Young couple buy 1930s bungalow left vacant for four years and transform it into dream home

First-time buyers who say they had heard “scary stories” about getting onto the property ladder bought a vacant bungalow and spent seven months turning it into their dream home.

Kate Brown and Paul Fordham from Thurrock, Essex, discovered the home had been unused for four years through neighbour gossip and set about finding out who owned the property.

Despite it not being listed for sale, the couple, who are both 23-years-old, managed to agree to buy the run-down bungalow for £310,000.

The pair picked up the keys in February and got going on the renovation work, spending about £30,000 to completely overhaul the interior.

Kate, an apprentice lawyer, said: “I have always wanted to do a renovation and the only way we could afford to buy a property was to buy something that needed a lot of work doing.

“Paul and I have been together for six years, but we weren’t actually looking for somewhere to live – we just stumbled across this bungalow and the rest is history.

“I would stay up late every night just looking on Pinterest and planning exactly how I wanted the bungalow to look; I didn’t want to make any costly mistakes, so I planned it for months.

“There was a lot of work that needed doing – the radiators had corroded, the walls were peeling, there was damp, and all of the house needed updating.

“We had heard so many scary stories about it being impossible to get on the property ladder, but I would encourage everyone to just go to the bank and see what you can afford as it’s free and you have nothing to lose.”

They gutted the home with all the carpets being ripped out, plastering and painting the walls, as well as installing new plumbing, central heating and electrics.

After hearing that the property was empty, Kate and her partner Paul, who works as a gas engineer, discovered the previous homeowner had passed away and her son had taken over ownership.

They got in touch with him and said he decided to sell to them as he thinks his mum would have been happy knowing her home had helped a young couple get started.

The pair visited a few banks and secured a mortgage, putting down a five per cent deposit from their savings pot.

Kate added: “I’ve had a lot of messages from people asking how we saved but I just say to them that they should just save what they can – don’t restrict yourself so much that you don’t enjoy life.

“We opened Help to Buy ISAs when we were 18 but we didn’t get the benefit from them as our bungalow was above the payment threshold so essentially it was just a savings account for us.

“It’s important to go to different banks as some are more willing to take a chance on you and you won’t know until you go.”

They received some help with finances from their parents and grandparents, but say most of the money came from money they had put aside.

“This wasn’t something that was planned – it just happened and we’re so glad we took it upon ourselves to find out who the owner of the house was.

“When we first walked in, it was surreal seeing all of the furniture still in place as if someone had been living there still.

“We have kept in touch with the owner’s son and he was blown away by the transformation and was ecstatic for us; he said that his mum would love what we have done.”