Renovating a Home
Q - We are considering buying an old house and renovating it and wonder whether there is a formula or method to assess the likely costs of the work in the same way that square metre prices can be used to estimate the cost of new work?
A - The only sure way is to obtain estimates from tradesmen for carrying out the various parcels of work but this is not really practical when you don't yet own the house. Nearly all renovation projects are different from one another so finding a common approach to the costs is difficult.
One method is to start with a new work figure of say £1,000 per square metre and then deduct the items that don't need upgrading (usually the external walls floors and roof) and deduct say 40% (of the £1,000) to produce a figure of £600 per square metre for the conversion work.
If the building is in a reasonable state and items such as plumbing, heating and electrics are OK, I would increase the percentage to 60% for a figure of £360 per square metre. This is a rough and ready approach but at least it should produce a budget figure that you can adjust as more information becomes available.
Q - We are in a position now to start getting estimates for different packages of work in major renovations in our house. We hear stories about the wide variation in estimates and wonder how what steps we should take to keep this problem to a minimum.
A - The first step is to make sure that you provide the same information to each of the contractors tendering whether in writing or verbally. The quality and detail of this information will have a direct effect on the bids you receive. You can imagine the range of quotations you would receive if you just said ‘ Just build me a kitchen extension on the back of the house...' Unless the packages of work are very small, make sure that you receive the quotes in writing but if they are verbal, confirm the offer in writing yourself to the contractor.
Make sure that each bidder is aware of how and when they will be paid and agree the starting and completion dates and other relevant items such as the removal of rubbish. The more information you can provide at the enquiry stage, the more accurate the quotes will be.
Upgrading a Home
Q - We would like to move into another area but our house is in a poor condition. We are receiving conflicting advice on whether it is better to spend some real money to help sell it or should we just reduce the price to match the state of the property. And what sort of improvements would be worthwhile doing?
A - At minimum, the house wants to be as clean and tidy as you can make it whatever else you decide to do. You will almost certainly get your money back by installing central heating and creating another bedroom/office by a loft conversion would certainly increase the value of the house. But putting in a new kitchen or bathroom suite may not have the same effect because the new owners may well want to install their own fittings to suit their taste.
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