A SAVVY couple managed to double the value of their house with a smart renovation – and it’s now worth £2 million.
Mum Tracey Gill and her husband bought the house in a small village near East Sussex in 2016, and have been transforming it ever since.
Tracey says her husband gave her a fairly wide brief when house-hunting, explaining he said: “Find a house ripe for transformation in the prettiest location. I knew I could change any house we bought so the important factor was the land and location.”
The house, which they bought for £1.25million, dates back to 1730 in places and had low ceilings – not great for Tracey's 6ft4ins husband.
Describing the state they bought it in, the mum-of-two said: “It was covered in cream pebble dash with concrete roof tiles, a north facing conservatory on the front of the house, modern leaded light windows, low ceilings, dark rooms, artexed walls, cheap fittings, decades old carpets, pink shag pile in the bathroom and an unimaginative extension put on in 2000.
“However, the gardens were beautiful and well stocked with a 2 acre field bound by a stream, hedgerows all around (no fences), up a track which gives access to just 2 other properties and pin drop quiet! When the trees are in full leaf I cannot see any other property from any window.”
They estimated the build would last between six and nine months, but it ended up taking 14, with Tracey living on site the whole time.
And rather than sit back and let the builders get on with it, she rolled her sleeves up and took charge, with the entire project costing £360,000.
Her image was to bring a New England style home – via Texas and the Deep South – to the Sussex countryside, she shares the makeover on her Instagram page.
She said: “I designed the house before we moved in and then got an architect to do the drawings and put it into planning. I employed the trades direct on a day rate, ran all the materials myself, project managed on site everyday and never employed a single decorator.
“I went on a spray painting course, bought professional kit and sprayed every room myself. I painted all the windows inside and out, all the barge boards, soffits etc. I spent so many hours up and down scaffolding I lost a stone in weight without trying! We did the whole job without a single skip.
“Each weekend hubby would load my Landrover and go to the local recycling centre. He would separate out all the metals and wires which he would take to the local metal merchants.
“After going through 3 tilers I decided to learn how to tile myself. I loved it and did a couple of showers and the mud room and cloakroom floor.”
They set up a fire in the garden to burn wood which they couldn’t use, she created a store to house furniture while the build was underway.
Their adult daughter had moved out and her son was at university in America, but Tracey’s husband husband worked on the house during his days off, as she said he “is incredibly patient and prepared to live in mess”.
Tracey sourced a lot of her finds on eBay, which she then re-painted and repurposed to go with her new look.
She said: “I like to reuse, repurpose, revamp wherever possible. The 19 cast iron radiators are all old originals from eBay, many as little as 99p, shotblasted and powder coated by the lovely local business who did many items for me.
“The huge oak front door was a £200 ebay find, covered in layers of paint with part of the frame still attached. I had a happy afternoon stripping it back to the bare wood and used the strip of oak frame as a doorsill.
"The zinc bateau bath was another eBay find, covered in paint which I stripped off and cleaned up.
"Wall lights came as a job lot for £60 from eBay (with LED bulbs thrown in which I used in lamps). I then sprayed them up before adding vintage bulbs.
“The copper porch lantern was eBay, filthy with cracked glass. I took the glass to my glass cutter who used it as a template, cleaned up the copper and my electrician rewired it.”
And she used her existing fridge and range cooker – but painted them to match her new colour scheme.
Tracey even built a veranda, and she had a trick up her sleeve for that too, saying: “When I built the veranda I used the cheapest bricks I could find then did a German Smear style finish to create a light surface.
“Instead of doing a white mortar mix I used a bag of swimming pool grout to create the distressed finish.”
Tracey kept an eye out for anything which could be reused, saying: “All the sofas and arm chairs are either from my previous properties or auction finds then recovered by a local upholsterer that I have used for years and the fabric bought from fabric outlets in Lancashire for less than £15 per meter.
“When a flat roof was removed from an old sunroom I kept the boards and although one side was covered in bitumen the other side was completely clean, not having been exposed for over 70 years. I used those to create the headboard above the master bed.
“I saved a fortune on the lighting as I brought 6 chandeliers from my previous property and hung those on rusty chain that I had been rusting for 2 years as I knew I wanted to use it somewhere.
“The light feature in the stairwell is actually an original beam that was removed when we created the stairwell. I cut it to size, shotblasted it, wired it up with odd length vintage style bulbs and used yet more of the rusty chain to hang it from.
“The island in the kitchen is an old engineers bench, the console table in the hall way is a carpenters bench with working vice!
“Several dressers have been used on this property to create sink units in the bathrooms and laundry room. In the cloakroom I used a bucket from the garden as a sink and brass taps found at the local tip.”
She also had a lot of furniture and accessories in storage, as she’d been snapping up pieces over the years which she wanted in her future forever home.
Tracey revealed: “Many of these items were purchased before the build even started as I had a clear vision of the look and feel I wanted to create. Plus, if an item didn't work then I would just sell it on, usually for a profit!
“All of the furniture is from auctions with many pieces having been in my possession for decades. As my colour schemes change, I just repaint them.”
Tracey also fitted electric gates, widened the driveway, created a log store, but despite the house now being valued at £2million, she says she’ll never think she’ll be done.
She added: “I don't think I will ever be able to say I have completely finished with the property as a whole as I am constantly updating, refreshing, developing the whole site.
“I have 3 acres to play with.”
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