Our story is a familiar one: we were struggling to find a property we could afford in London’s over heated property market. Over the course of one summer we were priced out of our desired area. Prices rose by over £100,000 in just a few months.
We finally succeeded when an estate sale came up in a different area during the cold, dark winter months. It was still a nerve jangling few months as the sale went through, but finally we have the keys.
The property is a standard three bedroom, two reception room, 1930s semi. The previous owners extended the rear to create a U-shaped space. Our plan is to take out the dividing wall to create an open plan space.
We also want to convert the loft into a large master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, turn the bathroom into a family shower room and convert the separate toilet into a boiler room. On the ground floor, we want to add a downstairs loo.
When we viewed the property we were aware of the general renovation work that was needed. The flat roof on the extension and the main roof both need to be replaced. And damp in the small bedroom would have to be tackled. We suspected the cause of the damp was likely to be a badly fitted gutter. That has been an easy repair. Now we wait as the wall drys out.
The entire property needs to be re-wired. That was expected. However, we are surprised to learn that it needs to be re-plumbed too. During the 1970s there was a copper crisis which led to a shortage of copper pipes. As a result stainless steel pipes were used for domestic central heating. Unfortunately, they are likely to be badly corroded and its just a matter of luck that there hasn’t been a leak. They simply won’t cope with the new boiler and water tank that is needed.
Other items on the list include: renovating the stairs that have been boarded up; removing one unused chimney and reinstating the other that has been partially removed; fixing the porch that has started to lean away from the house.
As we walked around the empty house on the first day the scale of the work felt overwhelming. What had seemed manageable a few months ago, now felt daunting.