Episode 6 Homes Under the Hammer


Episode 6

Martin Roberts and Lucy Alexander visit a plot of land in Wiltshire and a Victorian house in Herne Hill, London, and revisit a gospel hall in Devon.


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Transcript


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Hello. Buying your first home is a moment you will remember for ever.

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Whether it's your first purchase or your 50th,

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buying at auction is an incredibly exciting experience.

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There are lots of heart-stopping moments when you buy your home under the hammer.

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Now, appearances can be deceptive and auction properties can be difficult to read.

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Yes, the house may appear to just need a quick makeover when really drastic surgery is needed.

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So did today's properties require a bit of filler in the cracks or a full renovation job?

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'On a plot of land in Wiltshire, the the sewer is causing a real stink.'

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Just shifting it two or three metres means putting a whole new pipe in.

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'I'm at a Victorian house in Herne Hill, London,

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'where the plumbing is not exactly up to today's standards.' It's like an en-suite for both floors.

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'And we go back to this old Gospel Hall in Devon. Six years ago, it was bought at auction.

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'Catch up with it now to admire its dramatic transformation.

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'All these properties were sold at auction. We see who bought them when they went under the hammer.'

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This is Corsham, a gorgeous little medieval town halfway between Bath

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and Chippenham in north-west Wiltshire.

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It was famous as the centre of the wool industry here and as the place where they quarried Bath Stone,

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hence it is a gorgeous little spot.

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It's also a very desirable location just off the M4 and within easy commuting distance of Bath.

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Hopefully, there's no chance a property here would pull the wool over my eyes.

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So, when a plot of land came up for auction just five minutes' drive from that high street,

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it generated a lot of interest.

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So what is it? Well, it's somebody selling off a bit of their garden,

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but it's a good-sized plot, it's fairly flat, the guide price was £45,000.

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But the key was it had planning permission for the building of a two-bedroom, detached house.

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Sounds good so far. Let's take a look.

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And this is it, a good-sized plot of land. Right now, it's basically a luscious lawn.

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When you're considering plots of land, there are things you need to take into consideration.

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Ideally, we want something flat, so that's what this plot of land is.

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And I noticed that the kerb outside there giving us our access into the plot which is really important

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has already been lowered. That will save you a lot of time and expense.

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Probably between £800 and £1,500 to get that done, but it's been done.

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What else have we got? Flat - that will save you money in terms of earth moving.

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You can see the house that has sold off this plot of land.

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If this is similar to your garden, maybe you could consider it.

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They've put these two pegs in here which indicate that this is the plot of land to be sold off.

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If this was just a garden, it would probably be worth £2,000.

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The key to this is it has got that planning permission and that's why it's got the £45,000 guide price.

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It's a good start.

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# Give me land, lots of land

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# Under starry skies above

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# Don't fence me in... #

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Being so close to other houses isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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It means that main services like gas and water should be nearby and easy to tap into.

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The plot comes complete with plans drawn up on behalf of the vendors and approved by the council.

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# Don't fence me in... #

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These are the plans and I think they're quite good.

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They're making the most of a small plot, but the build is in character with the local buildings here.

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Two bedrooms upstairs, kitchen, living room downstairs.

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However, there is one thing which screams out at me for these plans which a lot of people forget about

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and yet it's a major problem or a major expense. And that is...

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Here is the existing foul sewer which runs across the plot.

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You're not allowed to build the foundations for this within a certain distance of the sewer,

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so you'll have to move the sewer.

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To move a sewer is not an easy job. It's certainly not a pleasant job.

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You'll have to get the sewage people in to do it, it will be expensive

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and even just shifting it probably two or three metres

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means digging a new trench, putting a new pipe in,

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and I reckon you're going to be looking at something like £5,000 to £7,000 just to do that.

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If you're not expecting it, that could catch you out.

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Moving that sewer could be a real stinker of a job.

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But as long as the buyer spots it and factors it into the calculations,

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everything should come up smelling of roses.

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I asked along a local estate agent to see what he thought.

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The plans are for a two-bedroomed house.

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You couldn't get anything bigger certainly on the plot.

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There is maybe potential to make it two one-bedroom flats,

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but the problem there is whether you can get enough parking for the site.

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What does he think the rental possibilities are for this house?

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It is a good rental area.

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People who can't afford the prices in Bath will step out of Bath and just be nearby in Corsham.

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I imagine you would achieve something in the region of £550 to £575 per month.

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What if the buyer was to sell on?

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For a two-bedroomed house in this location,

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we would anticipate you would get something in the region of £140,000 to £145,000 for resale value.

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With the guide price of 45,000 and the cost of building a two-bedroomed house around 60,000,

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that's potentially a really good return. Not bad for a patch of grass!

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Well, as plots of land go, I think this is a really good one.

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It's got planning permission and little extras such as the lowering of the kerb stones here.

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A few issues with the sewer, but all in all, for a £45,000 guide price,

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I'm sure it was a popular lot at the auction.

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Lot 1, the building plot at the rear of 28, Charles Street, Corsham.

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£30,000. 32? At £32,000.

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34? 34.

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36? At 36. 38 may I say?

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At 38. Now 40 I'll take?

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At £38,000. 40 I'll take? At £38,000.

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Against you on the telephone. 40? 40 I've got. At £40,000.

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Round the corner. I'll take 1? At £40,000. 41?

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41. 42...?

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Yeah, 42. £42,000 on the wall.

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At £42,000. 43, thank you very much.

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44 now may I say? At £43,000 sat down.

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44? 44. 45 to you, sir?

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At £44,000. 45 to you?

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45. 46, Anthony?

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No.

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And a half...?

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At £45,000. Your bid, sat down, at £45,000. Anybody else want a go?

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I'll take 500, please, if you will? Otherwise, it's £45,000 for the first time.

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£45,000 for the second time...

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45,500. I knew he would somehow!

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46 to you, sir. 46,500 now, if you like?

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No. At £46,000, back to where you were. Keep smiling.

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At £46,000. 5 I'll take?

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Otherwise, it's £46,000 for the first time... I mean it this time.

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£46,000 for the second time... £46,000, third and last time...

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One more, yes or no...? No.

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Your number, sir, is...?

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'Auction first-timer Sergio made the winning bid of 46,000.

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'Sergio is from Costa Rica and he and his Malaysian wife Jan and their son Aslam only moved

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'to the UK just over six months ago.

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'I met up with Sergio to find out his plans for this plot.'

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-Sergio, nice to meet you.

-Nice to meet you.

-Congratulations.

-Thank you.

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-Why did you want to buy this plot of land in Corsham?

-I'm going to build a two-bedroom house here for sale.

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I'm not going to keep it or rent it. I'm planning to sell it when it's finished.

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OK. Do you have much experience in building?

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I arrived in the UK last year from my home country Costa Rica.

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Costa Rica? Oh, beautiful country!

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I build five houses there.

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'Although he has built five houses in Costa Rica,

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'Sergio actually works as a finance manager in nearby Swindon and travels the world with his job.

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'So I wondered why he and his family had chosen to settle down in the UK?'

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When I was working in Malaysia, I met my wife. We agreed to go to Costa Rica first,

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then she wanted to go back to Malaysia which is too far from everything I know.

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So we made a compromise to stay in a country that could be in the middle between the two countries.

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Costa Rica and Malaysia are on the opposite sides of the world, literally,

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so the UK is right in the middle between the two. That's why we are here.

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'Sergio and his family live in Swindon and he's bought this land

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'as his first property development investment in the UK.'

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-What involvement will you have in the whole project?

-I'm going to project-manage the project.

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I'm going to do it by stages and I'm going to hire the different trades for doing the different things,

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so I'm going to find somebody to help me with the excavation and somebody to put the bricks up.

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I'll project-manage the whole thing.

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'At the moment, Sergio is budgeting around £60,000 for the build,

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'but he'll do the work in stages as and when he can afford it.'

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Right now, I have money for building the foundations and the walls, and, obviously, to buy the plot.

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-Please tell me you've got money for the roof.

-No roof yet.

-What?!

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I hope to put together some money while we build those things, so I can put a roof on at the end.

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But it's going to take a few months for getting all that together,

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so I plan to save a little bit for putting the roof on.

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It is an initial stage to make it waterproof.

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I think your roof's going to be kind of important. You've got to get a roof on.

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I've got to get a roof. Definitely.

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'I think we've established that a roof is non-negotiable.

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'It's not always this sunny in England.'

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# Nothing but blue skies do I see... #

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'Sergio will build the property in line with the planning permission,

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'although he'd like to make a few minor changes. I asked him to walk me through them.'

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I like the plans. The outside of the house is a nice little cottage.

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I want to use this area to become the kitchen and dining,

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so I will put the kitchen here, the dining here,

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then I will put a wall from here to here.

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I will put the downstairs bathroom in this corner, then the entrance of the house will be through here.

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What's the main reason for doing that?

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-I think the stairs coming out of the kitchen will distribute the smell of food through the whole house.

-Right.

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And for many people that I talk to, that is something that people don't seem to like in their house, right?

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The smell will go upstairs into their bedrooms, so I want the kitchen separated from the rest of the house.

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'Talking of smells, Sergio has plans for that sewer too.'

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# Lord, I smell trouble ahead of me... #

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I need to build two inspection chambers in my property

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and then divert this sewage, making it through the side of the land.

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That sounds expensive to me.

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I'm budgeting at least £5,500 for that, so it's already in my calculations.

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-OK.

-But it is the only gamble in the project.

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I haven't quoted that work yet, so hopefully, it doesn't go higher than that.

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-I wish you all the best for the project.

-Thank you very much.

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Sergio has got experience in building, but only in Costa Rica and things here are slightly different.

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He's going to have to consider things like central heating and double glazing

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and I do hope he gets his money together to put a roof on because in Corsham that is fairly essential.

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Find out how he gets on later.

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I'm in Herne Hill in south-west London,

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slap-bang between buzzing Brixton and desirable Dulwich.

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Over recent years, it's become a hot spot for young professionals

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not quite ready to let go of the vibrancy and nightlife of Brixton or forego Dulwich's delis.

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But Herne Hill is more than a middle ground location.

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It's become desirable in its own right with boutiques, bars and restaurants

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and the beautiful Brockwell Park, surrounded by generous Victorian terraces.

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It sounds rather lovely.

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And so it is, even in the rain.

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# You and me and rain on the roof

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# Caught up in a summer shower... #

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And not only is it lovely, it's handy for London too, only 20 minutes by train.

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But Herne Hill feels a million miles away with its lovely village atmosphere.

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The property I'm here to see today is in the Poet's Corner conservation area.

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Now, it's on Milton Road, it's just down from Shakespeare and Chaucer,

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and it's on for a guide of just 360,000.

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I can't tell you how many bedrooms it has,

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but the catalogue just states it has potential for sub-division into three flats. Well, here it is.

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From the outside, it is a lovely, grand old building.

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I wonder if inside it's a case of Paradise Lost?

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Let's take a look.

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The frontages of the houses in this Victorian street are very grand and impressive,

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but not stating how many bedrooms there are in this one is a curious omission.

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Let's see what secrets this old terraced house is hiding.

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You enter the house on the raised ground floor, but it's all very dated.

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This door is blocked off and you walk into what was two reception rooms, now knocked into one.

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My fingers have been crossed for period features galore, but they've all long gone.

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There are fireplaces, but the wrong century.

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You can put features back, but you can't create what you've got here -

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lovely high ceilings, a gorgeous bay window,

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and there's two more floors to go.

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From outside, the house appears narrow, but it's actually very deep and roomy inside.

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It's not the space that catches your eye first.

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It's that worn and dated decor that's begging to be freshened up.

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And what a shame that those period features are now long gone!

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Down on to the lower ground floor, my first thought is, "Fantastic!"

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There's a separate entrance here.

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Remember the catalogue suggestion - potential for sub-division into flats.

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Block up these stairs and this flat would have its own entrance.

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You've got a large room at the front here and, at the back, a smaller space with an oil-burning stove.

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This place is a bit of a museum!

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If this house was to remain as one home, I'd knock that wall down and open up this space,

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put the kitchen and living area down here and put large bi-folding doors leading out on to the garden.

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I've done this myself in my own house and it works really well.

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I can imagine this space with modern units, but retaining that original plan.

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Every room in the house needs work. The place has been left untouched since the '50s.

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It all needs to be re-wired, re-plumbed and re-floored.

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Just look at that bathroom!

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# Pink, it's my new obsession... #

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It might have looked sweet back in the day, but it will take a lot of work to get it looking rosy again.

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And that's a nasty leak from the bathroom to the ground floor.

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I expected this house to have a few rotten floorboards, but what a new angle on the loo!

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It's like an en-suite for both floors.

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So, two bathrooms, one leaky toilet inside and one out the back that's rather draughty.

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I went upstairs to find out once and for all how many bedrooms this house has.

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This house is like a zig-zag of half landings leading to further rooms.

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I've just passed what was the kitchen, so I suppose up here there's three bedrooms

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and what a bedroom!

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Look at those windows!

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Wow, vast! But the signs of neglect are adding up here and they are beginning to worry me.

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Look over here - the plaster is just shot.

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Somebody started to repair the floor over there and the windows, but it's all half-hearted

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and that says to me this is "a full rip out and start again". No question about it!

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Those two other bedrooms aren't in much better condition.

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# Rip it up and start again

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# Rip it up and start again... #

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This property needs so much more than just a lick of paint and a clean,

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but there is enormous potential.

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The jumble of rooms gives it masses of character and it's ripe for opening up and reorganising.

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That means a lot of structural work and the garden is desperate for attention.

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It's a fabulous size, but needs digging out.

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If you decided to keep that rotting old shed, you're completely potty!

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I asked a local estate agent for his thoughts

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on this dusty old gem.

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My first thought was, "At last I get to see a real London townhouse!"

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An original period London townhouse. It's fantastic.

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Looking at its condition, it needs a lot of work.

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It hasn't been looked after for a very long time. It needs re-wiring, you'd have to put central heating in.

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There are some damp problems, so there's a lot of work to be done,

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but it will be a great labour of love and fantastic when it's finished.

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How much would it take to turn this wreck into a family home?

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The spend on this house, depending on what you wanted to do, could be astronomical.

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If you wanted to do a proper job with decent equipment and your kitchens and your bathrooms,

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you'll spend close to £100,000.

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£100,000 on top of the guide price of £360,000?

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That's a massive investment.

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Would there be any profit to be made by a quick resale without investing in a renovation?

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I think the property as it stands would be worth just under the £400,000 mark.

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In its current condition, that's a potential pre-tax profit of 40,000

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if it sold for its guide price.

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But if the work was done, how much would it be worth?

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It could rise anywhere up to about half a million pounds to £550,000.

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If it could sell for half a million, that would certainly be an incentive to do the work,

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but somebody will need a burning desire for renovation.

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There is a huge amount to do. It may not be enough for the rental market.

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The problem with this house for rental is the size of it and the layout.

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For the amount of money you've got to spend on it to get it up to that level to rent it,

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I don't think you'd get the yield back, so there's no rental potential. It has to go to an end buyer.

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Let's see who exactly that buyer was at the auction.

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Somebody start me at 300, Herne Hill? 300 may I say?

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Thank you. 300 I have. 305?

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310. 315? 315. 320?

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320. 325. 30? 30. 35?

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35. 40? 40. 45?

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340 I'm bid then.

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340 here. Any more?

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Thank you, madam. 345. 350? 350.

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355? There we are, 355. Sorry. 60?

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At 355, I'll take it. 357,500. 360?

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360? 360. 362 and a half?

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360.

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Lady's bid here against you. I'll take 2 and a half...?

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At £360,000, sitting down, Herne Hill. First time at 360...

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Second time at 360...

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Last time, sitting down, at £360,000, against you...

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All done at 360, Herne Hill. Sold to you, madam. Well done.

0:21:400:21:43

'The winning bidders for this daunting project were Josh and Lynn, Herne Hill locals.

0:21:430:21:49

'Josh works in IT and Lynn in a hospital.

0:21:490:21:52

'They got the house for the guide price of 360,000, but for them, it's not about the profit margin.'

0:21:520:21:58

# Hey, hey, baby... #

0:21:580:22:02

'They will renovate it for themselves as their family home.'

0:22:020:22:06

# I wanna know if you'll be my girl... #

0:22:060:22:10

-Guys, congratulations.

-Thank you.

-This is a great house.

-We hope so.

0:22:100:22:14

What did you do to celebrate once you'd got the house?

0:22:140:22:18

Oh, gosh. We came here with a bottle of champagne and then nearly cried at all the work we have to do.

0:22:180:22:24

Thursday evening we came here and sat here in the dark with a couple of candles

0:22:240:22:29

as we hadn't figured out where the fuse box was and drank champagne.

0:22:290:22:34

-What's your plan? Are you going to be moving in straight away?

-No.

-Definitely not.

-Definitely not.

0:22:340:22:40

In about six months maybe, we hope, we will be in here.

0:22:400:22:44

We're having a baby in three months, so that will happen in between.

0:22:440:22:48

-You've got a lot going on - a new baby, a new house.

-Yeah.

0:22:480:22:53

# Hey, hey, baby... #

0:22:530:22:58

'With a baby due, they've got a pretty tight six-month deadline,

0:22:580:23:03

'so what have they got planned for the place?'

0:23:030:23:06

Let's talk about the layout. What's downstairs going to be?

0:23:060:23:10

The main living area, the kitchen, the central heart of the house, then the living area to the front

0:23:100:23:16

and hopefully build a sun room or a conservatory at the back,

0:23:160:23:20

then leading to the garden.

0:23:200:23:22

'I'm so glad they're going to get rid of that run-down shed out back.

0:23:220:23:26

'It will give them a safe space for the new baby to play in and the local wildlife would approve too.

0:23:260:23:32

'Upstairs, Josh and Lynn will save money by preserving the bedrooms, rather than knocking them through.

0:23:340:23:41

'But they will have to fork out for a new kitchen and bathroom. Are they worried about the cost?'

0:23:410:23:47

We did do an assessment, just really room by room, how much it would come to.

0:23:470:23:52

-80,000 is what...

-That was 80 with contingencies.

0:23:520:23:56

That was a good area of... 12,000 contingency, I think we had.

0:23:560:24:01

-I'll be amazed if you do it for £80,000.

-Yeah.

-Really?

-In my experience.

0:24:010:24:06

Only because you have a lot of work to do downstairs in the basement.

0:24:060:24:10

There are so many different levels down there.

0:24:100:24:13

We just have to be careful about researching and sourcing everything that we want to put into the place

0:24:130:24:19

and try and get value for money and bargain with people.

0:24:190:24:23

This is the climate to do that, so hopefully, we'll be lucky.

0:24:230:24:27

'I hope they are. It sounds as though Josh is quite happy to do some of the work himself,

0:24:270:24:33

'although he might need to do a little research first.'

0:24:330:24:36

I don't know that side of the market too well.

0:24:360:24:39

I have no idea how much it would cost to get an expert to knock a wall through,

0:24:390:24:44

but I'm going to try and find out how to do it myself, then we'll do that bit.

0:24:440:24:50

Don't look at Lynn. She can't help with the wall knocking through!

0:24:500:24:54

-I'll give you the mallet.

-You can just say, "No, you missed a bit."

-I'll sit in the corner and point.

0:24:540:25:00

Yeah, OK, you can be project manager.

0:25:000:25:03

You've got exciting times ahead.

0:25:030:25:05

I'm so pleased it's fallen into the laps of a lovely couple who want this as a home and not a developer.

0:25:050:25:12

That would be a shame. It's such a lovely house.

0:25:120:25:15

Somebody could have had two or three flats here,

0:25:150:25:18

-but it's great it will be a family house. Good luck.

-Thank you.

0:25:180:25:22

'Coming up, we go to Devon to see how this old chapel has been completely revived.

0:25:230:25:28

'I'll be singing its praises later.

0:25:280:25:31

'Back in south-east London, Josh was struggling with the amount of work there was to do.'

0:25:330:25:40

There's another bunch of rooms to do. That's not so much fun.

0:25:400:25:45

'But first, how did the owner of this land get on with his plan to build a house?'

0:25:450:25:50

I will build a two-bedroom house.

0:25:500:25:53

We're back in Corsham just outside Bath to catch up with Sergio.

0:25:570:26:01

He bought this plot at auction for 46,000 and had grand plans to build a two-bedroom house on it.

0:26:010:26:07

The land already had planning permission, but Sergio wanted to make a few changes.

0:26:070:26:12

I will put the kitchen here, I will put the dining here,

0:26:120:26:16

then I will put a wall from here to here.

0:26:160:26:20

# A change, a change will do you good... #

0:26:200:26:23

So how did Sergio get on with the build?

0:26:230:26:26

Well, over a year later, we met up with him at the plot

0:26:260:26:30

where we discovered progress had been even slower than a snail's pace.

0:26:300:26:36

In fact, it looks exactly the same as it did before.

0:26:360:26:40

# All the same

0:26:400:26:42

# But you don't know why... #

0:26:420:26:45

After he bought the plot, Sergio had a change of career.

0:26:450:26:49

He gave up his financial manager job to run a home care agency.

0:26:490:26:53

This put the building work on the back burner.

0:26:530:26:57

I made a decision to purchase the new business.

0:26:570:27:00

I wanted to have enough funds for doing it in a relaxed way,

0:27:000:27:06

then I decided to sell the property and release the money that was in here.

0:27:060:27:11

I was really looking forward to build this house, but then the priorities changed

0:27:110:27:16

and I'm focusing on the new business, rather than the building.

0:27:160:27:21

So, Sergio put the land back on the market.

0:27:210:27:24

He put it up for sale by tender to see who would offer most for it.

0:27:240:27:29

We received quite a few offers and we took the highest offer.

0:27:290:27:34

It took a little bit over a month to exchange and basically, that's what happened, yeah.

0:27:340:27:40

The market had slumped in the year since he bought it, so he only got £42,000, 4,000 less than he paid.

0:27:400:27:47

# It's all about the money... #

0:27:470:27:50

But he doesn't sound too downbeat about it.

0:27:500:27:53

Based on what is happening in the market in general, it's not a big loss.

0:27:530:27:58

You have to be prepared to take a loss here and there sometimes in this industry and in this business,

0:27:580:28:04

so it wasn't a big deal, right?

0:28:040:28:07

You have to be prepared for taking losses once in a while.

0:28:070:28:11

Sergio has a healthy attitude to the loss.

0:28:110:28:14

Sometimes in the property world, you just need to take a hit

0:28:140:28:18

and besides, a few grand isn't a complete cat-astrophe.

0:28:180:28:21

So, just a couple of weeks after he sold the plot at a slight loss,

0:28:230:28:28

what do two estate agents think of its prospects now?

0:28:280:28:32

I'm probably not surprised that nothing's been built here,

0:28:320:28:36

bearing in mind how the market has been since this plot was sold,

0:28:360:28:40

but now the market has moved forward quite well, quite considerably,

0:28:400:28:44

so now would be a better opportunity of achieving a better figure for it.

0:28:440:28:49

In the last 12 months, the market has improved considerably.

0:28:490:28:53

The values are certainly stronger.

0:28:530:28:56

There hasn't been a great increase, but there's a much better chance to achieve a reasonable price now.

0:28:560:29:02

So, if Sergio had built that two-bedroomed house, what kind of return would there have been?

0:29:020:29:08

At the moment, it would probably achieve around about £165,000.

0:29:080:29:12

Probably somewhere between 155,000 and 160,000 for a two-bedroomed, detached house on this plot.

0:29:120:29:19

That is higher than my original numbers.

0:29:190:29:22

I was expecting like around 143.

0:29:220:29:25

So, again it shows that maybe the market has improved since the time that we made the original valuation.

0:29:250:29:32

Sergio reckoned it would cost 100 grand to build the house,

0:29:320:29:36

so that could have been a fantastic pre-tax profit of 60 grand.

0:29:360:29:40

What return would it have made as a rental?

0:29:400:29:43

A two-bedroomed house would readily let in this location right now

0:29:430:29:47

and should achieve, unfurnished or furnished, around about £650 per calendar month.

0:29:470:29:52

The rental value will be somewhere in the region of £650 a month.

0:29:520:29:57

That works out at a healthy yield of over 7.5%.

0:29:580:30:02

It sounds like Sergio would have been quids in, had he decided to build.

0:30:020:30:07

Does he have any regrets?

0:30:070:30:10

Not really because the decision of not building here was a conscious decision

0:30:100:30:15

and a change of priority and focus,

0:30:150:30:18

so I don't have really major regrets of not building here.

0:30:180:30:22

# No regrets...

0:30:220:30:25

# They don't work... #

0:30:270:30:29

In this case, this plot didn't work out.

0:30:290:30:32

On other occasions, I had very good results on other plots, so...

0:30:320:30:37

Every project is different and things change a lot and you need to be prepared to adjust accordingly.

0:30:380:30:45

And we wish Sergio all the best with his next project.

0:30:450:30:49

He may not have built a home on this plot, but at least someone has.

0:30:490:30:53

# Little yellow spider, laughing at the snow

0:30:530:30:57

# Well, maybe that spider knows something that I don't know... #

0:30:570:31:01

'In the summer of 2004,

0:31:080:31:10

'I thought I'd found a perfect cottage in Devon,

0:31:100:31:14

'but all wasn't quite what it seemed as this dashing young fellow explains.'

0:31:140:31:19

Kingskerswell, a tiny village just outside Newton Abbot in Devon.

0:31:190:31:24

It's most people's idea of an idyllic rural retreat,

0:31:240:31:28

so properties here are both very expensive and difficult to come by.

0:31:280:31:32

So, when you see something like this,

0:31:320:31:35

a chocolate box, thatched cottage with a guide price of just £95,000,

0:31:350:31:41

you definitely take interest.

0:31:410:31:43

But of course, things aren't quite what they seem.

0:31:430:31:47

There is a bit of a sting in the tail.

0:31:490:31:52

That is the cutesy-wootsy bit at the front there.

0:31:530:31:57

But that is not up for sale. What is going for auction is the bit at the back.

0:31:570:32:02

It's attached, it's got the same lovely thatched roof, so it's definitely still worth looking at,

0:32:020:32:08

especially when you discover that it was once the old Gospel Hall.

0:32:080:32:12

Well, praise the Lord!

0:32:120:32:14

# Hallelujah

0:32:140:32:16

# Here I am

0:32:160:32:19

# Let's cut the strings tonight... #

0:32:190:32:23

So, through the entrance vestibule into what is basically one big, huge space.

0:32:230:32:29

It was the Gospel Hall and it's a great big hall. But can you imagine what you could do with this place?

0:32:290:32:35

Great big windows, that's lovely.

0:32:350:32:37

You've also got this massive ceiling height

0:32:370:32:40

and it looks like there's more ceiling height above there which you could open up.

0:32:400:32:45

Got a bit of an issue on this wall here with damp. That's penetrating damp.

0:32:450:32:50

The level of the soil outside is probably about this level, but you can sort that out with tanking.

0:32:500:32:57

This has fantastic potential.

0:32:570:33:00

It'll need somebody with imagination and some kind of design skills,

0:33:000:33:04

but what an opportunity!

0:33:040:33:07

I'm already thinking about how you could fit bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens in here.

0:33:130:33:19

You'd need an architect who spoke the tongues of men and some help from the angels too, I reckon!

0:33:190:33:25

One of the big things about this place is its construction which is unconventional.

0:33:260:33:32

You've got yourself a thatched roof and cob walls.

0:33:320:33:36

These are about three foot thick and made of a mixture of stone, straw and mud.

0:33:360:33:41

They're great. This place has been around for 200 years, but you have to look after them in a certain way.

0:33:410:33:47

That way is not to cover them in concrete rendering, as happened in the past.

0:33:470:33:52

Also, when you restore this place, because it's a listed building, you'll have to rebuild this in cob.

0:33:520:33:58

That is something to factor into your cost equations.

0:33:580:34:02

Remember, cob is a mixture of earth and straw.

0:34:020:34:05

It can be difficult and expensive to replace and so can thatch, but there is something else to consider too.

0:34:050:34:11

There is another element to this property and it's round the back. You'll never guess what it is!

0:34:110:34:17

Well, actually, you might.

0:34:170:34:19

It's a loo. I don't know what this is all about. It's on its own at the back of the property here.

0:34:190:34:25

Still, quite a useful space,

0:34:250:34:28

especially as the planning permission is to make this the main entrance to the property,

0:34:280:34:33

so you put a hole in this wall and have that as your main door and keep that as a loo and a cloakroom.

0:34:330:34:39

That makes a big difference here because suddenly you've got good access.

0:34:390:34:44

The planning permission is for a two-bedroom cottage.

0:34:440:34:47

There's a lot of work here, but talk about a blank canvas!

0:34:470:34:51

They don't come much blanker than this.

0:34:510:34:55

So let's find out who bought this property at the auction.

0:34:550:35:01

Lot 1, where better to start, is Kingskerswell Gospel Hall, Kingskerswell, Newton Abbot.

0:35:010:35:06

Is it 100,000 somewhere? Nice and simple. £100,000 somewhere?

0:35:060:35:11

100, we're away. I've got 100. 100 I have, at 100.

0:35:110:35:14

At 100. 2 for me now? At 100 somewhere. At 100 I've got.

0:35:140:35:18

At 100, the opening bid of the day. 100 I've got.

0:35:180:35:22

At £100,000. At £100,000. Is there 2 anywhere?

0:35:220:35:25

At £100,000 once then. Don't be shy.

0:35:250:35:29

Great opportunity. At £100,000 twice.

0:35:290:35:32

At £100,000. Are you sure and done because we will be selling to the gentleman down here?

0:35:320:35:37

At £100,000 first time, second and third time.

0:35:370:35:41

Here we go. Simple as that. You're missing it. At £100,000...

0:35:410:35:46

Sir, well done. Spot on. That's the way to do it.

0:35:460:35:49

Right, great, we'll be out on the golf course before...

0:35:490:35:53

LAUGHTER

0:35:530:35:55

'And that first and only bid of 100,000 was made by Daniel.'

0:35:550:36:01

# I'm so glad to see you

0:36:010:36:04

# I'm so glad you're here... #

0:36:040:36:07

'Daniel sounds like the perfect man to take on this place.'

0:36:070:36:11

-Tell me about yourself.

-I'm an architect in Torquay. Architectural technician, I should say.

0:36:110:36:16

I work for a firm over there and we do a lot of listed buildings and that kind of thing

0:36:160:36:22

because there's a lot of them in this area.

0:36:220:36:24

I'm in the right line of work to do this properly, I hope.

0:36:240:36:28

-What did you think when you first saw it?

-I just loved it. I loved the setting.

0:36:280:36:33

I originally thought that the garden came with it.

0:36:330:36:37

I originally thought actually from just calling round and looking that it was the cottage on the front,

0:36:370:36:43

but once I got in, I looked around and yes, it's got some problems, it's got damp,

0:36:430:36:48

it's just a big space,

0:36:480:36:50

but I could see past that, I could see the features that it's got,

0:36:500:36:54

particularly in terms of the outside and how pretty it is.

0:36:540:36:59

'Having no garden may be a drawback, but it hasn't put Daniel off.

0:36:590:37:03

'Let's hope he's just as positive when I show him something he hasn't seen yet.'

0:37:030:37:08

Oh, fabulous. It's just what I've always wanted(!)

0:37:080:37:12

LAUGHTER

0:37:120:37:14

Oh, dear.

0:37:150:37:17

That's the neighbour's house.

0:37:170:37:19

'Let's hope Daniel doesn't come up against any more brick walls with the planning.'

0:37:230:37:28

-So these are the original plans?

-Yeah, these were done by the vendor before I was ever involved.

0:37:280:37:35

-But I want to change them.

-So what have you come up with then?

0:37:350:37:39

These are the plans I've been working through.

0:37:390:37:42

Similar situation with living and kitchen and bathroom at ground floor level

0:37:420:37:47

and a utility room that you enter through.

0:37:470:37:50

-I want to keep it completely open to the underside of the eaves.

-The whole height?

-The whole height.

0:37:500:37:57

Then you go up a set of stairs to the first floor plan with a landing

0:37:570:38:01

which is like a bridge that runs across between two large bedrooms at the upper floor,

0:38:010:38:07

so I intend to give this a real sense of character and height and space and light.

0:38:070:38:12

-What are you trying to create in general?

-Just something that gives a bit of wow factor as you walk in.

0:38:120:38:19

I know it's a cliche, but I feel that a building that has survived this long and is listed

0:38:190:38:25

deserves something a bit more than to be partitioned up into little boxes.

0:38:250:38:29

-What you're talking about here is not going to be cheap.

-No.

0:38:290:38:33

Do you have any idea of costs and budgets?

0:38:330:38:37

-My budget for it is 60,000.

-Right.

-Where I find it from, I don't know.

0:38:370:38:41

Any idea of how long this is going to take? I suppose a lot of it depends on your finances really.

0:38:460:38:53

It does depend on finances. It also depends on how much work I'm prepared to carry out myself.

0:38:530:38:59

-I can't wait to come back.

-I'll try and speed it on for you, but I can't make any promises.

0:38:590:39:05

-Congratulations. You've got the imagination and inspiration to do it.

-Thank you.

-Well done.

0:39:050:39:10

'That was in 2004. When we first went back a few months later, not much had changed.

0:39:100:39:16

'But a few years on, Daniel had turned it into a very stylish new home.

0:39:160:39:21

'Stay with us to see the fabulous results.'

0:39:210:39:24

We've given our buyers time to do the work, but has it all gone to plan?

0:39:270:39:32

Will we return to bare plaster or a perfect finish?

0:39:320:39:36

Let's find out.

0:39:360:39:38

We're back at Herne Hill, south-east London,

0:39:380:39:42

where Josh and Lynn bought this Victorian terraced house at auction for the guide price of 360,000.

0:39:420:39:48

They had a massive job on their hands to renovate it.

0:39:480:39:52

Every room needed complete redecoration and the plumbing and electrics were positively scary.

0:39:520:39:58

Their deadline to do the work was six months and Josh was keen to do a lot of it himself.

0:39:580:40:04

I have no idea how much it would cost to get an expert to knock a wall through,

0:40:060:40:11

but I'm going to try and find out how to do it myself.

0:40:110:40:14

That was nearly a year ago, so did all that research pay off? What state is the house in now?

0:40:140:40:20

We caught up with Josh and Lynn and their bundle of joy, seven-month-old baby Cara, to find out.

0:40:200:40:27

# My baby don't care for shows... #

0:40:270:40:30

First of all, Lynn reminds us of how the property used to look.

0:40:300:40:35

Well, when we bought the place, it was really, really dark and quite dingy and musty.

0:40:350:40:42

Everything was painted mustard and green, so compared to now, there's quite a big difference, I suppose.

0:40:420:40:48

There's no supposing about it. The place has been completely transformed.

0:40:480:40:54

They redecorated throughout,

0:40:590:41:02

stripping off that tattered old wallpaper and putting in new flooring.

0:41:020:41:07

But the biggest change was on the cavernous downstairs floor.

0:41:080:41:13

This has been completely opened up and become a wonderfully light and cosy family space.

0:41:130:41:19

The basement was basically two rooms

0:41:190:41:21

and a horrible little dingy corridor and a pantry that was completely musty,

0:41:210:41:27

so we've opened everything up, still kept the utility room.

0:41:270:41:31

It's a nice, bright area

0:41:310:41:33

and this is really the centre of the family day-to-day activities -

0:41:330:41:38

cooking and we can see the kids and all getting together and chatting in the evening.

0:41:380:41:44

And the homework paid off. Josh managed to knock through those walls himself.

0:41:440:41:49

Not bad for a first-timer!

0:41:490:41:52

I spent a lot of time online researching how to do it

0:41:520:41:55

and talking to my friends who are in the building trade, getting ideas from them.

0:41:550:42:01

That side of it is a lot of fun. The decorating is less fun.

0:42:010:42:05

After doing one room, you've pretty much figured out how to do it,

0:42:050:42:09

then to think there's a bunch of rooms to do, that's not so much fun.

0:42:090:42:13

But Josh didn't need to worry too much about the decoration. Lynn handled that side of the operation

0:42:130:42:19

and as she was pregnant for most of it, even managed to do it with her feet up.

0:42:190:42:25

# And you decorated my life... #

0:42:250:42:32

I've had most of the time sitting on the couch and sourcing materials

0:42:320:42:36

and the design, I suppose, the interior design of the place.

0:42:360:42:41

# You decorated my life... #

0:42:410:42:45

Lynn furnished the whole house with second-hand bargains she tracked down on the internet.

0:42:450:42:51

We had the fireplace for 99p

0:42:510:42:54

and the Belfast sink was a fraction of the price it would have cost originally.

0:42:540:42:59

Our biggest bargain, I suppose, was probably the kitchen,

0:42:590:43:04

which we got for maybe a tenth of the price off an internet auction site.

0:43:040:43:08

And whilst Lynn was hunting for those great deals,

0:43:080:43:12

Josh was busy working on the house in his spare time

0:43:120:43:15

around his normal work schedule, but he needed expert help for some jobs.

0:43:150:43:19

An electrician re-wired the house completely.

0:43:190:43:23

Upstairs, he and a team of builders stole some room out of the bedrooms

0:43:230:43:27

to create a second bathroom.

0:43:270:43:30

And remember that flush of pink in the old one?

0:43:300:43:33

Well, thankfully, that's now gone too.

0:43:330:43:36

# Ooh, my honey, you got me working day and night... #

0:43:370:43:42

There's still a fair bit of decorating to finish upstairs.

0:43:420:43:46

There's some painting to be done and in some places, the heating and electrics need fixing.

0:43:460:43:52

And the middle floor isn't quite ready to be lived in either.

0:43:520:43:56

It's full of junk. It's all my tools and materials. It's a workshop at the moment.

0:43:560:44:01

Eventually, we hope to make that into a big double lounge

0:44:010:44:05

with shelving and books and cupboards, to make it more of a comfortable seating area.

0:44:050:44:10

So, Josh still has more to complete inside and the garden is not quite there yet.

0:44:100:44:16

This whole area at the back here was sheds and old conservatories, so that's all been taken away.

0:44:160:44:23

Then here, we've put in these sleepers. Not quite finished yet. That side still needs to be done.

0:44:230:44:29

The bit at the back we'll grass over and we'll put a bench up against the wall.

0:44:290:44:34

And this bit here will be the conservatory.

0:44:340:44:37

I asked two local estate agents what they thought of the property

0:44:380:44:43

and the work Josh and Lynn have done on it so far.

0:44:430:44:46

They've done a fantastic job.

0:44:480:44:50

They've kept a lot of the features

0:44:500:44:52

and have brought in even more features by stripping floorboards, banister rails. It looks fantastic.

0:44:520:44:59

I really like the fact that it offers versatility.

0:44:590:45:02

It has lots of period features and it has a contemporary twist as well,

0:45:020:45:06

so the fact that it's so versatile is a big plus.

0:45:060:45:10

The new layout is fantastic.

0:45:100:45:12

They've put in this bathroom, they've used this space which normally would have been left to waste.

0:45:120:45:18

I think it's really clever.

0:45:180:45:21

They bought the house for 360,000

0:45:210:45:24

and so far have spent around 62 grand doing it up.

0:45:240:45:28

Once the renovation is completed, how much could it re-sell for?

0:45:280:45:33

Once the work is completed, I would put this property on the market between £550,000 to £600,000.

0:45:330:45:40

Once fully renovated, I'd put the property on the resale market for £675,000.

0:45:400:45:45

-Wow!

-That sounds quite nice.

-Really? That sounds pretty good.

0:45:450:45:49

Especially with the current climate, I suppose. We're quite pleased.

0:45:490:45:53

If they spend their full renovation budget, then their total outlay will be 440,000.

0:45:540:46:00

Based on that higher resale estimate of 675,000,

0:46:000:46:05

that's a potentially whopping profit of 235 grand,

0:46:050:46:10

minus the usual expenses, of course.

0:46:100:46:12

But by the sound of it, Lynn, Josh and Cara won't be leaving this house for a good while yet.

0:46:120:46:18

When we bought the house, we thought it was our dream home and it still is.

0:46:180:46:23

It's taking some time to get there, but no, everything is fantastic.

0:46:230:46:27

The fact that we've done it ourselves as well is great. We've made it to look the way we want it.

0:46:270:46:34

It's been a lot of work, but it is very satisfying to do something like this.

0:46:340:46:39

Being here in this house and being a mum for the first time is absolutely fantastic.

0:46:390:46:44

She's just adorable. I couldn't wish for a better baby.

0:46:440:46:48

# Drea-ea-eam

0:46:480:46:50

# Dream, dream, dream... #

0:46:500:46:52

So, a perfect baby in a perfect family home.

0:46:520:46:55

Don't you just love stories with happy endings?

0:46:550:46:59

# When I want you... #

0:46:590:47:01

Back in 2004, tucked behind a picturesque thatched cottage,

0:47:030:47:08

I came across an old Gospel Hall.

0:47:080:47:11

It wasn't much more than one large room with a toilet at the back,

0:47:110:47:15

but it was the fact that it was a blank canvas that appealed to architectural technician Daniel

0:47:150:47:21

who paid £100,000 for it at auction.

0:47:210:47:24

-I want to keep it completely open to the underside of the eaves.

-The whole height?

-Yes.

0:47:240:47:30

You go up some stairs to the first floor with a landing like a bridge

0:47:300:47:34

that runs across between two large bedrooms.

0:47:340:47:37

-What are you trying to create in general?

-Just something that gives a bit of wow factor as you walk in.

0:47:370:47:44

Daniel had some great plans, but the first time we returned, there wasn't much progress.

0:47:450:47:51

So you can see there hasn't been that much of a change in here,

0:47:510:47:55

except a few holes in the floor and plasterboard removed from the walls.

0:47:550:47:59

That's because I've been dealing with planning permission, building regulations applications,

0:47:590:48:04

tender packages and the legal side of things, so quite a lot to be done.

0:48:040:48:09

Time marched on and Daniel continued to work

0:48:090:48:13

at turning his dreams into reality.

0:48:130:48:16

Now, five years later, we're back.

0:48:160:48:19

What we had here was just a great big hall and a rather sub-standard toilet.

0:48:190:48:24

And now just look at it!

0:48:310:48:34

The old hall is now Daniel's home and he's lived here nearly four years.

0:48:370:48:42

I changed the design, so that we used the toilet as the main entrance.

0:48:420:48:47

You come down from street level into the centre of the building

0:48:470:48:51

whereas before, you came in right on a corner.

0:48:510:48:54

The recess where the toilet was has been turned into a study.

0:48:580:49:02

To one side of the dining room and that central stairwell is a great kitchen.

0:49:070:49:13

And on the other side of the hall, there is a beautifully finished lounge.

0:49:230:49:29

I was on site an awful lot, managing the building process as well

0:49:360:49:41

and making sure that the details were undertaken in the way that I wanted them to be.

0:49:410:49:46

That's fantastic when you see something coming out of the ground and from the paper

0:49:460:49:52

actually being built physically.

0:49:520:49:54

It's a pretty special feeling to know that that's your design and that's your creation.

0:49:540:50:00

And boy, does this place fulfil the vision!

0:50:000:50:03

With two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs,

0:50:100:50:13

Daniel has created a fantastic cottage from an empty shell.

0:50:130:50:17

The Gospel Hall really does have something to sing about now.

0:50:170:50:21

But getting to this stage wasn't without difficulties and heartache.

0:50:400:50:45

When you were last here, nothing had happened. I'd done a little bit of investigation work into the structure

0:50:450:50:51

and found a brick wall behind one of the cupboards in the corner of what is now the living room.

0:50:510:50:57

Oh, fabulous(!)

0:50:580:51:00

I thought, "Oh, no, what is going on here?"

0:51:000:51:03

I was taken to the pub by my mates and I cried into a pint because I thought, "It's the end of the world."

0:51:030:51:10

It might not be the end of the world after all.

0:51:100:51:13

Daniel thought the wall might restrict his renovation plans,

0:51:130:51:17

but he found a way of building around it, perhaps fuelled by those beers.

0:51:170:51:22

This is what I've called the flying freehold.

0:51:230:51:27

What this means is the original wall of the property is set back into that recess

0:51:270:51:32

and this area was the area that I originally thought was a cupboard.

0:51:320:51:36

It isn't. It's the neighbour's house.

0:51:360:51:39

So we had to keep that because it's historic,

0:51:390:51:42

so what I've done is I've tried to use that within the design

0:51:420:51:46

and I've mirrored it with a porchway that leads out to the garden

0:51:460:51:50

and I've created this recess which has got my bookcase and my fish tank, so it worked out quite successfully.

0:51:500:51:56

What an elegant solution this is!

0:51:580:52:00

It really looks like it was always meant to be this way and that's what good design is all about.

0:52:000:52:06

This area was originally going to be just a bridge walkway

0:52:060:52:11

between the two bedrooms and completely open on both sides,

0:52:110:52:15

but practically speaking, I needed to move the bathroom from downstairs up to this location.

0:52:150:52:21

But I've kept the open, double height space on this side and it works really well.

0:52:210:52:26

It throws a lot more light into the downstairs space.

0:52:260:52:30

This feature was another element of the building which I discovered as I was looking through.

0:52:330:52:39

It's a very large steel beam.

0:52:390:52:41

At some point in the past, the roof must have burnt down or has been removed and the solution was

0:52:410:52:47

to put a huge steel beam that runs the entire length of the original chapel.

0:52:470:52:52

That supports the roof, so I had to be careful when putting the dormers in and doing the works to the roof

0:52:520:52:58

that I didn't disturb this structure.

0:52:580:53:00

So, one by one, Daniel came up with imaginative answers to each problem he was presented with.

0:53:040:53:10

However, there was one area he couldn't do much about.

0:53:100:53:14

This is the garden area. It's not very big, but I've done my best with it.

0:53:140:53:19

It was a muddy little strip before and I've put some plants in, some herbs and some pots. It does for me.

0:53:190:53:25

In fact, Daniel completed most of the work here four years ago.

0:53:250:53:30

What a great project for an architectural technician this was!

0:53:300:53:34

When you're working for yourself, it's a lot more difficult

0:53:340:53:38

because there's only one person involved, there's no-one to bounce ideas off.

0:53:380:53:43

There's nobody to say, "No, I want to do it this way."

0:53:430:53:47

You're the master of your own destiny. Sometimes that can work out and sometimes it doesn't.

0:53:470:53:52

And in this case he had a bit of a split personality.

0:53:520:53:56

On one hand, he was the architect, and on the other, the client.

0:53:560:54:00

I was a terrible client. I started without the finance being in place.

0:54:000:54:05

I changed my mind quite a lot, particularly through the design process.

0:54:050:54:09

I had about five designs on the go.

0:54:090:54:12

If I was the architect for myself, I'd be tearing my hair out and demanding lots more fees.

0:54:120:54:18

A-ha, more fees! That suggests Daniel's £60,000 budget may not have been enough

0:54:180:54:23

for this exacting client.

0:54:230:54:25

I spent 64,000 with the main contractor

0:54:250:54:29

and then I sort of lost track of the budget a little bit.

0:54:290:54:33

I guess, at the end of the day, I've spent about 90 on it in total,

0:54:330:54:37

so I've way exceeded the original, laughable budgets I came up with.

0:54:370:54:42

He paid £100,000 for it at the auction

0:54:420:54:46

and spent another £90,000 plus costs,

0:54:460:54:49

so his outlay will have been close to £200,000.

0:54:490:54:53

As the markets have been on a roller-coaster ride since he bought it five years ago,

0:54:530:54:58

how has this unique property fared? What do two local estate agents think?

0:54:580:55:03

It's a really pretty cottage. The gentleman's done a lovely job here.

0:55:030:55:07

It's bright, spacious, even though it is a small cottage. I really like it.

0:55:070:55:12

It's a great property. You've got a really good mix of old and new.

0:55:120:55:16

And a tucked away location. A real hidden gem.

0:55:160:55:20

It's been very thoughtfully designed, a good layout and it flows very well.

0:55:200:55:24

The downside to the property could be the parking, but there's lots of on-street parking out there.

0:55:240:55:30

And having no garden will hold the value.

0:55:300:55:34

Does the lack of garden prevent Daniel reaping a return on his 200-grand investment?

0:55:350:55:41

I would be marketing this property in the region of 195,000 to 200,000.

0:55:430:55:48

I would be putting this property on the market for £200,000.

0:55:480:55:53

That's probably about right for this market and it's certainly not more than I spent on the property,

0:55:530:55:59

so I'm reasonably pleased with that.

0:55:590:56:01

Hopefully, that might improve in a better financial climate.

0:56:010:56:05

Initially then, this may not be a big money-spinner for Daniel,

0:56:080:56:12

but the project was always about more than financial rewards.

0:56:120:56:16

I love it. It's got a lot of my time, blood, sweat and tears in it, so I'm bound to, aren't I?

0:56:160:56:23

Yes, this has been a great learning curve for Daniel and a chance to put his ideas into practice,

0:56:230:56:29

but perhaps most important of all, he's ended up with a fantastic home he's completely in tune with.

0:56:290:56:36

I hope you've enjoyed the triumphs and tribulations of today's show.

0:56:390:56:43

-Join us next time for more Homes Under The Hammer.

-See you then.

-Bye.

0:56:430:56:48

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2010

0:57:040:57:08

Email [email protected]

0:57:080:57:12

Martin Roberts and Lucy Alexander visit a plot of land in Wiltshire and a Victorian house in Herne Hill, London, and revisit a gospel hall in Devon. All of these properties have been sold at auction; Martin and Lucy find out who bought them, and what they paid when they went under the hammer.


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