Taking a risk on a renovation home was our right move

Reader’s note: This article was first published on 11th February 2019.

Emily and Richard had been together just over six years when they made the call to buy their first home together.

While Richard was living with his brother in Elephant and Castle, Emily was renting with her sister in Battersea and both were keen to stay south of the river.

Keen to buy a house, but with a limited budget, the couple knew they’d need to look further afield than the Zone 2 band of South London they were used to and go for more of a project, something that needed a bit of TLC,  to make buying their first home together happen. They were also keen to find somewhere that had period features and a bit of character, as well as two bedrooms so that their friends and family could come and visit.

When Emily suggested Peckham, in South London, the pair started researching the area and soon realised it offered far more of an opportunity for them to create the kind of home they were after than they ever could have realised.


Similar properties on the market:

Settled on the area, it didn’t take long for a particular property, in Chourmet Square, to catch Richard’s eye on Rightmove and now they couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. They had fallen head over heels in love.

Unfortunately, their first offer was rejected and the house was then taken off the market, leading them to believe someone else had beaten them to it. Resigned to the fact they’d lost their dream house, the couple began their search once more.

It wasn’t until three weeks later that the house randomly came back onto the market. Thankfully Rich spotted it in one of his Rightmove property alerts, allowing him to act quickly, contact the agent and get another offer in!

With an accepted offer now under their belts, it should have been plain sailing from here but unfortunately, their next problem came when they were told there was no way they’d be able to get a mortgage for the property – because it required too much work and it was deemed to be too much of a risk to the lender. They were gutted.

After a lot of legwork, trying to find out what who would be willing to lend to them for this type of property, it turned out that only two lenders would accept their application and, even then, the surveyor even advised the couple not to buy the building because there were too many red flags.

Nevertheless, they stuck with it and, after getting their own building inspector in, the pair ended up being able to dismiss every reason not to make it their own.

A few months later and the house was finally theirs.

Though the hard work was only just beginning and they would go on to have over a year of renovation works ahead of them, where works seemed to go wrong at every corner.

“We never lost sight of what we wanted”

During this stressful renovation, it was up to Richard and Emily to keep each other’s morale up and convince the other they had made the right choice. Happily, when they were finally able to move in, after the renovation works had been completed, all the stress and frustration of the last 12 months vanished and they were finally able to enjoy their new home.

For Emily, it’s the kitchen that has really made the place feel special – beautifully finished and with everything from the dishwasher to the washing machine cleverly hidden behind cupboards. In fact, throughout the house, the couple have made smart use of every nook and cranny for storage.

Originally, when starting their home-hunting journey, the couple hadn’t put a local community high up on their list of ‘must haves’ – feeling that it simply didn’t exist. However, since moving to Peckham they have found themselves proven wrong and admit it would be ‘very difficult’ to imagine themselves living in a different area now. The sense of community they experience is friendly and welcoming, in an area where everyone feels like one big family. There are constantly people on the square wanting to chat and invite you into their homes as well as a very relaxed and laid-back culture.

“There have been times when I’ve been going home and reached our street by 6pm, only to not make it to the front door until 10:30pm – because as you walk past all the homes in the square, everyone loves to chat and invite you in!” says Richard.

Peckham also has great transport links; where you can get from the train station to London Bridge or Victoria in ten minutes, all while still getting to experience your own piece of England and a place you can call home. Richard adds: “You don’t really understand the depth of the community until you live in Chourmet Square”.


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