Kirsty McLuckie on problem home reports

As a nation, we seem to be addicted to watching DIY renovation programmes as entertainment, but it seems that when it comes to getting hands-on ourselves, we are not so keen.

The Halifax has just published research into the features of a home which would put off most buyers. And “do-er-uppers” – or properties which require work – are among the least desirable in the survey.

The research found that more than half of its respondents would only buy a home that required very little – or no – work.

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Structural problems, such as cracks, subsidence or major damp and mould, were the most off-putting potential problems for those polled, with 70 per cent saying such red flag features would stop them even considering such a purchase.

Image: Adobe StockImage: Adobe Stock
Image: Adobe Stock

Which is understandable, if you don’t have the specialist skills and the time to do the work yourself, it can be a costly business.

We’ve all watched the kind of televised horror renovations to know that big projects can produce major headaches along the way.

Living in the midst of major work is also not an appealing prospect, so however large the discount on the purchase price, you can understand why buyers are reticent about taking on a real problem home.

Your mortgage lender might not be keen on financing a wreck either.

Likewise, the Halifax found that people were not keen to take on a property with roofing woes or one which required rewiring, both projects which could grow arms and legs. A leaky roof could have caused long-term unseen damage to the fabric of the building below, while ripping out and replacing old wiring might lead to the necessity for replastering, followed by total redecoration.

But, perhaps today’s prospective homeowners are a little more fussy than the generations before them when it comes to considering less-than-perfect properties.

A quarter of respondents in the Halifax survey said they would be put off buying a property if it had a bathroom that needed upgrading – but this could be missing a trick.

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My generation of buyers assumed that we would have to live with a horrid bathroom after moving in until we could afford to replace it, and I’ve put up with some real shockers.

A dusky pink bath tub with coconut matting up the sides was a real talking point in my first flat.

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But a bathroom refit doesn’t have to be expensive. Doing most of it yourself, or finding a mate with the right skills, means that a small bathroom could be replaced with basic fittings for about £1,500.

The average cost of getting professionals in is £4,000 to £6,000, but you can reduce this by taking on some of the unskilled work, such as disposing of the old suite.

And a bathroom upgrade is a good way to add value, as it is thought to put on an average of a 4 per cent of the property value, which could be £10,000 on a £250,000 place.

With that in mind, perhaps canny buyers should actually be seeking out avocado suites, cracked tiles or wall-to-wall carpeting, instead of running screaming.

Living temporarily with such features might not be your idea of a dream home, but when it comes to selling again, you might be winning with a flush.

- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman

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