Couple with no DIY experience transform run-down 1930s home – adding £95k to its value

A couple with no DIY experience have transformed a run-down period property into their dream home after teaching themselves to carry out much of the renovation work themselves.

Lisa and Ed McDermott say the only way they could afford to buy in their desired location of Bath was to buy a ‘doer-upper’ and learn to turn it around with their own hands, and purchased a 1930s three-bedroom home for £355,000 in March 2019.

The project really threw them in at the deep end, inheriting dated fixtures and fittings that Lisa believes hadn’t been updated since the 1960s and was in dire need of a complete overhaul.

The couple, who both work as marketing professionals, watched videos on YouTube for advice on how to complete some of the larger jobs and now have a stunning modern home – while claiming to have added £95,000 to its value.

Not a single room was spared in the extensive renovation work, as interior walls were removed, while the kitchen was gutted and the old-fashioned wallpaper was stripped.

Lisa and Ed even took on the plumbing for the bathroom themselves, while the only room they called in professional help for was the kitchen-dinner, which combined four existing rooms.

The homeowners had no choice but to live among the mess while they carried out the work, which sped up when both were furloughed in April 2020, giving them more time to dedicate to the revamp.

They renovated old items and even made some of their own furniture to save on costs, and the job was completed after 21 months of hard graft in December 2020 when the final carpets were laid.

The home, which previously featured dated orange carpets and old electric heaters, now boasts a modern interior of three beds, one bathroom, a downstairs toilet, lounge, kitchen/diner, and an attic room.

The work cost them £45,000, including trade, materials, tools, appliances and furnishings – and say they have since had it revalued at £95,000 more than they originally paid.

Lisa, 31, said: “We had three goals when we purchased the house – to enjoy it, to learn and to not spend more money than it was worth.

“We are so lucky that we didn’t have any disasters – the real challenge was the time it took us to research and learn as we didn’t know what we were doing on any of it so it really took a long time.”

The kitchen proved to be one of the biggest challenges, and the most costly part on the renovation, as they deconstructed the old kitchen and teared down four rooms to create the new space.

What was previously a dull brown floor with an archway leading to a utility room is now unrecognisable, with an open-plan space complete with kitchen island and breakfast bar in its place, as well as a dining table positioned to take in the views of Bath.

They found teaching themselves to plaster the walls to be the trickiest task, but the pair were determined to shun professional help where possible to save money.

Lisa said: “It’s so easy for costs to creep up – there is always something you want to add.

“We budgeted each part of the house and created a separate bank account for our renovation costs.

“The idea was that once the money is gone, it’s gone, so we knew that if we spent more on one thing, we would need to sacrifice something else.”

The pair purchased second-hand furniture on Facebook Marketplace, created a grid mirror using buys from Ikea, and reused old bronze pipes to make their own shoe rack.

Every room in the house was painted and given modern furnishings in natural tones, and in the garden an old pond was removed to make way for turf and a decking area.

Lisa and Ed are now finally able to put their feet up and enjoy the fruits of their labour – but they aren’t ruling out any future projects.

“We would absolutely do it again and were actually sad when it was all done as we enjoyed it so much,” Lisa added.

“We couldn’t have done it without the internet and the willingness of people sharing their skills and experience – and we have learnt so many skills over the past couple of years.”