Row of cows at farm in Shropshire

Renovating rural property Part 1 – finding your project

13/06/22Renovating rural property Part 1 – finding your project

What to look for, what to avoid

The dream for many people is to find a little cottage while they are on a country walk, fall in love with it, and buy it to ‘do up’. While this will indeed remain a dream for many people, there are still dozens of opportunities to renovate, restore and rebuild old rural property to its former glory. Putting your own stamp on a property can be a great way to create your perfect home, without having to start from scratch with a new-build. But where do you start when looking for that ideal property?

Finding the right project

Identifying a potential project is often tricky – or alternatively, you might just be very lucky and drive past a potential project in the making. There can be problems along the way. For example, if the property is obviously empty but isn’t actually for sale, finding the owner can be a problem. The best place to start in this instance is the Land Registry Office to locate the deeds. Some properties can be in such a poor state of repair that they are beyond hope of restoration, and can only be sold for the land they stand on. However, even a building sold for demolition may not be entirely beyond hope and sometimes can be restored. In that case you’ll need to get expert advice from surveyors and architects, as to what extent the building can be salvaged and restored.

Conversion potential

One of the saddest things that has become prevalent in rural areas is the demise of some commercial premises in villages – post offices, shops, cafes and pubs. However, these properties, many of which are now falling into disrepair, may offer a great degree of conversion potential, if your budget will allow. Make sure however that you don’t overreach and look out for any glaring problems, such as ground subsidence or flooding, that should be avoided at all costs. Commercial premises often come with land and the potential to create something really special, with landscaped gardens, for example, can often result from such a ‘change of use’.

On the market

Local estate agents may be very useful, as they may know of properties in the area you’re exploring that have been empty for considerable time. There are also specialist websites specifically geared to properties that need renovating. Auctions are another way of finding houses in a poor state of repair that are being sold off and also a good way of acquiring property if you have a lump sum or savings to use for the purchase. Many properties are just sold by estate agents at their market price, in their current condition, with a view to any potential buyer having to renovate the property before it is habitable. The price will reflect this and allow you to budget accordingly.

Any project that involves renovation, partial demolition or extension will be a complicated one and unless you have a great deal of building experience, you should have expert advice from construction and valuation experts before undertaking such a complex exercise. Our surveyors and valuers, for instance, can offer advice and guidance on suitable properties, as well as carrying our surveys on any potential development opportunities you’re thinking of embarking on. 

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