Woman transforms £1 house into dream home after buying it when she was a student

[17-07-2022 09:20 AM]

Ammon News - A woman has transformed a £1 house into her dream home.

Maxine Sharples bid for the bargain property while she was a student at university.

Liverpool City Council began its Homes for Pound Scheme to bring crumbling properties back in to use while providing people with a chance to get into the housing market.

It began in 2015 while Maxine was a doing a postgraduate qualification at Liverpool John Moores University.

The Liverpool Echo reports those involved in the scheme must use their own money to bring properties back to life.

The project received national attention and was the focus of a Channel 4 documentary in 2018.

It started with a trial in the Granby area of Liverpool up to 10 properties were restored.

In 2016 it was extended to cover the Webster Triangle neighbourhood and attracted 2,500 applications for just 106 houses in the area.

Maxine moved into the final £1 house in the scheme. She will join a neighbourhood that - like her own new property - has been transformed.

But it has been a long, exhausting process for the 35-year-old yoga teacher who has been technically homeless and living out of a campervan during the renovations.

She said: "I applied in 2015 as a postgraduate student at LJMU. I lived locally in L7 at the time and heard about the scheme through the grapevine.

"Although initially I didn't have the funds, I applied anyway and thought, 'I'll cross that bridge' if I was shortlisted. In 2019, four years later, I got a phone call to ask if I was still interested in a home for a pound."

Maxine received the keys to her house on Webster Road in February 2020.

She was told she had just 12 months to complete the renovations, but just weeks later the whole country would be placed into a national Covid-19 lockdown.

Thankfully she was handed an extra year's extension and she set to work.

She said: "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."

In addition to taking on the role of project manager for the renovation Maxine 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 my 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 house 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 of work to get it to the standard I'd like."

Maxine could not be more excited to finally be moving in the dream house that she has worked so hard for.

She said: "I've essentially been homeless for two years, as I moved into my campervan to save money.

"Having underfloor heating is going to be such a luxury, triple glazed windows and a place to hang my plants once and for all.

"I've moved so many times in my life, from Liverpool at the age of six and back at the age of 18, I feel I can finally settle in a house that I brought back to life. It's going to be pukka."

Maxine is excited about joining the community of fellow £1 homeowners and is full of praise for the project and those who took up properties in the area.

She added: "I am a champion of the scheme, it is an innovative idea, and a massive success.

"Because ordinary people have put their blood sweat and life savings into transforming these houses, woe betide anyone in the community not pulling their weight.

"We are a strong community and I'm looking forward to joining it immensely and seeing how I can give back.

"My neighbours are local heroes, they were there when it was a ghost street, pioneers in the project.

"I'm the last one to complete and I've taken the longest so felt bad for ages, I'm happy to be joining them when I move in."


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