Stepping Stones: One Couple's Property Story

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The Independent Online

Sandra Rigg first bought in 1981. "We were getting married and in those days you didn't live together. It would have freaked my mum out."

Her first buy was a two-up, two-down in Guildford, Surrey which cost £24,950. Lenders ignored Sandra's salary and would give two-and-a-half times her husband's income, so the property was at the upper limits of what they could afford. It came with carpets and curtains. "We thought it was absolutely wonderful," says Sandra.

Three years later they sold for £38,000 and paid £47,000 for another new property on the same Guildford estate, this time a three-bedroom detached home. This was where Sandra had her daughter. "Everything was so close. School was within walking distance, and I had loads of friends in the same position. We were all starting out on adult life together."

But the birth of her son brought the realisation that the house "was not so large after all". The boom years had boosted its value to £108,000 and they paid £125,000 for the next house.

Again they chose a new property, this time with a difference. "It was in a nice little village and on a real road, not an estate, which was wonderful." Sandra admits to a distinct fondness for new houses. "They're great. They've got brand new kitchens and carpet already down, so basically you just move in."

She was very happy with her four-bedroom detached house but her husband had other plans. "He wanted a dog and a big garden."

Their next purchase, in East Horsley, Surrey was more challenging. "It's a choice area, very sought-after, and things sell within a few days so we had to move fast." This time they went for a 1950s detached chalet bungalow which had been rented out as bedsits.

At first this home had none of the creature comforts Sandra was used to but its position, set in half an acre and on a private road with adjoining paddocks, more than compensated. Sandra and her husband had "everything to do" and that has taken them five years.

The pair have renovated the bungalow from top to bottom and have installed a kitchen and bathroom, spiral staircase and added another bedroom. This year they laid a driveway. "We've finished at last!"

In an area where it is impossible to buy a one-bedroom property for £220,000, the bungalow's original cost, its present value is £550,000.

Has it been worthwhile? "It has driven us to distraction," says Sandra. "We won't move house again - my husband says it would kill him."

Those moves in brief:

1981: Bought starter home in Guildford for £24,950, sold for 338,000

1984: Bought three bedroom house nearby for £47,000, sold for £108,000

1992: bought four-bedroomed detached house in Jacobs Well, Surrey for £120,000, sold for £146,000

1995: bought chalet bungalow for £239,000, spent five years renovating, now worth £550,000

If you would like your own moves featured, e-mail or write to: Jackie Hunter, Stepping Stones, The Independent, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL