A couple who bought a dilapidated house for £1 a year ago have proudly displayed the stunning transformation it has gone through.
Sam and Rachael Kamau’s property in Webster Road, Wavertree, Liverpool, had ‘a waterfall coming down the staircase’ and a ‘bathroom with no floor’ when it was handed to them by the city council as part of the Homes for a Pound Plus scheme.
The house was in such poor repair that they couldn’t even look inside because it was so dangerous.
Rachael and Sam had been renting in Liverpool for 16 years after moving to the city from Kenya and decided to give the £1 homes project a go as a way onto the property ladder.
But when they first looked around, they realised the scale of the task ahead of them.
Rachael explained: ‘When we heard about the £1 home scheme we thought why not? We had two growing girls who have always had to share a bedroom and the house was becoming far too cramped.
‘When we saw this house, it was a bit of a shock. There was a waterfall coming down the staircase because the roof had no lining, the bathroom had no floor so you could see through to the kitchen, plaster was peeling off the walls.
‘Everything needed doing, except replacing the bricks on the outside of the house.
‘It was the worst house we’d ever seen and I know most people would have just turned around and walked away but what we saw, beyond the poor condition, was the space.
‘And whatever needed to be done paled into insignificance to the space.’
The Kamaus – who live in the house with their daughters Alexis, 12 and 19-year-old Anne, spent the next year and tens of thousands of pounds carefully restoring the property.
They have now opened their doors to the media to show off their remarkable achievement.
Rachael said: ‘It’s been the best pound we’ve ever spent and the journey has been a real roller coaster.
‘It’s been very tiring because we both work and we’ve been coming every single day since we got the keys and sometimes it felt like nothing was happening.
‘Even by March we could only walk in the middle of the hallway because there were no floorboards but when that job was done and the new windows went in we felt like we’d turned the corner.
‘Then it started to feel like a house. Not yet a home, but a house and that was a big moment.’
In June the family began to look at furnishings and colour schemes.
Rachael added: ‘Because we’d never done this before we couldn’t make our mind up.’
She added: ‘The first night was strange. It had been hard saying goodbye to our old neighbours and there were boxes everywhere but moving in felt such a huge achievement, we felt like we’d won the lottery.
‘Then the next morning. All I can say is waking up in your own home is indescribable.
‘There’s still bits we need to do and we’re still learning about what works and doesn’t but it’s all been worth it. Sam’s birthday is in December.
That’s the first birthday we get to celebrate here and it will be a very special occasion.’
Homes for a Pound is one of the schemes Liverpool Council is using in a bid to bring around 6,000 houses back into use.
The Homes for a Pound Plus project involves 120 properties in the Garrick Street/Webster Road/Bird Street/Richardson Street area of Picton.
The properties are being released in three phases of roughly 40 properties per phase.
A total of one hundred families have now been allocated a property, with a further 350 families being considered for one.
To be eligible for a £1 home people have to live or work in Liverpool.
Houses are only handed over on the condition that the buyer will bring them up to a decent homes standard and not sell it on for five years.
‘They’ve proved that with a bit of love and determination a once neglected house can be transformed into a dream home.
‘We set up the Homes for a Pound scheme for families exactly like the Kamau’s.
‘And the beauty of what they’ve achieved in that as well as creating as beautiful new home they’re helping to create a new community too, which is a real win-win for everyone.
‘I’m delighted we’ve got lots more properties lined up for other families and we won’t be stopping there.
‘Next month we’ll be launching a new housing company because we’ve got thousands of properties which can be brought back to life and we’re doing that because the demand is there.
‘People want to get on the housing ladder and Liverpool is still regenerating, still growing and very much an attractive place to work and live.’