Adding value: two become one

Buy-to-let flats can be picked up at bargain prices while family homes are selling at a premium in London. Katrina Burroughs finds how to profit from both situations
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Terrace house on Brackenbury Road, W6
The neat terrace house is in Brackenbury Road, W6, a street popular with families
With family houses in London now at a premium, a clever move by buyers is to track down a house previously converted into flats and return it to a single family home.

There are great opportunities for buyers with imagination who can take on this challenge.

This terrace house is in an excellent family home area, but has been split into flats. It is ripe for restoration as a four-bedroom home — but can it be done so that its value rises by £300,000?

The property

Located in Brackenbury Road, W6, the property is for sale as a single unit but is divided into two flats. The price — £895,000.

The mid-terrace Victorian house is in Brackenbury Village, a picturesque pocket of Hammersmith surrounded by small independent shops and served by good local schools.

Search homes and property for sale near Brackenbury Village

High ceilinged front-to-back reception room
© GAP Interiors/Warren Smith
Partition walls can be removed on the raised ground floor to restore the property’s impressive high ceilinged front-to-back reception room
The property is presently split into two self-contained flats and six years of rentals have left bathrooms, kitchens and the general décor decidedly drab and tired.

Liz Nascimento, sales negotiator at Winkworth, says the scale of the project has deterred some buyers. "People have viewed Brackenbury Road and decided not to do the work. It needs vision and a reliable architect and builder," she says.

Having been an agent in the area for seven years, Nascimento is confident of the potential and thinks that purchasers should look beyond the temporary pain and disruption of a renovation. She says: "Brackenbury Village is popular and has retained its value very well — it's yummy mummy territory with a nice, villagey feel."

Loft bathroom
A pale stone floor from Surface Tiles and white walls give this small loft bathroom a fresh and luxurious feel
She says the right alterations could turn this into a £1 million property.

So what must be done?

Obviously the layout needs to be reconfigured, there needs to be a loft conversion to add a bedroom and the buyer will need a new kitchen.

Where to start

The first step to converting the two flats back into a single house must be taking down the wall between the lower-ground floor bedroom and the kitchen to create a spacious kitchen/diner/ garden room.

On the raised ground floor, the old kitchen needs removal and the space must be combined with the neighbouring reception room to create one attractive room with a high ceiling — a spectacular improvement.

Folding doors open on to the patio garden from the kitchen
© GAP Interiors/Rachael Smith
The builder has recommended new folding doors so the enlarged kitchen opens on to the patio garden
On the first floor the two bedrooms can remain, but the bathroom should be modernised, or better still turned into a spacious shower room.

At the top of the house, a new loft conversion would feature a fourth bedroom and this could have its own bathroom plus some eaves storage.

Getting the price right

Of course, the key is to find a dependable contractor, preferably a local person who knows this type of property and who can stick to a budget.

Nascimento has recommended Billy Heyman, a local builder who runs BTL Property. Heyman is an ex-Army officer who retrained as a builder in 1997. His speciality is top-to-toe modernisations and "deconversions" of flats back into houses. "I do about 10 to 15 of these a year in south-west London," he says.

Modern shower room
© Surface Tiles
With two bathrooms in the house, one can be converted into a spacious modern shower room
He looked at our house and quoted £160,557 for the entire project. That included new electrics (about £6,925), replumbing with a megaflow boiler (£9,630) and roofing (£3,200).

The loft conversion, complete with bathroom, he estimated at £49,289.

He had strong views about the property's rather makeshift side return extension, which presently houses the basement flat's kitchen. He said: "It looks like a shed. I would add a proper insulated roof with Velux windows, then put in sliding folding glass doors along the back on to the patio."

The final calculations

Get it all right and the agent says the house would be worth £1.2 million. A similar property in Brackenbury Road is presently on the market at that price and, Nascimento says: "Four-bedroom houses nearby, where the work has already been done, have sold at that price in the last month."

The work will cost £160,557. It is not a small outlay — but it is a good way to acquire a family home, give yourself a project and end up with a sound investment.

* For builder Billy Heyman, call 07771 604330, or visit
* Surface Tiles: visit

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