I have been toying with the idea of writing this post for a while. With money being such a personal subject, with so many variants in how people afford to take on a project it has always left me a bit unsure, I have decided to share a bit about our story onto the property ladder, and how we afford to renovate our home without a pot of gold.
We have always been the couple that never stop. Whether that be having children, changing job or moving house,we are always up to something! I am a huge sufferer of itchy feet syndrome and in our time renting we lived in 4 houses in a 5 year period. We have always been house proud and renting never stopped us from making a house a home. With me being a stay at home mum to our young girls and Aaron in the early years of his training and career as an electrican, we just never had the money to save for a deposit, whilst paying bills, feeding and clothing small people. We dreamed that one day we would own our own home. Unfortunately the tale of our journey onto the property ladder came hand in hand with devastation. Five years into our relationship my husband and I lost his beloved father and our babies lost an incredible grandfather. It goes without question that if we could hand back all we have in life to have him back we would. Following his dads death my husband received some money, this was just enough that teamed with the help to buy scheme and a 95% mortgage we purchased our first home. A new build house in a little village near where we were renting. We lived happily in this house, making our mark on its blank walls for 5 years, an absolute record for us! Itchy feet struck again but this time we were making a move bigger than ever- our relocation to the south coast. We got on the property ladder at just the right time, when prices were low and we were lucky enough to make a good amount of equity without doing much apart from make our house a home.
This equity meant we could look at properties of a similar size to what we had without having to downsize to much. Putting down a large deposit also meant that we could keep our monthly repayments low. Property prices were higher in Bournemouth and with me now not working, to be at home with the 3 children we needed to put down a large deposit to get the mortgage we needed. When we came to look at our current house we knew it was the one. It was however, a much larger project than we initially anticipated. We came out of the move with a small amount of money but nowhere near enough to even scratch the surface. This money paid for us to put central heating into the house and make it a bit more liveable but within 2 months of moving in, it was gone. If you are thinking….are these nutters renovating with no savings? you would be correct. This brings me onto the final part of this blog post, how we manage our renovation.
We tend to renovate the house room by room and do a room, bi monthly. We find this the best way to financially manage. It takes us around 2 months of “spare money” as such, to complete and furnish a room. This includes everything from plastering the walls to cushions and everything inbetween. We are very fortunate that my husband has a good job, but by good I mean well paid but defiantly not 6 figure. Its all to easy to fall into the Instagram and Pinterest interior rabbit hole and wind up feeling like you will never be able to ascertain anything of the sort. But in the wise words my mum has told me for the last 28 years “decide what you want and decide what you are willing to give up to get it” We go without certain luxurys because we have always wanted to do up a property and I feel very fortunate that we are able to do so, even if we are doing so in a bit of an unconventional way!
During the saving month we do room prep, this is free, or at least very cheap. We strip walls, sand everything down and my husband does any building works or electrical rewiring and installation works that need sorting. Then the following month is for putting the room together. A really useful tool I have found is to use PayPal pay after delivery, this allows PayPal to collect the money 14 days after you have ordered the item, we find this helpful if we are slightly short or financially stretched toward the end of a room and want to add final touches. As an example we ordered the blinds for our bedroom in the middle of the month knowing that by the time the payment would go out it would have been pay day. Our aim is that by the time we have been in this house for a year we will have completed all of upstairs. That is 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, landing, stairs and hallway. This house is very much a long term project for us, we still have an extension to do downstairs and a lot more money to be spent. At the moment, what we are doing works well for us, I don’t doubt that as we come to do larger projects like the extension we will need to either release some equity or get a loan of some kind, we remain realistic about this and know that is still a cheaper option than buying a house that was already extended and finished. I am the kind of person who likes to make their own stamp and I know if we had brought a house that was already decorated, I would have redecorated it all anyway!
If you have made it to the end of these ramblings then congratulations. I hope this has given a realistic insight into how to take on a renovation if you don’t have large amounts of cash to play with. It can most definitely be done! If anyone else is doing the same and has any more tips, I would love it if you would share in the comments below. Whether you have the pot of gold or you are just muddling along, renovating is hard. Apparently it will all be worth it in the end…. that’s the rumour I keep hearing anyway.