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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Hello. Buying your first home is a moment you will remember for ever.
Whether it's your first purchase or your 50th,
buying at auction is an incredibly exciting experience.
There are lots of heart-stopping moments when you buy your home under the hammer.
Now, appearances can be deceptive and auction properties can be difficult to read.
Yes, the house may appear to just need a quick makeover when really drastic surgery is needed.
So did today's properties require a bit of filler in the cracks or a full renovation job?
'On a plot of land in Wiltshire, the the sewer is causing a real stink.'
Just shifting it two or three metres means putting a whole new pipe in.
'I'm at a Victorian house in Herne Hill, London,
'where the plumbing is not exactly up to today's standards.' It's like an en-suite for both floors.
'And we go back to this old Gospel Hall in Devon. Six years ago, it was bought at auction.
'Catch up with it now to admire its dramatic transformation.
'All these properties were sold at auction. We see who bought them when they went under the hammer.'
This is Corsham, a gorgeous little medieval town halfway between Bath
and Chippenham in north-west Wiltshire.
It was famous as the centre of the wool industry here and as the place where they quarried Bath Stone,
hence it is a gorgeous little spot.
It's also a very desirable location just off the M4 and within easy commuting distance of Bath.
Hopefully, there's no chance a property here would pull the wool over my eyes.
So, when a plot of land came up for auction just five minutes' drive from that high street,
it generated a lot of interest.
So what is it? Well, it's somebody selling off a bit of their garden,
but it's a good-sized plot, it's fairly flat, the guide price was £45,000.
But the key was it had planning permission for the building of a two-bedroom, detached house.
Sounds good so far. Let's take a look.
And this is it, a good-sized plot of land. Right now, it's basically a luscious lawn.
When you're considering plots of land, there are things you need to take into consideration.
Ideally, we want something flat, so that's what this plot of land is.
And I noticed that the kerb outside there giving us our access into the plot which is really important
has already been lowered. That will save you a lot of time and expense.
Probably between £800 and £1,500 to get that done, but it's been done.
What else have we got? Flat - that will save you money in terms of earth moving.
You can see the house that has sold off this plot of land.
If this is similar to your garden, maybe you could consider it.
They've put these two pegs in here which indicate that this is the plot of land to be sold off.
If this was just a garden, it would probably be worth £2,000.
The key to this is it has got that planning permission and that's why it's got the £45,000 guide price.
It's a good start.
# Give me land, lots of land
# Under starry skies above
# Don't fence me in... #
Being so close to other houses isn't necessarily a bad thing.
It means that main services like gas and water should be nearby and easy to tap into.
The plot comes complete with plans drawn up on behalf of the vendors and approved by the council.
# Don't fence me in... #
These are the plans and I think they're quite good.
They're making the most of a small plot, but the build is in character with the local buildings here.
Two bedrooms upstairs, kitchen, living room downstairs.
However, there is one thing which screams out at me for these plans which a lot of people forget about
and yet it's a major problem or a major expense. And that is...
Here is the existing foul sewer which runs across the plot.
You're not allowed to build the foundations for this within a certain distance of the sewer,
so you'll have to move the sewer.
To move a sewer is not an easy job. It's certainly not a pleasant job.
You'll have to get the sewage people in to do it, it will be expensive
and even just shifting it probably two or three metres
means digging a new trench, putting a new pipe in,
and I reckon you're going to be looking at something like £5,000 to £7,000 just to do that.
If you're not expecting it, that could catch you out.
Moving that sewer could be a real stinker of a job.
But as long as the buyer spots it and factors it into the calculations,
everything should come up smelling of roses.
I asked along a local estate agent to see what he thought.
The plans are for a two-bedroomed house.
You couldn't get anything bigger certainly on the plot.
There is maybe potential to make it two one-bedroom flats,
but the problem there is whether you can get enough parking for the site.
What does he think the rental possibilities are for this house?
It is a good rental area.
People who can't afford the prices in Bath will step out of Bath and just be nearby in Corsham.
I imagine you would achieve something in the region of £550 to £575 per month.
What if the buyer was to sell on?
For a two-bedroomed house in this location,
we would anticipate you would get something in the region of £140,000 to £145,000 for resale value.
With the guide price of 45,000 and the cost of building a two-bedroomed house around 60,000,
that's potentially a really good return. Not bad for a patch of grass!
Well, as plots of land go, I think this is a really good one.
It's got planning permission and little extras such as the lowering of the kerb stones here.
A few issues with the sewer, but all in all, for a £45,000 guide price,
I'm sure it was a popular lot at the auction.
Lot 1, the building plot at the rear of 28, Charles Street, Corsham.
£30,000. 32? At £32,000.
36? At 36. 38 may I say?
At 38. Now 40 I'll take?
At £38,000. 40 I'll take? At £38,000.
Against you on the telephone. 40? 40 I've got. At £40,000.
Round the corner. I'll take 1? At £40,000. 41?
Yeah, 42. £42,000 on the wall.
At £42,000. 43, thank you very much.
44 now may I say? At £43,000 sat down.
44? 44. 45 to you, sir?
At £44,000. 45 to you?
45. 46, Anthony?
And a half...?
At £45,000. Your bid, sat down, at £45,000. Anybody else want a go?
I'll take 500, please, if you will? Otherwise, it's £45,000 for the first time.
£45,000 for the second time...
45,500. I knew he would somehow!
46 to you, sir. 46,500 now, if you like?
No. At £46,000, back to where you were. Keep smiling.
At £46,000. 5 I'll take?
Otherwise, it's £46,000 for the first time... I mean it this time.
£46,000 for the second time... £46,000, third and last time...
One more, yes or no...? No.
Your number, sir, is...?
'Auction first-timer Sergio made the winning bid of 46,000.
'Sergio is from Costa Rica and he and his Malaysian wife Jan and their son Aslam only moved
'to the UK just over six months ago.
'I met up with Sergio to find out his plans for this plot.'
-Sergio, nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
-Why did you want to buy this plot of land in Corsham?
-I'm going to build a two-bedroom house here for sale.
I'm not going to keep it or rent it. I'm planning to sell it when it's finished.
OK. Do you have much experience in building?
I arrived in the UK last year from my home country Costa Rica.
Costa Rica? Oh, beautiful country!
I build five houses there.
'Although he has built five houses in Costa Rica,
'Sergio actually works as a finance manager in nearby Swindon and travels the world with his job.
'So I wondered why he and his family had chosen to settle down in the UK?'
When I was working in Malaysia, I met my wife. We agreed to go to Costa Rica first,
then she wanted to go back to Malaysia which is too far from everything I know.
So we made a compromise to stay in a country that could be in the middle between the two countries.
Costa Rica and Malaysia are on the opposite sides of the world, literally,
so the UK is right in the middle between the two. That's why we are here.
'Sergio and his family live in Swindon and he's bought this land
'as his first property development investment in the UK.'
-What involvement will you have in the whole project?
-I'm going to project-manage the project.
I'm going to do it by stages and I'm going to hire the different trades for doing the different things,
so I'm going to find somebody to help me with the excavation and somebody to put the bricks up.
I'll project-manage the whole thing.
'At the moment, Sergio is budgeting around £60,000 for the build,
'but he'll do the work in stages as and when he can afford it.'
Right now, I have money for building the foundations and the walls, and, obviously, to buy the plot.
-Please tell me you've got money for the roof.
-No roof yet.
I hope to put together some money while we build those things, so I can put a roof on at the end.
But it's going to take a few months for getting all that together,
so I plan to save a little bit for putting the roof on.
It is an initial stage to make it waterproof.
I think your roof's going to be kind of important. You've got to get a roof on.
I've got to get a roof. Definitely.
'I think we've established that a roof is non-negotiable.
'It's not always this sunny in England.'
# Nothing but blue skies do I see... #
'Sergio will build the property in line with the planning permission,
'although he'd like to make a few minor changes. I asked him to walk me through them.'
I like the plans. The outside of the house is a nice little cottage.
I want to use this area to become the kitchen and dining,
so I will put the kitchen here, the dining here,
then I will put a wall from here to here.
I will put the downstairs bathroom in this corner, then the entrance of the house will be through here.
What's the main reason for doing that?
-I think the stairs coming out of the kitchen will distribute the smell of food through the whole house.
And for many people that I talk to, that is something that people don't seem to like in their house, right?
The smell will go upstairs into their bedrooms, so I want the kitchen separated from the rest of the house.
'Talking of smells, Sergio has plans for that sewer too.'
# Lord, I smell trouble ahead of me... #
I need to build two inspection chambers in my property
and then divert this sewage, making it through the side of the land.
That sounds expensive to me.
I'm budgeting at least £5,500 for that, so it's already in my calculations.
-But it is the only gamble in the project.
I haven't quoted that work yet, so hopefully, it doesn't go higher than that.
-I wish you all the best for the project.
-Thank you very much.
Sergio has got experience in building, but only in Costa Rica and things here are slightly different.
He's going to have to consider things like central heating and double glazing
and I do hope he gets his money together to put a roof on because in Corsham that is fairly essential.
Find out how he gets on later.
I'm in Herne Hill in south-west London,
slap-bang between buzzing Brixton and desirable Dulwich.
Over recent years, it's become a hot spot for young professionals
not quite ready to let go of the vibrancy and nightlife of Brixton or forego Dulwich's delis.
But Herne Hill is more than a middle ground location.
It's become desirable in its own right with boutiques, bars and restaurants
and the beautiful Brockwell Park, surrounded by generous Victorian terraces.
It sounds rather lovely.
And so it is, even in the rain.
# You and me and rain on the roof
# Caught up in a summer shower... #
And not only is it lovely, it's handy for London too, only 20 minutes by train.
But Herne Hill feels a million miles away with its lovely village atmosphere.
The property I'm here to see today is in the Poet's Corner conservation area.
Now, it's on Milton Road, it's just down from Shakespeare and Chaucer,
and it's on for a guide of just 360,000.
I can't tell you how many bedrooms it has,
but the catalogue just states it has potential for sub-division into three flats. Well, here it is.
From the outside, it is a lovely, grand old building.
I wonder if inside it's a case of Paradise Lost?
Let's take a look.
The frontages of the houses in this Victorian street are very grand and impressive,
but not stating how many bedrooms there are in this one is a curious omission.
Let's see what secrets this old terraced house is hiding.
You enter the house on the raised ground floor, but it's all very dated.
This door is blocked off and you walk into what was two reception rooms, now knocked into one.
My fingers have been crossed for period features galore, but they've all long gone.
There are fireplaces, but the wrong century.
You can put features back, but you can't create what you've got here -
lovely high ceilings, a gorgeous bay window,
and there's two more floors to go.
From outside, the house appears narrow, but it's actually very deep and roomy inside.
It's not the space that catches your eye first.
It's that worn and dated decor that's begging to be freshened up.
And what a shame that those period features are now long gone!
Down on to the lower ground floor, my first thought is, "Fantastic!"
There's a separate entrance here.
Remember the catalogue suggestion - potential for sub-division into flats.
Block up these stairs and this flat would have its own entrance.
You've got a large room at the front here and, at the back, a smaller space with an oil-burning stove.
This place is a bit of a museum!
If this house was to remain as one home, I'd knock that wall down and open up this space,
put the kitchen and living area down here and put large bi-folding doors leading out on to the garden.
I've done this myself in my own house and it works really well.
I can imagine this space with modern units, but retaining that original plan.
Every room in the house needs work. The place has been left untouched since the '50s.
It all needs to be re-wired, re-plumbed and re-floored.
Just look at that bathroom!
# Pink, it's my new obsession... #
It might have looked sweet back in the day, but it will take a lot of work to get it looking rosy again.
And that's a nasty leak from the bathroom to the ground floor.
I expected this house to have a few rotten floorboards, but what a new angle on the loo!
It's like an en-suite for both floors.
So, two bathrooms, one leaky toilet inside and one out the back that's rather draughty.
I went upstairs to find out once and for all how many bedrooms this house has.
This house is like a zig-zag of half landings leading to further rooms.
I've just passed what was the kitchen, so I suppose up here there's three bedrooms
and what a bedroom!
Look at those windows!
Wow, vast! But the signs of neglect are adding up here and they are beginning to worry me.
Look over here - the plaster is just shot.
Somebody started to repair the floor over there and the windows, but it's all half-hearted
and that says to me this is "a full rip out and start again". No question about it!
Those two other bedrooms aren't in much better condition.
# Rip it up and start again
# Rip it up and start again... #
This property needs so much more than just a lick of paint and a clean,
but there is enormous potential.
The jumble of rooms gives it masses of character and it's ripe for opening up and reorganising.
That means a lot of structural work and the garden is desperate for attention.
It's a fabulous size, but needs digging out.
If you decided to keep that rotting old shed, you're completely potty!
I asked a local estate agent for his thoughts
on this dusty old gem.
My first thought was, "At last I get to see a real London townhouse!"
An original period London townhouse. It's fantastic.
Looking at its condition, it needs a lot of work.
It hasn't been looked after for a very long time. It needs re-wiring, you'd have to put central heating in.
There are some damp problems, so there's a lot of work to be done,
but it will be a great labour of love and fantastic when it's finished.
How much would it take to turn this wreck into a family home?
The spend on this house, depending on what you wanted to do, could be astronomical.
If you wanted to do a proper job with decent equipment and your kitchens and your bathrooms,
you'll spend close to £100,000.
£100,000 on top of the guide price of £360,000?
That's a massive investment.
Would there be any profit to be made by a quick resale without investing in a renovation?
I think the property as it stands would be worth just under the £400,000 mark.
In its current condition, that's a potential pre-tax profit of 40,000
if it sold for its guide price.
But if the work was done, how much would it be worth?
It could rise anywhere up to about half a million pounds to £550,000.
If it could sell for half a million, that would certainly be an incentive to do the work,
but somebody will need a burning desire for renovation.
There is a huge amount to do. It may not be enough for the rental market.
The problem with this house for rental is the size of it and the layout.
For the amount of money you've got to spend on it to get it up to that level to rent it,
I don't think you'd get the yield back, so there's no rental potential. It has to go to an end buyer.
Let's see who exactly that buyer was at the auction.
Somebody start me at 300, Herne Hill? 300 may I say?
Thank you. 300 I have. 305?
310. 315? 315. 320?
320. 325. 30? 30. 35?
35. 40? 40. 45?
340 I'm bid then.
340 here. Any more?
Thank you, madam. 345. 350? 350.
355? There we are, 355. Sorry. 60?
At 355, I'll take it. 357,500. 360?
360? 360. 362 and a half?
Lady's bid here against you. I'll take 2 and a half...?
At £360,000, sitting down, Herne Hill. First time at 360...
Second time at 360...
Last time, sitting down, at £360,000, against you...
All done at 360, Herne Hill. Sold to you, madam. Well done.
'The winning bidders for this daunting project were Josh and Lynn, Herne Hill locals.
'Josh works in IT and Lynn in a hospital.
'They got the house for the guide price of 360,000, but for them, it's not about the profit margin.'
# Hey, hey, baby... #
'They will renovate it for themselves as their family home.'
# I wanna know if you'll be my girl... #
-This is a great house.
-We hope so.
What did you do to celebrate once you'd got the house?
Oh, gosh. We came here with a bottle of champagne and then nearly cried at all the work we have to do.
Thursday evening we came here and sat here in the dark with a couple of candles
as we hadn't figured out where the fuse box was and drank champagne.
-What's your plan? Are you going to be moving in straight away?
In about six months maybe, we hope, we will be in here.
We're having a baby in three months, so that will happen in between.
-You've got a lot going on - a new baby, a new house.
# Hey, hey, baby... #
'With a baby due, they've got a pretty tight six-month deadline,
'so what have they got planned for the place?'
Let's talk about the layout. What's downstairs going to be?
The main living area, the kitchen, the central heart of the house, then the living area to the front
and hopefully build a sun room or a conservatory at the back,
then leading to the garden.
'I'm so glad they're going to get rid of that run-down shed out back.
'It will give them a safe space for the new baby to play in and the local wildlife would approve too.
'Upstairs, Josh and Lynn will save money by preserving the bedrooms, rather than knocking them through.
'But they will have to fork out for a new kitchen and bathroom. Are they worried about the cost?'
We did do an assessment, just really room by room, how much it would come to.
-80,000 is what...
-That was 80 with contingencies.
That was a good area of... 12,000 contingency, I think we had.
-I'll be amazed if you do it for £80,000.
-In my experience.
Only because you have a lot of work to do downstairs in the basement.
There are so many different levels down there.
We just have to be careful about researching and sourcing everything that we want to put into the place
and try and get value for money and bargain with people.
This is the climate to do that, so hopefully, we'll be lucky.
'I hope they are. It sounds as though Josh is quite happy to do some of the work himself,
'although he might need to do a little research first.'
I don't know that side of the market too well.
I have no idea how much it would cost to get an expert to knock a wall through,
but I'm going to try and find out how to do it myself, then we'll do that bit.
Don't look at Lynn. She can't help with the wall knocking through!
-I'll give you the mallet.
-You can just say, "No, you missed a bit."
-I'll sit in the corner and point.
Yeah, OK, you can be project manager.
You've got exciting times ahead.
I'm so pleased it's fallen into the laps of a lovely couple who want this as a home and not a developer.
That would be a shame. It's such a lovely house.
Somebody could have had two or three flats here,
-but it's great it will be a family house. Good luck.
'Coming up, we go to Devon to see how this old chapel has been completely revived.
'I'll be singing its praises later.
'Back in south-east London, Josh was struggling with the amount of work there was to do.'
There's another bunch of rooms to do. That's not so much fun.
'But first, how did the owner of this land get on with his plan to build a house?'
I will build a two-bedroom house.
We're back in Corsham just outside Bath to catch up with Sergio.
He bought this plot at auction for 46,000 and had grand plans to build a two-bedroom house on it.
The land already had planning permission, but Sergio wanted to make a few changes.
I will put the kitchen here, I will put the dining here,
then I will put a wall from here to here.
# A change, a change will do you good... #
So how did Sergio get on with the build?
Well, over a year later, we met up with him at the plot
where we discovered progress had been even slower than a snail's pace.
In fact, it looks exactly the same as it did before.
# All the same
# But you don't know why... #
After he bought the plot, Sergio had a change of career.
He gave up his financial manager job to run a home care agency.
This put the building work on the back burner.
I made a decision to purchase the new business.
I wanted to have enough funds for doing it in a relaxed way,
then I decided to sell the property and release the money that was in here.
I was really looking forward to build this house, but then the priorities changed
and I'm focusing on the new business, rather than the building.
So, Sergio put the land back on the market.
He put it up for sale by tender to see who would offer most for it.
We received quite a few offers and we took the highest offer.
It took a little bit over a month to exchange and basically, that's what happened, yeah.
The market had slumped in the year since he bought it, so he only got £42,000, 4,000 less than he paid.
# It's all about the money... #
But he doesn't sound too downbeat about it.
Based on what is happening in the market in general, it's not a big loss.
You have to be prepared to take a loss here and there sometimes in this industry and in this business,
so it wasn't a big deal, right?
You have to be prepared for taking losses once in a while.
Sergio has a healthy attitude to the loss.
Sometimes in the property world, you just need to take a hit
and besides, a few grand isn't a complete cat-astrophe.
So, just a couple of weeks after he sold the plot at a slight loss,
what do two estate agents think of its prospects now?
I'm probably not surprised that nothing's been built here,
bearing in mind how the market has been since this plot was sold,
but now the market has moved forward quite well, quite considerably,
so now would be a better opportunity of achieving a better figure for it.
In the last 12 months, the market has improved considerably.
The values are certainly stronger.
There hasn't been a great increase, but there's a much better chance to achieve a reasonable price now.
So, if Sergio had built that two-bedroomed house, what kind of return would there have been?
At the moment, it would probably achieve around about £165,000.
Probably somewhere between 155,000 and 160,000 for a two-bedroomed, detached house on this plot.
That is higher than my original numbers.
I was expecting like around 143.
So, again it shows that maybe the market has improved since the time that we made the original valuation.
Sergio reckoned it would cost 100 grand to build the house,
so that could have been a fantastic pre-tax profit of 60 grand.
What return would it have made as a rental?
A two-bedroomed house would readily let in this location right now
and should achieve, unfurnished or furnished, around about £650 per calendar month.
The rental value will be somewhere in the region of £650 a month.
That works out at a healthy yield of over 7.5%.
It sounds like Sergio would have been quids in, had he decided to build.
Does he have any regrets?
Not really because the decision of not building here was a conscious decision
and a change of priority and focus,
so I don't have really major regrets of not building here.
# No regrets...
# They don't work... #
In this case, this plot didn't work out.
On other occasions, I had very good results on other plots, so...
Every project is different and things change a lot and you need to be prepared to adjust accordingly.
And we wish Sergio all the best with his next project.
He may not have built a home on this plot, but at least someone has.
# Little yellow spider, laughing at the snow
# Well, maybe that spider knows something that I don't know... #
'In the summer of 2004,
'I thought I'd found a perfect cottage in Devon,
'but all wasn't quite what it seemed as this dashing young fellow explains.'
Kingskerswell, a tiny village just outside Newton Abbot in Devon.
It's most people's idea of an idyllic rural retreat,
so properties here are both very expensive and difficult to come by.
So, when you see something like this,
a chocolate box, thatched cottage with a guide price of just £95,000,
you definitely take interest.
But of course, things aren't quite what they seem.
There is a bit of a sting in the tail.
That is the cutesy-wootsy bit at the front there.
But that is not up for sale. What is going for auction is the bit at the back.
It's attached, it's got the same lovely thatched roof, so it's definitely still worth looking at,
especially when you discover that it was once the old Gospel Hall.
Well, praise the Lord!
# Here I am
# Let's cut the strings tonight... #
So, through the entrance vestibule into what is basically one big, huge space.
It was the Gospel Hall and it's a great big hall. But can you imagine what you could do with this place?
Great big windows, that's lovely.
You've also got this massive ceiling height
and it looks like there's more ceiling height above there which you could open up.
Got a bit of an issue on this wall here with damp. That's penetrating damp.
The level of the soil outside is probably about this level, but you can sort that out with tanking.
This has fantastic potential.
It'll need somebody with imagination and some kind of design skills,
but what an opportunity!
I'm already thinking about how you could fit bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens in here.
You'd need an architect who spoke the tongues of men and some help from the angels too, I reckon!
One of the big things about this place is its construction which is unconventional.
You've got yourself a thatched roof and cob walls.
These are about three foot thick and made of a mixture of stone, straw and mud.
They're great. This place has been around for 200 years, but you have to look after them in a certain way.
That way is not to cover them in concrete rendering, as happened in the past.
Also, when you restore this place, because it's a listed building, you'll have to rebuild this in cob.
That is something to factor into your cost equations.
Remember, cob is a mixture of earth and straw.
It can be difficult and expensive to replace and so can thatch, but there is something else to consider too.
There is another element to this property and it's round the back. You'll never guess what it is!
Well, actually, you might.
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.
Still, quite a useful space,
especially as the planning permission is to make this the main entrance to the property,
so you put a hole in this wall and have that as your main door and keep that as a loo and a cloakroom.
That makes a big difference here because suddenly you've got good access.
The planning permission is for a two-bedroom cottage.
There's a lot of work here, but talk about a blank canvas!
They don't come much blanker than this.
So let's find out who bought this property at the auction.
Lot 1, where better to start, is Kingskerswell Gospel Hall, Kingskerswell, Newton Abbot.
Is it 100,000 somewhere? Nice and simple. £100,000 somewhere?
100, we're away. I've got 100. 100 I have, at 100.
At 100. 2 for me now? At 100 somewhere. At 100 I've got.
At 100, the opening bid of the day. 100 I've got.
At £100,000. At £100,000. Is there 2 anywhere?
At £100,000 once then. Don't be shy.
Great opportunity. At £100,000 twice.
At £100,000. Are you sure and done because we will be selling to the gentleman down here?
At £100,000 first time, second and third time.
Here we go. Simple as that. You're missing it. At £100,000...
Sir, well done. Spot on. That's the way to do it.
Right, great, we'll be out on the golf course before...
'And that first and only bid of 100,000 was made by Daniel.'
# I'm so glad to see you
# I'm so glad you're here... #
'Daniel sounds like the perfect man to take on this place.'
-Tell me about yourself.
-I'm an architect in Torquay. Architectural technician, I should say.
I work for a firm over there and we do a lot of listed buildings and that kind of thing
because there's a lot of them in this area.
I'm in the right line of work to do this properly, I hope.
-What did you think when you first saw it?
-I just loved it. I loved the setting.
I originally thought that the garden came with it.
I originally thought actually from just calling round and looking that it was the cottage on the front,
but once I got in, I looked around and yes, it's got some problems, it's got damp,
it's just a big space,
but I could see past that, I could see the features that it's got,
particularly in terms of the outside and how pretty it is.
'Having no garden may be a drawback, but it hasn't put Daniel off.
'Let's hope he's just as positive when I show him something he hasn't seen yet.'
Oh, fabulous. It's just what I've always wanted(!)
That's the neighbour's house.
'Let's hope Daniel doesn't come up against any more brick walls with the planning.'
-So these are the original plans?
-Yeah, these were done by the vendor before I was ever involved.
-But I want to change them.
-So what have you come up with then?
These are the plans I've been working through.
Similar situation with living and kitchen and bathroom at ground floor level
and a utility room that you enter through.
-I want to keep it completely open to the underside of the eaves.
-The whole height?
-The whole height.
Then you go up a set of stairs to the first floor plan with a landing
which is like a bridge that runs across between two large bedrooms at the upper floor,
so I intend to give this a real sense of character and height and space and light.
-What are you trying to create in general?
-Just something that gives a bit of wow factor as you walk in.
I know it's a cliche, but I feel that a building that has survived this long and is listed
deserves something a bit more than to be partitioned up into little boxes.
-What you're talking about here is not going to be cheap.
Do you have any idea of costs and budgets?
-My budget for it is 60,000.
-Where I find it from, I don't know.
Any idea of how long this is going to take? I suppose a lot of it depends on your finances really.
It does depend on finances. It also depends on how much work I'm prepared to carry out myself.
-I can't wait to come back.
-I'll try and speed it on for you, but I can't make any promises.
-Congratulations. You've got the imagination and inspiration to do it.
'That was in 2004. When we first went back a few months later, not much had changed.
'But a few years on, Daniel had turned it into a very stylish new home.
'Stay with us to see the fabulous results.'
We've given our buyers time to do the work, but has it all gone to plan?
Will we return to bare plaster or a perfect finish?
Let's find out.
We're back at Herne Hill, south-east London,
where Josh and Lynn bought this Victorian terraced house at auction for the guide price of 360,000.
They had a massive job on their hands to renovate it.
Every room needed complete redecoration and the plumbing and electrics were positively scary.
Their deadline to do the work was six months and Josh was keen to do a lot of it himself.
I have no idea how much it would cost to get an expert to knock a wall through,
but I'm going to try and find out how to do it myself.
That was nearly a year ago, so did all that research pay off? What state is the house in now?
We caught up with Josh and Lynn and their bundle of joy, seven-month-old baby Cara, to find out.
# My baby don't care for shows... #
First of all, Lynn reminds us of how the property used to look.
Well, when we bought the place, it was really, really dark and quite dingy and musty.
Everything was painted mustard and green, so compared to now, there's quite a big difference, I suppose.
There's no supposing about it. The place has been completely transformed.
They redecorated throughout,
stripping off that tattered old wallpaper and putting in new flooring.
But the biggest change was on the cavernous downstairs floor.
This has been completely opened up and become a wonderfully light and cosy family space.
The basement was basically two rooms
and a horrible little dingy corridor and a pantry that was completely musty,
so we've opened everything up, still kept the utility room.
It's a nice, bright area
and this is really the centre of the family day-to-day activities -
cooking and we can see the kids and all getting together and chatting in the evening.
And the homework paid off. Josh managed to knock through those walls himself.
Not bad for a first-timer!
I spent a lot of time online researching how to do it
and talking to my friends who are in the building trade, getting ideas from them.
That side of it is a lot of fun. The decorating is less fun.
After doing one room, you've pretty much figured out how to do it,
then to think there's a bunch of rooms to do, that's not so much fun.
But Josh didn't need to worry too much about the decoration. Lynn handled that side of the operation
and as she was pregnant for most of it, even managed to do it with her feet up.
# And you decorated my life... #
I've had most of the time sitting on the couch and sourcing materials
and the design, I suppose, the interior design of the place.
# You decorated my life... #
Lynn furnished the whole house with second-hand bargains she tracked down on the internet.
We had the fireplace for 99p
and the Belfast sink was a fraction of the price it would have cost originally.
Our biggest bargain, I suppose, was probably the kitchen,
which we got for maybe a tenth of the price off an internet auction site.
And whilst Lynn was hunting for those great deals,
Josh was busy working on the house in his spare time
around his normal work schedule, but he needed expert help for some jobs.
An electrician re-wired the house completely.
Upstairs, he and a team of builders stole some room out of the bedrooms
to create a second bathroom.
And remember that flush of pink in the old one?
Well, thankfully, that's now gone too.
# Ooh, my honey, you got me working day and night... #
There's still a fair bit of decorating to finish upstairs.
There's some painting to be done and in some places, the heating and electrics need fixing.
And the middle floor isn't quite ready to be lived in either.
It's full of junk. It's all my tools and materials. It's a workshop at the moment.
Eventually, we hope to make that into a big double lounge
with shelving and books and cupboards, to make it more of a comfortable seating area.
So, Josh still has more to complete inside and the garden is not quite there yet.
This whole area at the back here was sheds and old conservatories, so that's all been taken away.
Then here, we've put in these sleepers. Not quite finished yet. That side still needs to be done.
The bit at the back we'll grass over and we'll put a bench up against the wall.
And this bit here will be the conservatory.
I asked two local estate agents what they thought of the property
and the work Josh and Lynn have done on it so far.
They've done a fantastic job.
They've kept a lot of the features
and have brought in even more features by stripping floorboards, banister rails. It looks fantastic.
I really like the fact that it offers versatility.
It has lots of period features and it has a contemporary twist as well,
so the fact that it's so versatile is a big plus.
The new layout is fantastic.
They've put in this bathroom, they've used this space which normally would have been left to waste.
I think it's really clever.
They bought the house for 360,000
and so far have spent around 62 grand doing it up.
Once the renovation is completed, how much could it re-sell for?
Once the work is completed, I would put this property on the market between £550,000 to £600,000.
Once fully renovated, I'd put the property on the resale market for £675,000.
-That sounds quite nice.
-Really? That sounds pretty good.
Especially with the current climate, I suppose. We're quite pleased.
If they spend their full renovation budget, then their total outlay will be 440,000.
Based on that higher resale estimate of 675,000,
that's a potentially whopping profit of 235 grand,
minus the usual expenses, of course.
But by the sound of it, Lynn, Josh and Cara won't be leaving this house for a good while yet.
When we bought the house, we thought it was our dream home and it still is.
It's taking some time to get there, but no, everything is fantastic.
The fact that we've done it ourselves as well is great. We've made it to look the way we want it.
It's been a lot of work, but it is very satisfying to do something like this.
Being here in this house and being a mum for the first time is absolutely fantastic.
She's just adorable. I couldn't wish for a better baby.
# Dream, dream, dream... #
So, a perfect baby in a perfect family home.
Don't you just love stories with happy endings?
# When I want you... #
Back in 2004, tucked behind a picturesque thatched cottage,
I came across an old Gospel Hall.
It wasn't much more than one large room with a toilet at the back,
but it was the fact that it was a blank canvas that appealed to architectural technician Daniel
who paid £100,000 for it at auction.
-I want to keep it completely open to the underside of the eaves.
-The whole height?
You go up some stairs to the first floor with a landing like a bridge
that runs across between two large bedrooms.
-What are you trying to create in general?
-Just something that gives a bit of wow factor as you walk in.
Daniel had some great plans, but the first time we returned, there wasn't much progress.
So you can see there hasn't been that much of a change in here,
except a few holes in the floor and plasterboard removed from the walls.
That's because I've been dealing with planning permission, building regulations applications,
tender packages and the legal side of things, so quite a lot to be done.
Time marched on and Daniel continued to work
at turning his dreams into reality.
Now, five years later, we're back.
What we had here was just a great big hall and a rather sub-standard toilet.
And now just look at it!
The old hall is now Daniel's home and he's lived here nearly four years.
I changed the design, so that we used the toilet as the main entrance.
You come down from street level into the centre of the building
whereas before, you came in right on a corner.
The recess where the toilet was has been turned into a study.
To one side of the dining room and that central stairwell is a great kitchen.
And on the other side of the hall, there is a beautifully finished lounge.
I was on site an awful lot, managing the building process as well
and making sure that the details were undertaken in the way that I wanted them to be.
That's fantastic when you see something coming out of the ground and from the paper
actually being built physically.
It's a pretty special feeling to know that that's your design and that's your creation.
And boy, does this place fulfil the vision!
With two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs,
Daniel has created a fantastic cottage from an empty shell.
The Gospel Hall really does have something to sing about now.
But getting to this stage wasn't without difficulties and heartache.
When you were last here, nothing had happened. I'd done a little bit of investigation work into the structure
and found a brick wall behind one of the cupboards in the corner of what is now the living room.
I thought, "Oh, no, what is going on here?"
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."
It might not be the end of the world after all.
Daniel thought the wall might restrict his renovation plans,
but he found a way of building around it, perhaps fuelled by those beers.
This is what I've called the flying freehold.
What this means is the original wall of the property is set back into that recess
and this area was the area that I originally thought was a cupboard.
It isn't. It's the neighbour's house.
So we had to keep that because it's historic,
so what I've done is I've tried to use that within the design
and I've mirrored it with a porchway that leads out to the garden
and I've created this recess which has got my bookcase and my fish tank, so it worked out quite successfully.
What an elegant solution this is!
It really looks like it was always meant to be this way and that's what good design is all about.
This area was originally going to be just a bridge walkway
between the two bedrooms and completely open on both sides,
but practically speaking, I needed to move the bathroom from downstairs up to this location.
But I've kept the open, double height space on this side and it works really well.
It throws a lot more light into the downstairs space.
This feature was another element of the building which I discovered as I was looking through.
It's a very large steel beam.
At some point in the past, the roof must have burnt down or has been removed and the solution was
to put a huge steel beam that runs the entire length of the original chapel.
That supports the roof, so I had to be careful when putting the dormers in and doing the works to the roof
that I didn't disturb this structure.
So, one by one, Daniel came up with imaginative answers to each problem he was presented with.
However, there was one area he couldn't do much about.
This is the garden area. It's not very big, but I've done my best with it.
It was a muddy little strip before and I've put some plants in, some herbs and some pots. It does for me.
In fact, Daniel completed most of the work here four years ago.
What a great project for an architectural technician this was!
When you're working for yourself, it's a lot more difficult
because there's only one person involved, there's no-one to bounce ideas off.
There's nobody to say, "No, I want to do it this way."
You're the master of your own destiny. Sometimes that can work out and sometimes it doesn't.
And in this case he had a bit of a split personality.
On one hand, he was the architect, and on the other, the client.
I was a terrible client. I started without the finance being in place.
I changed my mind quite a lot, particularly through the design process.
I had about five designs on the go.
If I was the architect for myself, I'd be tearing my hair out and demanding lots more fees.
A-ha, more fees! That suggests Daniel's £60,000 budget may not have been enough
for this exacting client.
I spent 64,000 with the main contractor
and then I sort of lost track of the budget a little bit.
I guess, at the end of the day, I've spent about 90 on it in total,
so I've way exceeded the original, laughable budgets I came up with.
He paid £100,000 for it at the auction
and spent another £90,000 plus costs,
so his outlay will have been close to £200,000.
As the markets have been on a roller-coaster ride since he bought it five years ago,
how has this unique property fared? What do two local estate agents think?
It's a really pretty cottage. The gentleman's done a lovely job here.
It's bright, spacious, even though it is a small cottage. I really like it.
It's a great property. You've got a really good mix of old and new.
And a tucked away location. A real hidden gem.
It's been very thoughtfully designed, a good layout and it flows very well.
The downside to the property could be the parking, but there's lots of on-street parking out there.
And having no garden will hold the value.
Does the lack of garden prevent Daniel reaping a return on his 200-grand investment?
I would be marketing this property in the region of 195,000 to 200,000.
I would be putting this property on the market for £200,000.
That's probably about right for this market and it's certainly not more than I spent on the property,
so I'm reasonably pleased with that.
Hopefully, that might improve in a better financial climate.
Initially then, this may not be a big money-spinner for Daniel,
but the project was always about more than financial rewards.
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?
Yes, this has been a great learning curve for Daniel and a chance to put his ideas into practice,
but perhaps most important of all, he's ended up with a fantastic home he's completely in tune with.
I hope you've enjoyed the triumphs and tribulations of today's show.
-Join us next time for more Homes Under The Hammer.
-See you then.
Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2010
Email [email protected]
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.