We've transformed the 'worst home on the street' using bin finds & doubled its value… we've found bricks, nothing is new

A COUPLE with no DIY experience has turned their run down terrace home into their dream pad on a budget using skip bin finds and cheap second-hand buys.

Tom Cafferkey, 37, bought the home in Leytonstone, East London for £360k in 2014 and it was by far the "worst house on the street" thanks to years of neglect.


With a missing roof, mouldy walls and broken windows, the pad was completely unliveable.

It needed lots of work, which Tom, a geologist, was willing to do himself to save some cash.

Tom tells Fabulous: "You couldn't use the master bedroom, it had a hole in the ceiling with water dripping through it.

"There was mould on the walls, the guttering was hanging down, which was pouring water over the windows – it wasn't a place you'd bring a family into."



Luckily, his partner Lucy Smith, 34, who works in PR, came on board to help just months after Tom bought the property, and together they have increased its value to roughly £640k.

In four years, the first home buyers have spent £11k doing up the home and used annual leave, weekends and the coronavirus lockdown to transform the pad, which is almost complete.

While they admit £11k sounds like a lot, they were quoted £10k alone for a new back garden, which they happily refused and did themselves.

They even tackled bricklaying, plastering, rewiring and woodwork after watching YouTubes clips online, and used the skills to completely remodel the home.



One way the savvy homeowners have saved on their build is by roaming the streets in search of supplies and scouring junk store shelves for bargains.

Some of their best finds have come from neighbourhood bins, including an impressive fireplace hearth worth £250 which Tom, who was made redundant during lockdown, painstakingly carried home himself.

"It's as tall and as wide as me and I nearly busted myself getting out. Basically it's the huge piece of beautiful slate and it sits in our dining room now," Tom explains.

"It's gorgeous," Lucy adds. "And I don't know where we would have got something like that from within our budget."



Another great find was a solid victorian door which a neighbour dumped in their front garden.

They've used it to replace their kitchen door and Tom estimates it would cost around £120 if they bought it brand new.

Tom and Lucy, who hope to get married in April, have even scored some building tools from bins, as well as insulation, bricks and floorboards – all of which they bagged for free and used for the build.

In fact, the couple's garden footpath is made entirely from bricks they'd removed from parts of the house, and they wandered the streets looking for more.

"We ran out of bricks when we were making it and we didn't have enough," Lucy explains.



"We spent weeks in lockdown wandering around the streets looking in skips to try and find bricks that would match. We ended up finding about 12 to 14. That was really rewarding."

The thrifty couple have relied on second-hand sites such as Facebook Marketplace in search of other bits for affordable prices.

Some rooms, including the dining room, are even made up entirely of pre-loved items.

"The dresser came from a junk shop, the fireplace was given to us by our neighbour, the mirror came from eBay, the rug came from eBay, all secondhand, there's nothing new," Lucy reveals.

"Facebook Marketplace and eBay helped us with soft furnishings and buying second hand fireplaces,"



"And B&M has been great for cheap building supplies," she adds.

As for the actual build, the handy couple have been "pulling in favours from some friends and family" as a way to keep the cost down.

"When we started out I was borrowing my dad's tools, I really didn't have any money at all to do anything," Tom says.

"My pal really helped me out in the early days. We completely replaced the entire kitchen roof. We put all new slates on it, and did all the legwork.I just could never ever have done it on my own, it was just so much work.

"Our neighbours have been really supportive too. We've got one who's an electrician and she's been really, really helpful. She hasn't done all the work, but she's been given good advice."

Lucy admits that she "couldn't even hammer a nail in a wall"when they started, but has since become a dab hand at DIY.

"I would recommend people try stuff because building isn't rocket science, it's just good planning," she says.

"I've never really achieved anything physically building so I have loved learning how to do physical work."

For more inspiration, a mum transforms her rundown ‘drug pit’ into a plush modern family home for just £5k.

We previously shared how a DIY fanatic completely transforms her three-bed house in three weeks & did it on the cheap thanks to Dunelm & Ikea bargains.

Meanwhile, these are the most popular interior trends for 2021 & how to decorate room by room – with plush velvet & brass kitchen taps.

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