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just wanted some advice from people on whether to buy a property that is in good order vs one that needs doing up. A rough outline of my situation is below:

1. Im married with 2 children under 4 years old

2. We are searching in the Wokingham-Berkshire area

3. Our house criteria is 3 bed, decent garden with car parking under 250k. [This is rare, only 2/150 properties in our search meet this at this price point]

4. We are FTB's.

2 house meet our requirements, they are about 1/2 mile apart:

1. Victorian - 100ft+ garden, extended and extremely well finished inside. I have scoured the inside of the house and found a broken floor tile, that was it. The 3 bedrooms are a decent size for a Victorian house. We could move in and not have to do a thing. Built in dishwasher and halogen hob in a huge kitchen won me over...

2. 1950's - 50ft garden, backs onto school playing fields, which we don't mind. Needs modernisation, but not renovating. Could move in and live in it fine, would need to buy fridge, washing machine, etc. In time we would need to redo the bathroom and kitchen and knock 2 walls through. Needs a new laminate floor and the doors of the conservatory need replacing. Its been rented for 15 years and not maintained to a high standard so it is a bit tatty. We would do it up ourselves.

Both houses are very equal in floor space. We can get the Victorian for 250k and the 1950's house for 231k. So 20k difference, or about 36k over the lifetime of the mortgage. A lot of people I ask tell me to buy the one that needs work.

But the difference in payments every month is only £100. It seems to me like we could easily throw 5k at the house that needs doing up over a few years, it just does not seem worth it, plus all the time spent on it.

What could be an issue for us is re mortgaging in 2 years time. If the value has dropped then we will struggle to get a decent rate as the LTV will have increased. I dont know if making the right choice in property can protect against this, vs the market situation as a whole. Of course we could rent (currently living with my mum which is not ideal) but that would be stuffing 10k+ away per year into a landlords pension fund.

thoughts please?


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I'm with Tiger woods.

I did up a 5 bedroom house and garden. It takes a huge amount of time and money, even doing things yourself. Family life often suffers.

The current rash of TV programmes about doing up houses have pushed up prices for "unimproved" houses to the extent that it is usually better value to buy something finished. People (me included) always underestimate the amount of work involved in doing up a house. You said it needs a new bathroom, kitchen and wall knocked through. I doubt you'd have change from 20K, plus you still have to redecorate.

Victorian houses are often (but not always) better made than 1950s stock. Your kids will thank you for the extra garden and you'll be able to spend your weekends enjoying each others company rather than struggling with the latest DIY project.

Best of luck whichever route you take.


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With 2 kids under 4 I'd buy the easier house or continue renting. Spend the time with your children instead of renovating.

Disagree with that one, at least as a blanket statement. If one parent is at home looking after kiddies then a bit of renovation could be a great project. My mother did a lot of DIY when we were little, and it was fun for everyone (though could never afford major works like a new roof: would just replace slates as and when they fell off).

However, I'd point the bargepole at a 1950s house, regardless of its condition.

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With 2 kids under 4 I'd buy the easier house or continue renting. Spend the time with your children instead of renovating.

100% agree. Definitely get the "pret a habite" one - victorian will be better built, probably warmer and the clincher is the bigger garden and fact you spend more time with the kids in the bigger garden.

Don't know about you, but I have 101 jobs round the house that I keep meaning to do, but never do. there is always a more urgent thing to spend money on than fixing the floor (esp if just cosmetic).

Just check the victorian one for damp and check it has been rewired in last 30 years! (often the downstairs has, but the upstairs has not)

good luck!

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