Couple turn uninhabitable cottage into cosy modern home – for just £12,000

Heather Riches, 27, her partner Sam Heemsbergen, 29, became DIY experts after buying their first home in Evesham, Worcestershire – mostly because they had no other choice

A couple transformed an uninhabitable cottage into a modern and sophisticated home for just under £12,000 – by doing nearly all the work themselves.

Heather Riches, 27, and her partner Sam Heemsbergen, 29, purchased their first home in Evesham, Worcestershire, for £181,500 in 2018.

But the house was not in a liveable condition, with no sewage system, central heating or even a working toilet, so freelance illustrator Heather and tree surgeon Sam got straight to work.

Although they wanted to do most of the work themselves, they did receive tips from Heather’s father, who is a trained carpenter, and his electrician friend helped rewire their entire home.

Heather said: “We decided to strip the whole house back and stay living with my parents to renovate as much as possible before we moved in.

“We managed to buy a lot of things second-hand, such as the old tiles for the porch and bricks.

“We found reclaimed pieces with a subtle patina were much more in keeping with the house.

“For us, the most challenging part was financing the renovation.

“We have learned so much along the way and think we might have avoided some costly mistakes if we planned the work a bit better.

“In an ideal world, we would have fitted central heating first before plastering the whole house, but for us, this wasn’t financially viable.

“Physically, the most challenging part was digging a three-metre deep hole for the sewage treatment tank and our least favourite job was the plastering.”

First, Heather and Sam insulated the exterior walls before plastering them, giving them a brand new canvas to work on.

Then, they installed a new sewage treatment and drainage system, digging everything out by hand to keep their costs down.

For the living room, the couple removed their old 1970s fireplace and installed a wood burner but kept the original vintage brick design.

Heather installed another layer of glass on the windows, making them double glazed for some extra warmth.

In total, the couple took two years to renovate their home and they spent a total of just under £12,000 but they are pleased with the final results.

Heather said: “We are so happy with the outcome, I can’t quite believe it’s ours to call home.

“There are still so many things we plan on doing, but after looking at old photos of what the house was like it makes me realise how much we’ve accomplished over the years.

“We are now saving to pay for new wooden windows my Dad is going to make, which for the materials we are going to budget £2,500.

“In the future, I plan on converting the outside stores into a workshop but building supply costs have gone up and I’m not too sure how much this will cost.”