Property: Stepping Stones - One Man's Property Story

THE MOTIVATION for Richard Welch, a teacher, to buy his first property back in 1967 was clear: "I was finding getting digs in posh Beaconsfield increasingly difficult." With an "absolutely critical" pounds 800 loan from his father at 4 per cent and a council mortgage at 7.25 per cent, he paid pounds 3,300 for a mid-terrace house in Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire.

The house, built in 1868, was grandly called Grosvenor Place, but Mr Welch changed it: "I named my little place Carlton House." His pounds 847 annual salary gave him a monthly take-home pay of pounds 55, from which he made mortgage payments of pounds 21.

In 1970 Mr Welch sold the house to his brother, repaid his father and had enough left for a deposit on a new end-of-terrace in Royston, Hertfordshire, which cost pounds 5,100. He married Janette, and after deciding to start a family they began to think about buying a detached house. They visited a local estate agent. "An awful little man told me not to consider detached, as people moved from end-of-terrace to semi-detached." The insult gave him an idea: "At that moment I resolved to build our own detached house."

In 1974 Mr Welch and Janette sold their end-of-terrace for pounds 10,750. They went to another agent and found a plot, "the only one", which they bought within days thanks to a bank's self-build phased mortgage. The plot cost pounds 9,250, the building pounds 9,000, and they enjoyed the experience: "We decided that building houses wasn't that hard, so in the summer of 1976 we bought a plot for pounds 9,000 with planning permission for three bungalows."

They borrowed pounds 900 for the deposit, and although his teacher's salary may have been lacking, there were advantages: "I had no idea where the balance of pounds 8,100 was coming from except that I had an introduction to a bank manager from a wealthy client of his whose son I taught." The bank manager agreed to lend Mr Welch pounds 2,500, and he "quickly borrowed pounds 2,100 from friends". Mr Welch changed the planning permission from three bungalows to eight maisonettes. He set up a limited company, built houses over a two-year period and, after repaying his debts, made a cool pounds 20,000 at a time when a headteacher's salary was pounds 6,000.

In 1978 they sold the self-build house for pounds 36,500 when Mr Welch moved to a new school in Oxfordshire, where they bought a new house for pounds 33,000, adding two extensions as their children came along.

In 1985 Mr Welch decided to give up teaching in favour of setting up and running a school study centre: "We bought a beautiful 20-room stone house built in 1573 for pounds 109,000 from Midland Bank, which was in the process of repossessing it."

Having spent around pounds 100,000 renovating, the couple are still running their successful business, "based on the house and its seven and a half acres of glorious countryside". The recently listed house is now worth about pounds 400,000. Looking back prompts Mr Welch's thoughts: "I now realise what a gambler I was. But the gambles were based on quite a lot of thinking."

Those moves in brief

1967 Bought terraced house for pounds 3,300, sold it for pounds 4,100.

1970 Bought new terrace-end for pounds 5,100, sold it for pounds 10,750.

1974 Bought plot for pounds 9,000 (plus building costs), sold it for pounds 36,500 in1978.

1976 Bought another plot for pounds 9,000, built several houses and made pounds 20,000.

1978 Bought new Oxfordshire house for pounds 33,000, sold it for pounds 98,500.

1985 Bought 20-room Welsh house for pounds 109,000, worth pounds 400,000.

If you would like your moves featured, e-mail or write to John Willcock, Stepping Stones, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. pounds 100 prize for the best story printed; entries by 31 December

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Chef is required to join one of the largest ...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor