On the way home from the pub in Wickham Road, Adam Jude Grant used to walk past a huge decrepit building – one of the oldest in dwellings in Beckenham, south east London – and wonder why it was falling into disrepair.
Built in 1777, it sits in the Chancery Lane conservation area and has been through many incarnations, as offices, a grand home and even a wig factory. But when it came up for sale in 2013, Grant decided to buy it and turn it into a property investment.
“It was a mess, but I didn’t realise how bad it actually was,” says Grant. “There’s this film called The Money Pit with Tom Hanks, where he buys this dilapidated old house and the cost just spirals so it was a lot like that. I spent about £400,000 in the end.”
The house was barely standing and it took four years to complete, with up to 15 tradesmen working on it at once. All of its walls had to be removed and parts replaced by a steel frame to hold up the older sections of the building.
Grant also got involved digging out a metre and a half of earth from the garden so it could be landscaped and he even commissioned a feature piece to really make the property stand out – a handmade, winding staircase. Made using solid English oak that was steamed to create curves, it stretches over three floors set against an exposed London stock brick stairwell.
Then, it was time for the modern touches; five bedrooms, underfloor heating and a kitchen overlooking the garden. Spread over 2,700sqft, it’s now on the market for £1.25m with Proctors estate agents and Grant is finally able to enjoy his achievement.
“I think shows like Homes Under the Hammer and DIY SOS have made everyone want to go out and have a crack at doing up an old house,” he says.
“When I watch Grand Designs and they say how much they’ve spent, I now think ‘there’s no way you’ve only managed to spend that’ because everything costs more than you anticipate and there’s a lot more to it. It’s almost an art.”
Call Proctors on 020 8658 5588