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?
Do you pay rock bottom for a project?
Rundown doesn't have to mean run away.
There are properties ripe for renovation all across the UK.
But with the downturn in the property market...
comes an upturn in great properties on the market at knock-down prices.
I'm on a mission to find our house hunters ready-made, perfect pads.
So will today's buyers go with one of my renovation projects?
Or will they put their feet up and go for one of my readies?
We're helping a young family choose between buying a wreck or ready
in West Lothian, close to Edinburgh, Scotland's historic capital city.
West Lothian recently came third in a survey of UK's happiest places to live and it's easy to see why.
The rolling countryside and beautiful villages are enough to put a smile on anyone's face.
The average cost of a home here is around 140 grand,
that's nearly 40% lower than the UK average,
but prices go up as you get closer to Edinburgh and that's where today's house hunters want to be.
Proud Scotsman David and former special needs teacher Chie met six years ago through a dating website
and after falling madly in love, they got married and Chie moved over from the States with her dog Rennie.
Now they're the proud parents of two fast-growing little girls,
18-month-old Shona and 3-year old Malia, they're desperate to move.
Home is currently the 3-bed East Kilbride semi David grew up in.
Ideally, they're looking for a bigger house closer to Edinburgh
but finding their dream family home is proving much harder than finding love.
Looks like they're going to need a bit of property match-making from Auntie Jane and Uncle Jonnie.
-But first we need to find out who's up for a wreck...
-And who wants a ready.
-Let's find out who we've got today.
'Hi, I'm Chie.'
My name's David and I'm a design engineer.
We're living in East Kilbride, which is a new town just outside Glasgow.
The distance from David's work during the winter time
tend to take a couple of hours, at worse case scenario.
It's about 45 miles.
That's quite some commute, especially in Scotland. A bit of bad weather might take you hours.
Yeah. I think we need to reduce that.
It has been hard. I think more for David and the girls because they're not able to spend time together.
If we can get close enough then I could cycle to work and that would be perfect, distance and location.
Good school area, that's the two criteria.
Sounds like we're moving into a potentially more expensive area.
Our budget for the house we are looking for is £360,000.
We've got one living room now. With two young girls, it tends to be an explosion of toys every day.
I'm so used to a bigger house in the States, it would be great to have extra space.
I'd prefer four bedroom because I do have family and friends from all around the world.
So she wants something big and, for a renovation project, that's knocking walls through.
I'd prefer a wreck property because of the potential to maybe get
a bit more for your money and to be able to personalise it a bit more.
I think everything ready for you is very attractive
because you don't have to do anything and move in tomorrow.
Yeah, certainly, one of the reasons for moving is to be able to spend more time with the girls,
so a ready in that respect would be a much better bet.
Do they want a renovation project or do they want a nice easy ready? They haven't made their minds up yet.
I can see why they've been looking at properties for five months. A ready probably suits them more...
Yeah, but fitting all those criteria into that ready-made property.
-They already haven't found it, so, this is going to be a real tough one.
So it's clear we've got our work cut out with David and Chie.
They're looking for perfection and topping their wish list are...
With a healthy budget of 360 grand,
David and Chie should have a good chance of getting what they want, if we can find it.
Super organised Chie doesn't go anywhere without her property clipboard
and they've already discounted over 120 properties because they don't tick off everything on her list.
We could have a hard time getting these guys to decide on anything.
Jane, this could be our toughest mission yet.
Have faith, Jonnie, I'm confident we can do it.
For my first ready, I've brought them to the village of Westfield.
It's 40 minutes' drive from Edinburgh so it could cut David's daily commute in half.
It's a lovely semi-rural location which could be the ideal place to bring up the children.
And I'm hoping they'll fall in love with the house.
It sits in a quarter acre plot, so it has all the space they asked for and more.
So, Chie and David, the first property of the day is one of mine, it's a ready.
Does look nice. The garden is a good big size for the girls to play in.
-Well, that's not your only garden, there's also a garden to the rear of the property.
-That's good, yeah.
So plenty of space outside and the inside's not exactly poky either.
I just hope they like beige.
This is a nice light, bright, airy hallway, coming straight through
-into this huge, living space. And great views to the front of the property.
-Nice big size. Nice view.
Now, with this property, you're getting over 2,000 square feet of living space.
OK, that's big.
It's immaculate. You don't need to do anything to it at all and it's all been very tastefully done.
Certainly looks nice in here.
-If this is your taste.
Yes, of course.
I'm not sure our suite would go with this colour scheme but you don't like the suite anyway...
David's seeing his furniture in here already which is a good sign.
There's a second reception room which could make a great playroom
and I've also given Chie the open-plan, modern kitchen/diner she's used to having in the States.
-Certainly a nice good size for you anyway.
-This is big, isn't it?
It's really deceiving, isn't it?
We didn't expect this size.
No, from the outside, you thought it's not going to be much space,
-so this is great.
And the back garden looks a good big size as well.
-You could see all the kids playing out there.
Keep them safe, yep.
That would be a great family room, you know, the playroom,
-especially in the rainy days, you know Scottish winter.
-And I think that utility looks big enough to put our dog's large kennel in which would be great.
Now, it's going to take you 30 to 40 minutes to get to work, driving,
so how do you feel about not being able to cycle necessarily?
I think we could work for it.
I mean, we've always said, you know, we could go further to get the house that was right, and you know, so...
30 minutes, 40 minutes, it's still going to half my journey time,
-so that's a big improvement.
-Brilliant. So we can live with that.
-Em, so the other thing I need to let you know is price.
-It's been on for six weeks.
It is on the market for offers over 330.
That's certainly something we could work with.
We maybe have to run two cars from here but at 330, we could manage that.
I think this house makes a lot of sense and at 30 grand under budget, the numbers stack up as well.
If they can get their furniture in. David and Chie have got an enormous king size bed.
Not a bad size but I think our bed might be a bit of a challenge.
Well, there are other options.
There's a good sized loft conversion with another living area
and double bedroom that would make a fantastic master suite.
I'll stay away from the Dr Who cliches, but how on earth have they squeezed all this room in here?
-I have no idea.
There's lots of rooms and they're all really huge sizes.
-Yeah, it's a good house.
-I think that's a good start.
-Very good start. Worrying for me.
-What do you think so far?
-Think it'll work for us?
-Doesn't look like much need to be done.
-I think we could pretty much move straight in.
Just get our stuff unpacked and settle down and be a family.
Did you hear that, Jonnie? They're already talking about moving in.
David can see this as a great family house.
It's looking like I have a contender despite David and Chie's muted reactions.
I think Jonnie's already got his work cut out to beat me.
Maybe, Jane, but these guys won't be rushed into anything
and I think I can find them what they want for less than 330 grand.
David was happy with the 40 minute drive to work,
so I'm taking them over the Firth of Forth to the city of Dunfermline,
which is still within a 25 mile radius of Edinburgh.
Dunfermline is one of the oldest settlements in Scotland and was the capital city for over 500 years.
Its mix of shopping facilities, good schools and leisure activities attract plenty of young families
so, hopefully, David and Chie will be the next.
My first wreck is a spacious 3-bedroom bungalow in need of complete refurbishment
but at offers around £170,000, there is potentially almost 200 grand left
in their 360 grand budget to renovate and extend.
-What are we thinking so far?
I'm going to get rid of all that stuff growing around it.
It's wild, isn't it? This is obviously a renovation project.
I'm asking you to see through the initial cosmetics.
-Can you use your imagination in a property?
-I think we could.
-I'd need to get my mum over here!
It's not a small project, any of this house.
-We've just been to an immaculate, one of the most immaculate houses you will see with Jane.
This isn't. OK. So I want you to be open-minded to this, all right?
-Are you with me?
-Yeah, I'm completely with you.
I'm glad to have you on board, Jane, and I'm hoping Chie and David will be too.
With a little vision, I think they could easily turn this property into their dream family home.
First big project is the kitchen.
So come in here. Come in here.
Mind your head. Mind yours, Jane.
Look, at the moment, this is a bit of a nothing-y room. I suppose it might be a playroom for the kids.
I want to give you this open space.
Jane's house, you loved that big, long kitchen.
That wall, I'm suggesting you punch through there
and you have a huge dining area. You can watch the girls
and you could be cooking up a storm there...David.
It probably would be a storm with me cooking!
It's a lot of work, can you see the potential, Chie?
Space-wise, I think it could be a great potential,
-so definitely opens up and wide enough to be able to do a lot.
But does that scare you?
I mean, actually doing it, probably end up getting somebody in to do the kitchen, em...
You're both busy people. You've not got great experience of doing places up.
I'm suggesting you get people in to do everything for you.
And why just stop with the kitchen wall?
They could also knock through the dining room into the living room.
Creating the large kitchen/diner Chie is after would cost...
Remember this place is nearly 200 grand under budget. So will the figures be enough to swing it?
-What say you?
-I like the opening idea.
So if you put this wall through again you've got a huge flow right from the kitchen to here
and then maybe double doors out to the garden or a conservatory.
Now, I'm asking you to envisage a whole new house, but there's a lot of work to be done here
-and this house is on the market for offers around £170,000.
What's your reaction to that?
That certainly leaves us plenty in the budget for adding things, doing things we want.
I think I've given them another option to think about.
Hang on! Chie's got the clipboard out. You might be right, Jonnie.
Looks like David's forgotten his measuring tape though.
He's making sure he can get the king size bed into the master bedroom.
Do you think our bed will fit in here?
Well, thank goodness that sticking point is out of the way.
There is some potential.
-Not necessarily completely scary or anything
but need a lot I think to talk about.
So they've measured up and they can see the potential,
but their reactions tell me they don't love it enough to buy it.
So we've shown David and Chie two very different properties.
And whilst my first ready is a contender, they've not gone wild over either of them.
I'm not sure these guys really know what their perfect home is, Jane.
Time to regroup and plan our next move.
For me, I think it's going to be schools and maybe proximity to David's work.
I'm going to stay on size because they like big proportions
so I'm going to do that but couple it up with a closer commute for David.
-See what I'm doing here? Rolling my sleeves up.
-To get stuck in?
-See you later.
Chie and David are playing their cards quite close to their chests, so I'm going to go for size and space.
We're off to Livingston, just 13 miles away from David's work.
It's a 1960s' new town, which might not appeal to everyone,
but it has everything they've asked for.
And being so close to Edinburgh, property is surprisingly good value here,
with an average home reported to cost just over 120 grand.
And I've found a whopper.
American Chie is going to get a lot of bang for her buck here.
With over 2,000 square feet of space, I think I'm on to a winner.
It's got five bedrooms, two dining rooms and an open-plan kitchen/diner,
but best of all, it's on the market for ten grand under budget.
I think it's perfect.
Looks like a good big garage so, erm, certainly from the outside
it looks, from this direction, a decent size.
Yes, David it is a decent size -
in fact, it's massive and remember it is a ready.
All I need now is a positive reaction from Chie.
-Now I know you guys like a big hallway.
This isn't the hugest of hallways.
-That's why you've got this.
-OK, that's good.
-Nice spiral staircase.
That's where some of your bedrooms are, but come through to here.
-Oh, that looks good.
-This is actually pretty good.
I think I do enjoy more American-style open-plan kind of setting,
just flow through and the light coming through different places.
Did you hear that, Jonnie? It's got the space Chie's looking for.
Don't count your chickens. Looks like a bit of a sauna to me, Jane.
So, a lovely, well-tended garden.
It's a slightly unusual shape, but it does look a reasonable size.
See the girls running around here?
Oh, yeah. I can see them playing with the water feature as well.
-You've got great views over the golf course.
Not likely to get a housing development thrown up on that side of your fence.
Now this property hasn't actually been on the market that long -
just three weeks.
It's on for 349,995, so just under 350.
If what we've seen so far is an indication, then I'd say it's promising.
Wow, that's a "promising" from David.
Does that mean he's actually getting excited?
Hopefully he is happy enough with the size of the bedrooms.
Maybe - but now he's stressing out about the size of the wardrobes.
-Not huge but, I think...
Workable. Maybe just have to move things around in season.
Ah, workable wardrobes.
Hardly the stuff dreams are made of though is it, Jane?
Time for me to work my magic.
I'm convinced location, not dimension, is the key.
How long will it take to cycle into Edinburgh?
Oh, will it? OK, ignore the first one and I'll see you there.
We're in Corstorphine, a desirable suburb of Edinburgh
with excellent schools, including their first-choice school for their kids,
so it's no surprise property prices
are reported to be over 50% more expensive
than Jane's last location in Livingston.
And best of all, it's within 15 minutes' cycling time for David's work.
That was his dream Jane. Remember?
My final project is a three-bed dormer bungalow
on the market for offers around...
It's a bit of a gamble, because the compromise here is size.
There's a potential 40 grand, though, left in the budget,
so if they're prepared to stretch themselves,
they could extend out into the large garden.
Now, David and Chie so far I don't think personally,
-we've showed you the right location.
Now, I've prioritised location for you guys in two respects -
first of all, work. Your work from here is...
I don't know how fast you cycle, but I'm thinking
between 10 and 15 minutes' cycle to work from this place.
That would be excellent.
-And your preferred school - Craigmount School, is it?
-You can walk from here and you're in the catchment area.
That sounds great.
-Brilliant. So location, I think we're rocking with that.
One or two things need doing around the roof,
but it doesn't look too bad from the outside.
If the inside could offer what we need,
then suddenly, it would ring up the tick points.
Will I be getting a tick on your, er, clipboard?
Maybe with a plus.
Really, with a plus? Let's look inside, then.
'You hear that, Jane? Big ticks from Chie already.'
-Now much better condition than the first renovation project.
Big living room there.
-Dining room there, keep that in mind.
We're probably repeating the process we did
-in the first renovation I showed you.
Come right in.
-As it stands, this is certainly a compact kitchen.
But I guess based on the first one,
-we're thinking of knocking that wall down.
-You've got it.
And then, again, you'd have a great-sized kitchen/diner.
Alternatively, next door, you might have noticed on your way in,
they've got a huge extension on the ground floor
going back that way into the garden.
So you could make this kitchen even larger,
but bigger kitchen, slightly smaller garden,
you've got to weigh those things up.
Certainly, I think, has the potential to make what we really want.
Mm, it's promising.
Now, you said promising to Jane, I want better than promising.
So it's another "promising" from David.
OK, so enthusiasm may not be in his vocabulary,
but at least this property is rivaling Jane's last ready.
I think this could be their perfect home -
they just need to get excited about its potential.
To add an extension on the side to create a large open-plan diner
and revamp the entire house would cost around 60 grand.
So, if they like it,
this property could push them over their budget by £20,000.
-So, lovely garden, isn't it?
It is a good size, compared to some of the other places we've seen close to Edinburgh.
This is actually a good, decent-sized garden.
-Great. Good news.
-Is that better than promising?
-Keep me on tenter-hooks, don't you?
-Hedging our bets.
Well, here's a good signal, if you like,
of how well this area is doing.
Look around, everybody has gone up into the roofs,
they've extended out and wide - that means people want to stay,
because they know the area is good,
and they're making the most of these plots.
That should give you confidence when you're looking at an area.
To help you compare with all the other houses we've seen,
this place is on the market for offers around £320,000,
some 45 under your budget,
including all your costs and what have you, I appreciate that.
But if you could negotiate a more favourable price -
-and you're going to get rid of your car?
So what does that work out, another 15, 20 grand?
-15, 20, probably.
-You can do this work well within your budget.
It's going to take a few months,
but you would then have a house with four bedrooms, a big dining kitchen,
a good-sized garden,
that's also close to Edinburgh, your work, the school.
This is a house that hopefully you would want to stay in long-term.
It's compromises again, isn't it?
I think you're trading off proximity to my work,
proximity to a good school, for space.
What do you think is most important - location or space?
You hear that, Jane? I think I've hit the spot.
Wow, Jonnie, I'm impressed. I think you almost got a reaction there.
Still, I'm confused. Is this the dream?
I think the dormer window over here probably open the space there.
Mm-hm. And maybe just extend that way, give you a bigger master.
And if we do, so could the en-suite
and maybe a veranda/porch kind of idea on roof top.
That could work.
David and Chie are considering all the practicalities of this place, so I'm quietly hopeful.
But in reality, we're none the wiser about what they're thinking.
I don't know whether they've seen anything they love,
or whether they just keep their cards very close to their chest.
They definitely let their heads rule their hearts.
You know, some people walk into a property and feel it.
I don't think they do that.
They look for the practicalities, which is a good thing.
Or maybe they can go away tonight, or they're in there now,
with a calculator and do their sums and it works out best for them.
So our search for David and Chie's ideal family home
has been one of our toughest yet.
We started with Jane's three-bed bungalow in the village of Westfield,
which had almost everything on their list and was ready to move into.
Then Jonnie gave them this run-down three-bedroomed bungalow -
it didn't seem to get their juices flowing. But you never know.
Jane's next ready was this spacious five-bedder in Livingston,
which had an awful lot of promise.
Finally, Jonnie brought them much closer to Edinburgh
with this three-bed doer-upper with potential to extend.
David and Chie have looked at hundreds of houses
in the search for their dream family home,
so have we managed to finally find them what they're looking for?
I think we're about to find out.
-Oh, yes, here they are.
-So, I don't see a clipboard.
Sadly, it's in the car.
Do you have to use your hearts to decide or is it all up there?
Oh, must be just up here.
Well, we started the day with a beautiful and rather large property.
What are your thoughts on that now?
It was certainly a good big size, it would give us plenty of space.
Travelling time not ideal, like you said,
but it does cut a lot of time off my day at the moment.
-That was definitely a potential one.
-Oh, so a good start.
That sounds like a possibility, in your words.
My first renovation project?
The amount of work that needed to be done to it
and the likely cost that was going to be,
and comparing it with what houses in the area are like -
on balance, we're probably going to rule that one out.
For me, it was a good litmus test
to see how you reacted to a renovation project.
I knew what you were prepared to do after that, so it wasn't a dead loss.
Then I showed you a beauty - again, a large property, immaculate inside.
It's certainly large, plenty of space outside for the girls to play in.
I thought it worked quite nicely for what it provided.
But then, here we are, in, hopefully, the location.
Yeah, location wise, it's easily the best.
It's by far closer to my work than any of the others.
I guess just the question overall is what would we do to it
to take it from what it is to what we would want?
Well done, Jonnie, but remember - these guys have found faults
in lots of properties before, so it's not a wreck win yet.
Let's keep our fingers crossed for their second viewing.
Next day, David and Chie have taken Shona and Malia
to get a feel for the place
while Mum and Dad have another good look around.
Some of the rooms are a little bit smaller than we first thought,
but not too small for what we need. So that looks all, all good.
I think we'll be putting in an offer for this one.
Hallelujah. After five months and countless rejected properties,
David and Chie have finally made a decision.
It might not be as big as some of the ready houses Jane showed us,
-but I think it will be comfortable living for us at the end.
And the great news is they made an offer of £320,000 on my wreck
which has been accepted.
They're now looking forward to getting the keys
and starting work in the next few weeks.
I'm surprised they went for that property, but obviously location was the key.
And obviously, you're not a great loser. Get used to it!
-So join us next time on Wreck...
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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?