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That is where Tünde found our apartment. The website is very good at filtering searches.


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The Property Market In Hungary

Make A Renovation Plan - Follow It - Avoid Mistakes

Besides timing your property renovation in terms of having double glazing and radiators fitted for example, which could be done in stages at various times (i.e. left until later), I would strongly recommend making a plan straight after, if not before, property purchase in order to avoid wasted time, energy and money in the long run.

Although I had a plan in mind when I purchased my apartment in Szeged, which I carried out as much as I could, unforeseen and avoidable problems still hindered that plan. Hence why below, with hindsight, I have given you an insight into what can be avoided.

Does A Plan REALLY HELP?

On paper renovating a property should not really need a plan as it should be a straight forward process. However, there is always something that interferes with your plan. Below is the initial, straight forward, plan I wanted to carry out. A plan I thought would be simple and easy to follow. How wrong was I to expect that!

  1. Clear The Rubbish - Within my property pre-contract the previous owners agreed to empty the apartment of all rubbish, cupboards, bath, sinks and toilet; which never happened. The previous owners had some of the general rubbish removed, but not the bath, toilet, sinks and cupboards.

    In Reality: I had to chop up the cupboards myself, hire a skip from my own expenses and then pay some local people to remove those heavy household objects, old floor and wall tiles, and pieces of heavy wood; as well as carry strong black bags, OBI strong bags and cardboard boxes full of rubbish downstairs to the outside dustbin.

    Comments: The local builders wanted to dump their own rubbish in the domestic dustbins outside my apartment instead of hiring a skip or taking it to a waste ground, which could of got me into trouble as you are not supposed to put builder's waste inside the domestic bins.

  2. Remove Tiles And Wallpaper - With the rubbish cleared the next part of the plan was to remove the old, dirty, greasy floor tiles and wall tiles from the kitchen, bathroom and hallway; which I achieved. I also managed to remove the dirty, dried out (crisp), wallpaper from the bedroom and hallway. Both of which required waste disposal.

    In Reality: I could of paid the tiler to remove those tiles, but that would of meant an extra charge of around £100. With a little muscle power, mallet and brick chisel I managed, after two days, to remove all the tiles myself; which were a bitch to remove and very noisy to remove.

    Comments: Consider the pros and cons. You can save money but the neighbours might not appreciate the noise, especially if you are renovating an apartment. In which case, put a big sign of apology on the entrance/exit doors of the apartment building explaining there will be noise over the coming weeks and months.

  3. Repair Walls - The apartment previously suffered very minor water damage, mainly towards the top of windowed walls (where they meet the ceiling), due to the roof leaking whenever it rained. The roof was then repaired whereby over the following year the sun had naturally dried out the entire apartment; including the water damaged areas, leaving them flaky and chalky only.

    In Reality: This was just a cosmetic repair whereby sanding down the affected (sun-dried out) ceiling/wall areas took care of the problem. For added protection and reassurance I also treated the affected areas with the relevant chemicals and anti-mold paints.

    Comments: When viewing a property do not be afraid to peel off flaking paint in order to investigate potential problems. More importantly, do not be afraid to ask the estate agent and/or current owner about any known problems, the property's history in terms of its previous owners and the building itself. Their testimonies can be valuable insights. In my case the previous owners bought the property from an auction as the previous previous owner was jobless and lived like a squatter in the apartment. Hence its rundown condition and lack of electricity meter (due to being in debt) leading to 'force of sale'.

  4. Rewire The Property - When viewing a property: Unless someone still lives in the property, such as tenants and/or the current owner, there will be no live electricity or gas flowing through the property simply because utility companies are quick to void a contract; especially if the current owner/tenant is in debt and/or no longer lives in the property.

    In Reality: If you are renovating on a grand scale, such as having the property rewired, you will need to ask the neighbours for some electricity. Even though you can work long hours in the sunlight of summertime, drilling holes with a battery powered drill for example, battery powered tools still need electricity to charge them!

    Comments: In my case I paid the neighbours the equivalent of one month's electricity, 5,000 HUF (£13.33), for supplying me with about 12 hours of electricity stretching over a few days; for the important drilling jobs when no power tools were available. They did not want to take the money, but I insisted. Afterall, an appreciated favour such as being able to use someone's electricity in an emergency is worth much more than money of course.

  5. Fit New Double-Glazed Windows - Once measured, it should take up to four weeks to manufacture your double glazed windows and doors and another couple of days before being fitted.

    In Reality: If your new property is outside of Budapest you may have to wait longer for your Double Glazing to be manufactured and fitted. This is because many double glazing agents and shops order windows and doors from Budapest; probably because it is cheaper to do so and/or because the manufacturer is in Budapest?

    Comments: While waiting for your double glazing it is also worth looking into shutters and blinds, usually from the same agent or shop you ordered your double glazing from, as they might also need to order the required stock and make an appointment with you to drill holes into the windows for air ventilation. 1 shutter of 2m x 1½ can cost £100+ and 1 air vent slot with movable switch/slider can cost £50+.

  6. Create Fake Ceilings - Rather than stare at four walls and a straight ceiling in the future, you might want to give your rooms some character.

    In Reality: With many types of property, but especially with apartments, you will find ugly pipework everywhere; a bit like in UK council flats. You can hide such ugliness with fake panelling and by creating fake ceilings to hide light bulb/switch wiring.

    Comments: In the UK the pipework normally goes around the walls at ceiling level and floor level, with nasty plastic channels covering the wiring. In Hungary they tend to put pipework at ceiling level. This isn't too bad as it means you can create nicer fake ceilings, partitions and borders using plasterboard and plaster as opposed to plastic channels. And if you want to get to the wiring and/or pipework in the future you could have a metal frame built whereby you would just need to remove a small section of plasterboard to get to them, thus less damage/work later.

  7. Plaster Each Room - After creating your fake ceilings the existing walls and all new fake ceilings should be smoothed over with either plaster or glet.

    In Reality: Make sure you know what you are getting. In the UK pink plaster is applied to wall and ceiling plasterboard in ½cm, 1cm or even 2cm layers. In Hungary white glet, which has a creamier (plaster of paris/polyfilla) texture, is applied to wall and ceiling plasterboard (as well as bare concrete) in 3mm or 5mm layers; therefore it acts as a skimmer.

    Comments: I think Hungarian builders think by layering plasterboards together, to create a thicker plasterboard wall for example, they only need to skim. Either way, tell them EXACTLY what YOUR requirements are. Glet normally dries within one day, depending on the humidity of the room and what area size was covered of course.

  8. Fit New Bathroom - Months in advance of your renovation, try and buy each component (i.e. taps, pipes, tiles, grout, etc) and each fitting (i.e. shower, toilet and sink) one at a time to make costs more manageable. Not just because you may be on a tight budget, but also because throughout the year different d.i.y shops have discounts on different items - You might get your taps cheaper in March and your sink cheaper in June for example.

    In Reality: Huge savings can be had if you wait for the sales and discounts. You need to keep an eye on the exchange rates though to get a really good deal. And sods law will dictate that you will be in the wrong place at the wrong time!

    Comments: Buy forints in bulk if you can, obviously when the exchange rates are in your favour, to bring costs down further. It sounds obvious to point this out, but you will be surprised how many people exchange 'at the time' "because it is more convenient".

  9. Fit New Kitchen - See above.
  10. Fit New Doors - See above. Have custom-made doors made, if possible/preferred, as the price of buying d.i.y doors and having a carpenter fit them will be more or less the same price. Custom-made doors from a showroom means you get the fitting included in the price and have a much better design range to choose from.
  11. Fit New Carpets And Floor Tiles - See above. With carpets from a showroom, you are better off picking a carpet from them but then picking an underlay from a cheaper shop. That is what I did. In the showroom I went to the underlay was almost the same price as the carpet!
  12. Buy New Furniture, Crockery And Cutlery - These can be bought gradually to make costs more manageable. Tesco has a nice range of household goods.

With the above plan I tried to get the jobs of rubbish disposal and rewiring out of the way first, but at the same time wanted to get the windows measured for their new double-glazing as well as shop around for carpet prices, tile prices, etc in preparation for their jobs. The order of jobs looks okay, but in reality many of those jobs were delayed, switched around and/or done in an entirely different way; making the whole renovation process time consuming, if not irritating!

Noise Apology RENOVATION LETTER

Below Tünde has kindly written an apology letter, for the noise caused by renovation, for other apartment owners/tenants within your apartment block; if you have or are going to buy an apartment of course.

Tisztelt Lakótársak!

A Address Here lakásban 2017. Március 15 – 31 között felújítási munkákat végzünk. Elnézést kérünk az okozott kellemetlenségért és kérjük szíves megértésüket.

Tisztelettel


Dear Neighbours,

We are doing some renovation work in apartment Address Here between 15th March and 31st March 2017. We apologise for any inconvenience and appreciate (ask for) your understanding.

Regards


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