First-time buyer renovates mouldly home during lockdown and adds £45k to value

When Amberley Rainey bought her first property in the Wirral back in December 2016, the 1960s property was run-down and covered in mould.

But thanks to her hard work, she has increased the value from £175,000 to £220,000, despite spending just £18,000 on the renovations.

The 37-year-old moved in in December 2016, and initially made do while she saved money.

Since 2019, she has been slowly chipping away at the transformation during her days off but after being furloughed in March, she was able to focus on finishing all the work.

She merged the kitchen and dining room into an open-plan space and redecorated the bedrooms, lounge and bathroom, as well as changing the garden.

She kept the budget low by buying second-hand. For example, she got her kitcehn on eBay for £400.

‘I was drawn to nothing but the fact the house was so light and bright with good-sized windows,’ Amberley said.

‘Everything else was atrocious and, being a first-time buyer, I had no idea what lay ahead to improve it.

‘I lived in the house for three years just trying my best to bear it by painting walls ‘for now’, but after saving some money I was able to start renovations – starting with the kitchen wall knock-through, which was done by a professional weeks before lockdown.

‘After lockdown happened, I was stuck with all the time in the world and knew I had to sort my act out, and got planning the rest of the renovations.

‘It really kept me busy to say the least.

‘My family are based in Devon and abroad so I didn’t see them at all but I used to call them for DIY tips and used YouTube a lot for decorating advice.’

The structural work was the most expensive part, setting Amberley back £2,500 to have a steel bar fitted for the kitchen/diner knock-through, but she was otherwise able to cut costs elsewhere.

She said: ‘I knew the kitchen would take up a lot of my budget and didn’t want to spend a fortune on units via a high street brand which I’d be paying off each month.

‘I researched my options, which took forever, but in the end found a second-hand kitchen on eBay which belonged to a local family in Wirral who were upgrading their own kitchen.

‘I made the purchase for 15 units for £400, which was a really risky move and meant having it fitted was challenging and the hardest part of the renovations – but so worth it in the end, and it means I’m not in kitchen debt.’

Amberley said working on her home during lockdown was a ‘huge blessing in disguise’ as it kept her mind occupied while she wasn’t working and unable to see friends or family.

She said: ‘Pre-lockdown, my life was all about work and seeing loved ones – then suddenly it became all about buying Polyfilla and drills.

‘Until 2020 I didn’t know I would ever be capable of any form of DIY or decorating, it’s really been a matter of sink or swim.

‘The very fact I didn’t do it before lockdown shows how little time I had and how much of my life was taken up by other things.

‘It’s now become a hobby as I refine the finishing touches.’

Amberley now plans to take a well-deserved break from renovating.

She added: ‘There’s always something to do and the list keeps growing, but for the most part it’s all done.

‘After a year of renovating I don’t want to pick up a paintbrush for a while, but my future plans are to convert the loft space into an office.’

You can follow her journey on Instagram @raineysresidence.

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