May 11, 2021 | Homeowner stories

Age 40

Location Kettering, Northamptonshire

Instagram @tresco_trio

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

We both grew up here and most of our family live here too. We relocated back from Oxfordshire, where we had previously lived for Sy’s job, three years ago.

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

Not for us as we had good knowledge of the area and knew we definitely needed to be within walking distance of the train station as we both commute to London. However, more and more people seem to be taking an interest in the town due to its affordable (compared to London and typical commuter towns nearer to the M25) property and good rail links.

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


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

Direct lender as we still had a year or so to go on our previous (good!) mortgage deal.

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

Gosh where to start:

  • Our builder went out of business half way through the project leaving us with basically every part of the project unfinished and the whole top floor completely uninhabitable
  • He owed money to the plumber who threatened (one dark night) to come and rip out our boiler if we didn’t pay him
  • Everything then cost vastly more than originally planned as we had to start from scratch with new suppliers
  • We were burgled two weeks before moving in; tools, heaters and a camera stolen
  • The sheer size of the property meaning we had to make compromises and reprioritise at every stage
  • Sy once fell through a floor all the way through the ceiling to the room below – there have been many injuries
  • Time and patience in short supply!
  • 2 years of pretty much every spare moment spent renovating – lots of parental guilt

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

We originally budgeted around £150k. We have spent more, but also have widened the ‘spec’ and scope over time.

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

Firstly, the freedom to design spaces that work for us. Our previous 3 houses were all new builds and we had no say in kitchen or bathroom design so I had a long wish list when planning that and the utility and bathrooms. Also the opportunity to breathe new life into some of the original stunning features and being braver with colour than I ever have before.

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

I feel so proud of the result of our hard graft, and love welcoming friends and family into it and making memories. The fact it’s near lots of the people we love is also a positive!

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

Don’t rush into decisions on colour and lighting. If you can, live in it first – there are lots of things I would have done differently if we’d committed to decisions when we first started the project. 

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

Three things:

  • Location location location!
  • We bought one of the less desirable houses on our first choice of street and this was the best decision for us
  • If you’re looking to buy a house that you will likely want to sell in 3-5 years time, don’t make too many ‘personal’ design decisions that could put future buyers off

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Daniel and Alice