Monday 04 August 2014

Older homes: What disadvantages do I need to be aware of?

Investing in slice of the UK’s architectural heritage can be enormously satisfying for homeowners. However, older properties often come with structural and other issues that may not be present in modern homes. This means would-be buyers of period properties will need to ensure that all the facts are in hand before they snap up the heritage home of their dreams.

Here are just some of the potential problems that those contemplating buying a period home should consider.

Potential difficulty in obtaining a mortgage

If an older property is need of extensive structural repairs, buyers may be unable to obtain a mortgage on the property. However, if this type of property is secured in cash, and the necessary works are completed, it may be possible to obtain a mortgage after the fact.

Structural Issues

While modern structures are designed to carry their own weight and have been carefully planned and designed to do so, historic properties may in some cases be built on less solid foundations – both metaphorically and literally – and as a result be susceptible to structural movement. Problems that fall under the category of structural movement include bulging walls, subsidence, cracks, sway and much more – all of which may be costly to put right.

Hidden defects

While all may seem ok on the surface, older properties often have a range of hidden defects which could include dry rot, rising damp, woodworm and more. However, conducting a full survey will help unearth these and other defects and give homeowners an insight into the potential scale of renovation costs.

Restricted development and design opportunities

If you have a flair for design and you want this to be reflected in your home, you may find your creativity constricted by the practical need to observe conservation guidelines or the desire to maintain your property’s original features.

If a building is in a conservation area, is a listed building, or both, they may be restrictions placed on the type and scale of renovations you can complete. Renovations may also be restricted by restrictive covenants – which are defined by the Land Registry as ‘a promise by one person to another, (such as a buyer of land and a seller) not to do certain things with the land or property’.

Energy inefficiency

Without the layers of insulation and central heating systems that buyers would expect to find in a modern home, homes built in periods ranging from the Victorian era to the Edwardian era may be more inefficient than their contemporary counterparts.

However, there are a number of things you can do to make your property more energy efficient including sash window secondary glazing.

Not being in a ‘move in condition’

With a potentially long list of repairs to complete, some period properties may not be in a ‘ready to move in’ state. If you are investing in a period property as a buy-to-let, then these works may also eat into potential rental time.