Restored Victorian pumphouse

Alison and Matt Grey have transformed a partially restored Victorian pumping station

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Alison and Matt Grey had always dreamed of owning their very own slice of Britain’s industrial history. So, when they stumbled across a Victorian pumping station on the outskirts of north London, they didn’t let the high asking price and mountain of renovation work deter them from realising their dream.

‘We were lucky enough to find this building, but never thought for a minute that we would be able to afford it,’ recalls Alison. ‘It was love at first sight, though, so we set about squeezing every penny out of everything we could.’

Fact file

  • The owners: Alison Grey, a product manager and her husband Matt, a company director, live here with daughters Daisy, five, and Poppy, two
  • The property: A five-bedroom, five-bathroom 300m² converted Victorian pump house
  • The location: Enfield, north London
  • What they spent:The couple bought the property for £750,000, and spent £250,000 on renovations. It has recently been valued at around £1million

Initial work

After some tough negotiations, the couple’s offer was accepted at the end of 2011, and the essential work started straight away. ‘The cesspit that acted as the drainage system for the house became full after two weeks, which obviously didn’t work for a property of this size, and the roof was also leaking like mad, so we needed a new one as soon as possible,’ she says.

Having extended their previous home, a two-bedroom flat in Bermondsey, south London, the couple were not new to renovating. Alison’s parents also built their family home and, with her father a surveyor, there was help on hand. ‘Our past experiences meant that we were confident enough to tackle the project, only bringing in help when we needed it,’ says Alison.

Bespoke kitchen designed by Unto This Last

An unfinished renovation

The couple bought the house from a property developer, who had already started the renovation work and made the old boiler room habitable. However, many of the changes were unsympathetic to the Victorian pump house, most notably the new white uPVC windows.

There was also no insulation behind any of the plasterboard, so the walls were covered with mould. ‘You couldn’t really keep the damp out as it was such a large space,’ says Alison. ‘We simply wouldn’t have been able to heat it enough to get rid of all the moisture. Once we moved into the house, we put a wood-burning stove in and heated up the whole place.’

Light-filled entrance room

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Future plans

The second phase will convert the old boiler room into a large galleried living space with main kitchen, 60m2 living area, as well as a home office and play area, which will be tucked away in the eaves.

Despite the property not being entirely finished, the family is now happily living in the house. ‘We have two young kids, so it was the perfect time of life to do such a project. If we were much older or younger, I don’t think we would have taken it on, and we certainly wouldn’t have been able to afford to do it if we were younger.’

While the second phase of renovation work is due to start, the couple are thrilled with the home that they have already created. ‘It’s heavenly, so luxurious,’ says Alison. ‘You get to appreciate the sense of mixing the old with the new, and we love living here. I think because we have lived through the work and seen the changes every day, we really feel connected to where we live.’

The costs

New roof and sewage£100,000
Build (new internal layout, plumbing, electrics)£80,000
Fixtures and fittings£30,000
Windows£30,000
Skylights£18,000
TOTAL£258,000

The contacts

  • Kitchen design: Unto This Last, 020 7613 0882
  • Air-source heat pump: Ecodan
  • Bathroom: Roca
  • Glazing: Wellington Windows
  • Flooring: London Stone
  • Appliances: Siemens