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  • Writer's pictureRob Lawson

Our Biggest Property Renovation Project Yet

Full property buy to sell renovation in South Shields.

We all love the 70s, apart from the houses. The people back then really knew how to bodge a job and mess up a Victorian house. Out went marble fireplaces, period features and sash windows, to be replaced with brick monstrosities, chintz and window frames that didn't last five minutes.

This example was a particularly sad advert for what the 1970s got wrong. The conversion of two Tyneside flats into one three bedroom house was about as unsympathetic as it gets. Not only did they strip out the period features, they even made the place smaller by removing the bay windows. After completing the work, they then left it virtually untouched for over 4o years. In short, it was a mess.

Sadly, with South Shields house prices, it's simply not possible to possible to replace the lost features if you want to make your money back, so we set about making the best of a bad job, starting with the frontage. This was a relatively simple job and we decided early on to work with the 1970s makeover, rather than against it. By painting the pebbledash white and installing grey windows, we were able to make the house look a lot more contemporary. The grey cladding between the upstairs and downstairs windows restores at least the lines of the old bay windows, so the house is also less jarring in the streetscape.

Inside, we decided to keep the open=plan living and dining rooms, which offer an exceptional amount of space compared to a new-build house. These rooms lacked all Victorian features, so it was basically a question of stripping out the 70s fixtures and creating a blank canvas for the next owner.

A contemporary grey and white colour palette was used throughout the house, and we were amazed by just how light it became once the net curtains were removed and the walls painted white.

Another no-brainer was the addition of French windows to the rear. This required no additional structural works, as the window opening was already in place, and it takes full advantage of the south-facing rear aspect. It also opens up the surprisingly large rear courtyard garden, created by the removal of the old annex in the 1970s conversion.

In the kitchen, we did look at creating an open-plan kitchen-diner, but the wall was structural and the budget wouldn't stretch. On the plus side, when we took out the wall to reinstall the blocked up door into the hallway, we realised that the front to back space was pretty unique and a useful feature, so we left the space open.

The kitchen is simple and contemporary, with an integrated oven/hob and an open breakfast bar where kids can have meals or do their homework. It's also light thanks to the open aspect from the front, and the glazed back door,

To appeal to families, we decided to install a dishwasher in addition to the washing machine, and we left room for a large fridge freezer under the stairs.

Upstairs, the generously sized bathroom was an aubergine monstrosity, so we stripped it back to the brick and decided to go for a large separate shower to maximise the appeal of the property and help to fill the space. Integrated units and a double-ended bath also help to enhance the luxury feel.

The bedrooms were simple stripped back and decorated, with newly skimmed walls like the rest of the house, creating a foundation for the new owner to put their stamp on. With two large doubles and a single room, the size of this property is far larger than you would expect in many more recent buildings.

Externally, the rear garden was a bit of a mess, with broken greenhouses, badly laid gravel and a giant palm tree taking up most of the space. We decided to create a simple space that the new owner could work with, so everything was removed, the walls were restored/painted and a lawn was laid where the gravel had been.

Although we didn't blow the budget, the combination of the white walls and contemporary windows gives an almost mediterranean feel to the outside space, which is a real sun trap.

The house was valued at £80,000 before work started and we spent just over £30,000, including a full rewire and extras requested by the client, including spotlights through the downstairs and grey windows in the rear. `The house eventually sold for £145,000, giving an excellent rate of return to the owner.

This property is a great example of making the best of a bad job. We all love original features and character, but where they've been removed it's not always cost-effective to put them back. The house sold to a young family who were attracted by the modern styling and outside space, which offered great value compared to a more modern house in the nearby Westoe Crown development.

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