Renovating your Bulgarian Wreck
Bought a House in Bulgaria? Read on for Renovation Tips
It's yours, the Bulgarian property that could turn out to be your dream home, but where do you start? Since there are no legal requirements to have a property survey done in Bulgaria you may have to call in the builders to see exactly what state your new purchase is in. That may well be the hardest part! Finding qualified tradesmen in Bulgaria is a total minefield, a very daunting task. And for your own sake get at least 3 quotes and opinions on any work that needs doing. There is no point in throwing money away on a property that has major problems when it could be cheaper and easier to rebuild from scratch.
Maybe you are an accomplished DIY'er and could manage a lot of the work yourself, which is an option open to some. Being realistic is the key, slogging away at manual jobs isn't fun but can save you some money if you are competent. Finding the right tools and materials is the next challenge, prices vary across the country as does quality. It may be best to seek out known tool brands or pay slightly more for something that will last, better still think about bringing what you already have and trust from the UK. Locally sourced materials are usually cheaper than the large DIY chain stores in major towns. Asking someone who lives nearby where to buy things from can save you time and money.
You may find that joining an internet group or forum aimed at expats in Bulgaria can be helpful. There are quite a few around, and they will have members with first hand experience in similar situations. Many so-called builders trawl expat forums and sites to try and pick up business, not all of them are to be trusted. Make sure anyone you employ to do a job has the relevant experience and knowledge; ask to see examples of previous jobs and for references from past clients. If at all possible speak to people directly and examine the work for yourself, not just photographs. Don't be too trusting, a fool and his money are soon parted as they say!
Make a list of all jobs you are aware need done
Below are some suggestions :-
- Have your roof checked for any possible leaks and broken tiles. Also check the roof timbers well, many Bulgarian properties have woodworm or other pests that can cause damage. All ridge tiles should be in place.
- Make sure all doors and windows fit well and are secure. There's nothing worse than drafty windows and doors in winter.
- Check walls and floors for signs of cracks, remember Bulgaria is in an earthquake zone.
- Sewage and plumbing are jobs that need special attention, especially before winter. A frozen pipe can make life hard during the colder months. Insulate or lag all pipework and your water meter to avoid damage.
- Add insulation to walls, floors and roof where possible. This will save money in the long run and make it easier to heat and cool your home effectively.
- Electrical installations in many Bulgarian properties are inadequate, and may need a major overhaul before being safe for modern appliances and living. A professional should be used for this job.
- Have your chimney and flue cleaned before fitting a wood burner. Don't wait until it's minus 20 Degrees C. Dirty chimneys can cause fires.
Above all else prioritize what should be done first and in the time you have.