For most of us, buying a home to renovate can be a daunting task. Below is a simple guide to help first-time renovators navigate their way to securing their dream home.

The first step on the path of renovation is to identify a suitable property to invest our time and effort into. In the internet era, it is easy to become so overwhelmed with choices when searching for houses that gems will lie forgotten and potential disasters will waste our time. To prevent this, we must draw up a list of standards that our ideal dwelling will meet. Whether you are buying for investment purposes or to actually live in the house, your list will most likely contain the following criteria:

surveyor1) Is the property itself structurally sound, with low risk of future problems? To make sure of this, we recommend having a chartered surveyor or architect look at the property in detail. Due to the expense of this action (expect a fee of $500 – $2000, dependent on property size), it is typically left until you have narrowed your search down to a specific house. It is also worth speaking with your potential neighbors to find out if the area has any history of flooding or other problems that an estate agent or current owner may neglect to mention.

2) Is it within a reasonable proximity to local schools and businesses? Whether you are looking to eventually sell the property on or are simply planning to settle in for the long haul, this will be one of the major factors that determines the desirability of the home. A house can be turned into a veritable paradise, but if you are facing a commute of over an hour to simply drop your kids off at school or to get to work, you could feel that you are not getting your money’s worth. Details of school transport arrangements and catchment areas can typically be found on the local county’s website, whilst areas with a thriving economy can be identified by simply punching their postal code into a few internet job boards and tallying the number of professional opportunities available.

3) Is the building overshadowed by adjacent properties? Whilst it may seem like a common sense measure, it is crucial to make sure that the home you are buying is not of a substantially lesser quality or size than the other properties in the neighborhood. Not only can this prevent you from securing a sale, but it can also be indicative of a potential ‘money pit’ that will take an inordinate amount of resources to bring up to par.

4) Is the property located in a low-crime area? This is vital consideration. Due to the ease with which data on criminal activity is available (with real estate sites such as Zillow going as far to provide heat-maps for many areas), it is almost impossible to disguise the fact that a house is located in a bad neighborhood.

5) Will future developments in the area affect the property’s value or desirability? Nobody wants to have their idyllic country getaway abruptly spoiled by the construction of a brand new subdivision in their backyard. As such, be sure to check local zoning laws and planning applications prior to making a purchase.