May 21, 2021 | Homeowner stories

Age 46

Location Beckenham

Instagram @house_for_6

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

We had just moved back to the UK from a couple of years in Australia and had recently had our first child, so decided we wanted to be fairly close to family support in south east London. Beckenham is also a good commute in to town, which was a factor for my husband. Thinking ahead we knew that the area was great for families, with access to good schools and lots of green spaces, and was more affordable than some other areas we’d looked at.

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

Yes I think the more information you have about an area the better – as there’s only so much you can tell from a couple of property visits. Asking questions of locals is the best way to find out in more detail what it’s really like to live in an area.

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

We purchased a freehold. We were looking to buy a house large enough for a growing family and wanted our own outdoor space so pretty much all of the properties we looked at were freehold.

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

We went through a broker as we felt this was the best way to access all the best available deals at the time.

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

We’ve done a few renovations and they’ve all come with slightly different issues! The house is Victorian so it’s old and always throws up a surprise or three. The most recent renovation included knocking through two top floor bedrooms in to one room and extending the small shower room to create a really nice, open master bedroom and ensuite bathroom. Overall the renovations went fairly smoothly because we had great builders, but there were unforeseen expenses such as discovering that the two bedrooms had different ceiling heights so the whole ceiling had to be re-boarded to bring one half down to match the other half! Additionally we had to replace the water tank in the bathroom and the floor was sloping quite badly so that all needed to be levelled off. We also faced some supply delays due to the pandemic affecting manufacturers and delivery times.

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

    I think our budget was around £60,000 and it actually came out pretty close – we changed a few things along the way, removing some items that weren’t a priority in order to do things that were important so we managed to stick within the budget. We had good conversations with our builders along the way so that helped to ensure we knew where extra costs were coming in and how we could cut costs in other areas.

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

    We’ve had the house a long time now so when we have got around to designing and renovating parts of it it’s always felt like we’ve really lived in it and understand what we want. Also it’s felt like the house has really “deserved” its makeover as some parts of the house went a long time before getting any attention!

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

    So many things – at first we loved the open plan space which we’d never had before – we had young kids and it was great that they could be playing in sight of the kitchen where I spent most of my time. The whole back of the house is open plan and gets lots of light so it’s always a bright and happy space to be in. The garden is also very green and backs on to a primary school so it feels private but we get to hear the happy playground sounds which I love. It’s on a quiet road with little through traffic but it’s walking distance in to Beckenham so it’s got the best of both worlds. Two of our children were born at home as well so that makes it extra special – as well as all the memories we’ve shared since then.

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

    If you can live in it for a bit I think that’s great – you can get a feel for the house at different times of year, the light, which areas get hot, are dark, or need opening up, and how you use the space, where you spend your time. Also I suppose try to imagine not just what you want now but what you’ll still want in a few years time – especially with children as their needs change so quickly. Also I think if you try to keep the basics fairly neutral then you can change things up every few years with a change of paint colour or a new piece of furniture without having to redo anything that’s too costly!

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

    I’m a bit out of the loop on this one as it’s been a while since we’ve bought a property but I suppose if getting on the property ladder is a priority then there are going to be compromises needed on the location and type of property you can afford. Everyone has their ‘must haves’ when it comes to buying a property, so make a list of those and work down to the ‘nice to haves’ and see where that leaves you! You might have to settle for a property that needs a bit of work or that’s further out of town than you imagined (but perhaps in these changing times with more working from that’s not a bad thing after all?).

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      Daniel and Alice