Well here we are sat in a 1980’s house that leaks heat, looks awful and is a million miles from what we’d regard as our dream home, which is quite a frustration considering that less than 2 years ago my wife and newly born daughter were living happily ever after in our forever home.

We had a nice Edwardian house on a nice street with nice neighbours it was quite sufficient for our needs so I only have myself to blame for the position I find myself in, but fretting isn’t going to get us anywhere it’s time to put a plan into action, one that if works out will put us in a place we could never have dreamed we’d get to, but it aint gunna-be easy.

So here’s what happened.

2 years ago I went to visit an old friend who was renting a house on a short let, it was my first visit and annoyingly I couldn’t find the place, I’d lived in the area on and off for 20 years and thought I pretty much knew the town like the back on my hand, so mobile phone on ear I was guided off the main road and down a gravel driveway in between a pub and a house, blink and you’d miss it, which obviously I had for 2 decades. Walking down the dive I felt like I was leaving the town behind me and going into some Narnia type place, you can’t see the house from the main road a bend in the 200 foot driveway hides it and the tress that surround the place ensure further it remains separated from the rest of society, apparently those in the know refer to this type of property as “Back-lands”. It really is like a small bit of countryside nestled away in Twickenham.

It was pretty much love at first sight, which was a weird feeling considering the place looks awful with discoloured white pvc weather board and a steep pitched roof, but that was it, before I’d even stepped into the house (actually it’s a chalet bungalow) I’d made up my mind, I wanted to buy it, it screamed potential and was just waiting for someone to turn it into what it could be. “It’s not for sale” my friend said trying to quell my enthusiasm while giving me the tour, apparently the guy who owns it had moved out of the area and was quite happy with the rental arrangement that’d been in place for the past few years. He’d owed from new some 25 years and had brought up his family there. Never the less after a few visits my friend kindly gave me the owners number (just to shut me up I think) and as he said the place was not for sale. I called the owner and he was all too happy to tell me how he enjoyed owning the place and how his family would never want to part with the memories, but for some reason I didn’t think that be the end of our chats, I knew my friend was planning on moving out at the end of his rental agreement so decided to put my thoughts on ice. In the meantime I spent a fair bit of time in the house, my friend and I decided to set up a business together and the house kind of became our base.

I didn’t like the house for what was, as mentioned it was a real ugly duckling but I could see what it could be, I could actually picture it perfectly as a big white box, a modern home for a modern family, the type of house you see in magazines and think you’ll never own one.

So 6 months passed and my friend moved out so I decided to give the owner one last call, and that was it, the owner’s circumstances had changed and suddenly he’d gone off the chopping and changing of tenants leaving the place in a less than desirable state and was open to the idea of negotiation. Stupidly I dove straight in with an offer above my weight; in fact it was over £100k more than our highest possible budget. The owner decided to get a local agent to value the house just to be sure (an agent we happened to know personally ; ) and the price came in exactly on our top line budget, amazingly £100k under what we’d offered. The owner wanted a quick sale and gave us 6 weeks to turn the situation around before he’d go into another 6 month rental to cover costs whilst he prepped the place for a future sale. So it was go, go, go, my wife and I went into over drive (my wife shared the vision btw and was equally as motivated) everything went our way, the first people to view our house put in an offer and it was the highest achieved previously on our street, they were cash buyers and ready to go, 8 weeks later we had the keys to our new rundown house!

  • Hugo Duden

    Sounds like a really promising property. I applaud your enthusiasm. Look forward to reading more…

  • Simon Benson

    I look forward to seeing your project unfold – Good Luck!

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