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Obviously, these are challenging times in the property market
but there are still bargains to be had if you know what you're doing.
We're here with tips on how you can find them, and how you can make the current climate work in your favour.
Join us now to follow three plucky auction purchasers.
-Before buying at auction, we always advise you to do your homework.
It's vital to check out the property, the area, and how much it'll be worth once renovated.
Let's see if today's buyers got top marks.
This two-bedroomed house in Derbyshire has left me a little in the dark.
It needs light and I don't really know how you're going to get that.
Last time we visited this old stable in Kent, it wasn't only
the horses that had bolted, but the building had too!
We'll return to see its amazing transformation.
In Wiltshire, I look at this shop and the flat above.
If only I could find a way in...
The thing I haven't found yet...
is the entrance to the flat.
All these properties have been sold at auction.
We found out who bought them and for how much when they went under the hammer.
I'm in Heanor in Derbyshire.
Just recently, the property I'm here to see was on the open market for £76,000.
Not bad for a two-bedroomed mid-terrace.
However, at auction, the guide price was 49,000. That's more like it!
That's a fantastic price for such a neat little terraced house.
Inside, I discovered that the old red-brick may not be the only thing holding this house up.
OK, not quite what you expect, a beamed ceiling.
It wouldn't be so bad if it had lighter colours, but this dark wood
is very oppressive in what's quite a small room.
It gives it character, I suppose.
The fireplace again, that doesn't really fit in.
Make something of that. All in all, it's not a bad-sized little space.
I also like the fact you've got this opening through to the kitchen,
which is just as well because otherwise this is a very dark, dingy little spot.
It's not a bad-sized kitchen, like the lounge isn't bad.
It could do with a new work surface, a new front to these units, rather than throwing out the whole lot.
More importantly, it needs light. I don't know how you'll get that,
because on the other side of that wall, you've got your loo.
This cosy little toilet is already fitted with a shower and bath.
If you wanted to rent this property out, you wouldn't have to do much in here.
Well, maybe you could get rid of those frogs!
I hopped upstairs and found two good-sized bedrooms.
One needs a carpet, and a lick of paint.
But the other is newly decorated and thankfully, frog free.
The big question in a house like this is, do you move the bathroom from downstairs to upstairs?
My answer is, how much difference will it make in terms of the rent or the value of the property?
If the figures stack up, then do it.
But really, I don't think it's worth the bother.
It's perfectly fine where it is.
Even though it's a great bargain at its £49,000 guide price, you should be careful not to overspend here.
Too much spent on decoration could see some of your profits shelved,
or even worse, it'll be flushed away completely, resulting in a loss.
Here's hoping whoever bought this has a healthy chunk set aside for landscaping.
Out the back, one of the longest, thinnest gardens I've seen in a very long time.
This garden could be ideal for barbecues in the summer.
In fact, you could probably invite the whole street around.
I asked a local estate agent to come and have a look at this
unassuming little terraced house.
It's a lovely house, nice little cottage property in a good location.
Ideal for a first-time buyer or to rent, buy to rent out.
I'd do a very simple renovation job on this property, redecorate, recarpet, just touch up where
it's rough around the edges and improve those little bits.
Once that work is done, how much could it sell for?
When finished, I'd have thought this property would achieve around £70,000-75,000 on the open market.
If it sold for its £49,000 guide price, that would mean a cracking
£26,000 pre-tax profit, minus any renovation costs of course.
What about its rental value?
I'd expect the property to achieve in the region of £400 - £425 per calendar month.
So, despite this property's dark interior, its prospects aren't gloomy at all.
# It's dark as a dungeon
# Way down in the mine... #
Well, this is a good little property, isn't it?
OK, the decor was a bit unusual but apart from that, good location,
these rent out 10 a penny every day, or a nice place to live, a starter home. A great one to go for.
Let's see who fancied it when it went under the hammer.
Lot number nine is 26 Midland Road in Heanor,
a good investment opportunity.
Who's got £50,000 to start me? £50,000? 50, 48, 48 I have.
At £48,000. At £48,000 bid.
49 on the left, 50,000.
At £50,000, 51 at the back.
52, 52, 53, 54. 54,000, and five?
54 and a half. 55, 55,500.
The bid is here at 56,000, we're going to sell, at £56,000. All done with it?
56, any higher bid, quickly?
Once, 56,000, twice.
Third time, all done?
Sold at 56,000.
And the new owner is Brian.
He runs a computer company and lives in nearby Ashbourne with his partner Karen and daughter Holly.
He paid £56,000 for the property, Seven grand over the guide price.
I caught up with him there to find out his plans.
Brian, lovely to meet you. Congratulations.
Thank you, very much.
So, why did you want to buy this house?
It was bought out of the fact that my money was doing nothing in the bank.
The interest rates had disappeared and I figured putting the money into
something is better than putting it into nothing.
I watch your show all the time.
-And I know Heanor reasonably well, so I just saw it,
I looked through the letterbox, and that was it, give it a go.
-You didn't come round?
-You said you watch the show a lot!
I did read the notes, things to be aware of. I remember that much.
But my total viewing on this house was looking through the letterbox.
As Brian is an avid viewer of the show, I'm shocked he bought the house blind.
It's a very risky thing to do and could end up costing him in the long run.
What did he think when he finally saw inside?
-I saw it about two days ago, and I was relieved, I'd say.
I spoke to people, and it had a roof upstairs and there was no water,
didn't smell of damp, so I was reasonably confident it would be OK.
More work than I probably thought, but equally, it's all do-able.
-What about this really interesting decor?
-It's a look, isn't it?
Hopefully, most of it'll be gone with a bit of luck.
-Some of it's all right, some of it's quite quaint.
We're on a terraced street, I wouldn't imagine there used to be wood beams in it.
I don't know if they're original or not. We'll have to see.
I'd hazard a guess that they're not, but they're a feature all the same.
I'd either take them down completely or strip and paint them white,
making the place look bigger and brighter.
In fact, there's not much natural light in the rest of the house.
But Brian has a plan to fix that.
The idea is to knock walls down, open it up and make it brighter, because it's very dark.
That's the first thing I noticed.
If I can do it, that's my first thing to be able to do.
I mean, keep up some of the charm, then that might help it.
If I can, take the wall down there, open up the space to a big living room/dining room.
If I can do it, put a small corridor in upstairs off one of the bedrooms, and put the bathroom upstairs.
That's what I'm hoping to do. Freshen the place up, brighten it up,
do the back garden because that needs tweaking, and hopefully make it a much airier space.
You need light in this kitchen.
It's very dark in here, very dark.
Brian has always been interested in property development.
He started a project a few years ago with his business partner,
but unfortunately didn't make much money.
# Money for nothing and the chicks for free... #
I did one before and I think I made a grand total of about £50, if I was lucky.
-I made the fatal error of designing the house for me.
Even though I was never going to live in it. I spent too much,
let people buy parts for me I should have bought myself,
so the lessons learnt, I'll bring into this and hopefully make a profit.
It's absolutely vital to project manage your building work property.
But Brian is also going to rely on friends and family to help with some of the work, to keep costs down.
He's given himself a budget of eight to ten grand for the work, and eight to ten weeks to finish it.
What's the bigger picture plan? Are you going to do it up, sell it on?
It changes every time I come in!
I originally bought it thinking we'd rent it, that's what I thought we'd do, that was the plan,
to put back the interest I was losing at the back.
Then I thought, I might have a go at selling it. I'm on the fence.
I'm leaning towards selling it at the moment. Again, it's the availability of mortgages.
That might focus us to have to rent it.
A first-time buyer may well struggle to get a mortgage, so it may well get rented. We'll wait and see.
I'm hoping to buy one or two more if I can, and get a portfolio going and see where we go from there.
-Well, congratulations, and we look forward to see how you get on.
-Thank you, very much.
Well, like many people, Brian decided that his money is much better off in bricks and mortar,
rather than in the bank getting no interest and I agree with him.
A bit concerned as to whether or not he's learnt from his mistakes in the past on his renovations,
but hopefully he has. You can find out later in the show.
In the autumn of 2007,
I travelled to Kent to see a rather quirky and interesting lot.
The two most important factors for a move out of London are commutability and schools.
Tunbridge Wells offers both, so when you hear of a lot with a guide price
of just 130-150,000, that makes you sit up and take notice.
So is it anything like these properties?
This lot sits on a nice residential road with lovely houses,
and property prices range from £180-240,000. So that guide price is far too modest,
until I tell you the lot up for auction today isn't a house, it's a stable.
It looks more like a dilapidated storage area to me.
But I'm not downbeat about that, because the auction catalogue hints at something very exciting indeed.
It says the building is considered suitable for a variety of uses, or perhaps the possibility
of demolition, knocking it down, and rebuilding something else here,
subject to all the necessary consents being obtainable of course.
Now that's interesting.
It's certainly widened my eyes.
It's obvious this stable hasn't seen too many horses over the last few months.
It's funny, it's more like an old workshop. By the looks of things, they've left so much wood.
It smells really lovely. There's even stacks of the stuff left up there.
It's hard to imagine building a house on just this footprint alone.
I'm wondering what's round the back of here. There must be more.
Despite its recent use as a joinery workshop/timber storage,
it was a stable, long before the current houses were built.
The horses have well and truly bolted now.
What's left is a building rather out of sorts with the rest of the street.
As well as a substantial stable, you also get a huge plot.
Imagine those development opportunities.
Now that 130-150,000 guide price makes more sense.
What's on offer is an opportunity for a new build, but it'll be a gamble.
No planning permission has been granted.
But it's on a residential road and I think a house would sit better here than the current structure.
But as that's already there, the chances of building something else here are pretty good.
Maybe someone will want a place to keep their ponies or horses,
but with such a central location and the hint of development,
I doubt there will be many equestrians interested in this one.
This has got speculative developer written all over it.
Let's go to auction.
As this lot came at the end of the auction, the room is fairly quiet.
So, was there the chance of a bargain?
Lot 170, we move to the stable, Springfield Road,
Southborough, Tunbridge Wells.
130 to start me?
Anybody would like to join in? 120?
120? Yes, at £120,000 is bid, 125 for anyone else?
125 I'm bid.
130, 130 is bid. 135?
135, the lady's bid. 140 for you?
137, 137 is bid. 140?
140 I have. 142?
At £140,000, it's the lady's bid, at 140 then I'm selling if you're shaking your head?
At £140,000 is bid on my left hand side, for the first time at 140,000.
For the second time at £140,000.
You lose it at 140,000, third and final time, are you all done?
Sold at 140.
Well, I wouldn't really say bargain, but when the hammer fell at 140,000,
the new owner became local lady, Margaret.
She's a part time management trainer who dabbles in property development on the side.
While her daughter Becky explores the site further
I caught up with Margaret to find out why she wanted this place.
I knew a builder who was interested and knew the people who owned it,
and I think he'd been trying to buy it for a few years, and then
I happened to drive past one day and saw the auction sign and thought, "Right, that's it, I'm going."
That was three days before the auction, so it was a bit of a mad panic to get all the bits and pieces,
but we got them and I went and here we are.
What are you going to do with this place?
We're planning on putting a four bedroom detached house on it.
-So you're going to demolish it.
Take it back to the building line in the street and put a four bedroom, three storey house on it, we hope.
With or without a builder on board, this is a big project.
It's got no current planning permission and plans will need to be drawn up and submitted.
Margaret needs to install the services and then knock down the building to create a new one.
No mean task.
So what experience have you got within the property world?
I've been renovating houses off and on for about 20 years,
but always just bought renovated, lived in and mainly sort of Victorian properties and things like this,
but I have always fancied the idea of doing a new build, so this is a step into the unknown.
So is this your dream, building a brand new house from scratch?
Yes, I suppose it is. It's a dream that I've held for a while.
Whether this will be my dream house is a different matter, but certainly
it's a dream that I've wanted to build something from scratch, yes.
-Are you going to live here?
Once the house is built, yes, I'll sell the house that I'm living in and move in here,
and then we'll stay here until we find the next project.
So Margaret is using this as a stepping stone to gain experience of the complex world of new builds.
But it's an expensive way of learning and she's already paid 140,000 for the stables and land.
How much money have you got to spend on this?
If you include bringing in all the services, we're hoping to get the building about 200,000,
but then probably bringing in, because there's currently no gas, no water, no nothing.
If you include all the legals and everything, probably about 250,000.
OK, what do you think the house will be worth once you've done it?
We'll hopefully be at break even point.
That kind of budget potentially takes her costs up to £400,000.
With an estate agent valuation of around 275, I'm already worried
Margaret could be lining herself up for a big financial fall.
She's also got a few practical problems, too.
What are you worried about?
Getting planning permission, first of all.
The Japanese knotweed which is currently infesting the garden, which I didn't know anything about.
Tell me about it. What is it?
It's a horrendous weed apparently that was brought in by the Victorians.
It's an ornamental shrub, but is incredibly invasive.
It's classed as an environmental hazard so you've got to have it cleared by somebody who's licensed
to clear it, and you've got to get the necessary certification
because it'll grow through concrete, tarmac, through just about anything and everything.
So it's got to be treated with care.
But I've had a company in, they've had a look at it and they think that
it's not too big a problem, according to them.
Let's hope they're right because Japanese knotweed could scupper everything.
There's a legal requirement to remove it to a registered site,
which could cost between 10,000 and 50,000!
So potentially a massive blow.
So do you feel you've taken a huge risk in even buying this place?
Yeah, I mean...
Mortgaged up to be hilt at the moment, ready for it, so yes, it is.
First time I've ever done a new build, so yeah, big risk.
But exciting as well.
The pendulum swings from one end to the other and it's kind of, "Oh, my God, what have I done?"
And all points in between, really.
That was back in 2007.
And boy, wasn't Margaret right? This was one tough project for her.
There were quite a few downs and some extremely knotty problems
to untangle before finally the old stables became a house.
You can see the end result later in the show.
Coming up, from the front this flat in Wiltshire seems quite small.
And then you discover this room!
Back in Tunbridge Wells and some serious problems.
My thought was, well, it's only a plant, how difficult can it be?
But I was a bit naive.
But first we return to Derbyshire to hear whether there were any unforeseen problems.
My total viewing on this house was looking through the letterbox.
We're back in Derbyshire at this two bedroom terraced house in Heanor.
Brian, who runs his own IT company, bought it at auction for £56,000.
He thought he could make a better return on his money than by leaving it in a bank.
Interest rates have disappeared. I figured that putting money into something is better than nothing.
So what has he done here?
We caught up with him four months later and discovered there have been quite a few changes.
The main things I've done is completely redesign the whole layout.
I've moved the bathroom from the back of the house upstairs.
Moved the kitchen from the middle of the house to the back.
We've rewired it, we've plumbed it, fitted new windows where necessary,
we've redecorated it, we've recarpeted it.
So pretty much a complete refurbish.
The whole house looks much more modern and attractive.
The main layout change was downstairs.
The living room once led on to a kitchen in the middle of the house,
but now there's a bright kitchen where the bathroom used to be.
I noticed when I bought the property completely blind, was that this was the kitchen.
It was really dark and depressing, because there was no natural light.
One of my key things to do was to move the kitchen backwards,
towards where the natural light was and bring a window in.
So we've moved the kitchen to where the bathroom used to be, put that upstairs.
This is a nice dining area with a separate wall to give us a study.
We've opened up into a nice kitchen.
Again, that goes into the utility area and I'm really pleased with it.
And what a great job he's done.
The kitchen is smart, bright and flooded with natural light.
That little extra room will come in handy, too.
I wanted to create some space downstairs where somebody could have a living room
and a hobbies area because a lot of people have a computer and that type of thing.
So we've got a hobbies area and a dining area.
It's given us a lot more space so you can do different things.
Somebody can be in the kitchen, the living room or on the computer.
Rather than being a small terraced house, it's a much bigger feel to it now than it did before.
Brian shifted the toilet upstairs, which I was hesitant about due to the costs involved.
But he was determined to 'loo-se' it from downstairs.
I wouldn't want to live in a house with a downstairs bathroom because the bedrooms are so far away.
We all want a bathroom upstairs, so we put it upstairs, into the back bedroom,
but still managed to retain enough space in the bedroom for it to be useful.
Even after buying the bathroom suite I was worried how we'd get it in.
We took the window out of the back of the house to bring the bath in.
So it was a challenge and it's worked out really well.
And it's a clever renovation, too. Brian has managed to keep the two bedrooms
whilst opening the whole place up, making it feel much lighter.
Brian went over his seven and a half grand renovation budget
as unforeseen problems raised it by four grand to 11,500.
But that's the risk when you buy blind.
When I bought the property I didn't look at it at all.
It was literally through the window, so that was fun.
Certain things that I thought would probably want doing that I had underestimated.
Electricity was one of the things. I thought we'd add a few extra sockets, that ended up a complete rewire.
And damp as well, there was damp in the property
as I didn't get in the property I wasn't able to have a sniff. So that was a problem.
Again, those were the two main horrors on the project.
The rest of it was things that I expected.
It went over a bit in terms of what I've spent,
but overall I'd say the wiring up and the damp have been the two unforeseen problems.
Luckily, help was on hand in the form of his brother Andrew.
In fact, Brian took a hands off approach to the project.
It was actually Andrew who was in charge of the day to day work.
The moment I bought the property, the first person I wanted to get involved was my brother.
He's very, very hands on. He runs his own business as well, which is really good.
He knows lots of people who are very good.
He was the first person I brought in and he's been brilliant. I've enjoyed working with him.
I've not done as much as I would have liked in terms of labour,
but I've been very much involved on decision making. It's been brilliant.
The whole family chipped in. Brian's dad is a keen gardener and sorted out the overgrown mess at the back.
His mum helped with the decorating, which is just as well as it doesn't
sound like Brian is too handy around the house.
I'm absolutely useless when it comes to anything hands on.
If I opened a tin of paint, I'd have spilt it and caused chaos.
I'm very much of ideas, and I know what I want.
I'm good at the vision, but somebody like my brother is
really good at making the vision a reality and it's been brilliant.
But has that vision added value to the house?
Brian has spent a total of £67,000 on it.
He bought it for 56 grand and spent 11,000 on the work.
I asked two local property experts for their opinions on the place now.
My first impressions, coming back to the house, are very good.
They've done a superb rework of the internal layout of the house
and also done a very nice job of the decor and finishing up.
My first impression is they've done a great job,
certainly the kitchen and bathroom, it's excellent.
The fact they've moved the bathroom upstairs is a real winner.
When I first saw the property it was difficult to imagine whether
you could do it and keep it as a proper two bedroom property.
They've achieved that, which is really good.
By moving the bathroom upstairs they've appealed to more buyers.
A lot of people don't like ground floor bathrooms so it has opened the market up considerably for them.
The kitchen itself is quite bright and airy, and they've opened it right up.
It's a nice, family kitchen,
quite a lot of appliances plus the utility as well,
which is quite a bonus, really, for a mid-terrace property.
How much do they think it could resell for in the current market?
I'd put it on the market for around £85,000.
If I had to put the property on the market I'd put it on the market in the region of £85,000.
I think that's great.
Prior to doing the work, 80 to 85 was what we were looking to achieve.
Yeah, I think that's very good.
Better than what we expected to get as well. That's really good.
As Brian's total spend was £67,500, including building costs,
that would mean a healthy profit of around £17,500 minus deductions.
But how much could the property rent for?
It'll probably achieve in the region of £450 per calendar month on the rental market.
This property would achieve £450 per calendar month on the open rental market.
That's a high figure, actually.
It's a lot higher than you'd expect.
Yeah, £50 higher than I'd have thought.
You said 400 to 420, didn't you?
If that. If they can achieve it, that's a very good figure.
It sounds like the brothers' first project together has been a success,
but would they work together again?
Definitely. I think we definitely will. I've not been here that often, which probably has been fine
-as you've been able to get on with it.
We work well as a team anyway, and we're good friends and brothers as well, so...
Andrew is even willing to forgive Brian for his lack of DIY skills.
He's very bad at DIY. He's good at promising me he'll be here,
but unfortunately he gets tied up so I end up doing most of the work, which I enjoy doing anyway.
-I give him something to do.
-Ha! Yeah, thanks for that.
Welcome to Warminster in Wiltshire.
This pretty town lies southwest of Salisbury Plain at the head of the beautiful
Wylye Valley with its attractive villages and impressive landscape.
It's also very near Longleat, home of the UK's first ever safari park.
But I'm hoping the property I've come to see doesn't turn out to be a white elephant.
# Love is, love is a big scary animal... #
Well, I'm right here in the centre of the town.
Up for auction was a Grade II listed, three storey building.
It's got a retail unit on the bottom
and a two bedroom flat above, and a guide price of 130,000 quid -
that sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
And it looks pretty good, too.
There's a period roof with gorgeous little windows upstairs and the commercial premises on
the ground floor appear to be in tip top condition.
But it turns out it has a very varied past.
I've been asking around and apparently this place has been everything from a map shop
to an optician's to a Chinese restaurant to more recently an interior design show room.
That does slightly concern me because if all those businesses have failed, well...
Anyway, what have we got, though? A really nice commercial space here.
I love the fact it's got these features. A lovely old fireplace.
This would work well as something like an interior design place.
Again, as you come through what's a fairly nice open space, another fireplace here.
Lovely. Then out the back, extra space, which could be an office area
or whatever you wanted, and further on a bit of a garden area, too.
So it's all pretty good, light and airy. We like that.
The only thing I haven't found yet...
is the entrance to the flat.
That's not good, is it? You have to come through the shop to get to the flat.
# Trying to make some sense of it all,
# But I can see it makes no sense at all... #
The property was built in the 18th century and is Grade II listed.
That means you might not get planning permission to change that entrance to the flat.
It may not be very convenient, but for now, we're just stuck with it.
I went up to the top floor to check out those bedrooms.
When you come up those stairs, you don't know what you'll find,
and then you discover this room.
I love the open beams and the fact that it's got all these angles.
It's just got so much character.
Little windows. You are on the high street, so it might be a bit noisy.
But there's windows at both ends, so lots of light.
There's also another smaller bedroom on the other side, no windows in that one, but a very useable space.
And it literally is, for me, the icing on the cake.
# Aw, honey, honey... #
To sweeten it even more, on the first floor there's a newly-tiled bathroom and a neat kitchen.
This has a handy serving hatch into a great dining space,
which in turn leads on to a well-proportioned living area.
The whole place could do with a little bit of work to polish those edges, but nothing major.
The cherry on the cake is a massive garden out the back.
It needs a bit of love and attention but it's a great space.
What will a local estate agent make of it all?
I invited one round to have a look.
It's a small commercial shop which is in fairly good order throughout.
There is a two-bedroom flat over it which does need some TLC.
Biggest negative is, the flat is accessed through the commercial property.
This means that the only buyers will likely be an owner/investor,
someone who'll live on the property while using downstairs as a shop.
Despite the large garden at the back, there's no garage, and the parking is limited out the front.
The property's in the town centre, so parking is to a minimum.
There is no parking with the property itself.
However, there are various one-hour, two-hour spaces within easy walking distance.
So, what can you rent it out for?
To rent the property out in its entirety, we're looking at around about 7 to 7,500 per annum.
What if the buyer were to resell?
Once renovated and someone puts a lick of paint on, changes the kitchen and bathroom upstairs,
you're looking at the region of 150,000 to possibly £175,000.
If bought at that guide price of 130,000, that could be a fantastic pre-tax profit of up to 45 grand.
There may not be any stock on display in the shop just yet,
but I reckon this property could fly off the shelves.
This is without doubt a very interesting opportunity.
You've got the flat and the shop,
which gives you the opportunity for lots of different revenue streams.
But previous businesses here have failed,
and access is definitely an issue,
so it's not all plain sailing.
But overall, I'm sure someone fancied the opportunity when it went under the hammer.
Let's move on, then, to 15, George Street, Warminster.
120, we'll start there, shall we? £120,000. I'll go in twos. 122. 124.
At 124,000. 126.
At £126,000. 128 in the middle.
I'll take 30 from anyone. At 130.
32. 4. At 134. 136. 38. 40?
At £138,000. I'll take 140, OK.
And 2 round the corner. At £140,000. 2, anyone?
Otherwise, £140,000, for the first time. Take 2 or 1, if you like.
142, OK, thank you very much at the back. At £142,000.
I'll take 4 from anyone else. Or 3 if you like, over there.
Yes or no? Otherwise, £142,000 for the first time.
Right at the back, £142,000. For the second time at 142.
Third and last time. Your number, sir, is?
The successful bidder there was Tom, who lives just round the corner from the property.
He paid £142,000 for it, 12 grand over the guide price.
Tom's the co-owner of an eco-conscious furniture retailer.
I caught up with him back at his new house/shop.
Tom, good to meet you. Congratulations. Really interesting property.
-Why did you want to buy it?
-A few life changes have gone on.
Three years ago, I had a double bypass.
-I'm a fitness fanatic.
Mountain biking, windsurfing.
I was out on a 20-mile cycle ride, got back, then the problems started.
So, rushed to Bath Hospital, five and a half weeks later, double bypass, and that was that.
Got myself back on track, I went travelling round
Spain for six months, came back, decided to set up a small business.
So I've been looking out for something to have a go with.
So, once Tom recovered, he decided to turn his life around by giving up his furniture-sales job
to go into business for himself, selling eco-friendly furniture imported from South Africa.
This property was the ideal place for his latest venture and new home.
At the moment, he's renting nearby.
I only live about 100 yards up the road.
I was walking down the street one evening, saw the sign up there, "To buy",
and zapped off to auction a week later.
-Happy with what you paid?
My figure was probably going to go another 10,000, so it stopped at the right time.
And with that ten grand he didn't need to spend buying the flat and shop,
Tom could afford the work needed to fix them up.
And it's the plan to run the downstairs as a shop and you live upstairs?
Exactly, yes. Very much so.
So, on site all the time.
There is an issue about living and working in the same place.
Sometimes that doesn't work too well, you can never escape from work. Are you worried?
No. There's probably be a "Gone windsurfing" sticker
across the front door most of the time, so see what happens!
It's good to hear Tom's going to take a relaxed approach, especially after all he's been through.
He's trying to take the stress out of the work by doing a lot himself and getting some help from friends.
I've got good friends, electricians, plumbers, so bring the guys in and get it done.
I've got friends who are shop dressers, hopefully get a few ideas from them,
-and see what we can come up with.
-Right. What sort of budget have you put aside for the work?
I think for kitchen, bathroom, carpets, within 10,000 should sort all that out.
And buying a bit of stock, as well, on top of everything else, probably another 10,000 to do that.
What kind of timescale have you got to make it work?
Have you got a cut-off point in your head?
I wish you all the best, but running a business is never easy,
so will you draw a line under it if it does work or doesn't work?
Totally, yeah. The whole thing is whether you could convert it back into a house.
At the moment, it's paid for, it's done.
If the business succeeds, it's icing on the cake.
So... At the moment, I'm renting accommodation, and that's just
paying money out month after month, so here it's all paid for, done.
In the worst-case, you've got somewhere to live, so if the business is a success, it's a bonus.
-It certainly sounds like Tom has made a good purchase
for the new lifestyle he plans for himself.
Well, a new life for Tom, and I wish him all the best with it.
The biggest challenge ahead is, will his upmarket furniture business work in Warminster?
Sorting out the flat I don't think is going to be too much of a problem.
You can find out how he gets on later in the show.
Time has passed since we last saw those properties and we are dying to find out what happened to them.
-Have they been transformed or are they still exactly as they were?
-Let's find out.
It was back in the autumn of 2007 when I first visited Tunbridge Wells
and came across a building known locally as The Stables.
This old workshop-cum-storage area was sandwiched between
residential properties, and had a reasonable amount of land.
It seemed ripe for development, but without planning permission in place, buying it was risky.
But this was a gamble local resident Margaret was prepared to take,
and she bought it at auction for the not-insignificant sum of £140,000.
So what are you worried about?
Getting planning permission, first of all!
The Japanese knotweed that's currently infesting the garden, which I didn't know anything about.
When we returned for the first time, ten months later, progress was slow,
and it seemed Margaret was right to be worried.
When we found out there was knotweed on the site, initially
my thought was, "It's only a plant, how difficult can it be?"
But I was a bit naive in that view.
Yes, Japanese knotweed is horrible stuff.
Not only is it very invasive, it can grow through concrete,
and you need to remove every trace of it, or it'll come back.
It's incredibly hard to stop.
Getting rid of it comes at a cost.
Margaret had to fork out £12,000 to deal with it, and a copper-lined
membrane was put in place to make sure it can't come back.
And as if that wasn't enough to contend with, there was the small matter of planning permission.
The initial planning application was for a three-storey, four-bedroomed
house, which we felt would be in keeping with the street scene.
Eventually, after three planning applications, we eventually got a three-bedroomed, two-storey house.
To say things weren't going too well was an understatement.
With costs spiralling and the property market falling, Margaret was between a rock and a hard place.
But she decided she had no option but to push on and build.
And now, two years after she bought the old Stables, we're back.
At last, Margaret can walk into the three-bedroom house that she's built.
But the house is not as big as she'd originally planned, so she decided not to move in.
But that didn't put her off continuing with the project, and it's a testament to her persistence.
I don't think there was ever a time where I was going to give up,
because we couldn't, I couldn't give up. It had to be completed.
I don't know about being upbeat.
Sometimes I'd run screaming for the hills!
But I think you've kind of got to.
I suppose now we're seeing the end of the project, and hopefully,
I'm starting to see the light at the end of a very long tunnel.
It's now nearly ready to go on the market, with a tiled floor
in the entrance hall, a downstairs cloakroom...
a good-sized living room...
and a fabulous modern kitchen area.
This is one of my favourite rooms in the house.
It's nice and light and bright with the windows and the doors.
The kitchen has come up really well, with the wood and the granite.
There's fitted units, washer,
fridge freezer is over here.
So, plenty of storage.
I think it's going to be a nice family room, which people can enjoy
and live in, and obviously use the garden if they've got children.
And it's a great enclosed family garden.
Thankfully, there's not a knotweed in sight!
When we changed the design from a three-storey to a two-storey, we
had to change the layout slightly, so we've now got two bedrooms at the back,
nice family bathroom, and this is the main bedroom with the en suite.
There's built-in storage, TV point up on the wall,
so people can have a flatscreen and lie in bed and watch TV.
It's south-facing, so it'll be a nice, light, bright, airy room.
This may not be the biggest house in the world, but Margaret and her architect have made the most of
the space, and created a really pleasant family home.
But in reality, Margaret had hoped for so much more.
The whole planning process, I think I was a little naive, in that I thought that,
providing we had a reasonable plan that fitted in with the location
and the street scene, that there wouldn't be a problem.
I didn't foresee the huge problems that would come out of that process.
Margaret is clearly disappointed not to have got permission to build a bigger house,
especially as it now seems rather dwarfed by those beside it.
Her original plans might have cost more, but could have given her
a better chance of seeing a reasonable return on the project.
Well, the original budget was probably about £250,000.
That got blown out of the water with the knotweed, I'm afraid.
Because, clearly, that was a huge exercise that we hadn't anticipated.
I think we're currently running at about 330,000.
So, Margaret reckons that after buying the stables, getting planning
permission, the build costs and removing the knotweed, her total spend is £330,000.
Can she hope to get anything like that for this three-bed house?
What do two local estate agents think?
I think she's done a pretty good job.
A tidy finish to at all.
It's fitted in the site quite well.
Got the off-road parking in. Not done a bad job at all.
A very nice kitchen, breakfast room.
Living room is a lovely size.
Sitting room's smaller, but I think families tend to live in kitchen living rooms nowadays.
She's specced the kitchen up well.
She's specced the bathrooms up well.
They've squeezed two bathrooms into a relatively small floor space,
which I think it is really going to add to it and make it attractive.
As a new-build,
it sits in amongst a lot of Edwardian and late-Victorian houses,
which tend to be a bigger scale than this.
But it sits quite neatly in the plot that it has.
So, a reasonably favourable response to the house.
But is its value anywhere near the £330,000 Margaret has spent on it?
In the current condition, with the market at the present time, I would
estimate putting this on the market in the region of £320,000 to £330,000.
For resale purposes I think that the asking price should be around about the £325,000 mark.
Both fair, I think. That's round about where we thought it would be, around at the 325 mark.
Still, obviously it doesn't reach break-even point. But that's just where the market is at the moment.
So, the resale prices aren't great news, but Margaret was
thinking about tapping into the rental market.
I'd have thought we could put it on the market for rental at about £1,200 per calendar month.
My own thoughts on rent are about £950 to £1,000 per calendar month on a rental basis.
Those rentals are OK, but will only bring in about 3.5% yield.
Is that enough to hang on to it or would Margaret rather just get rid of the house and move on?
I still think it'll be better to rent it out and see where the market goes.
If we can get a long-term rental, so much the better.
We'll just hope that the market recovers in the next few years.
This has been a stressful and draining project for Margaret.
So, presumably, she'll steer well clear of property developing for a while?
I'm a bit of a glutton for punishment,
but I'm going back to what I have always done, which is renovations.
I've done lots of renovations over 20 years.
This was the first new-build and, to be quite honest, I don't think I'll be doing another one.
After her knotweed nightmare, along with the strains of getting planning permission and then the bills,
you can understand why Margaret might avoid new builds from now on.
We're back in Warminster, where Tom had bought this shop
with an upstairs flat at auction for £142,000.
After a life-changing heart bypass operation, he gave up his sales manager job to become his own boss,
selling eco-friendly furniture.
Got myself back on track, went travelling around Spain
for six months, came back, decided to set up a small business.
So I've been looking out for something to have a go with.
So, how has he got on with the property?
We caught up with him two months later to see what changes have been made on the shop floor.
And gone is that empty shell.
The shop has been tastefully decorated with stylish fixtures and
fittings designed to show off the furniture and accessories on sale.
There wasn't a lot of work to do with the interior of the shop.
It was really a bit of a lick of paint.
It was a matter of putting blinds up on the windows.
We put some units in to some of the alcoves to display things.
Apart from that, getting the furniture and
the accessories have just made the whole thing look pretty good.
Tom didn't just use his eye for detail on the inside.
He painted the woodwork outside grey and, although he's happy now,
the first time round it wasn't dark enough.
# Don't be afraid of the dark
# Don't be afraid of the dark... #
I went back to the local supplier of the paint and got him to add more black.
Then add some more black, and again.
Finally, I walked away from the shop and the guy said to me, "Please don't come back and order any more."
I said, "What's the problem?"
He said, "Well, I'll never match it."
He said, "Now we're going to call it Tom's Grey.
So every time anybody says they like the colour, I tell them to go to the supplier and ask for Tom's Grey.
Tom's Grey? Hmm, I wonder how much it differs from that sky.
Upstairs in the flat above the shop, Tom has done another amazing transformation.
He's really lightened up the rooms and decked the whole place out with chic furniture.
Well, what do you expect with a whole shop full of stock downstairs?
The kitchen has been revamped with high-spec units, appliances and worktops.
But apparently there's no doors.
I brought in a couple of contractors to help me with this.
There's quite a bit of work done.
As you can see from before, we've boarded off the back wall, closed off the serving hatch
to give them space to put the fridge-freezer and another set of units.
We've mounted the cooker over the top of the stairs...
and got my dishwasher,
and lots of storage for quite a small space.
We've got a few little details which we're still working on at the moment with the kitchen.
The floor is an industrial vinyl.
It's got little metal chips in there which catch the light, which I thought was quite nice.
And, as you can see at the moment, we haven't got many cupboard doors up there. In fact, none.
But they've just arrived.
I'm really pleased with them.
We've just unwrapped the first one.
That's going to be the effect of the door.
So, looking forward to mounting these up here.
Hopefully, in the next week or so,
I'll be able to eat out of my kitchen rather than filling myself with takeaways.
There are a couple of other jobs around the flat still to be done, but nothing major.
Elsewhere, Tom has transformed the bathroom as well, ripping out that
old bath and fitting a superb walk-in shower - utilising the space much more effectively.
As far as the bathroom was concerned,
there was an interesting issue where the bath seemed to be a couple of inches...
deeper underneath than it was from the tiled wall.
I couldn't believe the tiles were so thick.
So when we took the bath out, we realised that they had studded out quite a bit.
So we took it right back and put an MDF wall in and tiled on to that for the shower area.
I gained an inch and a half. It doesn't sound a lot, but in a small space it made the difference.
So it was quite worthwhile.
It certainly was. Every inch counts in such a cramped space.
Although there is a bit of tiling left to do,
that's nothing compared to how much still has to be done in the garden.
The garden needs a makeover. But that will be something for the spring.
The garden hasn't had much attention, but that's because Tom was kept busy in the flat.
He worked seven days a week, late into the evenings for two months.
But he did get workmen and friends in to give him a hand.
I brought in a team for the renovation.
One guy who was working full-time during the week, he joined me at the end of the day and helped me work
until eight or nine at night...
Then I brought in several guys to help on the bathroom and kitchen.
And electrical work, which is not my forte,
I've got a good friend who's a very good electrician that's working on things.
With his team in place, Tom managed to get the shop renovated and fitted.
But it took longer than expected and the shop's opening was delayed by a few weeks.
We opened the shop only three days ago.
So we had a grand opening, very busy, lots of activity.
A mixture of friends coming in, people from the other shops
came in to welcome them on board, which was very nice.
The shop's now operating successfully.
But what do two local estate agents think of Tom's work so far?
First impressions, it's beautiful.
Very stylish, very sleek.
Nice clean lines throughout. Very, very appealing.
He's done a really good job.
Yes, there's a few odds and ends to finish off,
a bit of decoration, but he's done a really good job.
I think the redecoration of the property is of a very high standard,
above what people would expect for this kind of property.
From what I've seen, the standard of finish is very good.
It's very attractive, pleasing to the eye.
It's very neutral. Yes, he's done a very good job.
So, a glowing report for all Tom's hard graft.
He paid £142,000 at auction and has spent around £12,000 on the refurbishment.
What do the experts think that's added to the resale worth of the property?
I would estimate the value on the current market
of the whole unit would be in the region of £160,000 to £170,000.
For resale purposes, as a whole, I would value this property at £185,000.
Quite a difference, then, in the resale valuations.
Tom's total spend was £154,000.
So, those estimates could see him making a pre-tax profit of between £6,000 and £31,000.
I've not done it to make instant money.
It's my home and a business to run.
But it's very pleasing to know that.
With the lifestyle changes he's made following his heart surgery, Tom is looking ahead to a bright future.
I spent the last couple years meandering around, trying to keep myself busy.
It's a great feeling now. You've got a purpose.
So I'm looking forward to some good sales
and a happy life in here.
And after the tough time Tom went through, he certainly deserves that happy life.
We wish him all the best with his new home and business and health.
That's all we have time for today, but there'll be plenty more for you next time.
Join us, why don't you, for more Homes Under The Hammer.
-We'll see you then.
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