Carpenter and construction expert Raphael Meade – who appears on Channel 4’s Eden and Key To A Fortune – knows a thing or two about houses. So much so that he managed to land a three-bed Victorian house as his first home. However, it turned out to be more of a two-bed and had crazy traffic problems, so he soon upgraded.
When did you buy your first home?
I bought my first home around the year 2000 in East Ham. It involved lots of trodding around looking in windows, lots of internet searches, eventually a viewing via an agent.
What kind of place did you go for ?
It was a Victorian terraced three-bed property. To be honest it was really a two-bed but the previous owners did some quick chuck-up work [to add another bedroom] which I of course ripped out immediately on moving in. The property itself was semi-decent, it just needed updating and ridding of the mice. It came with the condition that we look after the elderly woman neighbour, which we did. Our garden was linked by a gate in the fence.
Did it turn out to be as good as you had hoped?
It was too small, the bathroom and toilet were in the wrong place behind the kitchen and the football at West Ham made the traffic murder to get in or out of East Ham. But the house had lots of original features and I liked the market and cultural mix of people.
Was it a renovation job?
We were in the process of major renovation when the opportunity for a bigger house came up and it made sense to sell in profit having done nothing major. The only thing I did was build a workshop in the garden which the neighbours all wanted.
Any interior design?
Yes, loads of colour. It looked as though someone was on acid when painting. The dodgiest thing I did was to use copper and plastic to install radiators. It drove the missus crazy looking at it. I did intend to go back to it, honest.
What did you learn?
Researching the area is a must. Remember that the first view is through rose-tinted glasses. Make sure you view more than once. The number of doors we found inoperable in our first house was also crazy, so check every room for storage, cupboards and kitchen units. Make sure all doors open and close and don’t drop off in your hand and this includes doors to all the rooms. Other important things: do the locks work? Does the door slide without dragging?
What is your advice for first-time buyers?
Don’t jump the gun. Take your time and don’t feel pressured. You have a budget, stick to it or it could get painful if something goes wrong.
Are you a forever home person?
I am a preferred forever home buyer and would only move now to have a bigger garden or maybe a better layout providing a bigger workshop.
Option 1: Build a house abroad somewhere hot. Start two floors below ground and work up. Have it glass-roofed to let in sunlight all day long. All rooms below ground branching off like a spider web. Raise some windows protruding out of the ground. It would have a separate underground tunnel that would link to a workshop off to one side of the garden area.
Option 2: My home where I presently live. I have always said I’d love to knock down my workshop, bury a large container underneath and rebuild above, then connect to the house via a tunnel under the garden. To the actual house I’d like to redesign the roof to include a water tank and solar panels to get the whole house off grid.
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