Written by Amy Baker,
5th July 2017

The US was born out of that pioneer spirit, and now it’s your turn to build your own log cabin. Or at least, to tackle a renovation project. Here is what you need to know.

Our USA Property Guide readers are an ambitious lot! Not content with merely making the move across the pond, many of you also want to take on large-scale renovation projects to create the property you’ve always dreamed of. It makes sense. There are fantastic bargain properties to be found across the USA and when prices are so low, it can be tempting to start brainstorming how you might use the extra cash to transform your new home into the perfect spot for you and your family. To help ensure that you’re not biting off more than you can chew on top of your international move, today we’re running through six things to consider before taking on a project.

There are fantastic bargain properties to be found across the USA

Find homes in the USA via our property portal.

1 – Research, research, research

As well as seeking out the opinions of architects, builders and other professionals, contact people who’ve undertaken similar projects to understand what kinds of issues can arise and how to tackle them should they occur. Fortunately, the DIY and renovation community is a helpful bunch and there are hundreds of online forums to help you out of any hole (literally) that you can dig yourself into.

2 – Stay objective

Are you renovating to create your “forever home”, to fix and flip for a fast buck, or a buy-to-let? Establish your reasons for renovating early in the process and refer back to them when making key decisions. Try to stay cool, calm and objective when deciding whether to go for the Farrow & Ball (yes, you can get it in the US!) or the Walmart emulsion. Clearly outlining your aims and establishing what’s important will help you to make informed decisions rather than impassioned ones.


See the potential in a home

Don’t just look at the paintwork, see the potential!


3 – Budget, budget, budget

It’s easy to get carried away when you’re planning a new life in the sunshine. When considering your budget, don’t neglect to include tax and consultation fees. Will you be financing the renovations from a loan or another form of credit? If so, you will need to factor in the cost of fees and repayments into your budget. Are you including the cost of new fixtures, fittings and furniture in your budget too? The more detailed you can be with your budget the better.

Any exciting project requires dedication and commitment, and the US wouldn’t the country it is today without that can-do attitude

4 – Building permits and zoning

Before you can get started on the more fun parts of the renovations, you will need to contact the zoning department in your region to ensure they approve the project. This process can take some time and involve site inspections before you are granted final approval. Factor in the time it will take to secure this approval into your renovation timeline. You will also need to reach out to your local Home Owners Association (HOA), who are essentially the governing body for the neighbourhood. They will need to see your plans in order to decide whether what you have in mind fits in with the local area.

5 – Location, location, location

American weather is that little bit more extreme than in the dear old UK, with some areas vulnerable to hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding. If you’re located in these areas, ensure your renovations make the property strong as well as attractive.


Green pastures, Kentucky USA

Fresh green pastures, in Kentucky


6 – Don’t be put off!

Any exciting project requires dedication and commitment, and the US wouldn’t the country it is today without that can-do attitude. So channel that pioneer spirit, be the hero of your own renovation story, live the American DIY dream, and go for it!

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