A mother-of-two who thought she’d finally fulfilled her dream of owning her own home broke down in tears as she faced losing the property she’d spent £65K renovating.
Sarah and Ste, from Liverpool, had ‘never ever’ thought they could afford their own home, and thought they’d hit the jackpot when they bought a dilapidated house for £1 as part of a Liverpool City Council scheme.
But as part of the contract, the couple would not officially own the property until it passed a council inspection after 12 months.
And having spent £65,000 on renovations, the couple were left devastated when they were told they could lose the house because the gas wouldn’t be switched on in time.
Sarah broke down as she discussed her fear of losing the property in tonight’s episode of Channel 4’s The £1 Houses: Britain’s Cheapest Street, saying: ‘I don’t really want to think about what will happen if we don’t get in.’
Sarah, a mother of two from Liverpool, broke down on Channel 4’s The £1 Houses: Britain’s Cheapest Street over the thought of losing her home
Ste was left devastated when he and his wife Sarah were told they may not be able to keep the house they spent £65,000 on
In 2013, over a hundred terraced houses stood derelict in the Webster Triangle, a run-down area of Liverpool.
As part of a renovation project in the area, they were handed over to first-time buyers for one pound each.
But five years into the project, the £1 house scheme is way behind schedule – and just 34 houses of the 138 in the project have been finished.
The couple, who have two young children, were renting for 13 years but had long dreamed of owning their own home.
The couple took part in the £1 house scheme offered by Liverpool City Council – but contracts state if the home isn’t renovated in 12 months, the council can take it back
After investing £65,000, the couple faced a pressing deadline from the council and risked losing the home
Sarah admitted that she thought the scheme offered a once in a lifetime chance, saying: ‘I never ever ever thought I could afford a house.’
‘When the scheme came about, we thought there might be an opportunity that we could.’
Despite husband Ste admitting he had ‘never done any building work before’, he was determined to be hands-on in the renovation of their £1 house.
Explaining he was keen to be involved with every part of the renovation, he could be seen mixing material to create features for the ceiling, saying:’ I’m sort of doing some plaster ceiling roses.’
The couple said the £1 house scheme was their only chance of ever owning a home, having rented for 13 years (pictured in their rental home)
Despite never having done any building work before, Ste set to work on renovating the property
He added: ‘I watched a YouTube video this morning and made some notes. Doesn’t matter if you make mistakes the last couple of times, eventually you get better whatever you’re doing.’
But the father-of-two acknowledged it wasn’t as straightforward as he had initially hoped, saying: ‘There’s always a gamble to it, It’s never been an easy win. The clock is ticking. So many things that need doing.’
Ste explained that the property had to pass a council inspection before ownership became official, and the gas supply still needed to be reconnected with just two months to go until the deadline.
He told the camera: ‘I’m not okay. The gas supplier came this morning. Three months they say, three months just to get it back on. That’s not good.’
The mother of two admitted she couldn’t think about what the family would do if they lost the house, calling the property ‘the one’
The father of two was left devastated to learn after 10 months of hard work that a delay in turning on gas in their property could mean they lose the house
He said: ‘That would push me so far over my deadline and that’s when the locksmiths come in. I could lose the house and all the money that I’ve put into it.’
The couple were at risk of losing the entire £65,000 they had put into the house, with the devastated father admitting: ‘I wish I’d thought of it earlier.’
The delay meant they might not finish the property within the council’s one year limit, and risked losing it.
Meanwhile Sarah was left devastated, saying:’ If the gas doesn’t come before the deadline, I honestly don’t even know if we’d be able to keep the house.’
Having fitted the kitchen in the property, and spent over £65,000 on the house, the couple were devastated to learn they could lose it all as they hadn’t finished the home within a set deadline
Choking back tears, she went on: ‘The new house is the one. That’s where we’re taking our new babies to.’
Unable to continue, the mother broke down in tears, and could be seen wiping her eyes as she said: ‘Yeah. I don’t really want to think about what will happen if we don’t get in.’
And with the deadline fast approaching, Ste admitted it was becoming a race to finish their one pound house.
Ste said: ‘I could have everything done, I could have the central heating fitted, I could have the bathroom fitted, I could have everything ready. But if the gas isn’t’ there, I’l be scuppered.’
The couple, who have two young daughters, called the £1 house scheme ‘a gamble’ and said the council could just ‘come and take the house back’
Sarah added: ‘I just didn’t expect them to be like, yeah it’s going to take three months to just turn a switch on for you.
‘The council…they could just take the house off us. Its in the contract, black and white. It might not be our house.’
Ste went on: ‘I’ve still had no response from the gas people, so I’m at the mercy of the gods to be honest.’
Thankfully, the family were overjoyed at the end of the programme, when they received a phone call informing them the gas will be fixed ahead of the deadline.
The Channel 4 programme £1 Houses: Britain’s Cheapest Street returns next week at Monday at 8.30pm
How does Liverpool City Council’s £1 Home Scheme work?
Liverpool City Council’s £1 Home Scheme or Homes for a Pound is an initiative to bring around 6,000 empty houses in the city back into use by helping first time buyers get on the property ladder.
The properties are released in phases of roughly 40 homes per time and applicants have to undergo a bidding process.
To be eligible, applicants have to live or work in Liverpool and must commit to staying in the property for five years.
They must also be able to demonstrate they have enough savings behind them to spend on renovations.
A total of one hundred families have now been allocated a property, with a further 350 families being considered for one.