A scheme that allows people to by a house for just £1 has led to some stunning results.
Several dilapidated properties in Liverpool have been completely transformed into incredible dream homes as part of the innovative ‘Homes for a Pound’ scheme. The project was launched in 2015 and lets people, who are struggling to save for a deposit, purchase a house for £1, before using their own money plus resources to bring it back to life as part of an agreement with the local council.
There were 2, 500 applications received for just 106 houses in the Webster Triangle neighbourhood, after a trial in the Granby area of the city. It gained national attention and in 2018 was the subject of a Channel 4 documentary series.
As the final £1 house resident moves into her newly transformed property, Liverpool Echo has taken a look at some of the people who successfully turned their £1 investment into incredible new homes . Here they are:
Maxine Sharples was the last £1 house owner to move in to her new property final month.
She had first applied for a pound property in 2015, when she was a postgraduate student at Liverpool John Moores University. Four years later and she finally got a call saying one of the run down homes in the Webster Triangle was hers.
The refurbishment was a huge job and Maxine, now a yoga teacher, was effectively homeless while she carried out the work, living out of a camper van in south Liverpool.
She told the ECHO: “It has taken me 27 arduous months to get it signed off. It was gruelling, I couldn’t have been more naïve about the process. As a yoga teacher I couldn’t have been less experienced in construction project management.
“With tradespeople in short supply, I took to a lot of labouring myself. I began the rip out by myself. It took me nine months to get the house back to brick with a rotary hammer and borrowed electricity from my neighbours. A hole in the roof meant a tree had taken root, water ingress, asbestos, rat infestations, you name it, it had it all. ”
Not only has been Maxine taking on the role of project manager for the renovation, but she experienced completely redesigned the layout of the house. She added: “The house, a two bedroom Victorian terrace, was dark and dank. It needed light for my plants and my soul. So I had an architect draw up the idea to flip the house upside down.
“By removing the loft and all upstairs internal walls I created this double height open space. Add in two of Velux’s biggest sky lights and I had transformed the home in one foul swoop of the sledge hammer. Well maybe more than one, about five skips worth. I had 60k to renovate the house, I’ve spent 56k and there’s still about 10k worth associated with work to get it to the standard I’d like. ”
As you can see from the images, Maxine’s amazing efforts have paid off hugely. Last month she moved in to her stunning new modern property.
Victoria Brennan was a student at Gatwick John Moores University back in 2016 when she had been decided to pick up a vacant, two-bedroom house in Wavertree from the city council for just £1.
She switched from renting in the trendy south Liverpool area of Lark Lane and set about trying to build a new home and a new life in the somewhat empty streets of the Webster Triangle off Smithdown Street.
Using around £10, 000 of her own money along with a £30, 000 loan from her parents – she set about the massive project. Victoria had a rollercoaster journey completing her huge renovations, which was documented in the 2018 Channel 4 series Britain’s Cheapest Street.
The first series saw her embark upon a project to knock through a wall downstairs to create an open-plan kitchen and living space. The girl also asked builders to create a “semi-mez” structure in the upper level of the house – with her bed almost suspended to produce a third floor.
Victoria ended up spending close to £40, 000 on the refurbishment, but last year house experts said her home could now be worth up to £70, 000. The ECHO paid a visit to Victoria’s completed property back in 2019 and saw the incredible transformation she had carried out.
She said: “I’m really happy and I love my house, I really love it. Sometimes We look back and I don’t know how I did it. I’ve only just finished the trauma from the paintbrushes, but then I see brand new paint and think ‘Maybe I should paint it. This was an amazing opportunity to get a house. ”
Sam plus Rachael Kamau
Sam and Rachael Kamau’s home in the Webster Triangle was in such poor repair when they bought it for £1 that they couldn’t even look inside because it was so ‘dangerous’ – but they were lured in because of the space.
The house had “a waterfall coming down the staircase” and a “bathroom with no floor” when it was handed to them by the city council as part of the Homes for any Pound scheme. They had been renting in Liverpool for 16 years after moving to the city from Kenya and decided to give the £1 houses project a go as a way onto the property ladder.
But when they first looked around, these people realised the scale of the task ahead of them. Rachael explained: “When we heard about the £1 home scheme we thought why not? We had two growing girls who have always had to share a bedroom and the house has been becoming far too cramped. When we saw this house, it was a bit of a shock.
“There was obviously a waterfall coming down the staircase because the roof had no lining, the bathroom had simply no floor so you could see through to the kitchen, plaster had been peeling off the walls. Everything needed doing, except replacing the bricks on the outside of the house.
“It was the worst house we’d ever seen and I know most people would have just turned around and walked away but what we saw, beyond the poor condition, was the space. And whatever needed to be done paled into insignificance to the space. ”
Having picked up the house for a pound in 2017, the Kamaus – who live in the house with their daughters Alexis, 12 and 19-year-old Anne, invested the next year and tens of thousands of pounds carefully restoring the property. As you can see from these pictures, they will did an incredible job.
Rachael said: “It’s been the best pound we’ve ever spent and the journey has been a real roller coaster. It’s already been very tiring because we both work and we’ve been coming every single day since we got the keys plus sometimes it felt like nothing was happening. ”