Threshold Mortgage Advice

Should you buy a New Build or a fixer upper for your first home?

If like most people, you’ve seen a few too many episodes of Escape to the Chateau, you’ve probably dreamed of renovating a charming old property into your first home.

Older buildings can ooze character but as any renovator will tell you, they can require a lot of time, money and patience.

If you’re a first time buyer thinking of buying an old property, it can be helpful to know exactly what you may be getting yourself into and be aware of the alternatives…

It can be difficult to get a mortgage approved for a run down property

Lenders want to feel reassured that the property you purchase is affordable for you and unfortunately, some older buildings can require a lot of maintenance which could affect your ability to repay your mortgage.

If you have little to no experience in renovating a property, your lender may be even more reluctant to lend under those circumstances, although that’s not to say it’s impossible.

If you do have dreams of restoring an ancient annex or a cobwebbed cottage in the Cotswolds, there may be specialist lenders who have more experience in providing first time buyer renovation mortgages.

Renovations can be expensive

You might hope that a fixer upper property is cheaper than a newly built property but this isn’t always the case. Renovations can be difficult for a novice first time buyer, especially if you’ve never dealt with electrics, woodwork or just DIY in general.

You may be able to save costs by doing some of the jobs yourself such as stripping old wallpaper, painting or clearing the garden but if you have larger tasks such as fitting a kitchen or plumbing a bathroom, it can be a good idea to ask a professional to complete the work.

It might be tempting to rip out everything but the kitchen sink but be cautious – a sudden burst pipe can quickly take a big chunk of your budget, so if you’re not sure, hiring qualified labourers could be a better idea.

It can take time

Fitting a kitchen, painting the skirting boards or even just cleaning a property that has been empty or unused for a while can take a lot of time.

Of course, there’s something to be said about standing back and admiring your hard work once the property has been finished, so if you do decide to renovate a once unloved property:

  • Set a realistic plan with your costs calculated ahead of making any changes to the property or starting a job
  • Set aside a budget for unexpected costs – materials can get damaged and you may come across additional repairs that need fixing
  • Be patient – this isn’t sixty second makeover
  • Don’t overwork yourself, especially if you’re continuing to work alongside the renovations

You might end up paying for two properties

If you buy a property that isn’t quite ready to be lived in, you might need to consider the cost of paying for additional accommodation or rent on another property.

If you have relatives that are happy to put you up until the renovations are finished, great! A word of warning though, you may end up having to stay longer than expected so ask yourself whether you can realistically manage staying with the in-laws for that long.

A New Build property could be a lot less work

  • No “surprise” fixes (and if there are surprises, your home will likely still be under a builder’s warranty that will cover most issues that arise).
  • It’s clean and easier to keep it that way.
  • Little to no worries about asbestos, mold, lead, or other health hazards.
  • Everything in the house is up to current building code to make it safer.
  • You can jump right in to start making it pretty without having to worry about electrical/plumbing/maintenance updates first.
  • It’s easy to start learning DIY projects as a beginner since it’s a blank slate.
  • It’s easier to predict your budget because there are fewer “surprises”.

Whether you opt for a New Build property or decide to revamp and older home, our advisers can help arrange your mortgage, ensuring you receive the right mortgage product and meet completion and exchange deadlines.

Talking to a mortgage expert can help answer any queries about the mortgage process and can also help you find better deals or builders incentives and schemes. Contact Threshold Mortgages today by sending us a message.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Approved by The Openwork Partnership on 24/11/2023

You are now leaving the Threshold Mortgage Advice website. We give no endorsement and accept no responsibility for the accuracy or content of any sites linked to this site.

Click ‘OK’ if you wish to proceed


You are now moving to a new site which is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. We give no endorsement and accept no responsibility for the accuracy or content of any sites linked to this site.

Click ‘OK’ if you wish to proceed