Vale Drive, a two bedroom ground floor flat situated in Midanbury, Southampton became our fourth renovation project. It also became our first property rental. But it came about by complete accident. We weren’t even looking for another projects!
Darren had been asked by the nephew of previous owner to quote on some renovations, but the day before he was scheduled to survey the property, Alan phoned and cancelled the appointment. He felt that too much work needed doing on the property and had decided to sell up. Darren sensed an opportunity to buy a cheap property, and Alan agreed to keep the appointment so we could have first viewing.
The only problem was, having nearly finished our 2nd home renovation, and recently opening an ice cream parlour, we didn’t actually have any money to buy a new property. Luckily we did have an idea that we thought might work.
My stepdad, Gary, had just sold his house, and whilst he and my mum were searching for the perfect property to purchase in Spain, the equity was sat in the bank. Darren proposed that we purchase Vale Drive together, do it up, and sell it, giving Gary back his investment and splitting the profit. Gary thought it was a good idea, too, so a couple of days later we truddled off to the meeting together and viewed the flat.
Vale Drive was in a sorry state of affairs. Since his late wife had died some 25 years previously, the owner had barely ventured out, and apparently spent his final years sat in his chair, seemingly chain smoking himself to death.
The walls of the flat were thick with nicotine. The ceilings were thick with nicotine. The carpets and curtains the same. A room was filled with neat stacks of newspapers – the daily express – dating back to the nineties, with seemingly few copies missing. Microwave meal boxes were neatly stacked next to the papers.
Alan was right. The flat needed some work. And that was only to clear it out!
With properties on Vale Drive fetching around £120,000 we offered Alan £75,000 for the flat with a lease extension, budgeting £15,000 for fees and renovation costs, which he accepted.
Once the gentleman shake had been done, we began clearing the flat right away, filling our local paper bin to the brim with 2 transit van loads of yellowing Daily Express newspapers, and the recycling bin with 33 empty catering sized pots of Bisto gravy!
There were problems with getting the 59 year lease renewed. After a few months, we decided to offer Alan a lower price for the flat without the lease which we would renew ourselves. In the end, we agreed on a £60,000 asking price and the payment of Alans legal fees.
With the flat cleared of all possessions, newspapers and gravy pots, we set about with the proper work. New windows and patio doors were installed, and the walls were re-plastered by a friend (one of the only jobs we don’t do ourselves on home renovations). We fitted a new boiler and central heating, and rewired the electrics. The entire house was painted in brilliant white, with the wood work in a stain gloss white. New internal doors were added and we chose to paint them slate grey (left over from our front door and banister paint in Thorold Road) We fitted laminate wood flooring to the kitchen and living areas and grey new carpets to the two bedrooms, and the windows had made to measure blinds fitted. A new kitchen came from Magnets, and bathroom (except from sink unit which we were given) was bought from B&Q.
Outside, the house was painted with Sandtex Masonry Paint, and the patio jet-washed, making for instant improvements. With a new fence and shed built and grass laid, the back garden looked beautiful! Despite my initial reservations of using a grass seed, we used a product called Speedy Seed, and at just £8.99 per box had tufts of grass within a week, and a lush garden lawn within three!
In the end, the entire program of renovation cost us just over £7000, which brought the total cost of the flat to £70,000!
Although we first considered selling the flat, we had it valued for rental, and decided to take that route. After a living in the flat ourselves for a couple of months, we found a tenant within a day of advertising (on Facebook, nonetheless) who has been looking after our flat ever since.