30 Jun On the Ladder: property renovation & career reinvention in Congleton
Lockdown is lifting, and our ‘On the Ladder’ blog series is back with stories and inspiration from real-life accounts of house moves. This month, we talk to an entrepreneurial couple who had the vision to completely renovate the 3-bed property that they bought in Congleton, near Manchester.
Who: Stephen, (36) – self-employed Business Transformation Consultant, currently supporting Mowersplus; Natalia (36) – founder of Salute mobile prosecco bar and Cabin Service Manager for British Airways.
Before their move, Stephen had been renting a small room in what felt like a spacious but busy 150 sqm, 6-bed terraced house in Barnes, South West London. It was around £650 pcm depending on bills.
Natalia lived a bit of a nomadic lifestyle, moving between her ~85 sqm, 3-bed semi-detached family home in Chesterfield that she shared with her sister, all manner of hotel rooms when away with her job, and a rented room in a large, 100 sqm 3-bed semi-detached in Windsor that cost around £600 pcm.
3-bed semi-detached in Congleton, Cheshire
Size: ~80 sqm
Asking price: £110k
Purchase price: £105k
Why did you decide to move?
The closure of Stephen’s employer’s office in London (which was relocated to Barcelona) kick-started a big change in our way of life. We decided that we wanted to establish our own businesses, which meant we were no longer tied to London. Both of our families are based in the north of the country and we wanted to be closer to them while working on our new enterprises, so we decided to up sticks and head north. At first we planned to be close to Manchester city centre, but after searching in areas like Stockport, Hazel Grove, Wilmslow, Macclesfield, Knutsford and Crewe, we were no closer to finding somewhere right for us. Eventually we cast our search a bit further afield and found our 3-bed semi-detached property in Stephen’s hometown of Congleton, around 25 miles south of Manchester.
Why this location?
The property itself is near to a train station that gets us into Manchester city centre within 40 mins. It’s also reasonably close to the M6 for Natalia to be able to commute south to Heathrow when needed, and it’s only 1 hour’s drive away from Natalia’s close-knit family in Chesterfield. Both of us had spent many years in the city, but we both feel very at home in the countryside, and enjoy exercising in green space. The rural aspect of this area of Congleton made us feel like this was a spot that we would be happy in for the foreseeable future.
Why this property?
With some need for development, sufficient internal space for our needs, off-road parking, front and rear gardens, and a view of the Peak District out of the windows, the property ticked a lot of the boxes that we had on our list.
Did you have a survey?
We didn’t go ahead with an official survey in the end – controversial we know! We are fortunate enough to have a lot of property professionals (including a chartered surveyor) within our friendship group as well as people with a lot of experience in buying and developing similar houses in the local vicinity. We were already budgeting to renew the electrics, plumbing, fixtures, fittings and plastering internally, as well as lintels and new windows externally. We had also instructed a tradesman to take a good look at the condition of the roof before making our offer. That said, without the help received, we would definitely have had an official survey carried out.
How do you see COVID-19 affecting your next house move?
We have put a lot of time and effort into redeveloping the property and now that we’ve finished we’re going to sit back and enjoy the house for a while. Given the demands of our own businesses and the uncertainty of the housing market post-COVID-19 lockdown, we are currently expecting to stay here for a little longer than originally anticipated. That’s no bad thing – it will give us some time to focus on the development of our companies.