A couple who purchased an uninhabitable cottage for their first home have revealed how they were able to transform it into a modern, cosy house for £12,000 – by renovating the entire property themselves.
Heather Riches, 27, and her partner Sam Heemsbergen, 29, purchased their first home in Evesham, Worcestershire, for £181,500 in 2018.
The house was not in a liveable condition, with no sewage system, central heating or even a working toilet.
A few days after the couple got the keys to their new home, freelance illustrator Heather, and tree surgeon Sam, got to work on transforming the property themselves.
Heather Riches, 27, and her partner Sam Heemsbergen, 29, have transformed an inhabitable cottage into a modern home. Pictured: Property exterior after
Freelance illustrator Heather, and tree surgeon Sam, bought their home in Evesham, Worcestershire, for £181,500 in 2018. Pictured: Property exterior before
Sam and Heather challenged themselves to transform the property, which had no sewage system, central heating or even a working toilet. Pictured left: Kitchen before, right: after
Heather and Sam (pictured) took advice from Heather’s father, who is a trained carpenter, and had help from his electrician friend to rewire their entire home
BREAKDOWN OF COSTS:
Insulating the walls and loft – £600
Plasterboard and plaster – £600
Skirting and architraves – £350
Sewage treatment and drainage – £3,000
Paint – £500
Bathroom tiles and cladding – £200
Building materials for kitchen inc roof – £2000
Stone drive – £900
Electrician – £650
Doors stripped – £120
Upstairs windows and fittings – £900
Kitchen – £500
Carport – £1,000
Garden fence and gate – £350
Although they wanted to do all of the work themselves, the couple took advice from Heather’s father, who is a trained carpenter, and his electrician friend helped to rewire their entire home.
Heather said: ‘We decided to strip the whole house back and stay living with my parents to renovate as much as possible before we moved in.’
Heather and Sam began their renovation by insulating the exterior walls before plastering them for a brand new canvas to work on.
They then installed a new sewage treatment and drainage system, digging everything out by hand to keep their costs down.
For the living room, the couple removed their old 1970s fireplace and installed a wood burner while keeping the original vintage brick design.
Heather explained that they chose to continue living with their parents during the two-year renovation. Pictured: Living room fireplace before
Heather and Sam decided to begin their renovation by stripping the whole house back for a blank canvas. Pictured: Living room fireplace after
Heather and Sam insulated the exterior walls and then plastered them. Pictured left: Stairway before, right: after
The couple kept cost low while installing a new sewage treatment and drainage system by digging everything out by hand. Pictured: Trench for sewage pipe
The couple knocked down the kitchen wall to create an open-plan dining area and replaced their old roof. Pictured: Dining area during
Heather ensured the property was warm by installing additional glass to the windows for double glazing. Pictured: Kitchen and dining area during
Heather used leftover oak paint from her parents’ previous home renovation to save on costs. Pictured: Dining room after
Heather installed another layer of glass on the windows, making them double glazed for added warmth.
The couple then knocked down the kitchen wall to create an open-plan dining area and replaced their old roof.
Heather painted the kitchen cabinets and worktops with leftover oak paint from her parents’ previous home renovation to save on costs.
She then installed floor tiles purchased from Facebook marketplace and a brand new sink, which was a Christmas gift.
Heather and Sam installed new tiles and cladding in their bathroom and now plan to install a slipper bathtub. Pictured left: Bathroom before, right: after
Heather kept costs low during the renovations by purchasing from Facebook marketplace and was even gifted a sink for Christmas. Pictured: Living room during
The couple transformed the living room by removing their old 1970s fireplace. Pictured: Living room after
Heather and Sam, who plan to install a slipper bathtub in the future, installed new tiles and cladding in their bathroom.
The couple then insulated the walls of the upstairs bedrooms and gave them a new lick of paint.
Heather also removed an old fireplace in one of the bedrooms and converted the space into her own work studio.
For the garden, Heather and Sam purchased 17 tonnes of Cotswold shingle and shovelled the dirt by hand to create a driveway.
Heather overhauled one of the bedrooms to create a work studio space. Pictured left: Studio before, right: studio after renovation
Heather said: ‘We managed to buy a lot of things second-hand, such as the old tiles for the porch and bricks.
‘We found reclaimed pieces with a subtle patina were much more in keeping with the house. For us, the most challenging part was financing the renovation.
‘We have learned so much along the way and think we might have avoided some costly mistakes if we planned the work a bit better.
‘In an ideal world, we would have fitted central heating first before plastering the whole house, but for us, this wasn’t financially viable.
Heather explained that she and Sam were able to reduce costs by purchasing secondhand, but said financing the renovation was a challenge. Pictured: Master bedroom before
Heather said they would’ve avoided some costly mistakes, if they had planned their renovation better. Pictured: Master bedroom after
‘Physically, the most challenging part was digging a three-metre deep hole for the sewage treatment tank and our least favourite job was the plastering.’
The couple took two years to renovate their home and they spent a total of just under £12,000.
Heather said: ‘We are so happy with the outcome, I can’t quite believe it’s ours to call home.
‘There are still so many things we plan on doing, but after looking at old photos of what the house was like it makes me realise how much we’ve accomplished over the years.
Heather said digging a three-metre deep hole for the sewage treatment tank was the most challenging part of their renovation. Pictured: Sam working on the front door
Heather said looking at old photos helps them to reflect on what they’ve accomplished, although they still have many plans. Pictured: Hallway during
‘We are now saving to pay for new wooden windows my Dad is going to make, which for the materials we are going to budget £2,500.
‘In the future, I plan on converting the outside stores into a workshop but building supply costs have gone up and I’m not too sure how much this will cost.’
Heather offered advice for others who wish to renovate their home from scratch, saying: ‘Plan what work you want to do, know the cost and make sure you budget for any problems that might occur.
Heather said she plans to convert the outside stores into a workshop, but she’s unsure how much it will cost. Pictured: Vegetable patch after
Heather advises others who want to renovate their home to budget for any possible problems. Pictured: Drive before
Heather recommends planning to do jobs in blocks and booking time off work to complete them. Pictured: Drive after
‘If you’re learning new skills, start on any rooms you don’t plan on using much, practice your plastering skills in a cupboard or a spare room so when you do any work on a room you will be in all the time, as the kitchen, it will be a lot neater.
‘Plan to do jobs in blocks, book time off work to try and complete jobs instead of cramming things in over one weekend. Also, invest in the right tools beforehand.
‘This may cost more initially but it will make a project much easier and often give a better outcome.’
Heather said it’s important to invest in the right tools because it makes the project easier and often gives a better outcome. Pictured left: Back door before, right: Back door after