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Is Renovating A House Worth It?

25th March 2022
Redrow - Inspiration - Is Renovating A House Worth It

It might seem like a good idea to buy an older home to renovate, but the dream of a magical ‘TV moment’ transformation can rapidly turn into a nightmare.

There are spiralling costs, hidden disasters - and that’s before you start thinking about the DIY accidents that can land you in A&E. We reveal the scary truth behind buying a 'doer upper' and answer the question: Is renovating a house worth it in the UK?

How much is it to renovate a house in the UK?

It costs around £50,000 to bring an older home to the standard of a new build. But it’s not just the price in monetary terms that makes renovation costly.

  • In 2020-1, 5,600 amateur builders needed hospital attention after incidents with an electric tool.
  • In 2020-1, 2,700 people sought medical attention after an accident with a non-powered hand tool 

Playing hide and seek with the cost

After lockdown, when most of us spent much more time inside, around 51% of owners considered renovating their home.  It might seem like the perfect project to get stuck into, but hidden problems can make the months turn into years, and the anticipated costs spiral. If you consider buying an older home with a view to renovating it you can always check for issues but some things won’t become obvious until you’ve begun the work.  Did you know it can cost around £50,000 to bring an older home up to the standard of a new build? Individual jobs can soon add up: £2,700 if it needs a new boiler, £10,000-plus if it needs a new kitchen and, if you discover damp, you can look forward to saying goodbye to up to £16,000. 

Home sweet home?

Home is the place where you rest and relax, so it’s not surprising we want to like what we see when we look around - and we want to feel comfortable. Renovating a property can turn your home into a building site, where you’re surrounded by the constant banging of hammers and the whirring of drills - far from ideal if you’re working from home and on that conference call with the CEO! It also means you may have to take floorboards up, endure exposed wires and, on occasions, no heating or electricity. It might not be safe, let alone cosy - especially if you have younger children. The dream is rarely the reality.

Accidents will happen

It’s not as easy as it looks. Many people opt to do the renovation work on a house themselves to save money - but that can cost more in the long run - and not just in terms of your bank balance. Getting it wrong can cost hundreds and even thousands to get the professionals in to put it right, and when it comes to electrics you should adopt a safety first approach. Even the most proficient DIYers can botch things up - and some even end up in A&E. In 2020-1, as thousands turned their attention to household DIY tasks, NHS England calculated more than 5,600 amateur builders required hospital attention after incidents with an electric hand tool, and 2,700 people sought medical attention after an accident with a non-powered hand tool like a hammer or saw.

Houses of horror

We’ve all seen the film, The Money Pit, where Tom Hanks and Shelley Long use their life savings to buy a beautiful but dilapidated old house. It’s a comedy of course - but that scenario would be far from funny in real life!

Megan Jones and partner Phillip McGrath didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for when they bought an older house, but some of the walls were so uneven they ended up knocking one down. They discovered the whole property needed rewiring - and they couldn’t live in it for four months. 

And first-time buyers Kate Logan and partner, Chris Whitehouse, bought a 1930s semi to refurbish in a bid to save money. “Five years on, we still have a huge ‘to do’ list including a new roof, it feels like it’s never-ending,” Kate said. “We’ve knocked down walls, completely renovated the kitchen and bathroom, re-done the electrics and re-plastered every room. The stress and financial burden at times has been huge.”

And so – to the benefits of buying a brand new home

It might seem obvious, but one of the first benefits is you can just move in and enjoy your home and, barring the odd picture and mirror to hang, all the work is done for you. There are no nasty surprises lurking around the corner, and no major work you’ve not budgeted for. You’ll have a low-maintenance modern home - with beautiful open plan areas, en-suite bathrooms and, having carefully chosen, spaces to suit every aspect of your life. And because it’s newly built, it will have every economic advantage from up-to-date efficient boilers and central heating systems to draught proof double-glazed windows that keep the heat in and the cold out, and the best insulation. There are lots of incentive to ease any financial burden, and new homes are protected by NHBC Buildmark or an equivalent 10-year warranty, so you get more peace of mind still.

So if you want to avoid renovation pain, start your search for a new home today.