6th June 2024

Renovating Stories: Our London Listed Home

Category: Property

Tags: diy, renovating, Renovation,

Research from renovation company Beams, found that three quarters of home owners are looking to tackle a renovation, than move house in 2024. With a more buoyant housing market and gradually rising house prices, it comes as no surprise that a growing percentage of buyers are looking to acquire properties that require renovation or complete a renovation on their existing homes.

As the official estate agency partner of the Southern Homebuilding and Renovating Show in Surrey for 2024, we’re introducing ‘renovating stories’ to unlock the insights of seasoned home improvers, renovators, and builders for their thoughts, tips, and tricks on all things property renovation.

In each instalment, we’ll feature interviews with experienced professionals who share their real-life experiences, innovative solutions, and practical advice. From budget management to design inspiration and tackling unexpected challenges, our experts cover it all to help you navigate your renovation journey with confidence.

Keep reading beyond our latest contributor’s story to find out how you could get two free tickets to this year’s show. Whether you’re a seasoned renovator or just starting your journey, ‘Renovating Stories’ aims to to be an invaluable resource for turning your renovation dreams into reality.

Emily and Hugh (pictured) purchased their home in South East London, at auction, during COVID, without viewing it! As first-time buyers and first-time renovators, the couple were quick to document their renovation venture on Instagram. @ourlondonlistedhome has amassed 61,000 followers, over 500 posts, and a bunch of ‘before and afters’ – all since the first post back in May 2021.

Since growing their online community, we were intrigued by their tips and tricks they’ve shared with their followers. Here’s what they had to say about their renovating story so far…

Renovation Timeline

August 2020 – Purchased the property

August 2020 – Renovation began

2024 – Renovation still in progress!

Renovation Overview

Homeowner – Our London Listed Home

Location – South East London

House type – Semi-detached Victorian property

Build time – TBC!

When did you start the renovation?

We started the basic renovations on the day we moved in, we knew we didn’t want to wait long and couldn’t live in it as it was. It started with just a basic white paint job to make the space feel clean and more like our own.

What was the renovation project? Describe the renovations undertaken, give us an overview of the project

To describe it simply, it was the whole house. The house had been neglected and was in desperate need of some TLC and some modernisation to make it a comfortable family home. We rushed into some basic decorating to give us a blank slate so that we could spend some time to really consider would we wanted and what would work for us.

While we considered what we wanted to do inside the house, we started on landscaping the garden with the intention of having it completed before summer. As with all projects since this one, we massively under estimated how long this would take and finally finished the garden in the September but we were super happy with the result. We wanted to create a garden with different areas that we could use for different things: a decking area for sunset drinks; an outdoor kitchen equipped with Big Green Egg, a sink and a wine/beer fridge; a lawn for the dog to play on; and a dining area for late night eating and socialising.

What was the budget? Did you stick to it? If not, why not?

We didn’t have a budget and have not tracked our spending on any of the projects. We have been investing all of our spare money into the house because we want to make it just right for us. We were lucky enough to buy the house in the pandemic so we knew that we got a very good deal. We know that the value of the house will, at least, increase with our spending on it so we don’t have to worry about making a loss but hopefully there will be some profit in it whenever we come to sell.

What was the most expensive aspect of the project?

For the kitchen and bathroom renovations, I think we underestimated the cost of the professional services for the architect, building control, structural engineer etc. I’d say we’re pretty good at knowing the price of the raw materials but really underestimated what we’ve have to spend on the ‘invisible’ parts of the project.

"I think the bathroom is the room we are the most proud of. It is the most recent one we’ve completed and we had to learn the most skills."

What was the most challenging aspect of the project?

We really struggled with no having a kitchen or bathroom about 6-months. We rigged up an outdoor shower which was fine in the summer but less pleasant on windy winter nights when the temperate was well below freezing. The makeshift kitchen was functional but it was compact and lacked in the essentials like an oven and kitchen sink. I (Emily) also really struggle with the dust, no matter what you do to prevent it, it seems to get into every room. We bought Dust doors for the rooms we were trying to keep normal but dust finds a way in!

What was the most rewarding aspect of the project?

For us it is definitely seeing the end result and knowing that we managed to achieve it ourselves. We have had to teach ourselves so many new skills and knowing that we have been able to master so many of them makes us really proud.

When did you finish?

The project still isn’t finished and to be quite honest I think we have a few more years until it’s exactly how we want it. At the end of this year the kitchen should be finished but then we still have the spare room to go. We also want to make a feel amendments to the garden and need to tackle the front of the house. Also where it is a period property the upkeep is constant and I think we will always be repairing some part of the house.

Did you stick to the timescales you set out? If not, why not?

I wish! One thing we have learnt is that everything takes a lot longer than you plan and you always encounter problems. I think this is partly because it’s an older house but also because we are such perfectionists. We definitely thought we’d be finished by now but we also love doing it and I can’t imagine what we’d do without the constant DIY.

Why did you undertake the renovation? (Was it making improvements to your home, to sell, to rent?  Were they unplanned/necessary building works? Or another reason?)

We wanted to make the house perfect for us and really feel like our own. We spend so much time at home so want it to be somewhere we can relax and be happy. We also have our first baby due this July, so having somewhere that we are really proud of to raise them in is so important for us!

Did you use third parties? If so, which? 

We have only used third parties for our bigger jobs as we try to save on costs and do the rest ourselves. We had an architect for the kitchen and bathroom renovation as it was a major reconfiguration and it’s also a listed building meaning planning permission was a nightmare.

One job we haven’t done ourselves though is plastering, this is a real art and something we knew we’d struggle to learn. I would definitely recommend outsourcing this if you can.


For anyone thinking of undertaking a renovation like yours, what advice would you give them?

Practice makes perfect! If we look back at the jobs we did at the beginning we have come on leaps and bounds. New skills can seem really daunting to start with but it gets easier and you get more confident every time you do it.

Is there one aspect or element of your renovation that is your favourite/you are most happy with?

I think the bathroom is the room we are the most proud of. It is the most recent one we’ve completed and we had to learn the most skills. We are also so happy with the finish and think it looks so clean and tidy. We also thought of every single aspect to maximise the space and ensure we had enough storage. Other than that the living room will also be my favourite and our current most used room.

We hope the insights from experienced renovators and real-life accounts like Emily and Hugh’s inspiring project provide the foundations, tools and confidence to tackle your own renovations.

As we partner with the Southern Homebuilding and Renovating Show in Surrey, we’re excited to offer two free tickets worth £24* to help you nail down your plans and hammer out the details of your next project!


Interested in sharing your story? We’d love to hear from you! Please email us with a brief overview of your renovation project at marketing@curchods.com.


*Saving based on full priced tickets for two people. Offer ends 3pm 28 June. Children aged 16 and under go free.

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