Buying a Period Home - The Process

When looking for and buying a period house, what is the process? Who should be involved and when?

Initial Personal Survey

Once you have found the house of your dreams, conduct an initial Personal Survey. At this stage, look at the exterior of the building. You are looking for any critical flaws which will discourage a lender, and will be too costly for you in financial and personal terms.

Make Offer

Put your offer in writing to the vendor and their agent. The vendor may not accept immediately. Make your case by making sure that any buyer for your own house is ready to go ahead and that you are showing your serious interest.

Detailed Personal Survey

Once your offer has been accepted, ask the vendor if you can conduct a more detailed Personal Survey. You are again looking for any critical flaws, but also assessing the originality of the house.

If the house is a listed building, make contact with the local conservation officer and discuss your findings at this stage. Ask about the Listed Building Consent process as you will need consent for most work other than very basic repairs.

Professional Survey

The next stage is to get a survey done by a surveyor who specialises in old buildings. Decide which type of survey to have. Make sure your surveyor understands what you want covered.

If the vendor offers a previous survey; do not rely on it.

When you have chosen your surveyor, ask your preferred lender if they will accept the surveyor's valuation; this will save you some money. Remember that the lender only needs to ensure that their money is going to be safe.

Review Professional Survey

With Surveyor

Discuss the survey report with your surveyor and make sure you understand it. The surveyor will be unwilling to give cost estimates for any remedial work but should be able to discuss the complexity and urgency of maintenance. For cost estimates, speak to a builder.

With Conservation Officer

If it is a listed building, discuss the survey with the local conservation officer. If you wish to make alterations to the building, even if these are re-instating original features or materials, discuss these at this stage.

With Vendor

If there is little interest from other people in the house, or you could cope with losing the purchase, you may negotiate on the price. However, most older buildings have faults and the price should reflect these already. Make sure that you have enough surplus money to deal with urgent repairs.

Instruct Your Solicitor

If you have decided to go ahead, instruct your solicitor to work on the legal paperwork.

Make sure that the schedule of fixtures and fittings covers, for every room, the items to be included in the sale price. To prevent the vendors replacing an antique light with one from a department store, make sure such items are described in detail. Consider covering light fittings, door furniture, the bath and toilet in this way.

Move In

Don’t panic about work that needs doing; many jobs can be done slowly over time. Don’t forget that the house has been standing for many years already. Visit Bricks & Brass to help you understand your house, to find out how to care for it, and to get companies for your projects. Enjoy it.

Begin with essential maintenance; deal with the causes of damp first and maximise evaporation.

Research and think about your house; get to know it before you plan major projects. Ask local people about good builders, plasterers, architects and other trades. Companies who can start work in a few weeks are usually not good ones.