1. Know how much you have to spend
It sounds obvious, but, if the property is a complete wreck, high street lenders may not be an option, so call around before making an offer you can’t afford.
2. Go house hunting
A chartered surveyor’s report is the only way to know for sure if a house is a goer or a goner, but training yourself to spot common, but expensive, problems, such as collapsed drains and dodgy chimneys is worth the effort.
3. Talk to the experts
For a straightforward job, an experienced builder may be able to tell you all you need to know. But if you need planning or listed buildings consent it’s worth contacting the council for an informal consultation before you make any commitments.
4. Put in your applications
If you plan to make changes to the property that require planning permission be prepared with drawings and the other supporting documents (which will vary from council to council). You will have to pay a fee, and it can take up to eight weeks, though it can take longer if there are complications.
5. Meet the neighbours
Now is the time to make friends with your neighbours and explain your ideas. Be aware that if your project affects a shared wall or boundary you will need a Party Wall Agreement.
6. Get down to the details
Now you will need a very detailed specification drawn up, either by an architect, surveyor, or a competent builder.
7. Get quotes
Ideally, you should obtain five quotes, but good builders are often too busy to spend much time estimating, so you may have to settle for three. But, no matter how experienced the builder is, always add at least a 30% contingency for unforeseen circumstances and changes you make along the way.
8. Get signing
Once you’ve secured a builder you will need to draw up a formal contract setting out payment schedules and timings, as well as procedures to cover disputes. If your builder doesn’t automatically provide one there are free building contracts that you can download from the Internet.
9. Set a moving in date
Give yourself a few weeks extra time as even the best-planned jobs can overrun. Then all you have to do is move in and enjoy the results.