Buy, Build or Restore and

Buy, Build or Restore Abroad?

A property television review by Independent Surveyors


As Surveyors we note that there are many television programmes covering the property market aired on terrestrial and satellite television stations which we review in this section of our website. Our television review is our light hearted opinion of the television programme and gives a breakdown of the programmes content. In no way are we advertising the television programme or receiving remuneration for promoting it on our website we are simply giving general information.

If you need help and advice with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects reports, dilapidations or any other property matters please free phone
0800 298 5424

Free phone 0800 298 5424


Buy, Build or Restore?

The property television programme first aired back in 2005 we enjoy as Surveyors interested in all types, styles and ages of property by Birmingham based production company Hotbed Media and sadly is no longer being produced but repeats can be seen on satellite channels.

The Buy, Build or Restore? television programme looked at the various options a house hunter should think about when investing in a new property/home. The show appealed not only to Surveyors but a wider audience of viewers interested in seeing how the featured house hunters with varying budgets decide which property to either Buy, Build or Restore.

A spin off half hour programme Buy, Build or Restore Abroad which is a similar programme format to Buy, Build or Restore but showing properties in European countries such as France , Spain and Cyprus where house hunters decide which option to take. Buy, Build or Restore Abroad will be the focus of this article as it is currently being aired on satellite channel Discovery Travel and Living.


Buy, Build or Restore Abroad Presenter

Michael Holmes not a surveyor but a well informed property expert

Michael Holmes is a knowledgeable property expert who is Editor in Chief of Homebuilding and Renovating magazine. He has written from many national newspapers including The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Independent etc and is well regarded in this sector. Michael himself is an experienced renovator and self-builder having completed many projects and is a perfect host with this background. Michel has also presented other property programmes including Hot Property and Trading Up, How to Build a House, Good Bid, Good Buy and Don't Move Improve making him a seasoned presenter.

Michael's wide knowledge in the property field makes him an ideal host for Buy, Build or Restore Abroad and with his down to earth and frank approach gives a professional and friendly approach to finding the house hunters options to Buy, Build or Restore Abroad each episode.


Buy, Build or Restore Abroad Programme format

Each episode Buy, Build or Restore Abroad shows a different European location with house hunters looking to Buy, Build or Restore Abroad. The thirty minute programme with breaks for advertisements moves at pace without skimming over issues or views of the properties and land featured and is informative with budget breakdowns and local expert opinions.

The Buy, Build or Restore Abroad format is endless as there are so many places the show could feature with many people relocating away from Britain and looking to either Buy, Build or Restore Abroad.

As Chartered Surveyors we often are asked by our clients to comment on their design and restoration plans for properties they are looking to buy which is always an interesting area to help with.

With a decision as important as to Buy, Build or Restore Abroad the programme will not always find the instant perfect solution for the house hunters featured but will show options each show that can be bought to live in immediately, areas of land on which to build and properties which are in need of restoration.


Buy, Build or Restore Abroad Titles

Each show is introduced by Michael Holmes setting the scene of the location to be featured in Buy, Build or Restore Abroad and the house hunters to be featured. The host is shown with clean, bright graphics of people with plans, maps and building materials which is later interspersed throughout the show at commercial breaks and to define different sections of the programme.

As Surveyors we are often shown client's plans for extensions or renovations and sometimes when work has not gone to plan are asked to prepare Specific Defect Reports.


Buy, Build or Restore Abroad Music

The music is jazzy, fast paced, positive and bright featuring a trumpet.



Programme Example

Buy, Build or Restore Abroad Episode featuring Cognac

Buy, Build or Restore Abroad is in the South West of France in the Cognac region of Poitou-Charentes where a couple and their three boys are looking for a new home. The couple until a month ago lived in Bedfordshire where the husband was a television drama producer and have upped sticks and moved to France to start a new internet business and find a new home.

Michael Holmes introduces this area of France as being very affordable although this may change soon and for a reasonable budget a sizeable property with land can be found.

We are asked as Surveyors and Valuers to comment on market values in the UK when conducting residential and commercial building surveys which we are happy to help with.

The couple want their dream home in the area hoping to be close to their children's new school in Jacnac with a half hour school run being the longest to travel from their new dwelling. They wish to have at least four bedrooms, an office as they will work from home and a garden all on the wish list for Buy, Build or Restore Abroad this week.

The couple have started their internet business already which focuses on British Ex Pats being able to get in touch with English speaking French companies and after several trips to France in the past have taken the plunge to emigrate to France . Currently in rented accommodation for a month the couple are keenly looking at properties in the area and are unsure whether to Buy, Build or Restore.

When working with our clients who are deciding whether to Buy, Build or Restore a property in the UK we as Surveyors always recommend that they look carefully at their budgets.

With the task set Michael Holmes looks at the budget to work with to find them their ideal solution to find a new home and either Buy, Build or Restore Abroad. The sum of £250,000 which equates to approximately 380,000 Euros is the budget and with each scenario of Buy, Build or Restore Abroad the budget is broken down as follows.



To purchase a property in France it is best to always check if the purchase costs are including in the price as these can vary from 7-18% and include Stamp Duty, Land Registry, Agent fees and VAT.

As Surveyors we have found with the current property market there is always room for negotiation.


To buy

With a budget of £250,000 if an offer is accepted at £225,000 with costs at 11% (£25,000) this would come in on budget exactly.


To build

Again with a Buy, Build or Restore Abroad budget of £250,000 a plot of land of approximately one acre would cost in the region of £60,000. With a build option the property purchase fees are less in the region of 5% so with £250,000 and fees of £3000 a sum of £187,000 would be the sum for the build.


To restore

If looking to restore a property with the property price at £90,000 the property purchase costs would be the same as if buying i.e. 11% at £10,000 which would leave the sum of £150,000 for the renovation work.

A full structural survey by a Surveyor when looking to restore a property is a must to help with issues that may be costly by identifying them at the onset of a project.


Finding somewhere to Buy, Build or Restore Abroad

With the budget in place and breakdowns of how much is available to either Buy, Build or Restore Abroad, the area decided upon with a maximum half hour school run Michael Holmes sets about finding property and land for the couple to look at various options.



To Buy in the Cognac region

Just eight miles south east of Jarnac a property is on the market at £235,000 and consists of a 1986 built house with five bedrooms tucked away into the hillside. The property is in a quiet, peaceful and secluded setting with a swimming pool and stunning views across the countryside although from the front of the property it looks quite different from the back which looks larger. The house is designed with an interesting use of space with the downstairs the open plan areas working better than the layout upstairs.

The verdict from the couple although it has its charm they are not so happy with the layout and feel the house could have been designed in a better fashion. On the finance side however it is spot on if an offer was accepted at £220,000 with 11% fees it would come just under budget at £245,000.

We are delighted to say that as Surveyors we are often asked repeatedly by clients to survey several properties on their behalf that they are looking to purchase.


To Build in the Cognac region

Next the build option is explored.

Travelling thirty minutes away from Jacnac this time to the north west a plot of land is on the market which is divided up into four plots. With Michael suggesting that all four plots are purchased together which amounts to one and a half acres this would be an ideal spot to build their dream home. There is countryside to enjoy in this beautiful spot and with the four plots being £80,000 Michael feels sure there is room for negotiation if the four plots were all purchased by one buyer.

The couple if purchasing all four plots could build their dream home and either keep the land for themselves as garden or by maintaining the planning permission could build further properties in the future to sell on if this was to be their plan.

Michael feels there is one major issue and the owner of the land is introduced to the couple and discusses why the remaining three acres in this area are not for sale. The other land is not for sale as it is not allowed to be built on as the nearby village is not able to sustain more development this is a good sign.

As Surveyors we are happy to comment on purchasing plots of land and will point out issues such as if the land is a sloping site which will need to be addressed in the plan of the build.


The verdict

The plots are in a stunning location and they would even consider moving their sons to a nearer school and feel that they could have a contemporary style house with large glass areas to enjoy the landscape surrounding the property.

Graphics are shown of an open plan modern house built with large glass panels to take in the great views and an interior with open plan areas for the family to come together for communal living and other smaller private areas for the couple to escape from the children.

To build a property with the £250,000 budget if the four plots were sold together at say £50,000 the fees of £3,000, adding in a septic tank, electricity and other services at £7,000, an architect at £15,000 the budget for the build at £190,000 for a substantial 200 square foot home would cost just over budget at £265,000. The property once built would be worth an estimated £350,000 which would be a £85,000 profit.

The couple need time to digest this proposition and realise that their dream home could be designed exactly to their requirements with this option.

As Surveyors when carrying out full structural surveys and valuations we are happy to meet with our clients or talk to them on the telephone with help and advice at this important decision making time.


To Restore in the Cognac region

Will restoring a property offer the best of both scenarios or not? The property to restore is just six miles from the children's school and until six months ago was surprisingly occupied really hard to believe in its current run down condition! The stone house has outbuildings which would be possible to renovate and convert but in its current run down condition is a major project.

The property is on the market at £90,000 and the couple are speechless as there is so much required to make the building into their dream home.


Call in a local expert

To help a local agent is called in for advice as many can make mistakes with the wrong improvements and/or fail to complete the project as they get costs wrong for example. The agent suggests that an average cost per square metre for a basic renovation would be in the region of 800-900 Euros but it really depends on the quality and you could budget for 1500 to 1600 Euros per square metre.

A contingency amount should be set aside for renovation projects as it really is only when you start work that structural issues often come to light such as subsidence which can be very costly.

This really is when a Surveyor is best to be on hand as a full structural survey will highlight any costly building issues.


The verdict from the couple

Although hard they need to forget what is here in terms of the run down interior and look to imagine what they could do with the stone structure. This is a serious project with so much work required let alone the issues of the major crack, rising damp, dry rot, woodworm and a new roof the list is endless. The property has a good size garden with mature trees but with so much to do the couple are a little bewildered.



Compare another Restored property

Michael takes the couple to visit a stone house that has been renovated to show them what potential the run down property has. The comparison property is stunning with a wow factor and shows the couple what can be achieved with a good budget and high standards of workmanship.

If the couple were to purchase the run down property at £90,000 with fees and taxes at £10,000, adding in a swimming pool at around £15,000 there would be £135,000 for restoration. The property value at completion would be in the region of £290,000 giving a profit of £40,000.




Buy, Build or Restore Abroad in the Cognac region

The couple decide to take another look at the land for sale, the exercise has opened their eyes to the prospect of building their dream home and also plan to talk to local builders before making a decision.


Buy, Build or Restore Abroad a Surveyors summary

To Buy in the Cognac region

Michael Holmes gently but firmly leads the couple and viewer from either buying, building or restoring a property in the Cognac region giving an insight into the various scenarios. The programme gives the viewer a tour of the properties and land as well as graphics with suggestions as to what could be achieved. Nothing is hidden with budgets drilled down so that the couple understand how much capital is required and where the money is split for each project whether it be to Buy, Build or Restore.

A decision to relocate is an enormous one and another one to either Buy, Build or Restore too needs time to contemplate. The programme is informative and frank and a different slant on the many property programmes aired on the various television channels making it a popular show.




Reference to other interesting articles on property television programmes

and property issues are:-


Homes Under The Hammer

Help, My House is Falling Down

Property Ladder and Property Snakes and Ladders



Independent Surveyor's Advice

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to structural surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, defects report, including things such as cracks, dampness, condensation, foundation problems, etc, dilapidations, homebuyers reports or any other property matters please free phone
0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back.


Independent commercial property surveyors

If you have a commercial property, be it leasehold or freehold, then you may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site .


We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The contents of the web site are for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.


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