It was 2015 when I first heard about the £1 housing scheme. I lived and worked in Liverpool, England for 10 years and was a graduate student at a local university.
Run by the City Council, the scheme promised to sell vacant homes for as little as £1 (about US$1.15). But only if the resident already lives or works in Liverpool, has lived in the house for five years, and has refurbished the property within 12 months to comply with a set of UK building regulations called the Decent Homes Standard. increase.
At the time, I was living in a cheap flat and was naively thinking, “Wow, they’re offering free housing.”
No specific amount was disclosed on the form, but successful applicants had to have sufficient funds to renovate the property. I definitely didn’t have the funds to put the entire house back together, but I lied on my form and said I had a good amount of savings. I sent in my application that June, but haven’t heard anything in four years.
As time went on, I completely forgot to apply. Life went on, I stayed in Liverpool, lived in affordable public housing, and worked full-time as a project manager at my former university. I had very little savings, but after a series of chance events, I got some money.
In 2018, my estranged father passed away. It turned out that I was his next of kin and had inherited a small fortune from him, which he was able to sell for a profit of £60,000 (approximately $68,000).
When the money landed in my bank account the next year, I didn’t know what to do with it. Unexpectedly, the council called me a few days after the windfall and said they had shortlisted me to receive a traditional two-bedroom Victorian terraced house for just £1.
At first I thought it was a scam. I was like: “Yeah, okay, I’ll give you a pound.” I couldn’t believe it when I found out it was real. What I didn’t realize was that the house I was given was in a state of disrepair.
I had to visit the house to see if I wanted it before I could accept it. It was pitch black and all the windows were boarded up and leaking water. I immediately thought, “My plants won’t like it here!”
At first, it was really bad because I had to wear a helmet and protective clothing just to walk inside the house. There was a problem, but I said: It felt like it was meant to be.
I was officially offered a home in June 2019 and was full of excitement. I quit my job and started renovating. I thought: “I’m retiring, I’m prepared for life!”
It took nine months before anything happened because of council legal proceedings. I had already left my job in a hurry and naively thought I would have access to the property in a few weeks, so I had to use the money for the house for living expenses. On Valentine’s Day 2020, I finally got the keys to my house.
Still nearly £60,000 (about $68,000) and 12 months to renovate, the following month the UK went into its first nationwide lockdown. I thought: “Great, no builders”. I had the keys, but no one worked from home. I walked around the building for a while trying to figure out what to do.
I was looking for a way to maximize the light in my house and came up with the ambitious idea of installing skylights on the roof to allow light to travel from the outside to the second floor of the house. However, I wanted the bedroom to be darker than the living area, so I decided to move the kitchen and living room upstairs.
We had an architect draw our ideas and in the spring of 2020 we hired a professional contractor to do all the work. The cheapest quote I got was around £80,000 (about $91,000), but other quotes he had over £100,000 (about $114,000). Additionally, due to the pandemic, they were unable to start work all year round.
At that point, I knew what I wanted. Even when I was told it was impossible, I was not deterred. It was a case of doing anything. I was still full of enthusiasm and had about £50,000 (about $57,000) in my bank account, so I was pretty confident.
In May 2020, I threw myself into what is called a property rip-off. It’s the dirtiest and messiest job that involves stripping everything down, carving out all the plaster work from the entire house, tearing down walls and ceilings, and removing interior walls from the second floor. and his dad knew a little bit about the renovation and were able to guide me.
Fortunately, by June 2020, the council announced that my building work would be extended by 12 months due to the pandemic.
Next, the roof purlins were replaced with steel girders. I usually have it delivered by crane, but I didn’t have the money. Instead, me, his brother-in-law, and his father carried these 16-foot beams of his. Each weighed about a ton and went through the house to the loft. I don’t know how you managed it. The engineering put into it is crazy, but it was nothing but pure hard work.
Next, I had to get electricity that I had borrowed from my neighbor. We hired an electrician and it cost him £3,000 (about $3,400) to re-wire the whole house. I needed to decide where to place the lights and plugs, but I also needed to visualize what the space would look like. At that time, the kitchen was an abstract concept, so it was very difficult.
After deciding which plumbing source to use, we were quoted £6,000 (about $6,800) to install the underfloor heating. I ended up doing it myself with the help of a friend, and it only cost £1,900 (about $2,200). I learned
As work progressed, the upside-down house began to take shape, but by February 2021, work was halted due to a lack of available workers. By the next month, I had made half my budget, but he still had only a quarter by the time we built the house.
About a year into the process, I was home freaked out. It was so stressful that I had to take a few months off. I decided to move to a campervan to save money, but it was fun for a while. Shortly thereafter, I secured a part-time job as a yoga teacher for June 2021.
I was pessimistic about the project. My funds had dried up and workers were hard to find. But one day, when we were still in lockdown, I ran into some friends while taking a walk. Immediately, they could see the anguish on my face.
They told me not to concede and that they would help me with the renovation. I am very lucky to have a dear friend who has been involved in the project as much as possible. We were also provided with surplus leftovers from a neighboring construction site to save money.
In June 2022, this home was deemed “Decent Home Standard” and I recently moved upstairs. Once the downstairs floor is complete, the renovation is complete.
I’ve exhausted my original budget, so I can’t afford to finish the downstairs at once at the moment, so I’m doing small jobs each month. I can’t wait for the house to be completed.
Having underfloor heating downstairs is such a luxury, as well as triple glazed windows and a place to hang my plants once and for all. I came back at the age of 18. In life. It will be amazing.
Maxine Sharples, 35, is a yoga teacher living in Liverpool, England.You can read about her renovation journey here here Or follow her on Instagram at @homesforapound.
All views expressed in this article are those of the author.
As told by Monica Greep.