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These are difficult times in property, so it's not surprising
people are sitting tight to ride out the storm.
That's right, the days of an easy profit appear to be on hold.
-Today's purchaser needs their sums worked out and spreadsheets at the ready.
-But you know what?
If you do your research, there are still bargains to be had when you buy your home under the hammer.
On Homes Under The Hammer, it's not just the properties that make the show.
No, it's the people behind the bids that are just as interesting.
Without the developers, we couldn't uncover the true potential
or even the horrors that lurk inside some of the houses.
Let's find out what's on today's show.
Just what period IS this house?
Georgian houses are all about elegance and symmetry.
This house is neither.
In this Kent flat, I check out the mod cons. Look at this -
ironing board! Of course!
Somewhere to iron your shirts.
And, two years after it was sold at auction,
we return to this plot of land in Cheshire to see if it went to plan.
All these properties have been sold at auction and we'll find out who bought them and what they paid
-when they went under the hammer.
-Sold, 271. Well bought.
This is the St Leonards area of Exeter,
often described as a village within a city.
It is absolutely beautiful. You've got some glorious houses,
perfect examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture.
And it is without doubt one of the most desirable postcodes
in the city.
If this property is as desirable as the postcode, we're in for real treat.
So, what am I here to see? Well, it's a four-storey, three-bedroomed gentleman's residence.
That's it - looks pretty reasonable.
It's semi-detached with a guide price of £345,000,
which sounds like a lot of money, unless you realise that a house
in this street recently sold for over £800,000.
So maybe it's a bit of a deal.
However, all is not as it seems.
It looks Georgian on the outside. I could be wrong,
but something's not right.
# I could be wrong
# I could be right... #
You see, the thing is, after you've seen as many houses as I have, you get a feeling.
And you walk into this one and something isn't quite adding up.
Through the front door, a narrow cramped entranceway, into the front sitting room.
Obviously, a fairly hideous fireplace.
The front window, yeah, sash, that's nicely in keeping.
But I'm noticing some clues here.
Look at the floorboards.
There's no way that they are Georgian.
Look at this window. It could have had rot or whatever, but the size of it is all wrong.
They didn't build windows this size in Georgian times.
Georgian houses are all about elegance and symmetry.
This house is neither...
It doesn't get any better when you come into here.
Again, it's just the wrong kind of feeling. It's all cramped,
it's the wrong proportions, you come through into the kitchen and it gets worse.
There's nothing good about this part of the house at all.
It's a hotchpotch.
More stairs going down to, obviously, an exterior area there.
But you know what?
There's no way this is an original Georgian or Victorian house.
A Georgian-looking house on the outside that doesn't look Georgian inside. It's a mystery.
There is actually very little period character in evidence.
# It's a mystery
# Oh, it's a mystery... #
At the rear of the property,
not only do you find a small walled garden, but this.
It's actually a basement area, directly underneath the kitchen.
But it's not connected to the rest of the house in any way.
This really is a complete waste of space.
If you could integrate it with the house somehow, I think that would create that extra room
that the house could really do with.
But then...that's a bit strange.
There's a hole behind there!
Clearly, there's some kind of hidden area there.
So possibly even more space, and I'm thinking...
a staircase from there up into the main part of the house.
Well, we've been to the bottom, so let's go to the top.
On the first floor there are two bedrooms and a bathroom, all in need of modernisation.
Hang on, that's not the top. There's another one above that.
# It's a mystery
# Oh, it's a mystery.... #
Here on the top floor is currently the third bedroom of the house.
But really, once again, totally out of character with how it should be.
Very, very bad conversion job.
You've just got these tiny little doorways and it feels cramped.
It's absolutely horrible. And it doesn't get any better through here because this is, I think,
some kind of attic space that someone's had a go at opening up.
They've put a roof light in there and, well, not a lot else.
But there's space. You've got the stairs already, that room, do something here to convert this,
that would give you a fourth bedroom. Perfect.
But how perfect?
I asked the auctioneer who sold it what he thinks.
You've got slightly cottagey accommodation.
It's OK, it's all there, but it's a little bit small.
So it's got to be four beds,
a garden, kitchen room.
You've got off-street parking, you've got the address.
It's a winner.
Not perfect, but with a bit of work, it's a winner in a lovely area.
This road, Wanford Road,
is right up there with the Park Lane, Mayfair, of Exeter.
You've got some beautiful houses.
You've got the crescent down to the left of us here.
It's just the place to be in the city if you want to be slightly posh.
Being posh sounds good to me, but probably comes at a price.
It could push the 500,000.
Will it make much over five? With stamp duty kicking in at another percent at 500,
you've actually got to make something worth 540, 550, 560,
for it to come through the 500 barrier.
But if the new owner targets him or herself at around half a million, they won't be far wrong.
Half a million!
With Exeter and the airport nearby, it may be worth renting it out.
Renting's a piece of cake round here.
But, you'll only get around £1,000 a month.
So the yield on capital return will be fairly minor.
# Money, money, money! #
So with a bit of work, the house could be worth half a million pounds.
But it's in a conservation area, which means any external changes
need to be approved by the local authority.
Well, this house may not be original and it does need one heck of a lot of work doing to it
to get it into some kind of shape.
However, what you're buying into in this house is the area and I know somebody will go for that,
especially as its the first lot in the auction.
This four-storey semi-detached property had a guide price of £345,000.
Who will kick me off with, I don't know, 325?
It's going to be 300, isn't it?
300, thank you. 300 we have.
320. He who hesitates! 320.
335. 40. 340.
348 is the lady.
At 348 for lot one.
At 348 first time.
348 second time.
350. 352. They are picking on the lady!
352. Madam, don't be put off. 354.
360. At 360.
We're going to put the lady through it again? OK, at 360 first time.
At 360 second time.
At 360. Third and last time.
The lady sat has it. Sure and done at 3-6-0.
Madam, congratulations. Well done.
Eleanor made the final bid of 360,000,
which was 15,000 above the guide price.
She's been living in rented accommodation since returning
from New Zealand, where she ran her own garden centre for two years.
She now manages it over the internet and only goes back there a couple of times a year.
-This is a nice house, isn't it?
-Yes, it will be very nice.
-Why did you want to buy it?
I wanted to buy it because I was looking for a base to have in Exeter when my daughter finishes school.
She's got a couple more years to go.
And I wanted something manageable that I could lock up and leave.
And I wanted to do up my own house, cos I don't like buying houses
that are allegedly done up, but then you find lots of problems.
And I know this area quite well and I knew this was the only area,
if I bought something in Exeter, that I would be in.
The plan here, really, is to gut the whole thing.
It needs starting again, really. Knocking down a few walls.
Just making the absolute maximum space usable, really.
And making it into a very modern interior and a modern back to the property.
I've just discovered today that it's probably post-war, which I hadn't even realised.
I knew that it had been messed around, but now I can understand, it makes sense.
That it is a modern house, but it's in a conservation area.
So it will have to be quite carefully done,
keep the Georgian look at the front the house and probably going very modern at the back.
Knocking down walls to make space could be a good idea,
especially in that basement.
We're going to have to get some big hammers out to see what's behind those walls.
I've been to the house next door and they've opened everything out. So I'm hoping I can do the same.
Cos if you end up with that very small room, then it would spoil some of my plans.
'So my hunch that this house didn't seem really Georgian was right.
'It was actually built in the late Forties or early Fifties, probably to replace one bombed in the war.
'Eleanor's architect and friend Harriet is in charge of redesigning this modern home.'
So you've got the job of converting this place back into something glorious?
Yes, that's the idea!
-What do think the biggest challenges are?
-To get a greater sense of space on each floor.
At the moment, the ground floor is divided into two rooms and she wants to knock that through.
By moving the staircase over and consolidating it all the way up,
we'll get a better sense of entrance and space by doing that.
Eleanor would like to put the kitchen in the basement
and then bring a conservatory/extension
out here on ground level.
Eleanor's idea is to make it modern and quite slick at the back,
and have a modern feel to it. So that's quite exciting.
Exciting it might be, but changing the exterior
of a building in a conservation area can slow down the planning process.
And for Eleanor, the clock is ticking.
I'd like it done as soon as possible cos I'm renting and then I'll be paying a mortgage and renting.
Have you given yourself a provisional budget?
Not at this stage, because we haven't even done the planning or got anything.
It depends on whether I'm going to put on the conservatory. Too early to say, really.
I haven't been back in England enough to know what things cost.
I'll probably be quite frightened when it comes to it!
I'm still in Kiwi prices, where it's much cheaper to do things.
So I can't...
-really put my finger on a budget yet.
-Great. Well, good luck with it all.
-Thank you very much.
-I hope it turns out...
-I think you can turn it into something quite sensational.
-It'll definitely be an improvement!
Well, I reckon Eleanor is the perfect person to be
taking on this project because she's doing up this house to be her home.
And it is going to take a lot of effort.
But she's willing to put it in.
A few question marks. What's lurking down in the cellar behind that wall?
We'll find out later in the show.
I'm in Kent, but this is less garden of England than Greater London.
Here in Coney Hill, West Wickham, we're still within the M25
in the London borough of Bromley.
Confusing? Yes, but throw away your maps.
The important thing is, it's only a 35-minute train journey into London city centre.
The separation of work and home life was the initial appeal of the suburbs.
The dream was to escape the daily hustle and bustle of the city for a better quality of life,
to own your own home and breathe clean air.
To an extent, this still holds true today, and around one mile
from two train stations is the property I'm here to see.
It's a two-bedroomed 1930s flat and it's got a guide price of £130,000.
These blocks are substantial and, I think, quite attractive.
But where would you park a car?
If you're lucky enough to find a space in this turning circle, you'd have to be sure you
wouldn't need to get out in a hurry, since you could well be blocked in.
Let's hope the flat is a little more practical.
You know, it's a real bonus to have your own front door.
It's got a great feeling about it already, this flat.
I can see it's a little bit dated, it will need some work doing.
But I love the idea that you've got this nice central landing area with all the rooms leading off it.
Let's go and explore.
As you can see, this is not a shiny modern designer kitchen.
It's a little bit stuck in its time as you can see. But check this out.
This is fantastic, it really does hark back from the olden days.
You've got a big old unit here with cupboards to store your crockery,
somewhere here to keep your bread, chop some bits and pieces.
Very practical. I know I keep going on about that!
But look at this -
ironing board! Of course!
Somewhere to iron your shirts.
I'm not sure it's fully functional and working,
but there you have it anyway. Sadly though, for today's standards,
I think that's got to go. It would give you so much more room.
And once you have done this kitchen up and put some lovely new units in, it will look fantastic.
80 years ago, you couldn't knock this for practicality and style.
But today it's more of a peek into history than an ideal kitchen.
The two bedrooms, one at the front and one at the back, are well designed.
They're not huge, but decently sized with built-in cupboards and double-glazing.
So another tick there. The bathroom's a blast from the past.
A past we'd rather forget. I think you could salvage the bath and sink, but the tiles certainly have to go.
One room left.
Well, this is a wonderful open space here and you can see this was once two rooms.
It's been opened up and makes much more sense.
But I do love this little flat's character features like these solid panelled doors. They're gorgeous!
They still have the old-fashioned door plates on.
You've got the original picture rails there, you can see there's a hook been left.
And of course you have the fireplace.
It's an old original surround, very Deco in its style. Gorgeous.
But what really adds to this room are these modern 1930s windows.
They're inspired by cruise liners.
They were called suntrap windows and they were designed to let in as much light as possible.
You can see they've been replaced by UPVC at some stage, which is much more energy efficient.
But the nice curvy shape remains and they really are true
to their name, with light just spilling into the room.
Not quite a sea view, but not bad!
If you're after a flat with a couple of cute cabins, this could be just the ticket.
But it's not all plain sailing. You may have spotted that there's no central heating.
There are just those small wall heaters, which may be enough, as there's double glazing,
but I think those high ceilings mean it might be worth installing the real thing.
But the flat is determined to pull one more rabbit out of the hat.
You might have expected the top floor to sacrifice its garden.
Not so! In fact you've got your own private plot.
Again, it's wonderfully practical, it does need work, but it would be
perfect in summer after that long commute back from a hot sticky city.
I know it's not quite as manicured as the Joneses' next door,
but in my opinion, it adds loads to this little lot.
I spoke to a local estate agent to find out what she thinks.
It's a very quiet area. A lot of 1930s properties.
They're attractive from the outside and it's a well maintained close.
There are issues with parking here.
The road is very narrow.
You do have amenities on the main road for parking, but I imagine that may put off some people.
The garden with the property is fantastic. It's private, it's a nice bit of space.
The gardens around it are very well maintained, which
gives people a very good impression of the close when they come to view.
The garden is overgrown so I would strongly suggest that that be tidied up.
So an untidy garden and tricky parking,
-but those aren't deal breakers.
-It's quite a spacious property.
Both bedrooms are good-sized double bedrooms.
It does obviously need some work doing to it.
But I think if someone were to come in and modernise the property,
it would definitely be very saleable or rentable on the open market.
There aren't a lot of flats in Coney Hill in general.
It is the majority houses, three-bed semis, that sort of thing.
And I would suggest a rental price, in good condition, of between £850 - £900 per calendar month.
At the moment, if you were to put the property on the market,
I would look to achieve a minimum of 150,000 as it is.
If the property was done up to a good standard,
I would suggest putting the property on the market at £195,000.
And I would hope to get very close to that.
This flat needs a bit of attention, but it's got style and space inside and out.
It also pairs suburban living with excellent transport links and it offers great rental potential.
Now who am I to argue with a property that ticks all the boxes?
Let's see who agreed at the auction.
Can I kick off...
..with 100,000? 105?
New spot, 130 at the back. 130.
140. New spot.
145 with you, sir, on the right.
If not, with you at £145,000.
First time. Second time.
Third and last time. Are you all done?
Local man Geoff made the winning bid of 145,000.
15,000 above the guide price.
He's bought and modernised property before and I think he's got a viable investment here.
What was it about this little West Wickham flat that you liked enough to want to buy it at auction?
I don't know, cos I never came here before the auction.
I didn't see the place at all. I bought it unseen.
-So you just bought it from the picture in the catalogue?
-Yes. Basically, yes.
It was a good price. I wouldn't have paid too much more, but it seemed a good price for what it was.
-So you were prepared to pay £145,000 on a punt?
Did you not have any thoughts about perhaps doing a little drive by?
Or did you not get the auction catalogue prior to the auction even?
I did intend to drive by, but time just seemed to run out.
I didn't get time to come down and have a look, although I'm fairly local to here.
I just thought, "Oh, well, you know, go and do it. Always best."
When you got the keys and you put them in the front door for the first time, you opened the door,
what did you think and feel when you saw it?
What a lot of junk mail they send round here!
-Loads of mail on the floor!
-What did you think of the property?
-Pretty good. It's sound enough.
I'm quite pleased with it. It wants a bit of cosmetic...treatment...
-..but I think it's pretty good.
-You've been very lucky. Indeed.
I mean, you must have sort of gone, "Phew, that's a bit of luck."
I was pleased. The last one I bought 15 years ago, I had to knock it down and rebuild on the site.
So that was probably quite a salutary lesson, not to do it again.
But I did do it again and I think I've come out better this time than I did then!
This is not a masterclass in how to buy property, ladies and gentlemen!
Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best does not a good developer make.
Geoff's been lucky. Even if a property looks
sound in a picture, you can never be sure, and it won't show the location.
This block could have been run-down and next to the local tip!
OK, lesson over.
He's given himself two months to do the work, but what about his budget?
I'd like to spend 10, but I think that's possibly a little optimistic.
Although new bathroom, new kitchen...
..not a rewire, but new face plates.
And decoration all the way through. So hopefully 10,
but more likely a bit more than that.
What is it that you like about this property as it stands at the moment?
Well, I like it. It's a good area, and it's a solid property.
It's as saleable one as well at the moment because it's just two bedrooms.
It's the right end of the market to sell at the moment
if I decide to sell and not rent.
I haven't made my mind up yet.
I think it's a fantastic little renter, this, because you're near to two train stations.
People are looking for two-bedroom flats like this, it's ideal. It's got a bit of a garden.
That's another plus. Somewhere to burn a few bangers, yeah!
The historic kitchen won't be burning any more bangers though, as Geoff plans to modernise it.
He also intends to take down the cupboard wall, which will open up the space and make it more chef friendly.
-So is that the only structural work you're going to do here?
Although having said that, I might...
block one of these doorways up.
Three doorways into this room seems excessive.
You've got to think about which door, because if you're going to use this as a dining room, this door
-needs to be kept open because it's flowing into the kitchen.
I think you'd have to block up this door.
But I see a nice big sofa going there. I see that as a sort of comfy living, lounge area.
You're going to have to do a few drawing designs to see how it's going to work best.
Guys are not very good at this sometimes. I've learnt that it's best to get a woman involved!
You've got a lot better ideas on these things than most men, certainly than me anyway.
-Absolutely, we'll have a chat later!
-Please do, yes!
I do wish people would learn from their mistakes!
Even after his last auction disaster, Geoff didn't view this flat! He has got a good one, though.
And this dated home could make him a pretty penny.
Find out how he gets on later in the programme.
Coming up, what a difference a year makes.
See what's hatched on this plot of land in Cheshire since we last visited.
It seems some things were best left alone in this Kent flat.
£3,000 for the gas board
seemed a bit excessive just to move a meter.
But first, has this house sprung any more surprises?
I just discovered today that it's probably post-war, which I hadn't even realised.
At auction, in 2007,
Eleanor bought this four-storey semi-detached house for £360,000.
It was in the very sought-after area of St Leonards in Exeter.
The plan here really is to gut the whole thing.
It needs starting again, really.
It turned out that it was rebuilt after the war because of bomb damage.
Eleanor's clearly been busy transforming the place into a stylish and comfortable home.
But two years ago, she was hit by a bombshell herself.
I think I'd owned the house for about a month and a half and the architect was doing plans
and I was in Bordeaux with somebody. I got this call and she said, "You won't believe it, Eleanor."
I said, "What's the matter?" She said, "Your house is listed." I said, "Don't think so."
Checking whether a house is listed on not is something that should be done before you buy.
There were some papers that weren't produced till the day of the auction.
I was lot number one, so all I was concerned with was sitting in the right place
and getting ready to stick my hand up.
And I took these papers, but I didn't read them, because my solicitor had done
my work and I thought it would be something about drainage and things that are just not interesting.
And then it transpired that it was listed.
So not reading the paperwork gave Eleanor a lot of problems.
She spent about a year dealing with architects and planners before any work could start.
Basically we've done the whole ground floor, which used to be in two small, dark rooms.
I wanted to open it up and I've got this sort of Mediterranean feeling in my blood, I think.
So all my friends who walk in say, oh, love your beach house!
So I put in these shutters, plantation shutters,
just to give what's not a very attractive house a bit...
..of a feel to it, really.
Something else that certainly looks good now is the attic.
This has been totally transformed.
-It's now ideal for Eleanor's son, Harry, when he's home from Sydney, and daughter Olivia.
-I love it.
I feel spoiled. I feel guilty that I haven't let Mum have it!
But it's really good cos I'm going to get a desk up here and I'll be able to work.
A good place to come home to when I'm back from uni.
From one bathroom to another,
and this really needed some work to bring it up to scratch.
Feels so good...
And there's more to be proud of downstairs.
This kitchen I did very simply and fairly reasonably, because I wasn't sure when I started the house
whether I was going to have the kitchen downstairs or what the layout of the house was going to be.
So I started off on a real budget kitchen, just got some really ordinary white units.
Then as I was here longer I thought, "I've got to have something nice."
So I spent money on lovely, beautiful tiles, which are made in Exeter, actually.
And plenty of money on the flooring and things like that.
And then bought some expensive handles for the units.
So it looked a lot better than I was expecting, actually.
And it's turned out to be quite nice. It's very light.
And although it's very small, now that we've opened up the two rooms, it's very manageable.
And we sort of live in here, really.
I'm going to put a little table and a banquette to sit on.
And it's worked very well.
A rolled steel joist or RSJ had to be installed when the dividing wall was knocked down.
Once the work's had a building regulations inspection, the kitchen can be finished.
It's really nice having the through aspect and you can look out both ends. Yeah, it's a good space.
One area that hasn't been dealt with yet is the basement.
-So the mystery of the void has yet to be solved.
-# It's a mystery... #
-Another mystery was the budget.
-It's virtually impossible to set a budget when you're doing a house.
You've got to have an upper limit. Originally, when I was going to have the whole thing done and
the extension done, I was thinking it could have cost about 120,000.
And I had a quote a lot higher than that, in fact.
Then obviously I couldn't do the planning I wanted so I've just done what I've described so far.
And I suppose that's cost about 35,000.
Money well spent, I'd say. But let's check with two local property experts.
My first impressions of the house, they've made a pretty good solid start to the work.
A few finishing-off touches, but they've made good use of the space.
The open-plan living space on the ground floor is just wonderful.
Very contemporary. And it's exactly on trend for a property of this type.
They like it so far. Anything that really impresses?
The attic room is a marvellous space, whether it's for a noisy youth or the parents of the house,
it's a wonderful use of space.
When you first walk into the attic room, it really has the wow factor, it punches you in the face.
It's light, it's modern and airy.
I love this room.
So they certainly agree that's a success.
Two years ago, Eleanor paid £360,000 for this property. Has the current market affected that?
It's worth today probably in the region of £360,000-£380,000.
You convert the lower ground floor into a space
for the house and you are looking at probably even over £400,000.
If I was to place the property on the market in its current condition
I would expect it to achieve offers in the region of 395,000.
With a converted basement, the figure could rise in the region of 450.
Yeah, I think they're probably both fairly accurate, although I think
the second one was probably more interesting! Yes, wait and see!
Eleanor paid 360,000 for the house,
and 35,000 for the work so far.
It's now worth between £360,000 and £395,000.
So due to the slump in property values, she hasn't made a profit.
But she's on her way to having a lovely home.
Once finished, the rental value of the property is in the region of £700 per calendar month.
If I was to rent this property I'd expect it to achieve £895 per calendar month.
Well, for 700, I'd probably rent it myself, cos I think that's incredibly cheap!
But the other one is getting closer to the mark.
Eleanor was unlucky, really.
She didn't read the legal pack before the auction and then the property market plummeted
and the planning department wouldn't let her do all she wanted.
So was it worth all the trouble?
It was definitely worth it because we're in a really lovely location and it's a comfortable house.
It's not going to cost very much to heat as I couldn't put my extension on. So yes, it's been worth it.
It's been a long hard slog, but I think Eleanor will thoroughly enjoy her superb new home.
In 2007, with a buoyant property scene, there were tremendous opportunities to turn a profit.
One of the most exciting ways was to develop land.
This is Willaston near Nantwich
in Cheshire, definitely a desirable place to live.
A pretty little village. So when you hear about plots
of land that are up for auction, there's money to be made.
'There certainly is.
'With excellent transport links and countryside atmosphere, prices remain high in this area.
'To access the land, you need first to cross a driveway shared with the neighbours.'
Plots of land always amaze me because intrinsically, they're just a bit of grass.
And yet they have such value if they're in the right place.
So what am I here to see?
Well, a bit of land that might not actually be that much bigger than your garden.
That's it there, up to where the orange fence is at the bottom.
Not that big at all. But the key is that it's flat and got fantastic access through this way.
Hence, the guide price was 150,000 quid.
Makes you think, doesn't it?
If you are now running to the window
to see if your garden could be sold as a building plot, make sure you check the size and the access.
Then perhaps employ an architect to draw up some plans, and who knows?
A pot of gold might just be at the end of your garden.
Well, a bit of history about the plot.
Originally built here was the coach house belonging to that house there.
That has now been demolished to create this really nice flat bit of land.
You're probably still thinking, but come on, it's not worth 150,000 quid, for goodness' sake!
Well, the reason that it is is because it's got that all-important thing - planning permission.
In this case, planning permission for the construction of a detached four-bedroom, massive house.
2,300 square feet, for goodness' sake.
So a builder comes along, he builds that in this neck of the woods, he's going to make a lot of money.
The plans are pretty comprehensive for this four-bedroomed house.
They include three bathrooms, a double garage, a utility area,
large kitchen and very generous living spaces.
Well, it makes you think, doesn't it? Maybe you've got a plot of land
where you live that you could sell off and make some money like this.
It sounds like a lot of money, but houses round here similar to the one
there's planning permission for are going to sell for £450,000-£475,000.
So there's money to be made on this one.
Let's see who spotted the opportunity at the auction.
Let's get on. 150,000 to start me off.
120. £120,000 I've got. At 120,000.
I'll take £5,000 bids.
125, sir, thank you.
At 125,000. 30.
140. 145. 50.
150. And five, sir? 155.
60. At 160. And five.
70. At 170. And five.
175. 180. Yes? 180, thank you.
Two-and-a-half now. 182½...
At 185, the gentleman in the jacket. The gentleman in the jumper's out.
At 185, I'm selling it then.
At 185,000 once. Twice.
For the third and final time at 185,000 with you, sir, in the jacket.
There can be no mistake about it.
At £185,000 for the third and final time. Yours, sir.
So for £185,000, Cheshire-based John is the new owner of that building plot with its planning permission
for a four-bedroomed house.
We met up there to talk about why it appealed to him.
John, congratulations. You've bought a very expensive bit of grass!
Why did you want to buy it?
Originally I was looking for a place to build for my son.
I spoke to my wife about it and it was too far away, so I decided
to build something and make some money on it, hopefully.
-Is this what you do, are you a builder?
-I've been a builder all my life.
-Mainly on the civil side of things.
-What do you mean by that?
Motorways, deep drainage, I used to specialise in a lot of that stuff.
You know, working for the big companies. But I decided to just make a change, really.
Last year I did my sister's extension, I liked it, everybody else went round,
said it was a great job and I just took it from there then, basically.
John's background in civil engineering means he understands
the complexities in installing services and drainage.
This is invaluable for all the groundwork necessary for a new build.
So talk me through the plan, then.
-Is it to keep the plans exactly as they are?
-Yes. I'm not going to vary from them at all.
If you start varying from them, it's going to knock the time back,
so you might as well just carry on with what you've got.
-The design itself is quite pretty, isn't it?
-It's quite nice, yes.
Looks nice in the plan, anyway.
Nice area like this, with the views at the back.
Should be really nice for somebody who's going to buy it. I hope!
Well, I think this really is as much of a sure thing as is possible in the property market.
John certainly has the skills to carry out the build successfully.
So are you overseeing the project? Have you got a team of builders? Have you got sub-contractors?
-No, I'm overseeing and building it myself.
-Yes. All the time, yes.
-And how much work will you actually do?
I'll do all the foundation work up to slab level.
Do all the drainage, the driveway, the whole lot. Landscaping.
-And then just get some brickies in.
-Do you mean you on your own?
Me and a few lads I've got with me, you know.
I've got four lads with me now at the moment.
-How many more like this have you done?
-I'm doing one at the moment.
Another one in Flixton.
I bought a single dwelling there with planning permission to knock down and put two semi-detached houses on it.
It's nearly built now, they are.
Despite doing this type of work for just 18 months, John's already shown
he knows what he's doing where building is concerned.
However, he appears to be a little more rookie at auctions.
-So what was the auction like?
-I thought this place would go for a lot more than what it went for.
But it didn't. Anyway, I went down without a chequebook,
passport, my licence!
I said to him, I thought you got three days to give the money in.
That's why I was going to come in on the Monday or the Saturday
with utility bills and passport, licence and the cheque for the 10%.
So what did you do?
I got my sister to go and get it all!
She came up with it then about half an hour after the event!
John clearly wasn't a Boy Scout!
Being prepared is the first thing you need to be at auction
as you never know quite what's going to happen.
So what was it about this particular plot that attracted you to it?
I did a bit of market research, just what the houses were going for around here.
I thought if it goes for about 200, you could make a nice butty, as they say!
Talk me through the numbers then, how much do you think it's going to cost you to build it?
Well, I've worked it out, I've had to do it for the banks. So I worked out about 200 building costs.
So 185 for the plot plus your 200 build.
Say 400, yeah.
And how much do you reckon it's going to sell for?
Well, the banks have valued it at 475.
And looking at the local area, that's about the right price for something like this, you know.
-So there's potentially about 75 grand in it for you?
Plus the work as well.
Cos I'm building it and getting paid, so, you know.
Well, that was back in 2007.
At the time it seemed John would win every way, with wages from the build
and what seemed likely to be a decent return on selling the house.
But then of course property prices dropped.
When we returned one year later, not a brick had been laid and it was still a building site.
But stay with us to see the very impressive house that stands there now.
Well, time is money and some of that time has passed for our second property.
So how did the work go there? Has it resulted in success or failure?
We can't put off finding out any longer.
Geoff bought this two-bedroom flat
in West Wickham, Kent, for £145,000, £15,000 over the guide price.
It had some lovely original features but did look as though it was stuck in a time-warp.
Had he liked the look of it before he bought it?
I never came here before the auction.
I didn't see the place at all.
I bought it unseen.
When he did see the property, it was like travelling back in time.
So he had to bring it back to the future!
And he's certainly done that.
Well, it was a bit dated, to say the least.
It was a time capsule, really.
An old pull-down ironing-board, a breeze block cupboard.
An old meat safe and everything. I think it's probably a little bit different now!
That's an understatement! It's a lot better now and it's not just the kitchen that's improved.
The bathroom's quite a bit different to when we came here.
There was an old wall-mounted cistern.
A very old loo. A rotten old basin.
So yeah, it's all been done, but there's still a bit more to do to it, a bit more to finish off.
But it's 95% complete now.
Geoff has brought the kitchen and bathroom into this century
and after a lick of paint it's going to look great.
Has he installed any more modern gadgets?
We put central heating in, it didn't have central heating before.
It just had a gas fire and a storage radiator.
-So that's all new.
-That should keep it warm.
And to keep it safe the flat has been rewired and replumbed.
But Geoff has tried to retain some of the 1930s character.
Keeping the period features as well, the ones that were here.
Just the picture rail, really, and the fireplace.
I think that's quite good.
People can take them out if they want to, but I'd rather leave them and leave that up to them.
Personally I do like homes to have a bit of character.
Geoff originally gave himself two months to complete this flat.
But there still seems a bit to do.
The timescale was probably a little bit optimistic.
Trying to tie the trades in together was the problem.
But once they were here, the job went quite quickly.
It was just getting them all on site in the right order.
Co-ordinating tradesmen can be a problem and expensive if you get it wrong.
So it's worth doing some pre-planning.
It's good to hear that once they were on site, everything went smoothly.
-The gas meter was a problem.
I wanted it moved outside but the quote of £3,000 from the Gas Board
seemed a bit excessive just to move a meter. I'd like to know how they managed to figure that one out.
I decided to leave it where it was after that.
Three grand to move a meter?!
I know people who have smaller budgets for a whole renovation!
My original budget was between 10 and 15.
I think I probably ended up doing 15, 16 perhaps.
So that's not too far out.
Not bad at all. Only £1,000 over the original budget is good going.
Geoff's obviously got a head for business.
Well, I used to be a butcher a long time ago. Well, not that long ago I suppose, really.
But I've always done this, anyway, even when I had my shops.
The shops I bought often needed modernising, fitting out
So even though I was in that trade, I still did this sort of thing on the side.
Or as part of the butchery business as well.
No wonder he made an impressive job of this joint!
The flat also has a small garden - an advantage if you're aiming for the family market.
Just to make sure Geoff's not making a pig's ear of this flat,
-I asked two local estate agents to come and have a look.
-It was like stepping into a time-warp.
Original kitchens and bathrooms, the heating system was non-existent.
It really needed an awful lot doing to it.
They've really made massive inroads to improving the kitchen.
It's fantastic. Really feels a lot bigger. A lovely bathroom suite in there and from what I see so far,
the way they're going to be decorating it, it's a blank canvas
for anyone to come in and put their own stamp on it.
And the little bit of garden outside as well is a big bonus to anyone living in a flat.
I like this property. Good-sized rooms, two double bedrooms,
a modern kitchen, modern bathroom suite. And its own private garden.
The estate agents seemed to like what Geoff's done.
He paid 145,000 for the flat at auction and spent about £16,000 on bringing it up to date.
So he'd definitely want valuations above 161,000.
The market has moved quite considerably in the last three months and
I would say you could possibly push the asking price up to about 215.
With hopes to achieve a minimum of 200,000.
The demand for stock in this area has really gone up quite considerably.
And that lack of stock has really driven prices up.
I would be looking to put this property on the market for £195,000.
To achieve very close to that.
Crikey! That's a potential pre-tax profit of between 34,000 and 54,000.
Minus the usual deductions.
Geoff must be pleased.
I hope that's not optimistic.
Yeah, that's very good news and more than I thought.
195 is what I was hoping for, but 215 would be a major plus, yes. Lovely, thank you.
Don't thank me, Geoff, you did all the work!
Would it be worth renting out?
It would be about £850-£900 per calendar month.
In terms of rental you'd be looking to achieve between £800-£850 per month.
I thought about 800-850, yes.
So that's good. That's more or less what I thought.
And if the 215 figure is right then that would be very good, yes.
-Great to see someone happy with their work.
Especially when they've taken a bit of a chance.
Well, I bought it without seeing it, which is probably not the ideal thing.
But yes, I would do it again and it has turned out pretty well, I hope.
Geoff's brought a flat that was in a time-warp into this century
and he's made a potential pre-tax profit of 54,000 minus normal deductions.
So I'd say it turned out pretty well.
# Let's do the time warp again! #
Back in 2007, ex-civil engineer turned builder John
bought a building plot
in the quiet Cheshire location of Willaston for £185,000.
With planning permission already in place, it all seemed quite straightforward.
-The design itself is quite pretty, isn't it?
-It's quite nice, yeah.
Looks nice on the plan, anyway.
Nice area like this with the views at the back.
Should be really nice for somebody who's going to buy it, I hope!
The original plan was to crack on immediately.
But when we returned a year later in 2008,
it hadn't worked out like that.
What do they say about the best laid plans of mice and men?
Since we were last here I picked up another job so I had to do that and
I really started on this site then about two-and-a-half weeks ago.
As you can see. But it's out of the ground now.
In the spring of 2009, we returned to see if it's any more than a pile of bricks now.
And as the A-Team might say, I love it when a plan comes together!
John's named the new five-bedroomed house the Coach House
after the building that originally stood here.
So the plans really have turned into reality.
Now the house stands proudly where once there was just a piece of scrubland.
Inside what is now a five-bedroomed house, there's a large modern kitchen.
Then there are two reception rooms, both with patio doors leading out to the garden.
And there's a downstairs cloakroom and some office space.
-This is one of the en-suites.
Quite happy with the finishes. Nice big shower.
Big double sinks there.
Nice round window.
This services bedroom two.
And it also services...
Which, I know it as a Jack and Jill bathroom suite, which is a nice little touch.
So the two smaller bedrooms share a high-spec shower room.
While the master bedroom has its own en-suite.
Although the fourth good-sized bedroom IS just a bedroom, it has easy access to a beautiful
bathroom just down the hall, and it doesn't stop there.
Originally it was a four-bedroom, but we managed to get a fifth bedroom in
by increasing the pitch of the roof.
Walk-in wardrobe, shower room, and I think it's turned out quite well.
This addition to the original plans to get a fifth bedroom and the extra rooms has been really worthwhile.
But John decided not to take up all his options.
There was an option to buy extra land. But I thought I'd build the house first and see what the garden
was like at the end of it. But I think it looks fine now. I don't think it needs any extra garden.
But I think that option is still there if anybody wants to extend.
With five bedrooms, three ensuites and two bathrooms, this is pretty impressive.
How does it compare with sorting out drainage issues on the sort of projects John did before?
It's quite easy to do, I think. What I'm normally used to, anyway,
pressure, as regards programmes, people going, "You need to get this done, you need to do that."
-I don't have that stress or worry!
-But he's still the boss
and project manager, so it's down to him to keep things going smoothly and make sure it's kept on track.
Well, I have just little programmes in my head, I'll take two weeks to do that.
Or one week. Or two days. And I hate it when it overruns then, you know!
I just expect sometimes maybe too much from the lads to just stay on a bit and finish it.
"Do you need that cup of tea?!"
John might be very conscious of time going by,
but now he's finished he can relax and perhaps soak in the bath
while watching his favourite shows on the television!
The budget was 200, and I've actually kept within that.
The only thing that isn't in that is the deposit I put down, so in effect, it's near enough
20,000 over-budget then.
John's sunk nearly 220,000 into this new-build.
With the land purchased at 185,000,
his total expenditure with costs will be around 410,000.
So has the current state of the property market killed hopes of seeing a return?
What do two local estate agents think?
I think the third visit here, the transformation is superb.
I think he's done an amazing job and we have an excellent product available to market today.
When I came last it was just the beginning, really.
Just the block work was started and it was a building site.
And I've come here today and it's a complete transformation.
I think the house looks a quality built house
of lovely, mellow brick which blends in with the neighbouring properties.
I believe there's certain bits to the specification, like
a television in the bathroom, it is quite a unique feature.
And the wine cooler in the kitchen. Quirky things.
But in this market, it's key to making something stand out.
I feel the garden for this property is too small for the size of accommodation.
So I feel it could be hard to sell on the present market.
So I would advise him to rent the property.
I believe the garden to be a really good size, actually.
It was a concern in the building stages.
He did discuss
buying some extra land.
But it has actually worked out really well for the house itself.
The estate agents may not agree about the garden,
but do they agree on whether John's invested his 410,000 wisely?
The asking price, I would recommend between £375,000 and £385,000.
I believe the property could be marketed to somewhere in the region of the early 400,000 mark.
Between £400,000 to £425,000.
So again, a division of opinion.
One valuation sees a potential profit and the other a loss.
What does John think about those estimates?
I'd like a little bit more, but
if it was less than 425, which it's on the market for now, I'd look at letting it.
So renting it may be the way forward.
What kind of returns could he expect from that?
I believe the rental figures would be in the region of £1,000-£1,200 per month.
We would be able to achieve a figure in the region of £1,000 per calendar month.
In fact, John HAS decided to let the house out and is now getting £1,100 per calendar month.
Although this hasn't been a big money spinner for him, it has kept him and his building team employed
during a difficult time in the construction industry.
So would he do it again?
I'd like to do one myself, for myself, but I'd do it a lot higher spec, I'd really go to town on it!
Well, if this is anything to go by, a higher spec than this would really be worth seeing.
# Nothing but the best you can get
# Nothing but the best you can get. #
Well, we hope today's stories have inspired and entertained you.
And maybe even tempted you into the auction room yourself.
-So join us next time for more Homes Under The Hammer.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Martin Roberts and Lucy Alexander visit a period house in Cheshire and a house in Kent, and revisit a plot of land in Cheshire two years after it went to auction. All of these properties have been sold - Martin and Lucy find out who bought them, and what they paid when they went under the hammer.