Thanks for stopping by.
I’m Victoria and I’ll be the voice behind this blog, with a bit of help from my husband, Darren, who’s a little more wizzy with computers and coding (and is also a tad more patient than I am….). If you haven’t guessed already, we’re the Metcalfe’s!
I’ve started this blog a year later than I intended to, and a lot later than I probably should have. As I write this post, we are waiting on the funds for the deposit of our 5th house purchase to reach the solicitor. Having already renovated two houses, two flats, (and a shop), our next project looks set to be bigger, and better than ever. And probably much more difficult. Darren and I have just bought a holiday home – a town house in Spain – a country for which we don’t yet speak the language. Fortunately for us, there is google translate. And patience, for which I am slightly better at than Darren when it comes to people….
We bought our first home, a 1950’s three bedroom semi in our home town of Southampton back in January 2008. ‘Ferndene’ had just two previous owners, and was the home of an elderly lady who had lived there with her husband for most of that time. As such, it needed a little bit of TLC. Mind you, it didn’t need much cleaning, the lady had scrubbed so hard she had worn away the enamel on all of the sinks.
By December 2012, a year after we had completed our home renovation, we were beginning to get a bit bored. We had a lovely house with the most beautiful garden (in which we held our wedding reception) but after four years of stripping, sanding, painting, and gardening, we had too much time on our hands, and an overpowering urge to visit every DIY and home interiors store!
It wasn’t long before we had found our 2nd renovation project, another 1950’s semi detached house just around the corner. ‘Thorold’ needed a LOT more work than Ferndene. The house was sadly a repossession, which had been left in a very sorry state. It was also left with most of the homeowners possessions (wardrobes of clothes, rooms full of furniture, bags of rubbish – even childhood photographs and degree certificates). Perhaps making a full asking price offer when we viewed the house in the dark was a bad idea? Thorold certainly wasn’t clean like our first home.
After getting the keys at the end of March 2013, we threw ourselves into the home renovation, and after 6 months we were pretty much done inside – walls were torn down, new ones were put up, and each room (after being fumigated!) was striped back and decorated. By Christmas Eve, exactly a year to the day we started looking for a new home to renovate, we were pretty much finished inside, which was good timing – we hosted Christmas Dinner for 10 the very next day.
Whilst we procrastinated over the garden, we took on our 3rd renovation project. A shop.
One November evening, just before finishing inside of Thorold, we (clearly) drank too much wine and decided that it would be a really good idea to open an ice cream parlour. By December, we had found the desired shop (obviously needing the Metcalfe makeover touch), and, with the house all but done, we threw ourselves into renovating Dora’s, whilst at the same time researching what exactly we needed to be able to open an ice cream parlour come coffee shop. Dora’s Cups & Cones opened in April 2014.
Soon we were back to residential renovations.
Our third home renovation came about by accident. As Darren owns two companies, Custom Design and Build My Door, he was asked to quote an exisiting customers inheritance flat for new windows, but the day before the arranged survey, the customer phoned to say that the property was going to be sold as it needed too much work. Sensing an opportunity, Darren arranged to look at the property with a view to buying it (not that we could afford to ourselves) and asked my stepdad if he would like to invest with us.
The 2 bedroom ground floor flat, which had been owned by an elderly chap for some time, was in perhaps a worse state than Thorold. Over 10 years of newspapers were neatly stacked in piles against nicotine stained yellow walls, moth chewed curtains hung at filthy windows. It wasn’t surprising that Darren’s customer wanted to get rid of it. And luckily for us, he was happy to sell it for a pretty good price. We were proud owners of our 4th renovation project.
With an extra pair of hands, we managed to renovate the flat in just a few weeks. It came at a good time. After nearly two years of living in Thorold, we we’re getting ready to move on again. We never really settled in the house. Sure, it had the most perfect open plan kitchen and dining room, had double aspect windows in the main bedroom, and was in one of the most desirable roads of the area, with fantastic schools and views of Southampton and the port, but it just wasn’t for us. We asked an estate agent round to value the house and it’s value had increased significantly. We put the house on the market there and then, and within days she was sold (we never did finish the garden). It was a good time to sell Dora’s, so within just a few days of each other, we sold our house and our business, and moved into our newly renovated flat.
As we had sold Thorold before our mortgage term was up, our mortgage provided imposed an early repayment charge. Eager to ensure we didn’t loose this, we started looking for a new project. Only, so had the rest of Southampton! As the country finally recovered from the recession that had hit England just after we had bought our first home in 2008, finding a new project was near on impossible. Even making offers over the asking price got us nowhere. In the end, we started widening our criteria, and after a long search we finally found a one bedroom, ground floor flat in Chandlers Ford, about 5 miles from the areas in which we were originally looking.
Our 5th renovation previously belonged to an elderly lady who was moving to a care home. The flat was clean and tidy, with newly fitted kitchen and bathroom, but whilst the flat would benefit with little bit of freshening up, it certainly wouldn’t be a property that we could ‘flip’ and make lots of money on. The flat was merely a way of making sure we didn’t loose £7000 to early repayment charges. Darren wasn’t as keen on buying a one bedroom property, but as soon as we saw it, we both knew that we wanted it. It felt like home on the first viewing.
Despite both working during the day, it took just two weeks to paint the whole flat, tile the bathroom floor, fit a shower, clean all the carpets, and get new blinds measured, made and fitted. For now, our little one bedroom flat is the perfect home – but with our itchy feet, both for property and travel (you can read my travel blog over at themetcalfememoir.co.uk), moving could very well be on the cards again, soon.