After we bought our Grade II-listed Georgian home, we decided to live in it before renovating the property. It’s now just over a year since we first moved in and we are very pleased we took our time. But there are drawbacks to delay. So what are the pros and cons of taking it slowly, now that we have the benefit of hindsight?
Living in the house
You learn a lot about a property by living in it before making big changes. And we have altered our ideas – in some respects quite radically – as a result of living in the house. Selecting which room was to be the master bedroom was a good example. There are drawbacks to using the room we chose in the end and it gave us a lot of time to work out our priorities.
Planning and designing your renovation
The whole planning process and detailed design can take months. If you buy the house with the idea of renovating, and draw your plans up based on the existing floor plan, there might be some ideas that you miss out on because you haven’t actually interacted with the space. You might end up needlessly renting a house in the area, whilst your property sits vacant because the design process is taking longer than you thought.
Living in the house gives you plenty of time to choose professionals. You can get to know the local area and ask the neighbors if they have any recommended tradesmen who have worked on their homes. You don’t have to rush into anything, you can get your plans in order and make make sure that the whole process is as streamlined as possible.
Renovating before moving in
In our case the house was very habitable – a bit old fashioned in some ways, but basically what we wanted. It simply isn’t possible to live in some properties before carrying out the work on them, and in these cases you will have to renovate before ever living there.
If you’re planning a large scale renovation and have already moved in then you will have to go through the logistical stress of moving yourself and all of your stuff out of the house. That means removal men, possibly putting things in storage and renting a house nearby to keep an eye on everything. After living in the house for a period of time, this can be a bit of an issue, especially if you’ve settled in.
Seeing the house with fresh eyes
Seeing a renovation project for the first time is the best opportunity for light-bulb moments when it comes to design. Everyone goes into their friends houses and passively thinks about what they would do differently, but this is your chance to actually make those changes. There are quite a few design decisions that we made on our first couple of visits to the property that made it into our final design.
For example, we knew that we would want to have access to the garden from the sitting room. With three doors, you might think that the house has sufficient exits. But there’s none onto the main part of the garden and the south-facing terrace where you would naturally want to sit. What’s more, the middle window on the ground floor used to be a door, as you can see from the photo below, and it is the perfect place for us to add a door again. Adding this access was one of many decisions we made on our first visit that was not reversed.