I made a million pounds! Well nearly…

I have spent today writing a business plan for property investors, well I was forced to write one by my husband actually.  I would much rather have spend the day pottering around the house or simply lounging about eating crumpets.

Anyhow, part of the job today was to go back through the years, (it is decades actually), and tot up the profits of buying and selling houses which I have renovated in my life.  The amounts were really quite large, and I was shocked to see the results.

History

I was lucky enough to get onto the property ladder in London in the 1990’s, straight after the big crash and when property dropped to a price that I could afford.  I bought a sweet  flat in Clapham for the incredibly low price of £45K.  It was very tiny, in fact so small that if someone came into the entrance hall they trapped people in the living room as the doors were a bit too close for comfort.  Saying that, the interest rate was 16% so it was the most I have ever paid of a mortgage in my life, and for the smallest one.  Eyes water when I think what my various London properties much be worth now.  But…

Non, je ne regrette rien!

Within weeks off buying my first home I had discovered the joys of decorating and DIY.  I would rush home from work and paint, varnish, strip and build for hours, usually resulting in irate neighbours turning up and asking why I was drilling at 3am.  I became a serial mover, usually lasting in a house for just a year whilst I did a turn around and then moved on.  One friend complained whenever I moved, as I was ruining her address book with crossed out addresses by my name.

It was only having children that slowed me down, my own mother had been a serial house-mover and I hated always having to change schools and make new friends who I knew I would lose in a year or two when we moved again.  So I vowed my own children would have a more constant time at school, and only moved a very few times throughout their education, and in locations so they could stay at the same schools.

But I am rambling…

My point of this blurb is that I added up all of the profit over the years, and I should theoretically be really RICH.  Like close to a million rich.  But I am not-  on each sale the lawyers, surveyors and agents all took a chunk.  Land Registry took some too.  I would then use the remaining profit to upgrade to the next larger house and have some money left over to renovate it.  Then I would sell it straight away for an inflated sum. This all tootled along nicely until I had my first daughter.  I was all set to be a full-time working, part-time property developing, multi-tasking mother.  But I took one look at her when she was born and decided I never wanted us to be parted for more than a minute.  So I sold up, moved out of London and used some of the profit I had made to be able to buy a cheaper house, (it was a beautiful 16th Century barn conversion so I can’t complain at all!).  More importantly it also meant I could stay home for the next few years with her and then her little sister who followed, as there was enough money left over to pay the bills.

If I had stayed in London I would now be in a house worth well over another £1.5 million pounds to add to the previous figures.  In the words of Del Boy I would have been a ‘miwllionaire’.

Am I sad?

No.  The upside to losing my near million, plus the ones I never actually saw, is that I have been able to watch my children grow up PLUS work part-time only when I wanted to.  I think I have been incredibly blessed to have been able to do that.  Now that the children are starting to leave the nest, I am back into renovating houses again.  And I have to get a serious job to help pay for their next steps at University.  But those houses in London decades ago gave me a reward far greater than sitting on an over-inflated,  obscenely priced house in the capital now and having missed out on my girls growing up.

So whenever I am in London and peep into estate agents windows and see earth-shatteringly expensive houses just like the ones I used to own, I just have to remind myself of my beautiful daughters and how I have shared their lives thanks to being on that property ladder as it started growing, so…

Non, je ne regrette rien

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Before & After: The house renovation is complete.

Finally, it is done….

For those who have noticed a somewhat silent blog recently, I do have a very valid reason as I have been slogging away 7 days a week over the last couple of months to get this house completed.  My life has been consumed by this project, but I now it is done I think I have enjoyed it…(?!)

I have learnt many new things; how to fit door architraves and skirting, mix plaster, fix windows, mitre corners properly and much more.  I think I have used about 125 litres of white emulsion, and got a sort of snow-blindness by the end of it.  My hands are like a workman’s, and I am exhausted and have spent hours in builders yards and sourcing things online to get the best prices  But it has been worth it, and I am on budget which is a miracle…

In the middle of the job my builders’ firm went bust, which could have been a total disaster and left me up the creek without a paddle so to speak, but we managed to muddle through and finish the renovation.  My builders honoured the contract and worked extra hours unpaid to finish the job, so someone up there was watching out for me I think!  It meant a 3 week delay on the build, and that I had to learn lots of new skills pronto, but circumstances meant that I just had to forge on.

Here come the before, mid-point and after pictures…..

The facade of the house…. from grubby magnolia to zingy blue… I got over vertigo on that scaffolding after a couple of days, and it was a lovely view…

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The garden…. from rubbish dump to a much more elegant space…

The once small and festering loo… now a wall has been moved to create a spacious shower room…

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A large curved shower

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Simple clean lines

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House Renovation Diary Part 1

Biting the bullet…

I have been away from the blog of late, and here is the main reason why.  I have gone into partnership with a property developer as the designer and project manager, and we have the following property to turn.  It is a 3 story Victorian house in central Bristol which we purchased at auction.  That in itself was really exciting, I have never been to property auction before, and my business partner had the most rigid arm when it came to our lot!  It seems crazy to buy a house in less than 5 minutes, but it is a lot easier than going the usual protracted route.  Here is the street it is in.

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So, the house.  For years it was owned by the Local Authority, and they are now selling them off.  So it has been structurally looked after, but the interiors are somewhat horrible.  In fact they are really dire.  The only original feature left is a lovely winding staircase.  Everything else has been ripped out over the years, so a lot will need replacing.

The house has 2-3 reception rooms or 3-4 bedrooms depending on how it is configured.  There is also a large kitchen-diner and 2 bathrooms.  It also has a garden, which is a good size are rare for a city center house.

Prepare yourself, this is what it looks like now:

Wallpaper over wallpaper, electrics in conduit on the outside of the walls. layers of cheap flooring.  I am seeing a lot of skips outside to take the debris as we strip it out.  The kitchen and bathrooms are particularly choice!

 

We take possession in early April, and then it will become a whirlwind of activity as we strip. purge, re-wire, re-plumb, move walls and fit new bathrooms and a kitchen.  The garden also needs landscaping, fencing and clearing, at the moment it is a breeding ground for brambles, debris and rotten mattresses.

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I will continue the story as it slowly evolves.  We are looking at a 3-4 month turnaround.  For now, I am trying to juggle other work with planning this renovation, so my other blog posts may fall by the wayside a bit.  Wish me luck!

Has anyone else out there taken on something that looked this bad to start with?

Thinking of moving…?

As the property market gets ridiculously overpriced here in the UK at the moment, I have been thinking about staying put and extending instead of moving on to the next doer-upper.  It got me thinking about when I have moved in the past, so here are some top tips for when you are thinking of moving home.  I have learnt a few lessons from being a serial house-hopper personally, and am sure there are yet more to come before I finally find the ‘forever house’:

1) Look for a south-facing or east/west facing property

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Estate agents love to sell south-facing properties because of their sunny, warm and light credentials. For many home buyers, the very thought of north-facing means a gloomy and chilly property that’s uninviting. While a south-facing home tops the most wanted list, it’s important to think about what your ideal home looks like. A glass extension built on the back of a southern home could actually be a waste of time, unless you fancy sitting in a sauna. An east/west property could be more of a draw if you’re looking for a bit of sun in front bedrooms early in the morning yet want it to switch to the back when it sets late afternoon.

Make sure to ask the current homeowner where you can expect to find the sun and at what time before you settle on a new home – even if you’re viewing the property in the winter. You might not mind straight away but you will once the summer temperatures kick in! Don’t get too caught up with the sun either – light is equally, if not more important.  My current house loses the sun on the terrace by 3pm, so evening BBQ’s involve either wearing coats or running down to the far end of the garden to catch some rays…

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