Episode 14 Wreck or Ready?


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Episode 14

Property series. David and Chie have 365,000 pounds to spend on a home in Central Scotland. Will Jonnie Irwin and Jane Farnham tempt them with a finished house or a fixer-upper?


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Buying a new home is the biggest purchase you'll ever make, so how do you make the right move?

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Do you pay rock bottom for a project?

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Rundown doesn't have to mean run away.

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There are properties ripe for renovation all across the UK.

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But with the downturn in the property market...

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comes an upturn in great properties on the market at knock-down prices.

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I'm on a mission to find our house hunters ready-made, perfect pads.

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So will today's buyers go with one of my renovation projects?

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Or will they put their feet up and go for one of my readies?

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We're helping a young family choose between buying a wreck or ready

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in West Lothian, close to Edinburgh, Scotland's historic capital city.

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West Lothian recently came third in a survey of UK's happiest places to live and it's easy to see why.

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The rolling countryside and beautiful villages are enough to put a smile on anyone's face.

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The average cost of a home here is around 140 grand,

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that's nearly 40% lower than the UK average,

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but prices go up as you get closer to Edinburgh and that's where today's house hunters want to be.

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Proud Scotsman David and former special needs teacher Chie met six years ago through a dating website

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and after falling madly in love, they got married and Chie moved over from the States with her dog Rennie.

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Now they're the proud parents of two fast-growing little girls,

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18-month-old Shona and 3-year old Malia, they're desperate to move.

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Home is currently the 3-bed East Kilbride semi David grew up in.

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Ideally, they're looking for a bigger house closer to Edinburgh

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but finding their dream family home is proving much harder than finding love.

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Looks like they're going to need a bit of property match-making from Auntie Jane and Uncle Jonnie.

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-But first we need to find out who's up for a wreck...

-And who wants a ready.

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-Let's find out who we've got today.

-OK.

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'Hi, I'm Chie.'

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My name's David and I'm a design engineer.

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We're living in East Kilbride, which is a new town just outside Glasgow.

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The distance from David's work during the winter time

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tend to take a couple of hours, at worse case scenario.

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It's about 45 miles.

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That's quite some commute, especially in Scotland. A bit of bad weather might take you hours.

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Yeah. I think we need to reduce that.

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It has been hard. I think more for David and the girls because they're not able to spend time together.

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If we can get close enough then I could cycle to work and that would be perfect, distance and location.

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Good school area, that's the two criteria.

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Sounds like we're moving into a potentially more expensive area.

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Our budget for the house we are looking for is £360,000.

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We've got one living room now. With two young girls, it tends to be an explosion of toys every day.

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I'm so used to a bigger house in the States, it would be great to have extra space.

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I'd prefer four bedroom because I do have family and friends from all around the world.

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So she wants something big and, for a renovation project, that's knocking walls through.

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I'd prefer a wreck property because of the potential to maybe get

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a bit more for your money and to be able to personalise it a bit more.

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I think everything ready for you is very attractive

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because you don't have to do anything and move in tomorrow.

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Yeah, certainly, one of the reasons for moving is to be able to spend more time with the girls,

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so a ready in that respect would be a much better bet.

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Do they want a renovation project or do they want a nice easy ready? They haven't made their minds up yet.

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I can see why they've been looking at properties for five months. A ready probably suits them more...

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Yeah, but fitting all those criteria into that ready-made property.

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-They already haven't found it, so, this is going to be a real tough one.

-Good.

-I'm off.

-Good girl.

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So it's clear we've got our work cut out with David and Chie.

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They're looking for perfection and topping their wish list are...

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With a healthy budget of 360 grand,

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David and Chie should have a good chance of getting what they want, if we can find it.

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Super organised Chie doesn't go anywhere without her property clipboard

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and they've already discounted over 120 properties because they don't tick off everything on her list.

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We could have a hard time getting these guys to decide on anything.

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Jane, this could be our toughest mission yet.

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Have faith, Jonnie, I'm confident we can do it.

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For my first ready, I've brought them to the village of Westfield.

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It's 40 minutes' drive from Edinburgh so it could cut David's daily commute in half.

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It's a lovely semi-rural location which could be the ideal place to bring up the children.

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And I'm hoping they'll fall in love with the house.

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It sits in a quarter acre plot, so it has all the space they asked for and more.

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So, Chie and David, the first property of the day is one of mine, it's a ready.

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Looks nice.

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Does look nice. The garden is a good big size for the girls to play in.

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-Well, that's not your only garden, there's also a garden to the rear of the property.

-That's good, yeah.

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So plenty of space outside and the inside's not exactly poky either.

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I just hope they like beige.

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This is a nice light, bright, airy hallway, coming straight through

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-into this huge, living space. And great views to the front of the property.

-Nice big size. Nice view.

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Now, with this property, you're getting over 2,000 square feet of living space.

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OK, that's big.

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It's immaculate. You don't need to do anything to it at all and it's all been very tastefully done.

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Certainly looks nice in here.

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-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-If this is your taste.

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Yes, of course.

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I'm not sure our suite would go with this colour scheme but you don't like the suite anyway...

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David's seeing his furniture in here already which is a good sign.

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There's a second reception room which could make a great playroom

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and I've also given Chie the open-plan, modern kitchen/diner she's used to having in the States.

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-Certainly a nice good size for you anyway.

-Yes.

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-This is big, isn't it?

-It is.

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It's really deceiving, isn't it?

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We didn't expect this size.

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No, from the outside, you thought it's not going to be much space,

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-so this is great.

-It is.

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And the back garden looks a good big size as well.

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-You could see all the kids playing out there.

-Oh, yeah.

-Yes.

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Keep them safe, yep.

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That would be a great family room, you know, the playroom,

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-especially in the rainy days, you know Scottish winter.

-Yes, yes!

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-And I think that utility looks big enough to put our dog's large kennel in which would be great.

-Yeah.

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Now, it's going to take you 30 to 40 minutes to get to work, driving,

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so how do you feel about not being able to cycle necessarily?

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I think we could work for it.

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I mean, we've always said, you know, we could go further to get the house that was right, and you know, so...

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30 minutes, 40 minutes, it's still going to half my journey time,

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-so that's a big improvement.

-Brilliant. So we can live with that.

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-Em, so the other thing I need to let you know is price.

-Yes.

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-It's been on for six weeks.

-Right.

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It is on the market for offers over 330.

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That's certainly something we could work with.

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We maybe have to run two cars from here but at 330, we could manage that.

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I think this house makes a lot of sense and at 30 grand under budget, the numbers stack up as well.

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If they can get their furniture in. David and Chie have got an enormous king size bed.

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Not a bad size but I think our bed might be a bit of a challenge.

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Well, there are other options.

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There's a good sized loft conversion with another living area

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and double bedroom that would make a fantastic master suite.

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I'll stay away from the Dr Who cliches, but how on earth have they squeezed all this room in here?

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-It's massive.

-I have no idea.

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There's lots of rooms and they're all really huge sizes.

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-Yeah, it's a good house.

-I think that's a good start.

-Very good start. Worrying for me.

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-What do you think so far?

-Not bad.

-Think it'll work for us?

-Possibly.

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-Doesn't look like much need to be done.

-I think we could pretty much move straight in.

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Just get our stuff unpacked and settle down and be a family.

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Did you hear that, Jonnie? They're already talking about moving in.

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David can see this as a great family house.

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It's looking like I have a contender despite David and Chie's muted reactions.

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I think Jonnie's already got his work cut out to beat me.

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Maybe, Jane, but these guys won't be rushed into anything

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and I think I can find them what they want for less than 330 grand.

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David was happy with the 40 minute drive to work,

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so I'm taking them over the Firth of Forth to the city of Dunfermline,

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which is still within a 25 mile radius of Edinburgh.

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Dunfermline is one of the oldest settlements in Scotland and was the capital city for over 500 years.

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Its mix of shopping facilities, good schools and leisure activities attract plenty of young families

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so, hopefully, David and Chie will be the next.

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My first wreck is a spacious 3-bedroom bungalow in need of complete refurbishment

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but at offers around £170,000, there is potentially almost 200 grand left

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in their 360 grand budget to renovate and extend.

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-The bungalow.

-Mm-hm.

-What are we thinking so far?

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I'm going to get rid of all that stuff growing around it.

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It's wild, isn't it? This is obviously a renovation project.

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I'm asking you to see through the initial cosmetics.

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-Can you use your imagination in a property?

-Yeah.

-I think we could.

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-I'd need to get my mum over here!

-Yes.

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It's not a small project, any of this house.

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-We've just been to an immaculate, one of the most immaculate houses you will see with Jane.

-Yes.

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This isn't. OK. So I want you to be open-minded to this, all right?

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-Are you with me?

-Yes.

-Jane?

-Yeah, I'm completely with you.

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I'm glad to have you on board, Jane, and I'm hoping Chie and David will be too.

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With a little vision, I think they could easily turn this property into their dream family home.

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First big project is the kitchen.

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So come in here. Come in here.

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Mind your head. Mind yours, Jane.

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Look, at the moment, this is a bit of a nothing-y room. I suppose it might be a playroom for the kids.

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I want to give you this open space.

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Jane's house, you loved that big, long kitchen.

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That wall, I'm suggesting you punch through there

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and you have a huge dining area. You can watch the girls

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and you could be cooking up a storm there...David.

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It probably would be a storm with me cooking!

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It's a lot of work, can you see the potential, Chie?

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Space-wise, I think it could be a great potential,

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-so definitely opens up and wide enough to be able to do a lot.

-Yeah.

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But does that scare you?

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I mean, actually doing it, probably end up getting somebody in to do the kitchen, em...

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You're both busy people. You've not got great experience of doing places up.

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I'm suggesting you get people in to do everything for you.

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And why just stop with the kitchen wall?

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They could also knock through the dining room into the living room.

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Creating the large kitchen/diner Chie is after would cost...

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Remember this place is nearly 200 grand under budget. So will the figures be enough to swing it?

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-What say you?

-I like the opening idea.

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So if you put this wall through again you've got a huge flow right from the kitchen to here

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and then maybe double doors out to the garden or a conservatory.

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-Sounds good.

-Yeah.

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Now, I'm asking you to envisage a whole new house, but there's a lot of work to be done here

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-and this house is on the market for offers around £170,000.

-OK.

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What's your reaction to that?

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That certainly leaves us plenty in the budget for adding things, doing things we want.

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I think I've given them another option to think about.

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Hang on! Chie's got the clipboard out. You might be right, Jonnie.

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Looks like David's forgotten his measuring tape though.

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He's making sure he can get the king size bed into the master bedroom.

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Do you think our bed will fit in here?

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It'll fit.

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Well, thank goodness that sticking point is out of the way.

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There is some potential.

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-Mm-hm.

-Not necessarily completely scary or anything

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but need a lot I think to talk about.

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So they've measured up and they can see the potential,

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but their reactions tell me they don't love it enough to buy it.

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So we've shown David and Chie two very different properties.

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And whilst my first ready is a contender, they've not gone wild over either of them.

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I'm not sure these guys really know what their perfect home is, Jane.

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Time to regroup and plan our next move.

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For me, I think it's going to be schools and maybe proximity to David's work.

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I'm going to stay on size because they like big proportions

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so I'm going to do that but couple it up with a closer commute for David.

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-See what I'm doing here? Rolling my sleeves up.

-To get stuck in?

-See you later.

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Chie and David are playing their cards quite close to their chests, so I'm going to go for size and space.

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We're off to Livingston, just 13 miles away from David's work.

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It's a 1960s' new town, which might not appeal to everyone,

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but it has everything they've asked for.

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And being so close to Edinburgh, property is surprisingly good value here,

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with an average home reported to cost just over 120 grand.

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And I've found a whopper.

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American Chie is going to get a lot of bang for her buck here.

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With over 2,000 square feet of space, I think I'm on to a winner.

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It's got five bedrooms, two dining rooms and an open-plan kitchen/diner,

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but best of all, it's on the market for ten grand under budget.

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I think it's perfect.

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Looks like a good big garage so, erm, certainly from the outside

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it looks, from this direction, a decent size.

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Yes, David it is a decent size -

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in fact, it's massive and remember it is a ready.

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All I need now is a positive reaction from Chie.

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-Now I know you guys like a big hallway.

-Yes.

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This isn't the hugest of hallways.

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-Uh huh.

-That's why you've got this.

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-Oh.

-OK, that's good.

-Nice spiral staircase.

-Yes.

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Dining room.

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That's where some of your bedrooms are, but come through to here.

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-Oh, OK.

-Oh, that looks good.

-This is actually pretty good.

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I think I do enjoy more American-style open-plan kind of setting,

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just flow through and the light coming through different places.

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Did you hear that, Jonnie? It's got the space Chie's looking for.

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Don't count your chickens. Looks like a bit of a sauna to me, Jane.

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So, a lovely, well-tended garden.

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It's a slightly unusual shape, but it does look a reasonable size.

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See the girls running around here?

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Oh, yeah. I can see them playing with the water feature as well.

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-You've got great views over the golf course.

-Yes.

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Not likely to get a housing development thrown up on that side of your fence.

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Now this property hasn't actually been on the market that long -

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just three weeks.

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It's on for 349,995, so just under 350.

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If what we've seen so far is an indication, then I'd say it's promising.

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Wow, that's a "promising" from David.

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Does that mean he's actually getting excited?

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Hopefully he is happy enough with the size of the bedrooms.

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Maybe - but now he's stressing out about the size of the wardrobes.

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-Not huge but, I think...

-Workable.

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Workable. Maybe just have to move things around in season.

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Ah, workable wardrobes.

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Hardly the stuff dreams are made of though is it, Jane?

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Time for me to work my magic.

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I'm convinced location, not dimension, is the key.

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How long will it take to cycle into Edinburgh?

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Oh, will it? OK, ignore the first one and I'll see you there.

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Great, OK.

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We're in Corstorphine, a desirable suburb of Edinburgh

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with excellent schools, including their first-choice school for their kids,

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so it's no surprise property prices

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are reported to be over 50% more expensive

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than Jane's last location in Livingston.

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And best of all, it's within 15 minutes' cycling time for David's work.

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That was his dream Jane. Remember?

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My final project is a three-bed dormer bungalow

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on the market for offers around...

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It's a bit of a gamble, because the compromise here is size.

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There's a potential 40 grand, though, left in the budget,

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so if they're prepared to stretch themselves,

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they could extend out into the large garden.

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Now, David and Chie so far I don't think personally,

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-we've showed you the right location.

-Right.

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Now, I've prioritised location for you guys in two respects -

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first of all, work. Your work from here is...

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I don't know how fast you cycle, but I'm thinking

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between 10 and 15 minutes' cycle to work from this place.

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That would be excellent.

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-And your preferred school - Craigmount School, is it?

-Mm-hm.

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-You can walk from here and you're in the catchment area.

-Great.

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That sounds great.

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-Brilliant. So location, I think we're rocking with that.

-Mm-hm.

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-The house.

-Yes.

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One or two things need doing around the roof,

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but it doesn't look too bad from the outside.

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If the inside could offer what we need,

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then suddenly, it would ring up the tick points.

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Will I be getting a tick on your, er, clipboard?

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Maybe with a plus.

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Really, with a plus? Let's look inside, then.

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'You hear that, Jane? Big ticks from Chie already.'

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-Now much better condition than the first renovation project.

-Yes.

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Big living room there.

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-Dining room there, keep that in mind.

-Uh-huh.

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We're probably repeating the process we did

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-in the first renovation I showed you.

-Yes.

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Come right in.

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-So...

-As it stands, this is certainly a compact kitchen.

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Yes.

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But I guess based on the first one,

0:19:270:19:31

-we're thinking of knocking that wall down.

-You've got it.

0:19:310:19:34

And then, again, you'd have a great-sized kitchen/diner.

0:19:340:19:37

Alternatively, next door, you might have noticed on your way in,

0:19:370:19:41

they've got a huge extension on the ground floor

0:19:410:19:44

going back that way into the garden.

0:19:440:19:46

So you could make this kitchen even larger,

0:19:460:19:49

but bigger kitchen, slightly smaller garden,

0:19:490:19:52

you've got to weigh those things up.

0:19:520:19:54

Certainly, I think, has the potential to make what we really want.

0:19:540:19:59

Mm, it's promising.

0:19:590:20:02

Now, you said promising to Jane, I want better than promising.

0:20:020:20:07

So it's another "promising" from David.

0:20:070:20:10

OK, so enthusiasm may not be in his vocabulary,

0:20:100:20:14

but at least this property is rivaling Jane's last ready.

0:20:140:20:17

I think this could be their perfect home -

0:20:170:20:19

they just need to get excited about its potential.

0:20:190:20:22

To add an extension on the side to create a large open-plan diner

0:20:220:20:26

and revamp the entire house would cost around 60 grand.

0:20:260:20:29

So, if they like it,

0:20:290:20:32

this property could push them over their budget by £20,000.

0:20:320:20:36

-So, lovely garden, isn't it?

-It's great.

0:20:360:20:39

It is a good size, compared to some of the other places we've seen close to Edinburgh.

0:20:390:20:45

This is actually a good, decent-sized garden.

0:20:450:20:48

-Great. Good news.

-Very happy.

0:20:480:20:50

-Very happy!

-Yes.

-Is that better than promising?

0:20:500:20:53

Could be.

0:20:550:20:57

-Keep me on tenter-hooks, don't you?

-Hedging our bets.

-Quite.

0:20:570:21:00

Well, here's a good signal, if you like,

0:21:000:21:05

of how well this area is doing.

0:21:050:21:07

Look around, everybody has gone up into the roofs,

0:21:070:21:10

they've extended out and wide - that means people want to stay,

0:21:100:21:14

because they know the area is good,

0:21:140:21:16

and they're making the most of these plots.

0:21:160:21:18

That should give you confidence when you're looking at an area.

0:21:180:21:21

To help you compare with all the other houses we've seen,

0:21:210:21:24

this place is on the market for offers around £320,000,

0:21:240:21:28

some 45 under your budget,

0:21:280:21:31

including all your costs and what have you, I appreciate that.

0:21:310:21:34

But if you could negotiate a more favourable price -

0:21:340:21:38

-and you're going to get rid of your car?

-Yes.

0:21:380:21:40

So what does that work out, another 15, 20 grand?

0:21:400:21:42

-15, 20, probably.

-You can do this work well within your budget.

0:21:420:21:46

It's going to take a few months,

0:21:460:21:48

but you would then have a house with four bedrooms, a big dining kitchen,

0:21:480:21:54

a good-sized garden,

0:21:540:21:55

that's also close to Edinburgh, your work, the school.

0:21:550:21:59

This is a house that hopefully you would want to stay in long-term.

0:21:590:22:03

It's compromises again, isn't it?

0:22:030:22:05

I think you're trading off proximity to my work,

0:22:050:22:09

proximity to a good school, for space.

0:22:090:22:14

What do you think is most important - location or space?

0:22:140:22:17

Probably location.

0:22:170:22:19

You hear that, Jane? I think I've hit the spot.

0:22:190:22:21

Wow, Jonnie, I'm impressed. I think you almost got a reaction there.

0:22:210:22:26

Still, I'm confused. Is this the dream?

0:22:260:22:28

I think the dormer window over here probably open the space there.

0:22:280:22:33

Mm-hm. And maybe just extend that way, give you a bigger master.

0:22:330:22:38

And if we do, so could the en-suite

0:22:380:22:41

and maybe a veranda/porch kind of idea on roof top.

0:22:410:22:45

That could work.

0:22:450:22:47

Yes.

0:22:470:22:49

David and Chie are considering all the practicalities of this place, so I'm quietly hopeful.

0:22:490:22:54

But in reality, we're none the wiser about what they're thinking.

0:22:540:22:58

I don't know whether they've seen anything they love,

0:22:580:23:00

or whether they just keep their cards very close to their chest.

0:23:000:23:04

They definitely let their heads rule their hearts.

0:23:040:23:07

You know, some people walk into a property and feel it.

0:23:070:23:10

I don't think they do that.

0:23:100:23:12

They look for the practicalities, which is a good thing.

0:23:120:23:15

Or maybe they can go away tonight, or they're in there now,

0:23:150:23:18

with a calculator and do their sums and it works out best for them.

0:23:180:23:22

So our search for David and Chie's ideal family home

0:23:220:23:25

has been one of our toughest yet.

0:23:250:23:27

We started with Jane's three-bed bungalow in the village of Westfield,

0:23:270:23:32

which had almost everything on their list and was ready to move into.

0:23:320:23:36

Then Jonnie gave them this run-down three-bedroomed bungalow -

0:23:360:23:39

it didn't seem to get their juices flowing. But you never know.

0:23:390:23:42

Jane's next ready was this spacious five-bedder in Livingston,

0:23:420:23:46

which had an awful lot of promise.

0:23:460:23:48

Finally, Jonnie brought them much closer to Edinburgh

0:23:480:23:51

with this three-bed doer-upper with potential to extend.

0:23:510:23:54

David and Chie have looked at hundreds of houses

0:23:540:23:57

in the search for their dream family home,

0:23:570:24:00

so have we managed to finally find them what they're looking for?

0:24:000:24:04

I think we're about to find out.

0:24:040:24:06

-Oh, yes, here they are.

-So, I don't see a clipboard.

0:24:060:24:09

CHIE LAUGHS

0:24:090:24:11

Sadly, it's in the car.

0:24:110:24:12

Do you have to use your hearts to decide or is it all up there?

0:24:120:24:15

Oh, must be just up here.

0:24:150:24:17

Well, we started the day with a beautiful and rather large property.

0:24:170:24:22

What are your thoughts on that now?

0:24:220:24:24

It was certainly a good big size, it would give us plenty of space.

0:24:240:24:28

Travelling time not ideal, like you said,

0:24:280:24:31

but it does cut a lot of time off my day at the moment.

0:24:310:24:34

-That was definitely a potential one.

-Oh, so a good start.

0:24:340:24:38

That sounds like a possibility, in your words.

0:24:380:24:41

My first renovation project?

0:24:410:24:42

The amount of work that needed to be done to it

0:24:420:24:45

and the likely cost that was going to be,

0:24:450:24:47

and comparing it with what houses in the area are like -

0:24:470:24:50

on balance, we're probably going to rule that one out.

0:24:500:24:54

For me, it was a good litmus test

0:24:540:24:56

to see how you reacted to a renovation project.

0:24:560:24:59

I knew what you were prepared to do after that, so it wasn't a dead loss.

0:24:590:25:04

Then I showed you a beauty - again, a large property, immaculate inside.

0:25:040:25:11

It's certainly large, plenty of space outside for the girls to play in.

0:25:110:25:15

I thought it worked quite nicely for what it provided.

0:25:150:25:19

But then, here we are, in, hopefully, the location.

0:25:190:25:23

Yeah, location wise, it's easily the best.

0:25:230:25:27

It's by far closer to my work than any of the others.

0:25:270:25:31

I guess just the question overall is what would we do to it

0:25:310:25:34

to take it from what it is to what we would want?

0:25:340:25:40

Well done, Jonnie, but remember - these guys have found faults

0:25:410:25:45

in lots of properties before, so it's not a wreck win yet.

0:25:450:25:48

I'm nervous.

0:25:480:25:50

Let's keep our fingers crossed for their second viewing.

0:25:500:25:53

Next day, David and Chie have taken Shona and Malia

0:25:550:25:59

to get a feel for the place

0:25:590:26:00

while Mum and Dad have another good look around.

0:26:000:26:03

Some of the rooms are a little bit smaller than we first thought,

0:26:030:26:07

but not too small for what we need. So that looks all, all good.

0:26:070:26:14

I think we'll be putting in an offer for this one.

0:26:140:26:17

Hallelujah. After five months and countless rejected properties,

0:26:170:26:22

David and Chie have finally made a decision.

0:26:220:26:24

It might not be as big as some of the ready houses Jane showed us,

0:26:240:26:29

-but I think it will be comfortable living for us at the end.

-Yes.

0:26:290:26:34

Hopefully.

0:26:340:26:36

And the great news is they made an offer of £320,000 on my wreck

0:26:360:26:41

which has been accepted.

0:26:410:26:42

They're now looking forward to getting the keys

0:26:420:26:45

and starting work in the next few weeks.

0:26:450:26:49

I'm surprised they went for that property, but obviously location was the key.

0:26:490:26:53

And obviously, you're not a great loser. Get used to it!

0:26:530:26:56

-So join us next time on Wreck...

-Or Ready.

0:26:560:26:58

Subtitles by Red Bee Media

0:27:060:27:08

Email [email protected]

0:27:080:27:11

Long distance commuter David and Japanese American wife Chie need a new home in Central Scotland. Jonnie Irwin and Jane Farnham are on hand to show help. With a 365,000 pounds budget, will they choose a finished house or a fixer-upper?