Derelict To Desirable
A Journey of Hope, Determination and Vision
Our Crazy Project
In late 2021 we decided to take the plunge and cash up retirement savings to buy a cheap, derelict house and transform it into a warm, secure family home for our friends. This blog is the story of The House and its restoration and renaissance as a desirable residence.
We had spent the previous 2 years unsuccessfully helping our friends look for suitable rental accommodation – they needed a 4-bedroomed house with one bedroom on the ground floor – in a south coast town in East Sussex. But there are not many 4-bedroom houses for rent in this area and lots of demand! Our friends are from Syria. They fled after their house and business were destroyed and family members and friends were killed or seriously injured in the civil war – a war that still continues today. They came to the UK with their 3 children and Amir’s elderly parents * in 2018 full of hope of creating a new life for their family.
* Names have been changed
Purpose of this Blog
I never planned to create a blog about this project. Yet over the weeks and months of restoration I began to understand how unusual The House is – it is referred to as a non-traditional build - and that documenting some of the work could be helpful to others faced with similar challenges. You won’t find in-depth technical advice here, but I will try to explain how I set priorities, solved problems, and spent (and extended) our limited supply of money.
And I hope to inspire you to consider how you might stretch yourself to help others. Others who find themselves in dire circumstances and need support to rebuild their lives. Maybe you are not yet ready to take the leap into a crazy project like this but maybe you could support someone else’s project or get involved in your local Community Land Trust or refugee support group.
Hopefully I can also entertain and even amuse you a little.
Who Are We?
Firstly, we are comfortable but we are not wealthy. We are retired from full-time employment, but we worked hard and long hours for many years, and saved harder. We have never bought a new car. And whilst we have a nice house near the sea it’s no show-home, our garden is only half-done, and our aged conservatory has leaked.
My husband is super-supportive, patient and trusting; without him I could never pull this project off. In truth this is my project, he is not really interested in the details and daily struggles, but it is our money, our future that I am spending, and I need to honour and respect his confidence in me, with love.