Couple transform 1930s three-bed into luxury home using DIY skills they learnt on YouTube

A savvy couple transformed a 1930s three-bed house into a five-bedroom luxury home and added £200,000 to its value by using DIY skills they picked up from YouTube.

Emma and Alex Hughes, both 31, paid just under £300,000 in 2018 for their 1930s semi-detached home in Cardiff.

The house originally consisted of three bedrooms, one bathroom, two reception rooms and a kitchen.

But after three years of renovations, it now has five bedrooms, two more bathrooms, a utility room and an open plan kitchen/dining/living room, and was worth around £500,000.

The pair hired builders to do a large chunk of the construction work, including converting the loft, rewiring the property and building an extension.

But other aspects of the renovation they completed themselves, having learnt how to reboard the walls, replace skirting boards and fit the kitchen using YouTube tutorials.

Emma, who works as a water scientist, said she and Alex tended to focus on a project house and then move “onwards and upwards” using the equity from the renovation.

“I think we have got so used to renovating constantly that it will be a surprise how much time we have on our hands once this one is fully complete if we don’t decide to move again,” she said.

The work started with the loft conversion, adding an extra bedroom and en-suite bathroom, costing them £40,000 for the building work.

Emma said they had wanted a kitchen diner, which required a rejig of the house layout. Creating a more spacious bathroom and a master bedroom with a view was also central to their master plan.

Emma and Alex later installed column radiators and painted the rooms to complete the design.

Once the builders finished rewiring and installing a new boiler, Emma and Alex got to work on the rest of the existing rooms by themselves.

First up they focused on stripping out the old plaster and reboarding the walls, before placing new skirting boards and radiators in all the rooms. They spruced up each room with a lick of new paint and altered the windows to allow more light into the space.

The couple kept the original woodwork in the hallway but replaced the spindles and skirting boards, before getting help from a plasterer to skim the walls and finally repainting the staircase.

The built a cupboard for the hot water tank and a cupboard under the stairs for storage before moving into their main bathroom.

Here, they opted for gold brassware for a touch of luxury. A freestanding roll-top bath was added, along with marble floor tiles, a new bathroom cabinet and double basins.

Wanting to add even more space to the ground floor, they hired builders again for an extension, costing them around £90,000.

Finally, they tapped into their new skills by fitting a new inframe kitchen themselves – saving at least £4,000 in doing so.

After three years of hard work, the pair are thrilled with the final result, though admit it had been tricky living in the property while the work was carried out.

Emma said they were blessed with good weather while the extensions were underway – but had to live with a makeshift camping kitchen for three months, which “wasn’t much fun”.

“When the first bathroom was completed, we had been living with a terrible tiny shower and no hot water for a couple of months by that point, so a new bathroom and warm water was a luxury,” she added.

“After we had the house rewired we had so much dust everywhere for weeks, and at the same time no hot water.”

Some aspects of the work were physically challenging, she said, including the replacement of the plaster ceilings and attempting to board it afterwards.

But she said it was “all worth it in the end”, seeing the house completely transformed from what they bought three years ago.

The part-time DIY-er urged anyone wanting to take on home renovations themselves to “give everything a go”.

“It’s surprising how much you can learn from YouTube and online, we would never have dreamt of building our own bathroom vanity unit but the amount we have saved, it’s definitely been worth it,” she said.

“We couldn’t have afforded all that we have if we had paid trades to complete everything for us.”