Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Last push?

Given the looming contract exchange deadline, the mind (and the boys) should be fully focused on the  finishing line (of phase one).

As you can see below things are moving apace.

- all earth now removed from the actual lower ground area

- 80% of steels now in place

- 95% or cast concrete details ing walls in place

- main house structure now rebuilt where required


- contractor is squabbling about bits and bobs to extract more money last minute.

- back garden that's supposed to be lowered as well has not yet been touched!

- entire side return and its roof still needs rebuilding in original stock brick!

It's a race against time and at the moment its looking like time is winning!!

On another note here but: there is something magical about the time the steels come in. It's like the bones or the space matrix is set.

All of a sudden, spaces that were until then only imaginary or only on 1:50 scale, take a 1 to 1 dimension. The spaces actually reveal themselves.

Am particularly happy about the view from the lower ground up through the glass floors/ double height and the glass skylight above into the trees.
It was always going to be the more dramatic space of the scheme, and it looks like its going to work as imagined.

Even if the rest of the shaping up process is going to be in someone else's hand; I managed to get the satisfaction that the bare bone has been set reasonably well.

Small joys.

In the new living room with a double height directly above. 
Still the entire side return to be rebuilt -can still see the trace of its wall and roofline on the back wall. 
View from rear master bedroom -overlooking 2nd light well. -steel frame of above ground extension still to be put in place. 
Under the existing house. View to first light well.
Sliding doors floor to ceiling and a landscaped stepped garden in front leading to main garden above. 
Double height (5.5m) with full size glass roof above. The sky's the limit. 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

We fancy a Church!

Since I need to keep my mind distracted; let's call it a "rebound" effect after having to let go the pretty girl (as per analogy used in last post).

It's time for hunting again. Quick check of latest auctions, property sites etc... (More covered on hunting process in previous post)

Anyway, so that beauty came to my attention:


And after a quick talk with my friend/co-investor; turns out he likes churches too! 

Here a few pics from the viewing last Saturday. What a beauty!

 .... But it comes with some issues... As we call it internally: "the beauty has hairy legs" 

In fact lots of hair indeed: it has subsidience (the ground is givingway), is far-ish from public transport (17mn walk), has no planning permission to convert to residential yet, and is in a non "up and coming" zone 4 spot... Not the end of the world, but nearly (sorry, sounding a bit like a London snob here!)

But despite all this... Have to admit that even if unshaved... It's a beauty indeed!

A proper entrance!
Stained glass windows - exterior 
Stained glass windows interiors
More interior. Lots of space to divide in flats! 

No comment. 
And here visible hair! 
And here too! 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Letting the beauty go.

I don't want to jinx things, but....  

Happy to announce that a very acceptable offer has been received.... Rejected, increased, still rejected... Increased again and finally accepted.

If all goes to plan, within a couple of week a 50% profit on investment will be crystallized. That's over a 18 months timeframe, so pretty decent when keeping in mind the market grew only 5% or so over the period.

Also to mention is the fact that the sale is for a shell and planning permission only. So the entire phase two of the works is still to be carried out by the purchaser.

Question arising: is it the right time to exit and should one not have carried out the complete project to lock in maximum profits?!

Answer is: not sure! I do actually believe that there is still potentially another 150k at least in the project if carried through to completion ....and since there is currently nothing lined up to reinvest it would be tempting.

But somehow as with any gambling, one should know when to exit the casino.

So purely from an investment perspective it's the safe option, and given that all the eggs are in one basket (and there another investor involved): it feels like the right thing to do.

However from an architects perspective it's like giving a newborn baby for adoption!

Now I know many might say that I should just cash in and be happy....
But I can't help being a "senti" (shortcut my wife uses for "sentimental"). I have gone through the spaces so many times in my head, thought about finishes, details, viewpoints, light angles.... And and and...

Creatively speaking one could argue it's the equivalent of seeing a beautifull girl go off with another guy after a flirtatious night out with her! (Could take the analogy further and make it more graphic but...)

Having to learn to let go... And go hunting again I guess.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Don't mind the price tag.

Exciting days.
After keeping it wrapped in the estate agents drawer, we felt it was the right time to see what the market reaction would be at this stage.
After having had serious interest while still in the draw, we thought we might as well put it out there and see what happens.
The potential buyer (who had not quite enough cash to stump up and ended up with a offer just too low to accept) was excited by the thought of coming in at an early stage to have the freedom to specify finishes and layout to his requirements.
So we thought there must be other architecture  enthusiasts who would be able to view beyond the chaos on site and possibly enjoy being part of the creative process. 
So voilĂ .... If anybody in the www wants an absolute unique property in trendy Hackney....
 "My people will talk to your people" as my friend always says (I have the feeling it's a quote from the Asterix and Obelix - the one where the Romans plan is to destabilise the village harmony  via the introduction of a hyper inflated capitalist system trading with obelisks ... A hilarious must read by the way!). 
Ps: apologies if some may percieve the price tag as "obscene" but am sorry its not me its London! 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Hand drawn Hackney!

A couple of days back i have had the pleasure to receive the full set of visuals From Warren. 

I am simply going to let his work speak for itself. 

Courtyard 1 

Courtyard 2

Courtyard 2 view from bedroom 4


Double height -dining / sitting room view 1

Sitting room view 2

Sitting room - view 3

Master bedroom

Areal view 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Drama on the Riviera!

Not all smooth sailing on the Italian Riviera...

Another title for this post could have been "An ongoing saga on the Riviera"

After weeks of: research, visits, international property solicitors "advice" (and bills), italian speaking "geometras" (planning technicians), research on average temperatures (and other weather related matters).... The list could go on...

In short all boxes ticked: 40mn to international airport, seaside, stunning view, a project (of course has to be!) , affordable ( for a faraway dream that may turn out to be only used for a week a year.. After years of planning and foreign language builders!) 

Bottom line is after gathering all my strength and finally putting an offer for that humble little shed and adjacent piece of land (with that absolutely gorgeous view!)

I have to add here that there is quite a leap of faith from my side on this project.... Italian building laws are not only obscure and strangely flexible, but also scarily slippery!

.... But the views!!!!!!

Anyway. The deal was one offer for the building and a tiny bit of land, and another offer for additional land from another party to gain the right to enlarge the footprint of the existing shed.... (Not going into planning details here)

Agent puts the last bit of pressure and says another Italian buyer from Turin is interested has put an offer, but if you put a little more... (Pls note the use of the oldest trick in the book!)

So here we go offer gets signed and faxed. And accepted!

Butterflies of excitement... Dreams of sunny and lazy days (next to "The mother of all cactuses" *see picture below) flood the hypothalamus with happiness hormones...

BUT, BUT, BUT... 2 days later; The seller of the additional land turns around and says:

"I own half the hill... And actually I don't accept the offer for the bit i originally wanted to sell because instead a the little bit that you need, I want to sell the whole hill for an additional 4x what you wanted to spend!"

(Am paraphrasing a little but you get the picture!)

After all these days of daydreaming... Back to reality (of the dodgy world of Italian real estate!)

Apologies ... That turned out to be a long post! 

Now a few pictures (that speak more then a thousand words)  on which the daydreaming was based!

The " mother of all cactuses "
The shed!

The saga ... To be continued. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Beauties in faraway lands....it must be an addiction.

This post is admittedly a little off topic.

Its not about the hackney project; but still essentially about special spaces.

What would a true addict do during a well deserved break?

You guessed it: look for derelict spaces with potential!

Let me just show you a couple of pictures.

Dreams of faraway lands with an edited selection of beauties...

Very special in Brindisi.... 
Surrounded by old olive trees and a distant sea view. 
& serious dimensions. 

Otherwise, something more modest in Bordigehera? 
with a cactus!
 palm trees... And a south view to die for!

Or back to Puglia: Bari with this cute little "Trulli" 
Stunning stonework. 
The pool is not there... But if i close my eyes... 

Or a fish processing garage in Monopoli?

With a backyard 
Overlooking a perfectly swimable little port? 

There was also the troglodyte ("carved out of the rock) olive oil mill, the Masseria..... And and and...


Friday, 20 March 2015


Its been a while since the last post and this is not for lack of action.

In fact there's been so much action both on the fashion side...( but am not going to dwelve on this ... This blog is for the other side of my schizofrenic self.... The property and architecture addict!)

So the battle on site has been fierce!
- 80% of the structural walls of the existing house have been supported.
- the entire perimeter of the basement in the garden has been set with retaining walls. (Without any adjacent fence or garden collapsing!)

However... As with any old house... Surprises surprises are always just lurching ... In this case behind the rendering.

Despite the initial accessment of the structural Engeneer being positive..... A surprise bill of between 25- 40k is to be added to the structural bill.....

The external walls of the house need to be lowered by an entire storey and rebuilt!  I forgot to mention the roof also needs to be taken down and rebuilt!

The below pictures should give a sense of the action on site these days. 

Ps: Tomorrow.... Some BBC filming for "Homes under the Hammer" .... Will try and make a post on it..... Am two minds about it somehow. 

getting there! 
What is left of the side return.... 
The flank wall.

Honey... What happend in the living room? 

Pls note we are retaining the "character" 60's tiles

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Project overview - recap

OK. I had some feedback from "my readership" some time back. 

Admittedly I have been a little "all over the place" with my posts and the coherence and understanding of the narrative and overview may have got lost... 

I had therefore promised to give an overview of what the scheme/ project is all about.

Here it is in key points:

- I trained in architecture, but am working in Fashion... However this is a serious investment project that utilizes my "under-utilized" and hopefully not too rusty architectutal skills. 

- I have done a couple of previous investments/ renovation projects in the last 7 years. ( including a large loft space 2mn from brick lane which I really enjoyed - some details in previous post here ) ( might add further project in a future post as well)

- this latest investment is the first time I join hands with a co-investor. Its 50%-50% but I am on the ground so the performance anxiety is on me!

- we had been looking for a project for a long time made a lot of research... and countless aborted acquisitions/ outbidded offers took place ( auctions and agents) over the year prior to purchase of this unit. ( more info on the auction action here )

- this house was finally bought at auction in June for a purchase price of just above 1m GBP ( 1.1m after all related coats like tax and fees)

- its in bad shape, but the location is very unusual and unique; tucked away from the street and located right in the middle of adjacent gardens...and this is on one of the best and most expensive streets of Hackney, an "up and come" or "up and coming" (depending on how forward thinking one isl) part of London that without doubt will rival Islington within a couple of years. ( or maybe already does for the ones in the know) 

- the original house was 1300 sq ft ( approx 120m²) with a large garden but we have successfully obtained an additional 2000sq ft (approx 180m² ) though planning with hackney council. Resulting in a very large single house with a garden. ( and more info on the planning process here )

- post planning we had an offer from another  developer which could have given us a 6 figure sum clean profit... But wisely or foolishly we believe there are more rewards to be had by pulling through the project ourselves.

- we are now in the process of doing the basement work which is the most complex and fraught part of the job. A huge amount of earth needs to be excavated and the entire existing house supported on new foundations and a steel structure. See last post here

- phase two of the works will be, complete new electrics, new central heating/ underfloor/ complete interior decoration/ structure. New above ground extension. Green roof to extension. Glass floors/ skylights, kitchen, bathrooms ,  landscaping. And and and....

- estimated total cost of works +associated expenses : approx 650.000 GBP ( very much hoping no surprises here. )

- expected resale.... I dare not say at this stage ... Not wanting to jinx it !!!! ( but you may register for email updates for when I do dare!  - no worries, emails not used for any other purposes or third parties.)

On another note:  Am thrilled to say that we crossed the 1000 views about a month back, and although I am principally doing this blog for the sake of it, it is nice to see the interest generated.

I hope i have not missed any key points..... Please do not hesitate to ask me questions on any aspects of the project or any property matters in general - I love the subject and will always be happy to respond to the best of my knowledge. 

No idea what to post as picture with this lenghty and slightly dry post !?

.... OK three further in progress visuals/ sketches.