From Ugly to Gorgeous – How to ‘facelift’ a building

13 May

Today we have completed the first phase of our Gorgeous Homes office refurbishment!!

Now up until a year ago we used to rent a property on the other side of town. We had taken a pretty dull building and made it our own:

Inside I spent a lot of money replastering, rewiring, putting new lighting and trying to make it look nice – this is how it was before:

 

And this is after:

However, we soon outgrew the property and despite looking all over I could not find us suitable premises to move into…until a member of staff told me about a building which she had seen was going to auction.

It was in a part of town which was not our “home” territory – but she convinced me to take a look as it had huge prominence in the town. It was located on a traffic thoroughfare and was located on a 4 way cross roads with traffic lights. Now, I liked that as the previous shop had also been located on a major road next to traffic lights – now you may be wondering what is my obsession with major roads and traffic lights? Well the simple fact is, that when the lights are red, traffic stops…people look around and they see you!  It was a strategy which had worked well for us when we had first opened the office – we had gained huge visibility on a limited budget and had quickly become well known in a large city (c. half a million people) where to gain business stand out is pretty difficult.

And so I went to take a look. As you can see it is one of the ugliest buildings ever. It had been left derelict for years and needed a huge amount of work. How on earth could a company called “Gorgeous Homes” open in such an ugly building?

Inside it was full of rubbish – and it was very hard to see the potential.

 

Unbelievably though, I was in love. The location was just as prominent as my staff member had promised – plus we had some blue chip and local retailers surrounding us. But, it was a huge gamble – it was a different part of town and a major project. I got the shop manager to also take a look and get her opinion…she was as blind as me. She loved it!  The building just had such a great feel we knew we had to buy it.

However, the property needed so much work and given I had spent so much money on the rental property we had, plus I had to fund the purchase of the new property I didn’t know how we were going to do it. And then I did some research and found out the local council were running a regeneration scheme to bring these buildings – especially ours (which was in the conservation area) back into use. They had funds available to help us with the refurbishment! I told them of my plans…they gasped at my ideas (which involved my facelift of the front) and almost died when I told them I wanted a pink building with a bright pink sign in the conservation area.  However, they could tell I was passionate, and having proven to them that pale pink was a heritage colour they were won over and loved my ideas for how we would transform the building.

And so I sent Steve, a member of staff, off to the property auction armed with a signed cheque (as a well known business person I felt it best not to be seen buying the building). The bidding started quickly and soon it had gone over our top budget by £3,000. I was sat on the other end of the phone in despair – I knew I should hang up – tell Steve to leave it, to tear up the cheque – but I couldn’t – I wanted this damn ugly building!

And so just when the bidding had stopped, when it was about to be sold to the final bidder (for the third and final time), when it was now £5,000 over budget I told Steve to bid £250. Now up until that point, the bidding had been going up in £1000 increments. I could hear Steve in the auction room shouting “£250” and then I could hear the whole room pause. The auctioneer hesitated, you could hear I had confused him with my bid.  And the room went quiet. Without hesitation Steve shouted again “£250”.  The auctioneer turned to him and you could hear the whole room shift their heads to look at Steve.  The auctioneer sounded incredulous “£250?” he repeated as a question – as though, you boy – you dare to try and change my bid amounts. Again, Steve repeated his bid “£250”. The auctioneer befuddled by this chain of events accepted the bid…and it must have confused the rest of the room as with that, the building became ours!

But today I am proud to say, we have now finished the first phase of our office refurbishment – the “facelift” as I call it!

 

 

 

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