This was a Victorian conversion 2 bed garden flat. It hadn’t been touched for years, was stale and musty where the guy hadn’t even open the curtains, let a lone a window for ages! As a result it had a damp problem and felt dark, but what really attracted me to this property was the fact it had off street parking, sole use of a large (very overgrown) rear garden offering loads of potential, was a good sized flat and was in a desirable location.

As with previous projects we had to rip everything out and start from scratch. The front room had a very large old fireplace that dominated the space – that had to go!

Griffiths Rd, Wimbledon

Although it looked real, the fireplace was made up of some sort of composite and the marble surround was in fact fake – original fake, but none the less fake.

Carefully taking the fire surround apart. We sold the whole lot on Ebay to a rather eccentric lady who arrived in a beaten up old Volvo who apparently collects old fireplaces and has a barn full of them! Each to their own.

I thought this would only take a few hours to clear everything and prep the space for a new fireplace… nope! What I hadn’t bargained on was that when I lifted the floorboards I discovered the bottom of the chimney stack was soaking wet (I could literally push my finger into the bricks as though they were made of butter) and the joists had rotted through from years of water ingress, that had been caused by a missing downpipe on the outside wall (which I had noticed when I viewed and was ironically the first job I did when we bought the property).

It must have fallen off some time ago and instead of just fixing it back, which would have taken literally less than one minute, the previous owner had kicked it to one side and left it, so everytime it rained, the water poured down the outside wall, hit the slate damp proof course and came straight through the brickwork.

It was a total mess and had to be repaired quickly, so what I had planned to be a couple hours work turned out to be a full on weekend of hard labour! In the end I dug out 12 sacks of rotting wet matter, had to rebuild the lower half of the chimney stack and some of the support wall and replace 4 joists!

The joys of renovating! All created because someone was just too lazy to fix a pipe.

(MARK’S TIP: it’s worth spending time checking the gutters, drains and general pipework on a property as water ingress is one of the biggest causes of structural as well as cosmetic damage.)

The property had two good sized double bedrooms. The rear bedroom had a small fireplace (yes, another one!), that again I took out, but thankfully this was much easier. I just had to brick that one up!

One of the major problems was the extensive damp, which was in the front wall and part of the casement, down the lower half of the hallway, in the outside wall of the second bedroom and pretty much all around the rear bedroom. It sounds a disaster, and could have been if I didn’t already know about it BEFORE buying the property.

(MARK’S TIP: I’d recommend taking a damp meter to viewings and test areas you suspect may have issues – that way you can get an estimate for any remedial work and factor this cost in – you can also use it to negotiate on your purchase price).

All these walls had to be taken back to the brick 120cm high (lots of dust and mess as I’m sure you can imagine), tanked, rendered and replastered.

The kitchen and bathroom were OK and serviceable (after we’d cleaned them up!), but needed to be update.

To view the bathroom CLICK HERE