This grand Victorian residence near Bath cost just £777/m² to renovate (see more below)

When you take on an older home, you always run the risk of uncovering nasty – and costly – repair work. Collapsing ceilings, subsidence and lethal electrics are just a few of the horror stories we have come across.

However, if you play your cards right and are willing to roll up your sleeves, you could unearth a jewel of a home for a bargain price. Here, we look at four homes which have been restored to their former glory for less than £1,000m2 and share tips on how you can do it yourself.

A Renovation Under £10,000

renovated Victorian terrace in Sussex

Will Stovell bought his Victorian terraced house in Horsham, Sussex, in May 2012. The house was in need of complete renovation, but he knew that it could make the perfect home for young professionals being just a short walk from the train station, shops and countryside. He had a small budget of just £10,000, and wanted to improve its value so that he could make a profit were he to eventually sell up.

With a builder for a father, Will was aided by his work connections, but he found his own deals by buying online and working hard to find cheaper alternatives. To afford high end products, he turned to eBay, including a 1950s Smeg fridge, pendant lights, and some bar stools. He even created his own speaker system by spending £100 on a small amp, splitter and speaker heads which he has installed throughout the house so that he can play music anywhere

Will did not chuck away appliances if they still worked, and recycled the old oven, hob, and washing machine. He also asked friends if they were upgrading anything at home, and would rehome their unwanted electricals.

Project cost: £9,643 (£130/m²)

Be Savvy With Your Investments

Mix bespoke and expensive items with off-the-shelf. For example sturdy, but cheap kitchen carcasses (which won’t be visible anyway) can be finished with high-end doors, handles and worktops. You should also look for quality products on eBay at discount prices.

Budget Victorian Renovation

renovated living room of Victorian home in east London

When this Victorian terrace house came on the market in 2005, Hannah and Richard Gooch viewed it the same day and their offer of £247,500 was accepted straight away. It was a brave decision as although the house was indeed a period property, it had been carved up into bedsits and barely resembled its Victorian roots.

With no chunk of money set aside, the couple spread the works (and costs) over five years. Initially they focused on tasks that didn’t cost a lot like ripping out the old carpets, pulling down the polystyrene ceiling tiles, stripping wallpaper, and removing thick layers of gloss paint to reveal the ceiling roses.

The following spring they decided to spend £10,000 on replacing the draughty single-paned louvre windows. “It was a big dilemma as the timber framed, double-glazed sash windows were really expensive and we could’ve bought PVCu for much less,” says Hannah. “But we decided it was important to put the house back to how it had been.”

Project cost: £36,800 £289/m²

Victorian Country Home

kitchen in a Victorian country house

Julia Dempster’s nine-bedroom limestone home was built in 1860 as a private country retreat near Bath for a barrister. However, when interior designer Julia first set foot inside, it had been rented out as offices for an engineering firm. Cosmetically, it had not been touched for 30 years and needed a lot of work.

Savvy shopping and creating a high-end look with cheaper materials, has been central to Julia’s £777/m² budget. She also converted the basement into a self-contained holiday let to generate an additional income to help with running costs.

By taking on the role of project manager; scouring the internet for deals; using MDF paneling to reinstate period charm; salvaging as many original features as she could; and buying all her bathroom suites from one company to get bulk buy dicounts, Julia was able to save herself thousands of pounds.

Project cost: £600,000 (£777/m²)

A Converted Victorian Tin Chapel

renovated Victorian tin chapel in Chester with open plan living area

Julia and Malcolm Edge, and their children Amy and Joe, have converted a Victorian corrugated tin chapel, transforming it into a characterful holiday let. The building in question is Chester’s only surviving Victorian corrugated tin chapel, originally constructed in 1909 for the princely sum of £282.

Their offer of £75,000 for it was accepted and they completed the work for £83,283 taking on much of the work themselves, including replacing the tin cladding.

Project cost: £83,283 £691/m²

DIY Dos and Don’ts

DIY helps you save money when renovating, but taking on skilled jobs can be a false economy. If you mess it up, you will have wasted materials and have to pay someone to repair it — what’s more, they may up their labour costs when they know they are rectifying somebody else’s work.

The following are best left to the professionals:

  • Plastering: it might look easy but it is a skilled job that requires practise.
  • Bricklaying: messy work will be very obvious so get it done by an experience bricklayer.
  • Electrical work: you can change switches and sockets yourself, but all new fittings and wiring need doing by a professional.
  • Plumbing work involving gas needs to be done by a Gas Safe Registered contractor.
  • Cutting and laying of expensive materials such as real stone worktops should be done by a professional to avoid costly mistakes.

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