Costs to consider when buying an older property

When buying a property you need to consider whether you want to buy an older style property or new build.  It’s a debate that Ben and I often had when purchasing our first property together.  I dreamt of a new build; a home that had only ever been mine and no one else had lived in.  I wanted to choose all the fittings and have it all ready, brand spanking new to move into.  Ben, on the other hand, was adamant he would never buy a new build.  He didn’t think they were built as well as older style properties.  Secretly I think he also wanted a project so he could test his DIY skills all over the house.

The one great appeal of a new build is everything is new.  Things shouldn’t break or be broken already and if they are then you can simply call the developers or whoever sold the house as all the fixtures and fittings will have a guarantee.  Even the building will have a ten year guarantee so if anything drastic happens in the first decade of living there you won’t have to fork out for it yourself.

With older houses this is not the case.  They are more likely to have lots of problems as they’ve already been lived in for decades.  We purchased a 1960s home, so it’s had fifty years of wear and tear, DIY, several different owners decoration piled on top of each other and plenty of bodge jobs along the way!  There are also the problems that can’t be seen at a viewing, though I’d have a much better idea of what to look for if we ever buy a house again!

Of course the best compromise would have been to buy an older property that someone else has totally renovated.  We did see a couple of these when viewing houses, but they were snapped up so quickly and very rare to come across.  This would have been the ideal solution as you have the well-built home with a brand new feel inside; perhaps the perfect solution for our next home.

When buying an older home there may be lots of extra costs to consider.  It’s not always as simple as moving in and being done with it.  Here are some of the extra costs you could encounter when buying an old property:

Central heating

Unless the previous owners have upgraded the boiler and central heating system then chances are it’s very outdated and ineffective.  If it’s not working properly then it will be less energy efficient and could cost you more to run.  Old and worn radiators and pipe work may be unsightly and in need of modernisation. A gas fired heating system could cost as much as £5500 so it’s a serious cost to take into consideration when viewing a property and working out your budget for any major works.


Again, depending on the age of the property and what the current and previous owners have updated, you may want to consider the cost of having to replace all the windows.  If they are very old or not double glazed then an update could be due.  If the windows aren’t a regular size then this will cost more to have bespoke sizes made.  Our property has had some windows replaced, but we need to replace two of them as the old style windows offer no ventilation in our bedroom causing massive amounts of condensation, wet and damp every day.  Replacing windows is in the thousands so it’s another serious expense to consider.


The average cost of rewiring a three bed house in the UK is £3500.  If your home hasn’t been rewired in 25-30 years then it will need checking to see if a full rewire or partial rewire is needed.  This must be carried out by a registered electrician and they will provide a certificate for any work carried out.  Electrics is definitely not something to mess with, so always call in a professional.  It’s also worth checking for plug sockets around the home.   The kids rooms only have a single socket each at our house and there are several plug sockets that don’t work so we’ll need to pay out to get all this sorted too.


It’s worth taking a look at the doors both inside and outside and also testing any locks.  All the doors in our property were awful board type white doors.  Some had been painted and many of them were totally wonky and not the right fit for the door frame.  Replacing an entire house of doors isn’t cheap.  Luckily the front door was OK for us, but the side door has a broken lock. We are unable to get the key in the lock from the outside.

Water pressure

This isn’t something that immediately comes to mind when viewing a property, but I wish we’d turned the taps on and checked the flow of the water.  As soon as we moved in we knew something was wrong.  It took me around one hour to run our two year old daughter, at that time, a one inch deep bath!  The shower resembled a dribble.  It wasn’t something we could live with as a young family who needed showers and baths every day, so we had to come up with a solution.  The solution was unfortunately almost £3000 and we had a high pressure water tank installed.  It did the trick, but it was a huge expense we could have done without.

Outdated kitchen and bathroom

Many older properties have outdated kitchens and bathrooms.  These are probably the most expensive rooms to renovate and replace as you need to buy the new fixtures as well as pay for labour to install yourself, unless of course you are able to install it yourself to a professional standard.

Roof and chimney

It’s worth checking if the roof is well insulated as this will help with energy efficiency and money saving.  The chimney is an area where the mortar between the bricks wears away quicker than any other part of the house.  Our chimney needs repointing and the cost could be in the region of £800.  We also have some large holes in the breeze blocks in our roof, so these aren’t going to help with keeping our home warm.  Check the chimney, roof and attic to try and gauge the state of it all when viewing.

Whilst buying an older property might be the dream for you, it’s important to remember the costs might not end at the purchase price.  Go in to the buy with your eyes wide open so you’re ready for all the extra costs involved to update your property and make it safe.

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