Homes Under The Hammer: Transformation sees basement flat riddled with damp almost double in value

Friday, January 6, 2023

From junk yard and damp walls and floor to big profit and a 14% yield

When a basement flat in Pembroke Dock went under the hammer online with a guide price of just £32,000, would potential bidders be put off firstly by the junk yard outside that at the time included a boat, and then the problem of damp inside?

The state of the kerb-side scene certainly didn't impress BBC's Homes Under The Hammerpresenter Martin Roberts when he arrived at the address to start filming the story of the flat - the first impression of this property was rewarded with one of his now legendary disapproving looks.

Speaking about the house, sold by Paul Fosh Auctions in February 2022, Martin says: "In terms of curb appeal, it's not going very well, let's hope inside is better!" Moving past the junk and into the flat, would the property redeem itself with space and potential?

When Martin starts his tour inside he is struck by a musty smell that is a very common odour to find in a basement flat where a large section of the walls are below ground. But he also discovers that the new owner has already started fixing the walls with a membrane to tackle the damp issues.

The property was bought by property developer and landscaper Tom, who had taken a chance and branched out from renovating properties in his native Cardiff to look for bargain buildings in west Wales, even though the flat was almost a two-hour drive away.

He had secured the Pembrokeshire property for the guide price of £32,000 and estimated spending up to £17,000 on renovating the flat over a 10 to 11 week period, and was happy with the plans to invest a substantial part of that budget into tackling the damp issues with the knowledge that he could secure a good rental yield in this area.

Tom says: "There is a severe damp problem at this property, and they had a shower in the bedroom, which was really strange, so we're going to move that shower, and that was creating probably a bit of condensation.

"And because we're in a basement flat, all the exterior walls were quite wet, even the floor - there was rising damp coming through, so we've put a vapour barrier on each wall and on the floor. So that's been one of the key things with this property - sorting that issue out."

The programme returned three and a half months later and there are changes to see immediately, with the junk at the front gone and some new purple slate laid by the front door for a more appealing welcome.

Inside the musty smell has gone, walls are white, and the flooring is grey wood-effect, but apart from the damp it's the kitchen and toilet and shower facilities that have seen the most change.

Tom has been resourceful and kept the original kitchen carcasses and added new doors, handles, worktop, sink and tap and tiles that have totally transformed it to the point where Martin is impressed enough to say he thinks it looks like a brand new kitchen.

The shower has gone from the corner of the bedroom and Tom has made good use of the cloakroom by rehoming it in there to create a shower room. The bedroom now has a vacant, showerless corner perfect to welcome a wardrobe.

Another move Tom has made to improve the flat layout is a great idea that has maximised the potential at this property too. When it went to auction it was marketed as a one bedroom flat with a kitchen diner and a separate lounge.

But Tom has made the property into a two-bed flat by using the generous kitchen diner as a complete open-plan living space. The former lounge is now a bedroom. Instantly creating a second bedroom has instantly increased the home's value.

With material costs increasing and the hefty investment in plastering and damp proofing, the budget went up to £18,500 even though Tom got stuck in with the ripping out, waste removal and painting, but he is very happy with the finished result that cost a total of £50,500 overall, including the purchase price.

Even though this was Tom's eighth property project there are things he has learnt such as it's easier to use local tradespeople rather than ones from almost two hours from the site and that shopping around for values once the property is complete is always worthwhile.

Even though Tom is planning to rent the flat out at £600 per calendar month achieving a 14% yield, a local agent resale valuation comes in at £65,000 but Tom is having none of it, saying: "We've had an agent look at this property and they think that we can sell this for between £90,000 and £95,000, and what is quite promising with those agents is that they have sold a two-bedroom flat across the road very recently for £120,000."

If Tom were to sell for the top £95,000 resale valuation he would have almost doubled his investment, minus tax of course - not bad for a basement flat with junk in the garden outside and riddled with damp on the inside.

This BBC Homes Under The Hammer story is in series 25, episode 75 currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer.


Story by Joanne Ridout via WalesOnline. Click here to see the full story

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