Tips for buying a property to renovate

Once you have your plans and approvals in place, it’s time to choose your contractors.

The first thing you need to do is decide if you’re up to the task. Ask yourself these questions: Can you live with the mess for what might be a year or more, depending on the work required? Are your skills up to the challenge?
If not, can you afford the professionals required to turn your tumble-down property into the dream home you envisage?
Don’t get carried away by the dream of what that cute Victorian will look like when you are finished sprucing it up. The very first step is do a thorough inspection and be prepared to walk away if the work required is too great.

Older homes may be protected by law
Bear in mind that the fixer-upper you’re considering may well be an older house and that can have serious implications. If a building is older than 60 years, it will generally be protected under Section 34 of the National Heritage Resources Act. You will need to apply and pay for a permit for any alterations and additions – this can be done online by creating an account on the South African Heritage Resources Information System, or SAHRIS.

Getting approval from the municipality for renovations
Even if the home is less than 60 years old, you will need to get authorisation for any alterations, even minor building work, from your local authority. Everything you build on the property except “minor building work” requires plans. For this reason, it is essential that you also remember to ask the seller whether they have approved plans for any building work they’ve done.

Choosing the right contractors
Once you have your plans and approvals in place, it’s time to choose your contractors. Discuss the work together and get an estimate of the cost. Use the same detailed written instructions to secure quotations from at least three reputable professionals. It is important to brief each of them on site, so they can take the context and requirements into account.

Think like a property investor
There are genuine opportunities out there for people who are prepared to put in the hard work of realising the value offered from improving a home that is outdated or has not been well looked after. Ensure that the work you plan to do will not exceed your budget, or overcapitalise the property.
• Information courtesy of Private Property.

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