New tricks, old hat....jpg

New tricks, old hat…

By RICHARD GIBBS [email protected]

Head of Private Clients for Moneycorp, one of the UK’s leading foreign exchange and international money transfer providers.

Market uncertainty, widespread builder availability and a softening of real estate growth can all lead to the opening of new trends, which leads me to the matter of regeneration.

By sprucing up an existing property rather than opting for a new build, you open an entirely new platform of design opportunities. Admittedly by building from scratch, you can create exactly the mood and style you want, but there is something rather refreshing and exciting about playing with your creativity as you transform the old to new.  

In fact, many will agree with me when I sing the praises of refurbishment projects – some of the best locations often already have existing property on them; land prices for the best locations are more expensive, and probably the most important for the individual – capital cost is lower.

But where to start? It needn’t be daunting – your approach to the project should be the same as for a new build, so first of all sit down and write a brief. Schedule out all the reasons for considering a change. For example, is it just to increase space, improve the flow through the house, bring in more light, improve the thermal qualities of the older building or modernise the fixtures and fittings? Or perhaps all of the above!

João Duarte, Grupo Duarte CEO, agrees that a well-designed and considered renovation will often offer the client exactly what they want without the need for new build. Not only can it be easier to control costs, but there may also be other fiscal and tax advantages too.

When establishing your budget, consider how you might “green” your home. Building in a sustainable way does not have to be more involved or more difficult. Neither does it have to be more expensive – you may well save money both up front in the cost of construction materials and, in the long term, by increasing the energy efficiency of your home.

‘Front end’ design investigation into different concept options can quickly determine any pros and cons of remodeling. It can also be surprising how much improved functionality can be gained from minor changes in spatial planning.

Depending on the size and shape of your existing building, it can be possible to introduce a completely new feel to the property by the addition of modern new design to older homes. There are many examples available that your designer should be able to show you.

Also, and this is particularly important if you are looking ahead, by taking advice from a real estate agent, it will give you a feel for future value and may help you take a final view on the amount you spend. For example, adding two bedrooms instead of the one you actually need may well provide the best option for resale later. It’s all about applying the right tricks at the right time.

I would also strongly recomm-end taking advice from other people who have followed this route. Make sure you obtain quotes from builders with refurbishment experience as there is a specific skill set when joining new works to older fabric.

Whatever route you chose, try to keep an open mind and, while at times the work may seem never ending, the final results will certainly be rewarding and you will have cast your own spell on a property that before may well have lacked soul.