The existing house in Chistchurch, Dorset is currently a 5 bedroom detached property, also comprising an integrated retail shop. I am thinking of converting it into two 3 bedroom semi-detached houses using the existing wall through the middle of the house. Semi 1 would be approx 100 sqm internal and semi 2 approx 110 sqm. Resales at about £225k and £275k so low to mid finish spec. I would aim to use existing walls where possible within the property. Assume both would need rewrite and reception, new heating, reline and re-plaster existing internal walls, new kitchens and bathrooms, new sockets and switches, new windows and doors, new carpets and tiling, complete redecoration. Structurally ok, brick built, some existing retail shop windows would need to be bricked up to match exterior. Need additional supply of electricity, water, and gas.

Grateful for any advice. I had guessed at £35,000 for semi 1 as this needs some internal walls moving and new stud walls, and windows bricked up, and £30,000 for semi 2 as existing internal walls can be retained. However, a more scientific breakdown would be really helpful. Plus contingency so overall budget say at £75,000 ?

Is any VAT reclaimable ?

Many thanks


  • Adam


    I’m afraid you are unlikely to get an answer for your query on here. Not because people are unwilling to help but because to proffer any kind of answer would be foolhardy. Prices of everything vary wildly. Labour in London vs Dorset would be disparate in the extreme and it doesn’t stop there. Materials also. These are the big two. Outside that the considerations range from site security (would they be leaving tools in a lockup you/they provide or packing up to take home each day? What is the access like for large deliveries/skip trucks? Is there garden space for a skip or is it on the road? Can you store materials easily and safely or do you need to have things come in small amounts so you aren’t too clogged up with stuff in your way. All these things would impact the overall time required and hence the final costings.

    I would suggest that you ask local tradesman to come individually to price the work. Don’t tell them what you plan to do. Perhaps ask for a price for them to wire, plaster, finish just one side and then take that figure and double it. You will get a rough idea of the overall (and the pricey end too; there should be economies of scale if you get them to do both houses remember)

    If you don’t want the hassle of managing all this work then ask a reputable builder to quote. This will carry a premium but also remove a lot of the workload and stress from your shoulders.

    One thing you really shouldn’t overlook are the "associated" costs. These can be big. You will be looking at planning and building regs fees and the cost of drawings. In your case this could easily reach 2-4k depending on the type of plans you have drawn up for you and whether you go council or private building control visits. These days you must pay council tax on your empty properties even when they are uninhabitable through building works. That’ll be about £3-400 per month. These days mortgage providers will insist on a warranty with a conversion from retail to domestic use project. If you don’t want to provide a warranty you will at least need to provide a PCC certificate. These cost £1200 if you ask for one retrospectively and are fairly easy to get providing you have your building regs completion certificate.

    I certainly don’t want to put you off undertaking what could be a personally and financially rewarding project. I just want to help you get a clear idea of what you must first consider to avoid the pitfalls that have dogged me in my time.

    The best possible advice to do lots of homework, get lots of quotes and if it looks viable then go for it. Such projects are tough but fun in my experience.

    Good luck

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