six months in the UK* and numerous district and county level strategy plans in place to handle the problem of vacant properties across the county, what would you do if you found yourself the proud new owner of a previously empty property?

Indeed national newspapers have reported on the £1 houses available in numerous locations across the North of England, although these do come with a fairly stringent set of criteria for those looking to purchase. However there are empty properties all over the country and many come at cut rate prices whether through an auction or otherwise. But that’s where the fun starts; these buildings are more often than not half dilapidated and in need of some serious love and affection.

Laying the Foundations

First things first, you’ll want to make sure you do your homework before putting pen to paper. It’s all very well to have big dreams about your new place; fitted out from head to toe in the latest gadgets, or maybe even complete with a brand new extension. However some properties will come with restrictions as to what you can do, such as listed premises, so it’s well worth your time to make the necessary enquiries beforehand.

You’ll also want to ensure your newly purchased property remains vacant until building work can begin i.e. protecting the building from squatters and vandals. Vacant property security companies, such as Safe Site Facilities who cover the entire UK from their base in West Sussex, are able to deliver short and long term solutions to guard against unlawful entry until you’re up and running with the renovations.

Be a People Person

Just like any creative project it’s important to have the right people on the job. Making sure you have the right builders and architect for your project will make everything go that much smoother. This means putting in the time to find someone who shares your vision for the property, which normally means following up with references and asking friends for referrals of professionals they’ve worked with before.

Make the Most of Your Materials

Choosing the right ingredients i.e. materials can make all the difference. Depending on your specific criteria there are materials that come with environmental credentials, others that will cut your budget in half and those that make the job quick and easy for those doing the building.

It’s All About the Money

We’ve all seen Grand Designs on Channel 4 where every single new build or renovation project seems to go wildly over budget. If anything budgeting will be even harder for an empty property, which may have unforeseen issues that take more to fix than they would to install from scratch. Therefore it’s vital that an emergency fund is included as one of your budget pots; that way if any unexpected problems do crop up, and they often do, you won’t have to get another loan or re-mortgage. Then of course when the build goes exactly to plan you’ll have a nice bit of extra cash on the side for that sofa you thought you wouldn’t be able to afford or another luxury you’ve been ogling!

A quick word on grants; taking on an empty property and bringing it back to life is not only a benefit to you but also the local council and your new neighbours who should benefit from increased house prices. Therefore you may be able to pick up a grant for a portion of the work to be carried out; it’s not guaranteed but is surely worth the time it takes to send off a quick enquiry.

* Shelter Website

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