When we bought our family home, a three bed semi for £185,000, we were not looking for an investment property - just a home to live in. It was just as well because even though we purchased at the height of the recession, a few months later house prices fell, again, and our house was worth less than we paid for it. Our hope of getting a loan to do some much-needed renovations went out of the window.
The structure of the house was sound but it had not been updated since 1961 and it was tired and dirty. The first day we moved in, I remember opening a window to let in some air and the entire frame crashed to the ground. All the neighbours came out to see the commotion. Luckily no one was hurt. On another occasion the kitchen roof fell down. In the end, every single room in the house needed work.
Our slender savings meant that we had to do the majority of the work ourselves. It was a steep learning curve. My husband had a good knowledge of DIY and along with the help of family and friends the renovations got underway.
The first rooms we tackled were the kitchen, bathroom and my daughter's room. She had a photo of her dream bedroom with its own en suite. Her room was next to the large family bathroom so we knocked through a wall and added a shower room. The walls were painted pink.
Downstairs there was a decent size sitting room, an adequate dining room and a small breakfast room that led to a tiny kitchen. This contained an old cooker, small larder and a butler sink. There was no room for anything else.
We knocked three rooms into one to get a decent size open plan kitchen/ breakfast room. We then added an extension to the old dining room to create extra space. The old kitchen was turned into a utility room.
Our most ambitious project was turning our loft into a bedroom with ensuite dressing and bath room. This is now my favourite room. Every time we did any structural work on the house we had to get it approved by the local building inspector.
He was full of knowledge and very helpful. I also found YouTube and the 'You can do it' courses at B&Q invaluable. I learnt tiling, dry walling and plastering, which really came in handy.
When we were half way through we managed to get a small loan which helped, but I'm glad we were not able to borrow all of the money because we have saved a fortune by doing most of the work ourselves.
Lack of finances also made us greener and we have become keen recycling fans. Apart from paint and new windows, every single item we used - including the kitchen cupboards, bricks and bathroom fittings - were purchased from car boots, auction sites, skips or recycling tips.
I found our sofas in someone's yard with a note saying 'free to a good home' they were slightly damaged and wet but fixable. We found a company who up-cycles furniture into funky statement pieces called my junk 4u and for less than the cost of one new sofa I got two fabulous pieces. Nothing went to waste during the build.
Shortly after the work was finished we had the house valued at £265,000. I feel pleased because it means that our hard work has paid off and the £15,000 we spent on renovations has not been lost.
Our house is not posh or worth a fortune but it's our house, built with our own hands and that gives me a huge sense of satisfaction.