Rock n Renovation: How to Buy a Project House

I’ve had so many messages since I started this series from people who are either buying their first house, or buying a renovation project, and are wondering if I have any advice. If you read my first post in this series you will already know that we had a DOOZY of a time trying to secure this place (I’ll tell you all about it over something alcoholic one day) so actually, I do have quite a few words of wisdom/ warning (delete as appropriate) for you!

I’m going to focus on buying a renovation project home here, as there is so much advice out there for first time buyers already, a quick Google session should set you right.

Do your research

Once you’ve found your dream home, ask the estate agent lots of questions such as how long it’s been up for sale, it’s history and if any previous sales have fallen through (and why). This will help you when it comes to negotiating. If the property has been on the market for a while it could mean the owner will take a lower offer, however if there’s been lots of interest it might end up going to sealed bids.

It’s also important to work out if you’re getting a good deal so look into house prices in the area (you can find what things have sold for in the past on Rightmove). Our house was on the market for at least £200,000 LESS than similar sized houses on the street. When we looked around inside we could tell why (because of the level of work) but another house went up a little after ours for nearly £800,000 and still had to be completely gutted. Funnily enough that one is still on the market now!

Get a builder’s estimate

The price of the house is one thing, but if a lot of work needs doing it’s important to figure out how much all that is going to set you back too. We’ve decided to go down the rather unconventional route of doing almost everything ourselves, but that didn’t stop us getting estimates from contractors to work out how much they’d be charging us if we were to hire them. This has really helped us figure out if a job is worth DIYing.

For example, replacing the joists in the ground floor was going to set us back around £5000 to get a professional in but when Gareth priced up the materials they came to less than £600 (including buying some new tools he needed!) Gareth is brilliant at figuring out how to do things like that himself (lots of forum and YouTube research) so for us, doing it as a DIY was a no-brainer. Yes it takes longer (wayyy longer!) but for us anyway, the huge saving made it worth it (one room down, two to go – ha!)

Be realistic

Gareth and I were very much driven by our hearts with this purchase. It was the only house we saw that even came close to being what we were looking for and as soon as we walked through the front door we were both smitten. However, having never taken a project of this scale on before we had to be realistic about a) What we could afford b) How long it was going to take and c) If we actually had the time to do it.

In the end we decided the risk was worth it. Luckily the house was perfectly liveable as is, so we were happy to take the leap! The electrics were old but functional, the heating turned on and warmed up whole house, and having a working kitchen and two perfectly functional bathrooms meant we would at least be able to eat and bathe properly during all the work.

Look beyond the decor

If you’re buying a project it stands to reason that you’ll be looking past the terrible wallpaper and dodgy carpet, but be sure to also look beyond that. What state are the walls in? Are there lots of cracks everywhere? Do the floors need replacing? Will knocking down walls solve any layout issues (and if so are they structural)? What about the electrics or the water? Is it connected to all the utilities? Is there excess damp?

Not only will sorting any of these things be an expense, but if you’re living in the place too you have to be sure that it’s going to be safe.

Get a full structural survey

After you’ve had your offer accepted it’s time to get a structural building survey (if its an older property your mortgage company may insist on one in fact). This will give an idea of the condition of the house, the extent of any necessary repairs and the likely cost. A survey may also highlight issues that you weren’t aware of that can be used to negotiate before you exchange.

Your mortgage company will do their own valuation too, but this literally just means someone will go in and have a quick look to check whether they think the price you’re paying is reasonable (so that if you default and they have to resell it they think they can get their money back). It does not replace a structural builder’s survey. A full structural survey will cost you somewhere between £600-£1000 but it’s vital! You could end up making a very expensive mistake if problems crop up that you could have known about before you bought.

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The Painted Leather Jacket

I’m not usually one for wedding ‘trends’ but if there’s one that I can totally get behind, it’s the painted leather jacket. What a perfect way to add some personalisation to your wedding outfit, while looking totally bad ass at the same time! Team it with a floaty dress and black boots and you’re on to a total winner.

This shoot, send over by photographer Rebecca Searle ticks all these boxes and so many more. I’m so thrilled to be sharing it today!

“This is a seductively dark editorial featuring a painted leather jacket and handmade lace boots”, Rebecca writes. “This shoot is dedicated to the bride who is not afraid to celebrate her inner rock chick but who also wants a beautifully polished bridal look.”

“Our original inspiration stemmed from seeing the incredible painted leather jackets created by Wolf & Rosie. We knew they would pair perfectly with the understated elegance of the Kate Edmondson dresses which have such a contemporary grace about them. Once we stumbled across the totally unique, and rather provocative and fun ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’ lace boots by House of Elliot, we knew they would all fit together perfectly.”

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A Lush Hen Party

Did you know that Lush do private parties after hours? I know right, how amazing is that!? When I made this discovery I knew I had to find an excuse to book one, and Sophie’s hen do a couple of weeks ago was the perfect opportunity!

Dressed in our sparkiest finery, we descended on the Canterbury Lush store just as it was closing not knowing exactly what to expect, but sure that it would be a hell of lot of fun. We had the entire shop at our disposal and the two ladies who hosted us were, in expected Lush employee fashion, super welcoming and enthusiastic. They even let us bring in our own prosecco and snacks.

Sophie’s amazing dress is from Missguided, her sash was made by Oh Squirrel.

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A Secret Wedding with Good Food, Tattooing & Nexflix!

When a bride and groom meet at a tattoo studio, you just know that’s going to become part of their wedding too! Sadie and Ped met when she booked him to do her first big tattoo. They were married in March and wanted their wedding to be like their best day out out together. That meant a ceremony with just the two of them, good food and getting inked!  

”We just planned on having a relaxed day,” said Sadie. “We didn’t have a theme or any expectations of the day except that we would each end up married to our best friend! No-one knew we were planning on getting married, we kept the whole day a secret! We had no guests. The day was the ceremony followed by a pit stop at a tattoo studio. We were back at our hotel by 2pm in bed with food and Netflix! We then went out to eat in the evening, wearing our normal clothes and it just being our little secret we got married less than 10 hours earlier. it felt really special.”

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Brand New Dress Designs from Chotronette!

Rock n Roll Bride favourite, Chotronette, have just dropped their brand new collection and be still my beating heart! The designer duo, known for their jaw dropping colourful, floral creations are back… With a bang.

With prices ranging from an incredible £200-£1000 (yes, really!) these beauties need to be on your radar, stat!

From dramatic floral numbers to metallic touches and a rainbow of colours to keep even the most non-traditional brides happy, these Romanian designers took our wedding dress dreams and made them a reality.

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Issue 16 On Sale TODAY!

Run, don’t walk, down to your local newsie today and grab the latest issue of Rock n Roll Bride. Available in WhSmiths, Smith’s Travel, Sainsburys and selected newsagents, I can’t wait for you to get your mitts on it!

Want a preview of what’s inside? Check this out!

You can also still order the magazine online (with free UK shipping and worldwide delivery available) or if you really want to treat yourself, you can even subscribe so you never miss an issue.

I’ve already been cracking on with putting the next issue together and I want to make sure this is a magazine for YOU. So if you have any ideas, or burning questions, general concerns or wedding planning worries that we can help with, do let me know!

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