Seeing past the surface

Written by Simon Miller, Simon Miller & Company

One of the joys of browsing through the properties on RightMove is seeing the dream houses… those with the ‘Wow’ factor that send us into the zone of wishful thinking and longed-for lottery wins…

Then, of course, there is the other end of the scale. The houses that, although loved by their current owners (a bit like a pair of comfy old shoes), don’t quite meet up to modern tastes. Perhaps they’re the houses that are neglected or in disrepair, and in desperate need of a little TLC.

We’ve all seen the renovation shows on television. Do you find yourself sitting there at the halfway stage shaking your head and saying, “That is never going to be a habitable home”?  Do you watch with barely concealed glee, wondering why people put themselves through the stress, heartache and spiralling cost of buying a shell or a wreck of a home and doing it up?

Or, like me, do you love to look for the potential of the home that it could be. Do you see past the rickety old lean-to tacked to the back of the house – and in its place an extended kitchen in a glorious large sun room with floor to ceiling windows?  Instead of the box room upstairs, do you see a spacious walk-in wardrobe or an en-suite bathroom that will add real value to the property?

Even period homes can be brought up-to-date. Retaining the character of an older house whilst embellishing it with all the modern comforts that today’s discerning buyer looks for, is a process that’s all the easier to do when you invest in a “fixer-upper”.  Imagine Georgian high ceilings and elegant proportions combined with the benefits of contemporary living. How about cosy cottage warmth and ambiance alongside a feature fireplace that houses a clean and desirable log burner?

If you want to balance the best of both worlds, buying a period house and doing it up with the benefit of modern technology and finishes is an attractive option.

And what about the satisfaction of giving life back to what was once an unloved and neglected shell? The joy of living in “The House That I Built (or renovated)” clearly appeals to many, if you look at the continuing stream of willing participants in shows like Grand Designs.

The rise in popularity of Green Living is also a factor. More people are looking to live energy-efficient lifestyles – a complete refurbishment means you can ensure heating systems, windows and insulation are helping reduce the carbon footprint of the house from the very start.  And think of the fuel savings on an energy-neutral home.

So next time you’re considering a move to a new home, have a look past the surface of the less-than-perfect properties that are in front of you. Let your imagination (tempered by your budget and patience of course!) take flight and enjoy the adventure!

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