Apr 11, 2021 | Homeowner stories

Age 29

Location Catford


1. What made you choose the area you currently reside in?

I’m a Lewisham girl – I was born and raised here and absolutely love it so I wanted to stay local. I ended up buying in Catford which is a more affordable part of the borough. There’s something about being in South East London that I just love. We’ve got loads of lovely parks, independent shops and restaurants, but most of all I love the people!

2. Do you believe an area guide would have been beneficial in helping you choose a neighbourhood to live in? If yes, why? 

I already knew which area I wanted to live, but I’m always interested in looking at local guides as there’s always something new to discover.

3. Did you purchase a freehold or a leasehold? And why?

I purchased a freehold property. This would always be my preference as it means I don’t have to worry about paying maintenance/ground rent fees.

4. Did you go through a mortgage broker or a direct lender? And why?  

I used online mortgage comparison websites and also had a consultation with a mortgage broker. I didn’t end up using the broker in the end as I found a deal that was more suited to me using comparison websites.

5. What challenges did you encounter whilst renovating this property?

One of the major challenges is the cost of renovating. It’s not cheap at all! I bought a Victorian property and with older properties, there are often problems that need to be repaired and they aren’t always immediately obvious. 

I’m also very indecisive and there are so many decisions to be made when renovating. That was definitely a challenge for me!

6. What was your budget for your renovation and did you over/underspend? 

My renovation was about £25k which was just within my budget. 

This included getting the whole house rewired, new kitchen and bathroom, flooring throughout, new boiler, replastering some rooms and a new ceiling in the living room. 

I managed to keep within my budget by shopping around and looking for deals and discounts on things like tiles, kitchen and bathroom fittings. There are things I would’ve liked to do but I just didn’t have the budget for (e.g. changing the bathroom layout, knocking out walls etc), so I had to be realistic in terms of what I could achieve.

7. What have you loved the most about designing your home?

As a solo buyer, I didn’t have to run decisions past anyone so I’ve loved having the freedom to make my home exactly how I want! Being able to see my ideas come to life and creating a home I love has been amazing.

8. What do you love the most about your home?

This is a tricky one! At the moment, I am loving my garden because I’ve just done a budget DIY makeover and it’s so nice to be able to enjoy it in time for spring. 

I also love the fact I’ve got pink tiles in the shower with a gold shower head and fittings. I’ve wanted a pink shower for years!

9. What advice would you give to people who are trying to design their dream home?

It’s easy to get tempted by interior trends, but trends change quickly so go with your heart and choose things you really love. 

Take lots of pictures of how the property looked before the renovations – there’s something so satisfying about comparing before and after pictures and looking at how far you’ve come.

10. What advice would you give people who are trying to get onto the property ladder?

Before I even considered buying, I found it useful to use online mortgage calculators to work out how much I could borrow based on my salary, and then used that to work out how much I needed to save for a deposit. 

When looking for a property, I’d strongly advise not being put off by an area’s reputation, and also not ruling out properties that need work as these are often cheaper than newly renovated homes. You can then make the home your own and can even end up adding value to the property.

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