Property series. Ben and Sarah are still looking for their dream home after viewing 50 houses. Will they be tempted by Jane's ready-builds, or one of Jonnie's fixer-uppers?
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In today's difficult market, finding your perfect home can be an almighty struggle.
And faced with two clear choices,
between a ready-to-move-into property or a renovation,
how do you decide what's best?
I want to prove you don't have to make something your life's work,
to create your dream home.
So I'm searching for the best wrecks on the market
to prove that projects can be transformed into perfect properties.
Yeah, yeah. But renovations spell aggravation.
Why live in all that mess,
when I can find you something that you can move straight into?
So I'm on a mission to find our buyers finished homes, which are ready from the get-go.
Will today's house-hunters go for one of my ready-made properties?
Or will they go a bit braver and opt for one of my Wrecks? Let's find out.
Today, we're searching in and around the city of Bristol.
It's a bustling, beautiful city,
and despite being a popular place to live,
property prices remain very competitive,
with an average home here costing just over 211 grand.
That's around 5.6% below the UK average.
So, fingers crossed, today could be an easy search for us both,
because our couple have over double that figure.
With 500 grand to spend,
bank manager Ben and aerospace engineer Sarah
want to find a dream family home to bring up their daughter, Polly.
They're currently renting, after selling their flat in Bristol's City Centre,
and they've spent the past year house-hunting, without any success.
On second thoughts, this could be tricky,
but we like a challenge, so let's see what they're after and who is up for a Wreck...
And who really wants a Ready?
Fire it up, then. Who have we got?
Let's have a look, shall we?
Hi, I'm Sarah.
-Hi, I'm Ben.
We've been looking for almost a year.
We've viewed 50 properties,
and just nothing seems to have fitted.
We know that what we want exists in our price range,
so we know we should be able to get all the things we want,
and so it's very difficult to compromise.
I think I'm more picky than Sarah, really.
I think I'm probably a bit more challenging about what I want to live in.
I don't think I'm that picky, but I want everything, I want my...
I want the garage, the parking space, four bedrooms.
I'm keen for a wreck, I think,
because it gives us that opportunity to make the home
what we want it to be.
My main thing is that I'm not very good with mess or chaos,
so I'd like a house that was ready to go.
Or, I could manage a project, so long as we could carry on renting.
The house we've got at the moment has got a fantastic garage with loads of storage space,
so we're looking for something similar.
Currently, we're in a rented place.
Polly's 18 months, she's growing up really quickly,
and we'd really like to make a family home,
where we can put some roots down and Polly can feel settled,
she's got consistency around her nursery
and perhaps the schools as well.
-With a young family, schools are at the centre of this search.
They've picked a specific area and they won't want to deviate from that.
Location to me is important,
so being near a community,
whether that's a small village or access to the town.
We want to make sure the house is on transport links, and if it's not then that will put me off.
I think we're both up against it today.
I personally believe the property they're after hasn't yet been built,
which might lend itself to me thinking a Wreck is on the cards.
I think I stand more of a chance here,
-because it's going to be really tough for you.
Because they want so much.
They want everything...and some.
I know! I actually feel more positive,
because it's going to be harder for you. That's weird, isn't it?
-You'd better get your skates on!
-I'm too overwhelmed!
-I'm getting a head-start!
So, Sarah wants a Ready and Ben wants a Wreck,
but most of all, they're looking for perfection.
So it's no wonder they've spent so long searching. This could spell disaster for us
unless we can tick all of their boxes.
Well, at the top of their wish list are...
Ideally, they want four bedrooms.
They also want a good location, close to good schools and amenities.
They want a garage for storing all of their surfboards and bikes.
And it's a no-no for housing estates,
which rules out most new-builds.
They've got a pretty healthy maximum of £500,000.
Let's not forget, they also want to park their surf van somewhere.
We're certainly going to have our work cut out, finding everything on this list.
Yes, they've got a healthy budget, but they've also got a really long list of wants.
My problem is trying to get them to prioritise.
What do they really need?
Once we've got that sorted, we can start the search.
This is a prime example of a couple that haven't sat down
and decided exactly what they want prior to viewing properties,
hence the fact that they've looked at at least 50!
Today, I'm going to be quite tough with them,
if only to help them make their minds up.
They're going to have to compromise somewhere,
so with my first Ready,
I'm going to make location the priority.
We're in the trendy Bristol suburb of Clifton.
It's a place they already know and love.
They want amenities on their doorstep, and this area has the lot.
Shops, pubs, restaurants - you name it, it's got it.
Plus, there's an excellent primary school less than a mile away,
so it's tick, tick, ticking their boxes.
However, all this makes Clifton
one of the most desirable areas of the city.
So my gamble here,
is that the best house I've been able to find
doesn't quite have all they've asked for.
Careful. Remember, Sarah said she's not picky, but she does want everything.
It's not a problem, Jonnie. This Victorian end-terrace
is so far under budget, it will have them forgetting that wish list.
It's on the market for 370 grand,
a whopping 130 below their budget.
This house should really test what they want,
as there's one less bedroom than they'd like and there's no driveway.
-It will mean on-street parking for their surf van.
-That's more a cross than a tick.
We're going to talk positives,
because this is the type of property you can move straight into.
It needs nothing doing to it.
Nice and neutral. We could literally move in, our furniture would fit perfectly.
Pictures could go straight up on the wall and I think we'd be... Yeah, nothing to do.
There's quite a lot of space in this room.
For me, this is the sort of property that if I show someone a Victorian wreck...
this is what I have in mind for people to do.
Victorian houses often have a front room, a middle room, and a kitchen at the back.
This is perfect - what they've done with this space here.
And they've embraced the whole Victorian feel -
having a refurb fireplace in here. I think it's really good.
It's lovely, it's a great size, and it's quite neutral.
-But it's been done very stylishly.
-Yeah, I like it.
-Yeah, very much so.
Wow! Jonnie, even you're excited about my Ready.
Yeah, yeah. I do have to hand it to you, Jane. This IS a great property,
despite the lack of parking and a fourth bedroom.
Thanks. That's definitely praise indeed from the king of Wrecks,
but there really is nothing to do here.
It's beautifully decorated throughout,
and it does have a huge garden,
which could be the perfect playground for 18-month-old Polly.
-I like this.
-It's a really mature garden, it's really well-kept.
-We think you can add extra storage to this garden, because storage is an issue for you.
What are you feeling? What's running through your head right now?
It's nice, it's much bigger than I expected from outside.
And it's quite nice having lots of little nooks and crannies, I'm sure, for Polly to explore.
Even though it's noisy, to me, it's still a really nice garden.
I guess the other thing I'm wondering is...
we've got a lot of bikes, some windsurfing equipment, surfboards.
There's a lot of stairs just to get up to here.
-There's no side...
-Is there any side access?
Well, listen, maybe you can afford to rent a Sherpa!
I don't know, how much is this place?
This is a great price, actually.
-It's coming in way under budget, at 370.
-They don't come on the market often round here.
-We could see if there's a garage to rent.
-A garage to rent or buy.
Or a Sherpa. I think that's a good idea.
So what about the price? There's a lot to think about.
-I'm surprised, I thought it'd be more.
-I thought it would be more.
-That's good, that's positive.
-Saving a bit of money is never a bad thing.
Well, I knew bank manager Ben would be tickled at the thought of having 130 grand left in the bank,
but has my risky strategy paid off?
I'm not so sure.
-It's not giving us a lot more than the flat gave us.
-It's a shame, because it's such a nice house.
But we grew out of the flat because there wasn't the storage space and there was three bedrooms,
and we're going to hit the same problem here.
If I had that van of theirs,
I'd probably want to park it somewhere secure.
I think that's in the back of their mind.
Yeah, without question. But with all that money they're saving, Jonnie,
they could buy three garages, maybe.
-You never know.
-I still think you should have spent more of their budget.
So Jane's Ready wasn't quite big enough
and didn't have that all-important off-street parking.
Now, I'm going to sacrifice location to find them a prize project
where they get more property for their money.
We're off to Knowle.
Knowle is an up-and-coming suburb of Bristol,
less than a ten-minute drive from the city centre.
Prices are cheaper than in Clifton,
and although not as trendy, it still is a great place for young families.
Take a look around, and you'll see plenty of parks and playgrounds for the children.
I'm banking on this four-bedroom semi-detached.
The only compromise is the location, as it's outside their preferred areas.
But, at over 200 grand under budget, there is lots of cash left over
to turn this into their dream home.
And it's got that all-important driveway, plus a garage.
First thing to point out - yes, it's a busy road.
But yes, we've got off-street car parking for two cars, and a garage.
-Yeah, that looks good.
-Let's get inside.
-All right, great.
It looks like Irwin's off to a flying start. See that, Farnham?
I've already ticked one of their boxes and we've not even gone inside.
Yeah. But remember these two don't like to compromise,
and the big one here is that Sarah doesn't want a Wreck at all,
so I'm going to be on hand to remind her of that.
Now, this is a Victorian room.
I think it's still decorated for Victorian people,
but what about the size?
The size is good, isn't it? I do like the size.
It's a big room. The high ceilings, I love.
Cast your minds back to the first property we've seen - Jane's Ready.
That had been knocked through.
-This room is big enough anyway, in my opinion.
There's another reception room of equal size.
If you knocked through there, it would be massive, it would be a huge room.
-Upstairs, we've got four bedrooms.
-Four bedrooms? Four is good.
Four is definitely where we need to be, I think.
You've got the possibility to go up in the loft as well,
if you wanted to make another bedroom.
I'm not sure you need to.
-It would be nice to have the option later on.
OK, OK. That's good.
So this obviously needs completely stripping back.
You could make this easily into what we just saw,
that's taken for granted,
but do you want that with little Polly running around, or do you just want a nice, easy life?
The size certainly appeals, and putting our own stamp on it.
The other house was really nice and we'd do something similar.
I mean, there's nothing you couldn't actually move in here...
Well, I suppose there would be a lot of dust and that kind of thing in time.
But at the moment, you could live in certain rooms.
I can see what you're trying to do, Jane. And I think you've blown in too early.
But if they're going to be put off, they're going to be put off in the kitchen.
Damn! You rumbled my cunning plan.
But on the bright side for you, Jonnie,
Sarah doesn't seem too fazed by all the work.
And she needn't be fazed, Jane, as this project isn't a huge job.
Ben could do most of the redecoration himself,
whilst upstairs, they could get builders in to turn the single fourth bedroom into an en-suite.
That would cost around seven grand.
Then, in the future, they could convert the attic for around £25,000.
And remember - this is £200,000 under budget.
The possibilities are endless.
Now, to the back of the house...
This might feel like dead space at the moment, but it needn't be.
You've got a chimney breast there you might want to play around with, coming in...to a kitchen area here.
-So you've got a lot of living space.
You've got loads of living space.
To bring the two together, there's a lot of room here.
I mean, genuinely...
So you can have your kitchen-diner in this area.
It would involve a big bit of steel, but I'm thinking about getting rid of that fireplace.
Get rid of the chimney breast, or shore it up?
You've got it, yeah.
This is a rare opportunity
to find...a non-ruined, if you like, Victorian house.
The space is exactly right, we could do what we liked with it.
Whether I'm ready for the project, but...
I'm quite inspired by the idea of making some big changes.
It's quite exciting - the opportunity.
But, what we've seen so far is that there's not a huge amount of opportunity
to find Wrecks in the areas that we like.
So, we've looked outside those areas and this is great.
'Hear that, Jane? Ben's excited.'
Yes, I heard it. Though my female intuition tells me this isn't working quite so well for Sarah.
If we were to do some work, this could look like the previous place, just with more space.
Yeah, much more space, I think.
-Because obviously we need...
-More privacy in the garden.
More privacy, a bit quieter.
Even though that road's quite busy, it is quite quiet at the back.
I guess the only thing it's not ticking, is the location.
If this house was in the location we're familiar with,
I'd go for it straight away.
But then, it would add so much money to it,
it would probably be way out of our price range.
Well, that's the compromise.
I think it's starting to dawn on Sarah that she can't have it all.
It's half time, and neither of our houses have been totally spot-on.
My Ready was in a perfect location,
but they weren't sure it was big enough.
That's given me the green light to widen my search
and maybe find them something that ticks most,
if not all, of the boxes.
'And my Wreck had all the space they asked for,
'but now they're having doubts about the area.'
Now, Ben and Sarah have seen loads of properties and they seem fairly flexible.
But that could mean they don't know what they want, which is a worry.
So we're left with no option but to split up and cover more ground.
So to get Ben and Sarah as much bricks and mortar as possible,
I'm taking them nearly eight miles from Bristol.
Welcome to the countryside. Easton-in-Gordano sounds continental,
but it's a quintessential English village, and although rural,
it's still got everything they need, including a wide selection of primary and secondary schools.
And I've managed to find a Ready that has everything picky Sarah has asked for.
Prepare to be dazzled!
If you tell me this isn't big enough, then I just don't know what I'm going to do.
-Let's go inside.
It's a whopper, Jane, but come on, there's got to be a compromise here.
Believe me, there isn't one.
It's on the market for £495,000, so it's at the top of their budget,
but it's got five bedrooms, off-street parking, a huge garden,
a beautiful family kitchen,
oh, and a vineyard in the conservatory. This is a winner, I can feel it.
An indoor vineyard? Sounds like someone's been at the wine again, Jane.
Now, this is where I wanted to bring you first, because this is what it's all about.
The big kitchen, open-plan, lots of space, onto the garden.
-This is really nice, isn't it?
-You saw my smile when I walked in, yeah. It's nice.
This is what we had in mind, because we've got the kitchen
-where we're going to spend a bit of time.
-You can entertain.
There's tables, and Polly can run around on the grass
-and we don't have to worry about her, which is great, this feels...
-And we can make our own wine.
Yes, you've got your very own vineyard in this conservatory.
You can see the grapes growing.
From a family living perspective, this fits the brief, that's great.
This is a forever home.
You know, it's still got lots of scope to make it yours and put your imprint on it,
but it's just got so much space.
-When are you going to tell us how much it costs?
-I'm going to tell you right now.
It's coming in...just under budget at 495.
What is Sarah pulling on that face there? Is she liking the price or is she loathing it?
She's just speechless, because she loves it.
After all, it is still under budget, Jonnie, and there really is nothing to do here.
It's beautifully decorated throughout, and there's even a library.
Hmm, very posh.
OK, so I've saved the biggest room upstairs till last.
Come on in and have a good look round. What is your heart saying about the whole house? Yeah!
I really like it, actually. I really like it. This is the kind of place I could see us living.
We can see this as a forever type house.
-There's loads of room.
-That's a fact.
-It is certainly a fact.
-Is it the most room we've seen today?
Yes, I think it might be.
Yeah, even compared to the other one.
A lot of space. The location, as far as we know, is good.
We're still only ten minutes from Clifton, so I can pop back in and see my friends very easily.
Yes! I'm back in the running.
We need to know the area better, don't we?
The area, I think, is pretty key.
So there's still a question mark about the area. Time to call Jonnie.
-Here she is! How are you doing on?
-Hello. Very well, actually.
-I think we might as well give up and go home.
-You're joking, really?
They love it, and all I can see is big smiles.
Well done, he said through gritted teeth. Send them to me and try not to put them off.
-You know I wouldn't do that to you.
-All right. See you in a bit.
The pressure's now on for me to deliver a Wreck that matches Jane's perfect property.
The last Ready seemed to warm Ben and Sarah up to moving further away from Bristol,
so I'm taking a big risk with an entirely new area.
Chippenham is a 37 minute drive away, but I think it's a compromise Ben and Sarah will be willing to make
once they see the project that I've found here.
It's a quiet place and with a selection of 11 schools within a mile of my next house,
I'm crossing my fingers that they'll see it as a great town to raise Polly.
This detached four-bedroom house has everything they've asked for. Spot the double garage?
-It's that thing with the pointy roof.
-If that's the best you can do, then I'm really not worried.
It's beautiful, look at it! It's on the market for £475,000,
so it's close to the ceiling of 500 grand, but it's just a bit dated.
I'd call it retro, Jonnie.
-First impressions are really good..
-Yeah. It definitely looks good.
-It looks like there's space.
-That garage is two-tier so you can store your wetsuit
-and your gear there and still use it for your car.
-First impressions are favourable.
Now, you might just be taking ten steps but it's a step in time.
I'm taking you to the '80s.
This is the interior design equivalent of a Relax T-shirt and shoulder pads
but it's huge so I'm hoping they'll see the potential to bring this property back to the future.
Is it a forever home like my last Ready?
I think you're livin' on a prayer with this one, Jonnie. Good luck.
-What do you think?
-Well, it's big.
-There's some room here.
-It could be bigger.
Back there, you've got another kitchen
and then you've got another space on the side of it.
My thoughts are, get rid of that wall, have a massive kitchen, huge kitchen
and then on the side of that, you've got a utility room that leads out onto the garden.
-OK. There's work here, isn't there?
-This is our second Wreck and I guess...
Even this, it's big as it is.
I'm giving you the options here because Jane told me the last place went well
and there's nothing to do there apart from titivating but you couldn't make it your own.
This, I wanted to give something that you could make your own
but maybe less of a job than the first Wreck.
-Have the layout as you like it.
-You can see it?
Good. All right. Let's have a look upstairs because it's hilarious.
Ben's seeing the positives and if he wanted to get his hands dirty,
this could be a manageable do it yourself modernisation or if he doesn't want to lift a finger,
they could easily get a new kitchen and bathroom from the £25,000 left over in the budget.
Now you've got four bedrooms.
Come right into this one.
-Isn't it just?
You don't want to do anything to this room, do you?
Maybe a mirror-ball?
Yeah! But the size of this room...
The size is great.
All doubles aswell. A lot of modern houses squeeze a box room in. These are four doubles.
Not as big as this but this is the master, not just because it's the biggest.
It's got the best en-suite I think I've ever seen.
It's maybe a 1980s footballer's house, maybe Gary Lineker would've had this house.
Take a look. Look in the corner.
-Nice sunken bath.
-That is good.
I thought this was the Wreck?
Yeah, it is!
It's special but this house is...
There's less to do in my opinion.
This is something that you get to put your own stamp on but it shouldn't frighten you.
-It ticks a lot of the boxes that we talked about. Location is the challenging one.
But other than that, you're right.
Space for the kit, space for Holly, there's so much space that we could easily see ourselves living here.
Success of sorts. He likes it but again, the area is the sticking point.
An agent has told me that if this property was in Bristol,
it could be worth around 700 grand
so they're getting a lot more for their money here.
My, my, my! This is a whopper!
-It's massive, isn't it?
I also think it went pretty well but I'm not sure they'd got over your last Ready.
I think it's at the back of their minds.
-Yeah. Well, I'm not surprised. It was a lovely property.
-You look quietly conf...
No, you look outrageously confident. Come on, let's find out.
So we had a much better afternoon than we had a morning.
But none of our Wrecks or Readies have totally hit the mark.
My first Ready was way under-budget
and in a good location but they felt it wasn't quite big enough.
Then we went to my semidetached project,
which had all the space they wanted
but they weren't convinced by the area.
But then they both fell in love with my five bedroom beauty
they had doubts about the location.
So finally, it was my retro doer-upper.
They seemed to be up for it but it was in a completely new area.
So have any of our properties been good enough to make Ben and Sarah
make that all-important compromise?
-Hello! I think he did really well.
He did. It's a really nice house.
Said with patronising hand on shoulders. Brilliant, lovely!
You're generous when you've done a good job somewhere else. "Oh, I think you've done really well."
-Yeah, it's hard for us to get over the last one
and make a comparison, especially when the price is quite similar.
-Yeah, really liked it.
You have to see it to believe it.
I hate that term. "Forever home".
-It looks an absolute belter.
-We wouldn't have to move from there.
We'd be there for a long time.
Humility. This is something new.
See that bird? Hear that bird? That's like you.
Chirping chirping away in my ears but look, all's well that ends well.
I was amazed we'd find you anything after all the houses you've looked at so great news.
The next step is, what?
Another viewing would be useful to have a look at the things...
To see a bit more of the area and get a feel.
Whilst we're in a good mood, shall we see if we can prise those cobwebs out of your purse to buy us a drink?
You don't get this chance very often, believe me.
The drinks are most definitely on me because they've just chosen my Ready
and after a night to sleep on it, the whole family headed back to my five-bedroom detached.
So what's the verdict?
I think we're maybe thinking it wasn't quite as ready as we imagined yesterday.
Just on closer inspection, you find a few more things that perhaps you'd want to change.
We're thinking that there's maybe a bit more money involved over the cost of the house than we thought.
Well, that's what second viewings are for. Now Jane's Ready isn't quite as, well, perfect.
We've got to think through how much more work there is to do
above the price and whether that's something we can handle or whether that's a show-stopper.
Holly seemed to really enjoy the garden, as we expected.
She loved it. I think it's thumbs up from her.
She really felt at home here so that's a good sign.
Despite Holly's seal of approval, they decided not to go for it and their house hunt continues.
-I was so close with that Ready but at least we've opened their eyes to making compromises.
I'm not so sure. Anyway, we wish them the very best of luck.
So join us next time as we battle it out to prove that buying a Wreck...
..or a Ready is the key to finding your dream home.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail: [email protected]
Ben and Sarah are still looking for their dream home after seeing a whopping 50 houses, but Jonnie Irwin and Jane Farnham are on hand to help. With 450,000 pounds to spend in Bristol, could they finally find what they've been looking for in a renovation project or a ready to move into home?