The first house I bought wasn’t a property development in the conventional sense. In other words, I didn’t buy this house with the intention of investing time and money into it before selling to realise a profit. It was, in fact, the first house I purchased and was intended to be my home. However, a series of unplanned events occurred that resulted in selling it at a profit. In addition, as it was my first attempt at development, many of the details are now lost or were never recorded, hence some of the information I write here is guessed.
The location: Warfield, Berkshire
The house: a typical 1980s estate-developed 3-bedroom detached house, one en-suite, family bathroom, lounge, dining room, kitchen, downstairs toilet, single detached garage.
I write ‘typical’ because there are now millions around the UK just like this. Built to a formula, quickly and cheaply, without much thought to how people really live.
Purchased for: £143,000 in August 1999.
Sold for: £267,500 in November 2006.
Wow, you might think a profit of £124,500 is amazing. You have to bear in mind though, this was a time when the property market was booming and all property prices were rising, not just mine, so the next purchase would be equally inflated.
Here’s two photos of how it looked downstairs before I started work.
I apologise for the quality of the photos but you may be able to identify some features. This photo was taken in the lounge looking through to the dining room.
Although it is not clear, the wallpaper here was pink with a top border of more pink. The carpets throughout the house werealso pink. Finally, the curtains were… well, see if you can spot a theme here. It was a bit odd especially considering the previous owner was a man and his lodger mum.
My overriding memory of my work here was the trouble I had removing the wallpaper. In particular, the top border seemed to have been super-glued.
The next shot shows a similar drastic scene. You may notice the vent in what looks like a chimney breast but is, in fact, just a void to house the warm-air heating ducts. This system of blowing warm air around the house is the same as the one I grew up in. It never worked properly, in that, on cold days, it had to be on constantly to keep warm.
I understand from neighbours that a wet system with radiators was used on subsequent houses built on the estate.
This photo shows the wallpaper and curtains finally gone, with the carpets on the way out.
You may be wondering why I titled this blog ‘Roman arches’. Well, in my young naive mind, I had an idea to recreate some arches that I’d seen in a photo in a very expensive book on Italian architecture. I would then paint murals between the arches to simulate the Tuscan countryside. I’m so glad I didn’t. Can you imagine the trouble I would have had selling it.
I did, however, make one arch to emulate the existing one seen in the photos.
So, here is a photo of the result. I built a softwood frame in the alcove, fitted slotted MDF to form the curve and fitted a couple of shelves. Originally, I wanted to have built-in cupboards on the lower third but I got so angry at my pathetic carpentry efforts that I gave up. I did manage to install a light. I seem to remember having to take the power from another switch on the other side of the room. You may also be able to see the dining room walls were painted in terracotta. I knew I could get the Tuscan theme in there somewhere.
This final photo was taken from the arch, the real one, looking toward the wall where I’d planned my Roman arches.
Sorry, that’s all the relevant photos I have. The others were either of the garden or included me – not very interesting.
So that’s it. Other rooms in the house were also redecorated to a more suitable style. Other than a bit of re-landscaping in the front garden, that was the extent of my efforts.
I lived in the house until about the Spring of 2002 but kept the house and rented it out until it was sold in 2006.
My next blog covers the first house purchased specifically for developing.
Thanks for reading.