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?
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.
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.
© GAP Interiors/Warren Smith
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."
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.
On the first floor the two bedrooms can remain, but the bathroom should be modernised, or better still turned into a spacious shower room.
© GAP Interiors/Rachael Smith
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.
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).
© Surface Tiles
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 btlpropertyltd.co.uk.
* Surface Tiles: visit surfacetiles.com)