Want to buy a cheap house in the Aude? Renovate!

It’s the same old story, if you want to buy a house in the Aude and your budget is limited the very best deal is to buy a property that needs some work.  To renovate.

A limited budget isn’t the only reason that people choose to renovate.  Some people have a very clear picture in their mind of what they want and it’s often easier, and certainly cheaper, to be able to start from scratch rather than having to undo someone else’s renovation.

Define renovate

It’s actually the first question I ask if someone says that they’re open to looking at properties that need renovating.  Or need some work.  Or need refreshing. 

Renovate is one of those evocative, emotive words.  For some people it conjures up visions of hell, others see the finished house.  The challenge energizes some and terrifies the rest.  Some people envision holes knocked in metre thick stone walls, others think in terms of replacing a light fixture.

Renovate can mean anything from rebuilding to freshing up, with repairing, reviving, recreating, and refurbishing in there along the way.  If you’re thinking about looking for houses in France that needs some work it’s a good idea to define your terms. 

Some people are just renovators

I have two bothers and we are all renovators.  None of us has ever bought a house that didn’t need work.  You may be thinking "Aha!, it’s genetic."  No.  Our parents were definitely not renovators.  In fact they were the ultimate anti-renovators.  We moved a lot – my father’s job – and my father was obsessed with the next owners.  Hanging a picture was cause for  a week of deliberation.  There’d  be a hole in the wall.  Would anyone buy the house?

He’d ask me what colour I wanted my bedroom painted.  Orange, I’d say.  Or red.  I knew it wouldn’t happen.  My choices were pink, powder blue, or light yellow.  My brothers didn’t get the pink choice but they could have pale green.  "White" I’d finally say.  My father would finally agree although he would say that it would make it hard to sell the house.  "But the new people can paint".  I protested in vain.

When I moved into my first apartment  I painted the wall a high gloss navy blue.  It was gorgeous. 

I see the result

When I walk into a house that needs work I see the final result.  I have a tendency to turn to a client and say "This is gorgeous".  My clients have a tendency to then look at me as if I’ve completely lost the plot.  Unless they’re renovators.

Renovators – the profile

Most of us started young, with our first house. We could only afford a house that needed work and we couldn’t afford to pay anyone else to do it.  Initially we didn’t have a clue what we were doing.  We learned by experience, by watching and helping friends, and most of us had a ‘bible’, an indispensable reference book.  Mine was Reader’s Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual.  And I had a husband who grew up on a farm and seemed to know how to do a lot of things.  My youngest brother worked as a house painter one summer and taught me how to paint. 

More than 30 years later and I’m still renovating.  Not doing much of the initial work myself anymore.  financially it makes more sense for me to sell houses and pay someone to do the basic stuff.  I do the decorating.  This is the second house I’ve renovated in the Aude.  I keep saying ‘never again’ but I will do it again.  Bring able to look at your finished house and say "I did that" or "That was my idea" or "This is exactly what I wanted" makes it all worthwhile.

Should you renovate a house in the Aude?

Maybe.  If you want to end up with the house of your dreams, definitely.  Remember, you don;t have to do it all yourself.  There are a lot of tradespeople in the Aude.  It’s worth thinking about.

About Sam

Sam started Aude France as a companion site to her real estate site Aude France Property so that she could have a place to write about life in the Aude. Now that she's in Canada she writes about things that can affect owners and buyers in the Aude - or anything that strikes her fancy. On Pinterest you can find her by searching for Sam Mooney or clicking this link
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