Plush it up

How to save thousands of pounds by purchasing a derelict property

Barn conversion 2

This is a bit of a tricky one and you’ll definitely need some help, but you really should consider buying and converting a derelict property; be it a house, cinema, industrial building or anything suitable for residential use.


st james court
St James Court, previously a church, now a residential building

Property developers do it, so why can’t you? I strongly recommend getting professional help, as a wealth of knowledge and experience is needed to complete such a strenuous task. Once you buy the property, you can then design your dream home.

If you would like to build your dream home in London, this is the way to go. One thing I must state is that the property purchased should be suitable for the architectural style you desire, in order to retain the special qualities of the property and some of the original building materials. Sometimes, this is actually required by the local authorities and conservation officers.

Exposed bricks add character to this living room

Derelict buildings have been transformed into residential properties for years but is not a favourable option for homebuyers, as it appears to be expensive, time consuming and quite frankly, a heart wrenching experience. This is not always true; with professional help and knowledge, it can go very smoothly and swiftly.

First things first, I urge you to complete a survey before purchasing the property, as so many things could go wrong in the course of renovating. With a survey, you will be adequately prepared for the obstacles that will arise.

Ensure that you confirm with the planning authority that the building is suitable for residential use before buying the property.

neisha crosland

The design stage is always fun, as you get to build your dream home. You can pretty much design everything, down to the windows, as long as you get approval from the planning authority. Here, you can see Neisha Crosland standing in her living room. Closely beside her is an oval window, which creates an unusual opening to her garden. She bought 2 neighbouring derelict garages in London and turned them into her dream home. It took her 22 years, but with professional help, a budget and a rigorous plan, yours can be a lot quicker.

You can read more about her French inspired home here.


It may seem overwhelming at inception but if you’ve ever watched home renovation shows, which I recommend if opting for this route, then you know that the outcome is always a rewarding one.

Can you believe this is the exact same location?

There are lot of fees to consider, however, in the long run, it is considerably cheaper to buy a derelict property and renovate it, than buying a home or apartment. There is a great sense of achievement that comes with this and it should be considered a great investment. Additionally, you can reclaim some of the VAT paid on your building materials and cost of labour -isn’t this great!

Bear in mind that if you choose to buy a poorly located property, it will be difficult to get a good return on investment if you choose to sell.

renovate 2

Thinking about what you could do with this derelict building in London?

Derelict buildings are not always easy to spot but they are everywhere. There may even be some found on your high street. Be sure to contact the local council, as they are aware of all the empty properties in that area. You may presume that buildings like these are difficult to come across especially in London, but they exist, in numbers. I am aware that there are a number of them scattered around East London. Some of the properties you stumble upon may not be for sale, however you can contact the owner of the property and strike up a deal.

When buying a derelict property, it is always better to have the funds, however, there are lenders and mortgages available, you just have to do your research.

Once again, I must reiterate, this process is not for the faint hearted and can be an excruciating experience due to hurdles you will overcome, but in the end, it is worth every bit of time, tears and money that you invest into YOUR OWN HOME.


These are converted buildings all found in London


If your home has been converted, share your pictures with us, we would love to see them!



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