It’s hard to find the perfect home – but if you build it yourself, you can create it. If you’re looking for your next family home, both renovation and building from scratch can get you exactly what you want. But how do you decide which to go for? Here are a few questions we ask our clients when they come to us with exactly this problem.
How easy is it to find land for building on in your area?
In some parts of the country, it’s relatively simple to open up a new plot of land for building on or get land converted from one use to another. In other areas, particularly near London, every inch of land seems to be covered already, and planning councils are reluctant to shift the use of a single foot from, for example, decayed industrial buildings to family homes. Be realistic about your chances of getting planning permission. If you’re in Conservation Area or dealing with a Listed Building, you are unlikely to get permission to knock your building down, so an empty plot may be the only way forward for a new build.
How much preparation will the site need?
Often, our clients have found a property which has lots of strong features – perhaps it’s in the right area, has a great piece of land attached, and is a bargain price but the house itself isn’t right. It’s tempting to knock the whole thing down and start from scratch, but it’s essential to remember that preparing the site – demolishing existing structures, removing rubble, digging new foundations and so on – will add to the cost and duration of your build.
What would it take to make this house perfect?
When you are considering renovating or rebuilding a particular property, it’s important to look at what would be needed to make it into your dream home. Sometimes, everything about the property is wrong or its been so poorly maintained that once you start knocking holes in it, it’ll just collapse. More often though, some creative thinking and an experienced build team can transform a small, older building into a spacious, modern house without the heavy costs of complete demolition.
What about keeping part of the property?
An extreme renovation, where you demolish most of the property but keep a certain amount – a couple of walls and the footing, for example, might seem to offer the best of both worlds. However, there can be serious disadvantages to this strategy, so it’s important to consider whether in makes financial, architectural and structural sense. For example, new builds are exempt from VAT, while renovation typically isn’t, so being classed as a new build can save you money. However, demolition and construction are treated as separate issues by some planning councils, so it’s essential to ensure you have permission for the full project before you start – you don’t want to knock down your house only to find you aren’t allowed to put it back up!