By Mahima Kaur
THIS TEACHER from Birmingham added a whopping £225K value to her three bedroom home by building two extra bedrooms for just £35K – plus a little DIY TLC.
Primary school teacher Laura Burt (37) and her IT professional husband Adam Burt (39) bought their terraced £475,000 three bedroom house in Solihull, England in 2016.
Since then, mum-of-four Laura has used her smart DIY skills and a taste of good interiors to add almost £225K to the house, all by spending about £1,300 on DIY and £35,000 on adding two extra bedrooms to make her now five bedroom home complete.
A busy part-time working mum, Laura used whatever time she could manage in her busy schedule to transform a drab and dull house into a safe and cosy haven for her family.
She undertook tasks like painting the cabinets of her kitchen, restoring floorboards on the ground floor, finding good quality second-hand furniture and building a dining table using just scaffolding boards.
One of the most stunning aspects of Laura’s DIY projects is her smart transformation of an unused loft into two new whole bedrooms with an office space and a shower room, by opting to have an L-shaped dormer loft conversion and decorating the space herself.
Laura admits that none of this was as easy as it seems and she took the help of her husband and her father for some tasks.
“All decorating and most DIY projects have been done by myself,” said Laura.
“A couple of projects have involved my husband such as the kitchen makeover.
“I also used the help of my dad for things like restoring the floorboards and making a new dining table that ended up being a wonderful father-daughter DIY project.
“This all actually started as soon as we moved in December 2016.
“After spending our £35k budget on a loft conversion when we first moved in during 2017, I started to do smaller DIY projects such as re-decorating, up-cycling second-hand furniture and adding panelling to save on costs.
“This was particularly important given that we had three young children and had a fourth on the way at the time.
“I had reduced my working days and therefore our income, so spending smartly and wisely was the right thing to do.”
Things changed a little during lockdown for Laura when she decided to execute more DIY projects albeit with four young children.
“During lockdown in 2020, we gave our dated kitchen a facelift and I continued to revamp various rooms in the house from there.
“I also decided to take a break in my career to look after our four children.
“This was not easy as I had to find the time to complete projects whilst juggling family life and having an extremely busy home.
“But I am really glad that I undertook this with the support of my family and turned the house into our own cosy, family home.”
From redesigning the dated kitchen to brightening up the living room, Laura budgeted and spent in ways that could inspire many.
“I painted the cabinets, wall tiles, floor grout and appliances with my husband to give the kitchen a completely different look,” said Laura.
“I furnished the kitchen with second-hand finds, such as the breakfast table costing £10 which I upcycled.
“I also got two lovely vintage wooden chairs costing £10 each.
“For the living room, we restored the original floorboards which were covered up with carpet when we moved in.
“I worked with my dad to sand them back in both rooms using a hired machine and oiled the boards. We then added pine beading to skirting boards to finish.
“I also stripped back the wooden fire surround in the snug and re-painted it before having the chimney unblocked and swept so that we could make use of the original fireplace.”
A great hack for Laura was to scrounge for some amazing secondhand and vintage finds that not only saved her money but also helped her to decorate the house tastefully.
“I furnished rooms with mostly second-hand furniture finds from online sellers or inherited family pieces,” she said.
“I also undertook this father–daughter DIY project of building a dining table just before Christmas 2022.
“We used three scaffold boards costing £45, 2 pine lengths for £20 and re-purposed the table legs from our old table.
“The overall dining table project cost under £100 to achieve a bespoke piece of furniture.
“I also upcycled a large, triple wooden wardrobe which was free to collect on a second-hand site for one of the boys’ bedrooms thus saving a lot of money.”
Revamping her home not only had Laura employ her smart upcycling skills but also had her learning new skills using YouTube tutorials, something that she enjoyed.
“After fitting pine mouldings, wallpapering, painting floor grout and fitting a new tap in the cloakroom, I decided to tile a splash-back behind the sink,” she said.
“Tiles were by Minton Hollins which were fairly expensive”
“So I decided to fit them myself to save on costs but had little idea how to.
“I started watching YouTube tutorials and realised I could definitely give it a go.
“I then decided to re-decorate my middle son’s bedroom upstairs and colour-drenched this particular room in a deep blue colour and painted the floorboards white.
“I used tile decals to create checkerboard hearths in both boys’ rooms.”
Laura got a lot of love and support from family and friends when they saw the transformed house.
“Friends have commented on us having a ‘new’ kitchen when visiting post-lockdown and couldn’t believe we had achieved this ourselves, as it looked so different,” she said.
“Painting the garden/dining room woodwork and roof beams has also proven to be a big transformation which people comment on, as the space looks so different now to what you’d expect of a standard conservatory style room.
“Opting for darker décor in the front living room often receives the most comments, as it’s quite a statement to walk into.”
Its not just Laura, but also her sister who have started transforming her house with smart DIY and upcycling. Certain projects Laura undertook, such as panelling, inspired her sister to do the same in her home.
“I sent my sister Beth a quick text message when the Victorian Terrace behind me became available on the market.
“She and my brother-in-law have also undertaken numerous DIY jobs, such as building bespoke wardrobes into alcoves.
“I would say that in terms of DIY, absolutely give it a go as you’ll save a huge amount of money in the long term by being able to tackle renovation and decorating jobs yourself, as well as getting an amazing sense of achievement at the end.
“Start with smaller projects such as upcycling and build up your skill set gradually and once your confidence grows, you’ll find you’ll be keen to move onto bigger and better things.
“In terms of furnishing the house, always look for second-hand furniture first. We’ve certainly saved hundreds and hundreds of pounds on furniture by keeping an eye out for pieces in our local area which can be given a new lease of life in your home.
“They are also often of much better quality than some of the flat pack furniture available to buy and so much more sustainable.”
BREAKDOWN OF DIY COSTS:
Kitchen – £200
Front Living Room and Snug – £500
Garden / Dining Room – £200
Downstairs cloakroom – £200
Upstairs Bedrooms – £200
Total – £1300
Loft Conversion Cost- £35,000