Young couple save £60k on ‘run-down’ three bed house but it took SIX months to fix-up

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Young couple save £60k on 'run-down' three bed house but it took SIX months to fix-up



FIRST-time buyers can save thousands of precious pounds by purchasing a fixer-upper – but it doesn’t always go to plan, as Niki and Callum Bennett know only too well.
The couple saved £60,000 on a “run down” three-bed house near Nottingham and planned to spend a couple of months renovating it.
SWNS:South West News Service Niki and Callum Bennett bought their home outside of Nottingham in October 2018
The excited homeowners picked up the keys in October 2018 but six months on, they’re still adding the finishing touches to the decades-old house.
With a budget of £6,000, they started by ripping out the bathroom and kitchen but plans were abruptly put on hold after the decrepit boiler began leaking deadly carbon monoxide.
Thanks to an engineer who’d taken on too many jobs, Niki, 26, and Callum, 28, spent three long months without any heating, or any means to wash or cook at home.
They lived and slept in the living room with their three cats while the work went on, showering at the gym or at Niki’s parents’ house where they could also cook.
SWNS:South West News Service They saved £60,000 on a home of that size by renovating it themselves
Shortly after the new central heating system was finally fitted, the bedroom ceiling collapsed leaving Niki, who works for an upholstery company, to question what whether they’d taken on too much.
The savvy savers bought their home for a bargain £199,000 – compared similar houses in the area that sell for £260,000 on average – but they’ve gone over budget by £4,000.
They’ve funded an extra £1,500 themselves but have had to resort to a loan from parents to get them though the final stages of making their house a home. So far, it’s cost them £10,000.
Callum, who works for the British Trading Standards Institute, already owned a flat in the area but for Niki it was her first experience of buying property.
We caught up with Niki for My First Home to find out how she saved £16,000 for her half of the deposit and whether she regrets taking on such a challenge.
Tell us, what’s your house like?
We live just outside of Nottingham in the East Midlands, not far from both mine and Callum’s parents. It’s quite a family orientated area too.
Everything in our house is wonky. It’s a three-bed detached house almost 100-years-old and it was a real bargain for the size.
SWNS:South West News Service Niki is a first-time buyer, whereas Callum already owned a flat
The flooring, door frames, window frames – everything we’ve tried to update is on the wonk.
We’ve restored a fireplace in the living room that the previous owners had taken out to put in a back boiler which I really like.
There are two double bedrooms and a single room too. We’ve got our own garden as well which is in two halves so it’s quite big.
There’s a driveway for one car and we park the other one on the road.
We’ve been renovating it for the past six months and we’re nearly finished. I can’t wait for it to be done – we’re so close!How much of a bargain are talking? And have you spent much doing it up?
We bought it for £199,000 with a 15 per cent deposit, so that’s £32,000 but it was in really bad nick when we bought it.
SWNS:South West News Service The kitchen after the renovation work
SWNS:South West News Service The couple started by ripping out the old kitchen
SWNS:South West News Service They lived in their new house while the works was ongoing
SWNS:South West News Service The previous homeowner had taken out the fireplace and fitted a back boiler
Callum and I split the deposit 50/50, and because he already had a flat, I had to save my half which was £16,000.
We ended up buying the house for market value because the sellers wouldn’t budge but a house a few doors up from ours recently sold for £260,000.
We didn’t set out to buy a renovation project but all of the other homes in our budget tended to be two-beds.
This was under budget too so we knew that we had some money left over to do it up.
Callum’s dad is a builder so he saw it before we bought it too to tell us what he thought needed to be done.
It needed a lot but it wasn’t impossible so we made an offer and it was accepted.
SWNS:South West News Service Niki and Callum believe they are 90 per cent of the way to being finished with the work
SWNS:South West News Service At first, they lived and slept in the living room while the work was ongoing
We took out a mortgage for 85 per cent of the property value, so that’s £169,150, and agreed to pay it off over 35 years to keep costs low.
We’d originally budgeted around £6,000 for the renovation work but instead of saving during those months we probably ploughed in another £1.500.
We ran out of cash so we’ve had to borrow £2,500 from parents for the last bits which we are paying back.
Do you have any regrets buying a fixer-upper?
I don’t regret it as such but it was so much harder than I ever thought it would be. I think I was really naive when we were looking around.
We got the keys in October last year and we’re still just finishing it off six months later.
We knew that it needed a new central heating system and new electrics throughout but I didn’t really appreciate what that meant, what kind of an impact it was going to have on our lives.
What help is out there for first-time buyers?GETTING on the property ladder can feel like a daunting task but there are schemes out there to help first-time buyers have their own home.Help to Buy Isa – It’s a tax-free savings account where for every £200 you save, the Government will add an extra £50. But there’s a maximum limit of £3,000 which is paid to your solicitor when you move.
Help to Buy equity loan – The Government will lend you up to 20 per cent of the home’s value – or 40 per cent in London – after you’ve put down a five per cent deposit. The loan is on top of a normal mortgage but it can only be used to buy a new build property.
Lifetime Isa – This is another Government scheme that gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and get a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home. You can save up to £4,000 a year and the Government will add 25 per cent on top.
Shared ownership – Co-owning with a housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount. You can buy anything from 25 to 75 per cent of the property but you’re restricted to specific ones.
“First dibs” in London – London Mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a scheme that will restrict sales of all new-build homes in the capital up to £350,000 to UK buyers for three months before any overseas marketing can take place.
Starter Home Initiative – A Government scheme that will see 200,000 new-build homes in England sold to first-time buyers with a 20 per cent discount by 2020. To receive updates on the progress of these homes you can register your interest on the Starter Homes website.

We started off renovating the bathroom and kitchen, ripping it all out but halfway through the boiler started emitting carbon monoxide.
We had to drop everything straight away and fix it. We’d planned for it to take a month but the tradesman took so long because he had other jobs on that it took three months before it was fixed.
It was awful. We slept and ate in the living room with our three cats. It was winter too so it was so cold.
There was an outside toilet that we could use but it was horrible and covered in spiders.
I showered at my mum’s house every day and my husband washed at the gym. They are not fond memories at all.
SWNS:South West News Service The living room was in need of new carpets and a lick of paint
I had a real wobble on the day in January when the central heating was fixed. I was so knackered, I just thought: “What have we done?”
We got the kitchen and bathroom fitted by February which made this a lot easier but as we started to do work on our bedroom the ceiling fell in as we ripped off the wall paper.
At that point, I felt like I’d given up. You could look straight up into the loft and I wanted to cry.
Luckily, we got mates rates on some of the work through Callum’s dad which really helped.
For example, the roof was leaking that could have cost us hundreds but we got it done for £50.How did you save for your half of the deposit?
I’ve always been quite frugal, keeping spending down to the minimum.
I started saving for my own place at 18 when I was still living with my parents, and put half my paycheck – or £600 – into an Isa.
My husband already had a flat so I lived with him, paying about £300 a month towards living costs. I was only able to save £300 a month at this point.
SWNS:South West News Service The house has a garden and a driveway, as well as off-street parking
SWNS:South West News Service The bargain three-bed house was £60,000 below market-value because it needed work
I left myself £200 a month to spend on fun things like buying clothes, make up and going out but I’d hardly every spend that much.
I didn’t give up everything because otherwise you’re just living to save but I would hold off buying stuff until the next month if I didn’t have enough cash.
I also saved money by filling out online surveys which paid me in vouchers for shops like Amazon, Boots and Wilko. I then used them to buy toiletries and things for the house.
Cashback sites like Topcashback helped too – I’ve saved about £150 on clothes and cosmetics by shopping through the site.
I reckon it’s saved about £300 over the past three years.
SWNS:South West News Service They had to borrow £2,500 from parents to finish the last bit of work
SWNS:South West News Service It wasn’t always easy living in a home that looked like this
Over all, I saved about £16,000 but I came into some inheritance that meant I could put it towards a house deposit.
Between us, we’d about £40,000, including Callum’s £16,000, but we didn’t want to use all of it buying somewhere – we’d planned on going on holiday to be honest.
Did you have any trouble buying?
Aside from things going wrong with the refurbishments, it took us ages from getting a mortgage to complete.
That’s because the mortgage surveyor had concerns about a tree that was on the pavements outside the property.
They were worried that the roots would go under the house and damage the foundations.
In the end we paid to have a tree survey done – that was another £100 – just to satisfy them.
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Is should have been quick as it was a chain free property but it took 17 weeks in the end.Have you got any advice for other first-time buyers?
I’d say just don’t take anything for granted because things do go wrong, and when it comes to renovating a house, something always goes wrong.
Tuck away any spare money you have left at the end of the month to help you when this happens because it always does.
But believe in the end product because it’s so worth it now.

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