Students transform house in four months and save thousands

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When Mia Thomas, 22, and her partner Jack Bradley, 24, bought their house in June 2020 for £150,000, it needed of a lot of work to make it their dream home.

The three-storey, end-terrace property hadn’t been touched since it was built 18 years ago, but pair were on a tight budget as they are both currently students, with Jack also working part-time as an electrical engineer.

In a bid to save money, they did as much as possible themselves, working around their classes.

Starting in January this year, they managed to finish the bulk of the work in just four months.

‘We’re so pleased with what we’ve done so far,’ Mia, from Derbyshire, said.

‘We’re really proud of ourselves and how it’s all coming together.

‘I would say that I have the eye for design and Jack is the handyman – we’re a good team!

‘We were both raised in DIY families and enjoyed the idea of doing up a house ourselves.

‘This way we would make the house the way that we want it, but also hopefully add some value for when we come to sell it.’

The first project was the kitchen, with new appliances from Wickes, costing £1,600.

Jack was able to do much of the work thanks to his skills as an electrical engineer but the couple also roped in kitchen fitters for some of the fiddlier bits.

They also painted the walls (£20) and retiled (£200), as well as added new cabinets, handles and other fittings (£7,910).

Altogether, the room was the most expensive in the house to transform with £9,630 from the total budget going towards the kitchen.

Mia said: ‘The most enjoyable part so far has been having the kitchen of our dreams finished!

‘It’s such a nice space and we use it so often.’

Next up, they tackled the living room, ripping out the old flooring and replaced it with new imitation parquet flooring, which cost £600.

Next, they fitted new skirting boards from Skirting 4 U (£200) and repainted the walls with a cheap tin of paint from Wickes (£30).

They also built a false chimney breast out of wood and added a plasterboard – costing £80 in total – though they outsourced the latter to a professional.

For their new cloakroom, the couple ripped out the flooring and walls – then did pipe work modifications to turn the old cupboard into a laundry closet.

They changed the radiator into a heated towel rail and also sealed, tiled and grouted the floors.

Mia said: ‘Learning how to do the pipe work was challenging as it’s quite technical and complicated and makes a mess if it goes wrong!

‘Jack had never done any plumbing before and found this hard, but enjoyed it since he learnt a new skill.’

For the finishing touches, they fitted a new toilet and vanity unit and added accessories including a mirror, prints and a hanging plant – which cost them just under £520 in total.

In the main bathroom, they installed a new shower and added a bespoke shelf made from wood and waterproof backer board.

Additionally, they installed backer boards on the floor, tiled the floor and walls, and installed a brand new bath.

Wanting to make the space work better, they installed their own pocket door in the hallway with a kit from Screwfix (£150) and a new door from Wickes (£80).

In total, they spent around £12,344 and they love the finished result.

Giving advice for others, Mia said: ‘Definitely don’t underestimate how much time and effort is involved, it consumes any spare time that you have, but it is worth in the end!

‘Be prepared for unexpected costs of things you wouldn’t ever think of, like screws and paint brushes.

‘Don’t be afraid to do something that you like, just because it’s not ‘trendy’ or other people don’t like it.

‘At the end of the day, it’s your home so it’s important to do what you like to make yourself happy and comfortable in your home.

‘Instagram and Pinterest are the holy grail for inspiration, and don’t be afraid to message people to ask how they did things or where they got things from.

‘Everyone is very friendly and willing to help!’

They plan to do more work to another bathroom and the dressing room in the future, as well as installing new carpets throughout.

You can follow the rest of their progress on Instagram @spruce_up_seven.

Cost breakdown


Appliances £1,600

Tiles £100

Paint £20

Cabinets, worktops, handles, fitting £7,910

Total = £9,630

Lounge/living room

Flooring £600 (includes hallway and kitchen)

Skirting £200

Paint £30

Wood/plasterboard £80

Total = £910


Floor tiles £80

Wall tiles £100

Grout £20

Toilet £50

Vanity £200

Mirror £40

Paint £20

Prints £5 (Dunelm)

Frames £3.99 each (Aldi)

Total = approx £519


Floor tiles £50

Wall tiles £250

Shower £150

Bath £150

Vanity £200

Paint £20

Toilet £50

Prints £15

Towel rail £120

Shower screen £100

Mirror £20

Total = £1,125

Laundry cupboard

Wallpaper £20 (Amazon)

Tiles (the left over from the cloakroom) £0

Wood for the shelves £20 (B&Q)

Floating shelves £15 (Homebase)

Legs for the shelf £30 (B&Q)

Total = £85

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