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.

The home was an ex-rental with a layout which was not working effectively. A downstairs bathroom and limited reception space meant the house had received little interest, but Will was not put off and had plans for a thorough remodel.

The Brief

Will believed that clever design and some reconfiguring would make the house more suitable for modern living. 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.

Will’s key aims were to make better use of the space with clever storage, but he also wanted the design to include high-end, desirable details. Another focus was on making all of the rooms feel lighter and well connected.

The Project

  • Name: Will Stovell
  • Build cost: £9,643 (£130/m²)
  • Build time: 1 year 5 months
  • Location: West Sussex
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Design

Will has always had a passion for design, as has his father — a builder who worked with him on the project.

The ground floor space did not work, and upstairs had three bedrooms, which felt too much for a property of this size. As a solution, they turned one of the bedrooms into a bathroom, getting rid of the need for the downstairs bathroom which they were able to turn into a dining room.

They also changed the layout of the lounge and hallway, virtually getting rid of the dark corridor that was there before and instead having a lobby which opens out into the lounge. When Will rebuilt the stud wall for the lobby, he made it extra wide to accommodate built in shoe storage.

The lounge has been redecorated with period features including decorative coving and architraves. He has also panelled the chimney breast for a classic, upmarket look. The kitchen is accessed from the lounge by French doors, with more French doors leading to a light-filled dining area.

Upstairs there are two bedrooms and a chic, traditional style bathroom with freestanding bath. Will has incorporated yet more storage here, with a wide stud wall for the shower with more shelving.

Will has used every inch of space in the kitchen too, with a drying room (with tumble dryer) under the stairs, and a neat broom cupboard. A small desk to the side of the stairs and a fold-away computer desk in the lounge eliminate the need for a separate study.

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The Build

Whilst taking on nearly all of the work himself meant Will saved a lot of money, it also meant the project took 18 months to complete. The house threw up a few surprises including a tangle of electrical cables taped together below the floorboards; a gas pipe with a water valve attached to it; and rotten kitchen joists.

He also faced delays when he incorrectly measured the space for the bi-fold doors, and had to redecorate the lounge because he made the mistake of decorating the room with the most foot traffic, first. Replacing all of the electrics, plumbing and scraping away layers of woodchip was also particularly time consuming.

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Budgeting

Taking into account the quality of finish and extent of the works, the small budget is even more surprising. Will was aided by his dad’s work connections, but he found his own deals by buying online and working hard to find cheaper alternatives.

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.

To afford high end products, he turned to eBay for second hand goods, including a 1950s Smeg fridge, pendant lights, and some bar stools. Will 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.

The project took a long time, but Will’s enthusiasm for property development has not been dampened. He is very pleased with how much he has achieved on his budget, and enjoys sitting in his garden, surveying his hard work.

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