Interiors Savvy Woman Renovates Rundown House On A £5k Budget
- Lisa Allison, 33, transformed her fixer-upper from top-to-toe for under £5k in just four weeks
- DIYer tripled her investment, with the house now valued around £15-20k more than what she bought it for
- Saved £500 alone on fitting the kitchen by helping out tradespeople and is “over the moon” with the result
It takes a brave soul to take on a whole house renovation, especially if you’ve close to zero DIY experience under your belt.
First-time homeowner, Lisa Allison, 33, rose to the challenge by doing up her rundown two-bedroomed property in Blidworth, Nottinghamshire, despite having a modest £5k budget and just four weeks in which to complete the work.
The media and digital content specialist bought the property in October 2020 and turned it around in a month. Not only did she smash her goal, but she tripled her £5k investment, with the house now valued at around £15-20k more than what she bought it for.
“I bought my home for a good price due to all the work it needed, so I knew that by doing it up I would add some value, but I was surprised by how much,” Lisa told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk. “I thought that I may just cover my costs, but an estate agent has informed me that the renovations have added around £15-£20k to the property’s value.
“I’m over the moon with the result. It means that down the line, when I do sell up, I will have that extra money, my deposit and any equity I have built up in the home as my reward.”
Rewind the clock to September 2020, when Lisa was searching for houses, and the idea to renovate a home hadn’t even crossed her mind.
“I’d been saving for a house for a long time and while I was in no hurry to buy, I was on the lookout for properties,” says Lisa. “I didn’t mind a bit of painting, but I certainly wasn’t looking for a whole house renovation. Then, this house popped up in the perfect area and for a great price. I saw it the day it went on sale, immediately put in an offer and after viewing the home another three times my offer was accepted.”
Lisa’s excitement soon turned to nerves when she came to terms with the amount of work that would be involved to make the property liveable.
“It wasn’t a house you could just move into,” she says. “I knew it would take a lot of work, but I had fallen in love with the property and started thinking about all the things I could do to turn it into a home. I thought it would be easy, but I was so wrong. I don’t regret it though.”
Lisa looked at colour schemes as a jumping off point.
“Originally, I wanted to use grey with ochre or mustard, but I soon fell in love with rose gold accents. Yellows don't blend with rose gold, however, so I was stuck for a way to move forward.
“The turning point was when I popped into Homesense for some kitchen inspiration and spotted some stunning scallop shaped blush pink breakfast bar chairs. Even though I’m not usually a fan of pink, I bought them there and then and that’s how the pink, grey, rose gold theme was set.”
Lisa decided to carry on the theme throughout the whole house. Armed with inspiration, she was ready to go.
“I needed to get the whole house turned around in four weeks to get it ready in time for Christmas, but I could only take two weeks’ leave from my job, so most of the work happened then,” she says. “I wanted to do as much of it as possible myself in order to keep down costs.”
For the first two weeks of the project, Lisa could only work at weekends.
“On the first weekend I knocked down the dividing kitchen wall and ripped out the kitchen,” she says. “The plasterer came to do the kitchen not long after. The second weekend was spent taking all the rubbish to the tip, ripping up the flooring, and removing the radiators.”
Lisa’s two weeks off work were used to finish the new kitchen and decorate all the different spaces of the house: the master bedroom, the living room, kitchen, dressing room/office, conservatory, and garden. Most days, she was working from 7am to 10pm, which Lisa says was tough at times, but she was determined to stick to the plan.
Calling in the pros and the cost of the new kitchen sucked up the lion’s share of her budget.
“I shopped around for tradespeople and, in the end, I went with a recommendation from a friend who could do the jobs I needed for a good price,” she says. “They fitted the kitchen, but I helped with certain parts, such as building the cabinets, which saved me around £400. I also paid pros to fit new radiators, do the plastering and fit some flooring.”
A friend helped out Lisa with the painting while her dad helped with some trickier jobs, such as replacing the electrical sockets. All the items were found cheaply online, or bought in the sales where possible. Lisa tackled the tiling herself and fitted lino flooring in the kitchen and bathroom.
“I also changed the shower door and the sanitary ware in the bathroom, which was my first time using a drill,” she says. “I bought a cheap secondhand fireplace from Facebook Marketplace for the living room and painted it grey to match the colour scheme. I also added all the new light fittings, filled any holes and cracks in the ceilings and walls, sanded and painted them, and did all the wallpapering and glossing.”
Here’s a rundown of what took place in the main rooms:
“The kitchen was such a wreck,” says Lisa. “It was falling to pieces so I knew I needed to replace it immediately. Plus, I wanted to knock down the wall to create more space that flowed through to the floating breakfast bar.”
Once the wall came down, Lisa removed the wall tiles and ripped out the cabinets. She also removed a radiator to make way for more cabinet and worktop space. She then took up the floor and Ievelled it with cement before putting lino down.
Lisa was keen to recreate a grey and marble kitchen she’d seen on Pinterest and found a similar design in B&Q for £1k, which she had a discount code for through her work’s perks scheme.
“The room is an odd size and shape, so buying cabinets secondhand wasn’t an option, but I kept the cost down by opting for a streamlined layout, choosing just nine units with clever internal storage,” she says. “I also picked a laminate worktop over granite or marble.
“The fitting costs came in at around £500, but would have been around double that if I didn’t help out and build the cabinets myself. I also finished off the little bits of the kitchen like doing the silicone, finishing the splashback and kickboards to keep the cost down.
“My favourite part of the kitchen is the breakfast bar. I’m so happy with the marble and rose gold design teamed with the pink chairs.”
“I knew a brand new bathroom suite would be way out of my budget so I had to think about how I could make it all look new on a budget,” says Lisa. “The bath, sink and toilet came with the house, but I changed the bath panel for a new one. I also bought a new, mirrored shower door to replace the curtain – it helps the bathroom look bigger.
“I bought a new cheap wall unit and an under-the-sink cabinet from B&M, and got a great deal on a grey designer style radiator for the bathroom. All the sanitary ware was changed, too.
“The best bit is the flooring. It cost me £30 for the lino and I fitted it myself. It was fiddly but totally worth it. There were also tiles going around the middle of the room that had been badly painted with white paint, so I repainted them properly with grey tile paint. I used a grout pen to freshen up the grout and replaced all the silicone.”
“I love spending time in the garden and knew I needed a good decking area to unwind on,” says Lisa. “I like having BBQs, so I wanted an entertaining space – even though I’m yet to host due to the pandemic.”
Lisa extended the existing wooden decking area with the help of her dad and was gifted a secondhand wooden dining table and chairs by her parents.
“They were green and brown and looked awful when I got them, but I gave them a lick of paint with Cuprinol Garden Shades, which is especially for outdoor furniture,” she says. “The rattan sofa was secondhand from Facebook Marketplace, the rug was cheap from Aldi and the egg chair was the most expensive item at £150 from B&M.”
The shed, also donated for free, was painted in a pink shade of Cuprinol. all the fence panels were repainted too, and Lisa built some raised sleeper beds in the garden to fill with plants.
“The screens on the fence are from Screen With Envy, which I got in the sale,” she says. “I have loved them for years and couldn’t wait to get them in my garden.”
The budget breakdown
Here’s what Lisa allocated to each room upgrade (include the cost of new radiators, sockets, lights, blinds and decorations where appropriate)…
- Bathroom, £150
- Living room, £250
- Master bedroom, £130
- Spare room, £100
- Landing, £80
- Garden, £300
- New front door and decorative accents such as mirrors, • prints and shelves, £890
- Tradespeople including plumbers and plasterers (not including kitchen fitting), £700
- Flooring and fittings (minus the bathroom), £1,000
- New kitchen (including fitting), £1,500
Lisa is elated with her newly decorated house.
“I had a £5k budget but I managed to come in under that, so I used the extra to pay for a new front door,” she says. “Sometimes, I can’t believe that this is my house and that I put all the work in to create my perfect first home. I feel so proud – especially as most of the upgrades were done in two weeks.
“When my dad saw the house before I bought it, he said it was a wreck that would take too much work, but I already had a vision of how it could look. Some days were hard and I would just sit on the floor and cry, thinking I wouldn’t get it finished, but the work was well worth it.
“I used to look at the amazing homes on Instagram and think I would never have that, but I love my home so much. I’ve had so many compliments from friends and family, and even strangers who’ve commented on photos I have posted on social media. I’m waiting to have more people over after the pandemic so that I can show them all the hard work I’ve done.
If you’re keen to take on a fixer-upper like Lisa, take this advice:
“Do as much yourself as possible,” she says. “I knew I could decorate, but I never thought I’d be able to tile, lay floors, remove radiators, take down walls and change sockets. There are so many tutorials online that you can teach yourself anything.
“Look on secondhand selling sites such as Facebook Marketplace for cheap or free items and try to upcycle where possible,” she adds. “Buy items you know you want when you see them on sale. I bought my wallpaper when it was reduced and hung onto it for two months until I was ready to use it.
“When it comes to hiring tradespeople, try and find a friend of a friend who can do you a good deal, or someone who has been recommended. Cheapest isn't always best so go with your gut feeling when deciding who to work with. Also, don’t be afraid to ask if they will drop the price if you assist them. This is how I saved £500 on fitting my kitchen.”
Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk says: “Lisa’s £5k home reno has netted her a fantastic £15k profit in the space of a few months.
“It goes to show that you can achieve anything on a budget when you put your mind to it.
“Her resolve to do as much of the work as possible and to shop around for the best deals has been crucial to staying on budged and her efforts have been well worth it.”
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