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Several months ago we set out on an exciting journey to redevelop a property as an investment. Its part of a bigger plan to do a few such projects with the ultimate aim of being able to build or renovate a property which will be our “dream home” – hopefully mortgage free. Neither of us have a building background but we’re not letting that stop us!

7 years ago, Will decided to leave his career in direct sales management and “do a bit of property”. The first step was to enrol in some courses – bricklaying, plastering, plumbing, kitchen fitting, and carpentry. This all came as quite a shock to friends and family – he was known as the man who would call an electrician in to change a light bulb!!

Like Will, I have spent my career in sales, but my parents had done a self build project when I was in my late teens. When Dad embarked on plaster boarding walls, fitting windows, and doing the wiring and plumbing he used me and my sisters as cheap labour! As a result I’m not averse to trying out the odd power tool (with varying outcomes!!)

Over the past 7 years Will has bought 3 properties which he has remodelled or renovated – knocking down the odd wall, replacing kitchens and bathrooms, replastering and decorating – before either selling or letting the properties. This is our first BIG project together and we hope to come out of it still speaking to each other, still relatively sane and financially better off!

I will be continuing to work although I have re-negotiated my contract to 4 days a week. This will give me a bit more time to get involved with the “project” – and I am sure that extra time will be much needed.

So – how did it all start…..

We had been looking around the area for suitable plots or properties with potential for redevelopment. We had two main criteria – it had to have sufficient potential margin to make it worth doing – and it had to be no more than 30 minutes drive from Will’s golf club!

We spent a few months trawling online property sites, going to view some pretty “interesting” places (other adjectives might include “filthy”, “depressing” or just plain “unsanitary”) and driving around the area peering over peoples’ hedges and gates (it’s a wonder we weren’t arrested to be honest!). Having spotted some tatty old places with decent plots of land, we even resorted to putting speculative letters through doors asking if people were considering selling!

Eventually we found a 1930s bungalow in a decent plot of land, on one of the most sought after roads in our village. It was pretty tired and in need of plenty of TLC but it had full planning permission for a conversion. Although we didn’t like what was planned, the fact that planning permission had been granted gave us confidence that we could re-design it to create something much more attractive and practical.

We met with the architect to discuss our thoughts. We got on with Martin straight away and felt sure that the plans which had been put together to date were a result of his clients’ wishes and not a reflection on his skills as an architect. We started work together on several different options – based on different budgets, ranging from minor remodelling to an extensive reconstruction and extension.

We moved into the property in November 2012, although my teenage daughter was horrified at the prospect of sharing a pretty bleak and basic bathroom with us! We felt it would help us if we lived in the space for a while and could get a real feel for the light and flow of the property before we finalised our ideas on the plans. The photos hopefully give some idea of the challenge we have ahead of us. In my next blog I’ll describe our plans for this “Ugly Duckling” bungalow and over the next few months I hope to share our progress as we transform it into a beautiful swan!!

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