The old adage “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” can rarely be applied to buying a property, but for one West Derby woman, fate was on her side.
In our Where I Live series, the ECHO will explore one house from across the region each week, with the owner giving us an insight into how they’ve made their house a home. Sarah Nolan, 43, lives in the West Derby home with partner Mark and cat Bishop Brennan.
While they only exchanged on the house at the start of 2022, Sarah’s history using the building stretches back a little further. She told the ECHO: “I’ve always loved this house since I was a child.
“It felt like it was a castle when I was little. I would walk past it as I was growing up plus think how amazing it would be to live in it. ”
Sarah bought her first property on her own in Huyton at the age of 22 and while she “loved everything about it” she still dreamed of her West Derby home.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, she’d walk up and down the street with her friends and “admire the house”. They eventually encourage her to put a note through the door to see if the owner was thinking of selling up.
Sarah said: “On the way home I went and bought the nicest paper, envelopes and pen I could find and sat down to write it I think Mark thought I was crazy.
“We’d spoke a lot about buying a house together and we knew what we wanted in a property. Mark’s list was quite extensive. My list was literally this house.
“He left me to it and I stayed up till 4am writing what I thought would be the perfect letter. The house wasn’t for sale and I really didn’t want to offend anyone by asking.
“The next day I met my friends and went for our walk. I couldn’t even post this so they ran up the path and put it through the door. We where like school children laughing.
“I got back to my car an hour later and I had a text off the owner saying they’d received my letter and would we be interested in coming around over the weekend to chat. Honestly, at that moment my heart was racing so fast.
“The next day we met the family. Unfortunately, the owner had sadly passed away and they where still deciding whether to sell their family home. If I would associated with known this I would never of posted the letter but I suppose something just made me do it.
“After a really lovely chat the following day with the owners I believe they could see how genuine we were and how we really did love their home. ”
Luckily, Sarah’s Huyton property sold “within 24 hours” for 20% over the asking price and the couple were able to move.
They knew they wanted to extend and carried out as much work as they could while they waiting for planning approval: “We ripped it back to bare brick, took down walls, boarded out the roof, made a temporary living space in the bedroom and a makeshift kitchen in the spare room.
“We’ve had a new family bathroom fitted. It’s got a real hotel boutique feel into it and I love it. We spent six months with just a loo and basin and having to use our family’s houses to have a shower, so the excitement when the bathroom was finished was a whole new level. ”
And after “years of battles” with the council, the particular couple’s extension was given the green light. Sarah said: “They made us change our design slightly but working with the builders we have ended up with the most amazing extension. It didn’t come without issues. Once we opened into the existing property we found a lot of structural issue which weren’t cheap to fix. ”
Sarah plus Mark still have a long way to go, with a lot of money spent on structural problems. The living room and bedrooms are set to be decorated over the next two years and some restoration is planned for the hallway.
Sarah said: “The hallway and landing has a stunning front door and staircase so we want to take our time with this to bring it back to its original glory. It will be a lot of detailed sanding plus restoration involved. ”
Sarah loves contemporary spaces, but said her interiors style sways more towards the traditional. She added: “The house is full of character and 1930 features which we don’t want to lose yet we felt it was important to make the extension feel like a modern addition and keeping associated with it’s time so both elements blend together plus meet in the middle. ”
Since moving to West Derby, Sarah has embedded herself in the local community, even opening a shop for her business Licky Lips Cakes .
“I couldn’t think of anything better than working on my local high street shops, ” she stated. “The community have actually welcomed us and it simply feels right for my business to be part of this community that I also now live in. ”
Would you like to become included in the ECHO’s Where I Live feature?
We’ll be taking a look inside a different house each week. If you’re splurging on a renovation, trying your hand at DIY to save money, or have a passion for interiors, let us know.
Please email your name and details to storm. [email protected] com