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Homes needing work

Needing work

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Give me an old home, a real mess, a bombed out old dump that looks as though it hasn't even seen better days for a long, long time. I'll turn it into a place to die for, somewhere that you are proud to show off and proud to have stamped your style onto.

These are the feelings we get from all the new TV programs dedicated to home improvement and renovation. With so many signals pounding our subconscious there must be an increasing number of us thinking of buying a place that is a bit run down, so that we can inject bit of love and attention and mend that broken home. Or sell it on for a tidy profit, which is probably what attracts most people to the idea.

If you are going to buy a place that needs work, make sure you get a full structural survey and not just a homebuyers report. Visit our surveys section to find out more, or use SiteFinder to help find a surveyor.

Even full surveys don't always tell the whole story. If you buy at the height of summer, they might not shed light on problems such as condensation or damp which get worse with the wet weather. It's not always possible for the surveyor to get to places where the problem may be developing - under floorboards, inaccessible roofing etc.

If you do opt for just a homebuyer report you should definitely have a good look for common telltale signs of damp and dry rot - algae or moss on the outside brickwork, cracks around doors, flaky plaster, musty smells, patchy faint stains, lifted wallpaper or blistered paint.

Remember that developers who buy up homes solely for renovation are often qualified professionals. They have extensive experience and are usually well aware of the length of time and cost of major refurbishments and repairs. If you are going to try to do it on the cheap, you must be prepared to put the time and effort in.

Doing the little things yourself is fine, but you can find yourself swimming in financial strife creek with your feet tied up and no lifejacket if you get things wrong with a big project. If you are doing anything major yourself, get the plans of the house. Read up on the tasks you are going to be doing. Don't assume you can work it out as you go.

There are some jobs that really ought to be left to the professionals. Messing around with some problems can actually mean you risk turning a serious problem into a titanic disaster - your house might end up going down. For any major work choose an established builder - check out our SiteFinder section on Home services for some websites that can help you find a builder near you.

E-mail us any tips you have for dealing with or spotting problems. How much did it cost you to fix your problems? Was it worth it, or would it have been better not to buy such a dilapidated old shell of a property.

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