Couple transform 1930s doer-upper into dream home – and add £190k to the value

Elisha Lawton and her boyfriend Jordan Fern, both 30, knew they wanted to buy a home in a prime location in Derby, with easy access to work and their pals.

But after months of searching, the couple still hadn’t been able to find an ideal home in the right spot.

So, they decided to take a risk, buying a home for £309,000 that would need a lot of work to make it their perfect property.

Two years on, that risk has paid off. Through a lot of hard graft and DIY work, Elisha and Jordan have transformed a plain bunch of bricks into an abode they genuinely adore.

And, as a bonus, they’ve added £190,000 to the property’s value.

‘Location was one of the biggest factors,’ Elisha, a quantity surveyor, said.

‘It’s close to family and friends and an easy journey to work, local pubs, shops etc. but we couldn’t find a home which we felt suited us long term without compromising on something else such as garden size or the style of kitchen, so we opted for an older fixer-upper to enable us to convert it into our forever home.’

The pair spent £154,500 ripping out the interiors, redecoration, and adding an extension, but believe the property is now worth at least £500,000, based on similar homes on the market nearby.

To keep costs down, they did the bulk of the renovation – but did recruit professional help when it was absolutely needed.

Elisha said: ‘We did lots of the stripping out stage ourselves, taking the internals back to brick and demolished the garage with the help of my dad.

‘Throughout the build, we tried to do any laborious tasks over the weekends but got tradies in to help with more specialist areas such as building the extension, roofing, and plastering.

‘Lots of the smaller tasks such as running cables and the underfloor heating we did ourselves through guides on YouTube and TikTok.’

They started by pulling all the old plaster, paint and wallpaper off the walls and removing the plasterboard ceilings, so they could do a full rewiring.

They added the extension, costing around £85,000, to create an open plan living area, kitchen and utility room, designed exactly how they wanted.

As well as extending at the back, the couple demolished the existing garage and rebuilt a two-storey section, giving them more space upstairs.

Elisha said: ‘This added two bedrooms to the upstairs on that side, and space for the utility/more open plan downstairs, in addition to still having a garage space.

‘We’ve then changed one of the smaller rooms to an en-suite (our wet room) and added a toilet downstairs.

‘It’s now four bedrooms, two bathrooms upstairs and an extra toilet downstairs.’

The job wasn’t easy, and the house’s age meant a few surprises came up, such as discovering an original boarded-over fireplace was too tiny to allow for a log burner.

The couple are still finishing off the upstairs bedrooms and the garden and adding the final touches to the other rooms.

But still, they’re ecstatic with the results of their toil, and pleased to now be living in a dream home of their own creation.

Elisha said: ‘For me, I’d say the most enjoyable part was watching our home come to life – especially our kitchen as we’ve designed it exactly how we wanted.

‘Jordan will definitely say he enjoyed the messy stage; demolishing the old garage, ripping down the ceilings and knocking plaster off the wall!

‘It was also fun having the flexibility to plan out our own cable/pipe runs so that we left room for future improvements.’

For anyone considering taking on a similarly big project, Elisha has some words of wisdom.

‘Don’t do things half measures,’ she said. ‘If it means delaying something to get the finish right or ensure you have made the correct decision for you, then do it.

‘Otherwise you’ll continually see the “rushed finish” and regret it. We didn’t think about drainage very closely – although we’ve boxed all of ours in internally we lost some space in the utility and had to move the door access to adjust!’

Breakdown of costs:

  • Electrics – £5.5k
  • Plumbing and smart controls – £8k
  • Kitchen and utility including appliances and worktops – £17k
  • Garden – £9500
  • Tiles – £2500

Total spent on renovation: £154,500

Price the couple paid for the house: £309,000

Estimated value added: £190,000

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