Should I Buy An Ugly House?

Lisa Raynes

by Lisa Raynes

25/05/2021, in Design Hints and Tips | Main Blog

Do you dream of a symmetrical, imposing Geogian manor house? But is your budget more suited to a 1960’s chalet bungalow?

Many houses on the market can be very dated, not functioning well for modern lifestyles and, let’s face it, be downright ugly.

But look a little closer and these houses can make fantastic homes. Laura, architect at Pride Road New Forest & Bournemouth has just bought a 1960’s detached chalet bungalow which has had a two storey extension added in the 1970’s.


While the kerb appeal may need some attention, the spaces inside are large and light, offering flexibility and room for family life. 


With views onto the open forest it is the location that was the clincher with this property. Many of our clients go for bungalows and dated ‘ugly’ properties because they sit on large sites.


This completed project shows a small extension to the front living room balancing up the elevation. A new front door with glazing on either side is an instant update. The garage door was replaced and then cladding was used across the first floor, further pulling it away visually from the setback part on the left. A change in direction on the cladding added a bit more texture and interest.

Things to look out for….

1. Condition

Often houses that require remodelling are not only dated externally but internally too, with electrics and plumbing in need of upgrading along with kitchen and bathrooms, flooring, windows and doors, re-decorations….the works! 

These areas not only add cost but can cause a lot of disruption so ask the vendor for as much information as possible on these areas (e.g. has the house been re-wired/plumbed and if so, when) to get a feel for what extra costs will be involved.

2. Look for a good shape

Look for a house with a good shape, as this will be a better candidate for remodelling, particularly if you want a traditional look. The more you try and move a house away from a style it lends itself to, the more it will cost to achieve.

Bear in mind that if the problem area is to the front, front extensions can be contentious with the planners so double check with your local authority what their view is on these, or look at your close by neighbours to see if anyone else has done the same.

3. Building Regulations

Something that is easily overlooked when considering remodelling the external appearance of the house is ensuring it meets UK Building Regulations. If you change the elevational treatment, like cladding a brick facade with weatherboarding, you will have to meet the current Building Regulations to do with the thermal performance of the walls. So making the house look good can have hidden costs and technical considerations and the older the property the more likely this is. So check if you have cavities, whether they have been filled and if so, when and if possible, with what!

4. Budget

Building costs have gone up dramatically recently, due to Brexit and the ongoing pandemic. It is easy to underestimate how much a project can cost. When remodelling an existing building you never know what it might throw at you and prices will vary enormously depending on the condition, amount of structural changes you want to make, level of fixture and fittings, style, services, amount of glass etc.

Compared to a new build, remodelling can save a lot of money provided you work with the building. However, if you decide to change too much and there does come a tipping point where you may as well start again!