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How to Find a Unique Home

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

It’s not surprising that finding a unique home is a high priority for many property buyers. If you’re spending such a large sum of money, you want the house you’re buying to be different to those around it. Who could blame you? After all, property is the ultimate status symbol and highly desirable for many people. Now it’s time to actually think about how to find a unique home.

Property styles

Uniqueness has a tendency to go hand in hand with cost. It can be a much sought after commodity, especially in cities like London. Though, the vast majority of cities have approximately 7 styles of property:

  1. Victorian houses
  2. Georgian terraces
  3. Flat conversions (from both the above)
  4. Mews houses
  5. Red brick mansion blocks
  6. Conversions from commercial or industrial buildings
  7. Modern buildings

Many of the above styles have subsequently been adapted, extended or reconfigured to suit their previous owners. It leads us to ask, do they really qualify as unique?

What do you need to consider when trying to find a unique home?

So, what do you need to think about when you’re looking for a unique property?

Architect designed property

If you want a house which is completely unique, you’re going to want to find a property labelled by estate agents as ‘architect designed’. These are complete one-off designs which won’t be replicated elsewhere.

Internal renovations

Unique property doesn’t just mean the exterior. Look for a property that’s been renovated or redesigned internally. These will be easier to find as external changes are usually restricted by architectural requirements of the area.

Look beyond your desired location

If you’ve got your heart set on a particular style of property, it may be worth looking beyond your desired location. Your ideal property may not exist in the location you’re hoping for.

Trust your instincts

Uniqueness, just like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. You shouldn’t rely on someone else to tell you if a property matches your requirements. You have to be proactive in your hunt for individuality.

Be prepared to compromise

Setting your expectations too high can lead to disappointment. If you’re prepared to compromise on certain aspects, you’ll have more luck in your house hunt.

Think outside the box

If you’re specifically interested in a unique property, like a dovecote and old forge or windmill – you’re going to have to think outside the box about how to find it. You may even have to relocate quite a distance.

Where to find unique property

Here’s the fun part, there’s individuality in every property around you. From your classic lofts to modern penthouses or church conversions. You can always go one step further, if you’re prepared to look further afield and in some unlikely places you can find all manner of unique homes, including:

  • Former railway stations
  • Nuclear bunker conversions
  • Foghorn station renovations
  • Radome reconditions (if you know where to find one)

You aren’t limited in your unique property hunt by what the property was originally built for.

If you don’t fancy the hassle of planning permission applications or dealing with the council about the change of use of a building, you can always be a bit more traditional. This will involve looking for a reasonably conventional property but with an unexpected twist. A few ideas include:

  • Interesting extensions
  • Layouts which defy expectations
  • Unusual outlook or site location

Expect to have serious competition for these. They are much more accessible to the average buyer and have a wide appeal due to their reliability on the resale market.

Don’t be put off – after all, forewarned is forearmed. Ultimately, if you look in the right places, you’ll find what you’re looking for – an interesting and different home.

A little known fact about unique property

When major cities were under construction, builders could negotiate with contractors to build entire streets and even live in one of the properties they built. Of course they’d want something slightly bigger and a little different to the rest of the street. These hard to spot properties, known as ‘builders’ houses’, still exist today. It’s another alternative option to help you find a unique property.

In some areas there’s one on every street. Although it looks identical to its neighbours, it’ll be wider by a foot or two, have a longer garden, or maybe superior ceiling heights. Although challenging, these are the ones to try and find.

Know the facts about a property and the area

A unique property is pointless if you don’t enjoy living there. Find out everything you need to know about the property to ensure its right for you and you get a good deal. From amenities to local school ratings, crime rates and more. Get Phil Spencer's Property Report here.

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