1. REVISIT THE PROPERTY
You have visited the property once, go back and visit it again and again. Preferably, go on a grey wet day. A sunny day will flatter any property. You are trying to spot potential problems and will increase your chances by seeing the house in its worst light.
2. TAKE NOTES & PHOTOGRAPHS
Try to note as much as possible during your visits. Use a checklist and note the condition of different aspects. A digital camera is hugely helpful. Photograph each wall of each room. Try to capture the original features such as the plasterwork, floors, doors, windows, glass and assess their condition. Photograph outside also. Note any potential flaws or things you are unsure of.
3. CHECK THE ORIENTATION
Try to establish the orientation of the property. Most maps, paper, phone, google, etc are arranged with north to the top and by coparison, you can establish the orientation of the property. Certain orientations have more favourable daylight than others. This is a generalisation and depends on the layout of the property but, the best orientation for a period house is east west with the front to the east and the rear to the west.
4. GET A CONDITION SURVEY DONE
Before you make a bid, you should arrange for a condition survey of the property to be carried out by a professional surveyor. This is an investigation of the building to assess its condition, construction and services.The survey will warn of works required and the associated costs that will need to be incurred.
5. DO PLANNING RESEARCH
Be aware of the planning history of a property you intend to buy. Ensure your solicitor does due diligence to establish any permissions, conditions, compliance, rights of way, etc. Check the local planning authority, most have an on-line planning search facility where you can search the planning history of an area. Search the property itself and then search similar properties nearby. Be particularly aware of any planning refusals. Check is the property protected? Is it in a conservation area? Is there any history of flooding? etc.
6. KNOW THE ESSENTIAL WORKS NEEDED
The condition survey will warn of the essential works that need to be carried out to make the property habitable. It should also estimate the costs of these. Read it and understand it. If you are unsure of anything go back and query the surveyor.
7. DECIDE WHAT OTHER WORKS ARE NEEDED
The condition survey will not include works that you want to do, to adapt the property to your needs.
For example, if the house really needs another bathroom to work as a family home, this will not be called up in the condition report. So give thought to what other works are needed to be done to make it work for you.
8. DO A WORKS LIST & GET IT COSTED
The next task is to make an overall list of works you intend to carry out, a schedule of works.
List every thing you can think of, it is better to be exhaustive at this stage, than to have surprises later.
Then cost your list. It would be wise for you to get advice with this. Get an opinion from an architect or quantity surveyor. The cost will directly relate to what you can bid.
9. ALLOW A CONTINGENCY
Period properties, by their nature, will throw up surprises during the course of a restoration.
It is wise to make an allowance for these surprises in advance, a contingency fund to cover unforeseen expenses.
10. GET SPECIALIST ADVICE
Much of the above involves areas where specialist expertise really is required. It would be wise for you to get advice from an qualified architect. Use an experienced registered architect and ensure they have conservation experience accreditation and insurance cover.
Period properties generally have a charm that can be very seductive. Ideally, what you are trying to do here is to calm your enthusiasm so that you reach an objective and realistic view of what owning it entails. You will be prepared for what you are getting into and thereby avoid trouble.