Couple buys ‘dump’ house from council for £1 and turn it into £120,000 home
Delighted Debbie and Ste Hodge are finally quids in after buying a house for a pound and turning it into a £120,000 asset.
They put “blood, sweat and tears” into the two-bed dump, bought under a council regeneration scheme.
Debbie and Ste were shaken when they first stepped through the door – armed with a £60,000 schedule of works from Liverpool City Council to bring it up to scratch.
The 19th century terraced house had been hit by fire and had crumbling walls, broken bricks and burnt joists.
But the couple worked 24-7, did most of the renovations themselves and in 12 months transformed it into a cosy home for just £30,000.
After enjoying their first Christmas in the double-fronted home in the city’s Wavertree district, the pair have been buoyed by a valuation of £120,000.
Debbie, 48, says: “We never want to move because we have put so much of ourselves into this house. People thought we were nuts.
“We’ve crawled on the floors, we built the floors… it’s a gamble we took and we love it. Our blood and guts have gone into it. If they’d give us next door, we’d do it again!”
Recalling the first time she saw the property, Debbie says: “It was just a shell. All the joists were burnt. It was terrible.
“Honestly, it was just stacks and stacks of bricks. There was nothing. My family were saying to me, ‘You’re mad’.”
Every floor had to be replaced, chimneys were removed, the sinking kitchen was underpinned, all fittings were ripped out and the windows were upgraded.
Debbie and Ste, 53, used their savings and took a small loan to complete the work – and it was hard graft.
We were there until midnight with torches. We went seven days a week, we didn’t miss a day,” Debbie says.
She scoured local ads for bargains and bagged a £15,000 kitchen for a tenth of the price and a £4,000 bathroom suite for £1,500. They also picked up a slightly damaged £1,200 front door for £300.
And, slowly but surely, the place came together. Now it is a shining example of how Liverpool is breathing new life into former slums.
The council unveiled its Homes For A Pound scheme in 2013. A year later, bosses vowed that 6,000 empty houses would be brought back into use.
Since then, 1,500 homes have been reoccupied – including 97 in the Webster Triangle, Wavertree, where the Hodges live. Seven more families are due to move in soon.
A similar scheme has since been launched in Stoke-on-Trent.
Last year, a Channel 4 documentary about the renovations in Liverpool featured Debbie and Ste.
The couple say the sense of community in the Webster Triangle is a great example of how councils can return depressed areas to homely neighbourhoods.
The Hodges used to rent in Anfield and had struggled to get a mortgage. Debbie suffered a serious long-term illness and Ste’s wages as a carpet cleaner were not enough to secure a home loan.
Debbie says: “The council scheme was the best thing to happen to us. It brings communities together. When we moved in, there were only about three houses in the road occupied.
"But it’s moving on now, it’s coming to be more of a community and about half the street is filled.
“We’ve met all the neighbours and introduced ourselves. People come from everywhere, different areas, different countries. It’s a lovely community and I’m really settled here. I just love it.
"Once a month we clean the street and make it nice. The area is coming up, there are bars and restaurants opening further down the road… I just wouldn’t move.
“I can definitely see the area getting better and we’ve never been so happy.”
The couple have two daughters – Jade, 27, a psychologist who has her own home, and 23-year-old teaching assistant Jenna, who still lives with her parents and is studying for an MSC.
Debbie hopes the Homes For A Pound scheme will help young Liverpudlians like Jenna get on the property ladder.
Under the purchase agreement, buyers must pay 25 per cent of the proceeds to the council if they sell up within five years.
But the Hodges say they have no intention of going anywhere – and in four years, they will also be debt and mortgage-free.
The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “We set up the Homes For A Pound scheme for families exactly like Debbie’s.
“What they have done is inspirational. And as well as creating
a beautiful new home, they’re helping to create a new community too, which is a real win-win for everyone.”
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