2015 will mark the end of my first year as an actual homeowner. Home owning – the holy grail of all living arrangements (if you read any mainstream media) and yet the most impossible to attain. I won’t go into the ins and outs of nine years worth of saving, the agony of getting a mortgage and then the impossibility of finding a house you can afford AND like, those stories are for another day. 

But if you are thinking about buying your first home, there are a few unlikely places you can turn for your advice that aren’t your parents or your bank manager. I’m talking about Channel 4 Property Porn.

I’ve been a bit obsessed with the likes of Kirstie and Phil (I mean who wouldn’t want to do bad things to Phil Spencer? Just me? Ok then…) and Sarah Beanie for years, but it was only when I came to buy, and then renovate my first home that I realised their usefulness. 

Those crazy shows on Channel 4 are not just for perving on Phil Spencer, laughing at rich people and snooping into other people’s houses. Watched correctly you can pick up a few good tips that even your parents won’t tell you.

Location, Location Location

Location Location Location
Back off Kirstie, he’s mine.

One of the longest running property shows ever, I used to just watch this to get a look inside other people’s houses, and to laugh at the stupidity of the people looking for houses. And of course for the lovely Phil Spencer. But watch harder and there are a few good tips to be had including:

  • Negotiate. Hard. Watching Kirstie and Phil put low offers in for houses that were not rejected
  • Learn to compromise. Want the perfect house in the perfect area? Unlikely. Watching families go through their house search helps you understand how you can compromise too.
  • See the potential in everything. So you’ve just rocked up to a total hovel but it’s in your price range? Kirstie and Phil can show you how your can make it your dream home.

Help! My House Is Falling Down

Help My House Is Falling Down
Worst. Nightmare.

A slightly lesser known Sarah Beeny property porn classic, as a homeowner this is probably the scariest programme you can ever watch. Houses, literally falling apart before the eyes of their owners, I watched all the episodes on 4oD solidly before moving into our house and then was terrified that as soon as I opened the door the house would explode. No longer would I have a landlord to pick up the pieces.

However, if you are looking to purchase, this house has a fair few tips on buying stuff that will be less likely to fall apart before you’ve unpacked the china.

  • Looking for tell-tale signs. Watching this programme made me more able to assess houses in an objective way – I now know how to spot damp, to look for cracks in the walls and watch out for poor drainage.
  • Understanding the cost of remedial work. So you’ve fallen in love with a house and got a survey. But there is a list of horrors that has come back – this show helps you understand the cost of repairs so you know what you are taking on.
Double Your House For Half The Money
Yes please. Where do I sign?

Because Sarah Beeny is probably Channel 4’s most prolific property porn producer, she gets double billing on this list. I only found this show when pursuing 4oD for EVEN MORE PROPERTY PORN and it was an instant hit. At this point I knew the house I was buying was going to require some major renovation work, and this programme shows two houses a week getting the makeover treatment.

But this is no 60 second makeover – loft and garage conversions, extensions, summer houses – this is a serious building show. Every programme shows huge ways to extend and uplift your home and exactly how much it costed.

  • Unleash your creativity. Sometimes when entering a potential property, it’s hard to imagine it any other way. This show taught me a lot about how you can knock through walls and build things to immediately improve the house you’ve got.
  • Build confidence in major building work. Builders are scary. In fact I still get Mr S to deal with all tradespeople, but this made me understand terminology, costings and the fact that builders are indeed humans too.

Making Space

Making Space
Whose cupboard looks like this?

 In this show, Melanie Cantor is on a one woman mission to tidy up your house and give you back the space you crave. As well as being hilarious (some people are really untidy and have a lot of stuff), it’s actually given me a million tips and tricks on making the most of the smaller areas of my home. Buying something smaller than you’d like and just can’t get your head round where all your stuff will go? Watch this.

  • Be harsh with your possessions. Melanie takes no prisoners when it comes to clutter, but if you can cast an eye over everything you have you can make some more space in your home.
  • Never underestimate a space saving gadget. This show genuinely opened my eyes to the world of tiny boxes, high up shelves and back of door storage.

Homes Under The Hammer

Homes Under The Hammer
Recognise them? No one else does either…

My god I love this programme. It’s a deep true love that means sometimes instead of exercising I creep down stairs and watch this in my darkened living room at 7am instead. But let’s keep that between ourselves eh?

The properties in this show are always old, dilapidated and a bit unloved. The object of the show is to see how much money people make after they’ve done the property up and sold it. Perhaps that seems a little grim in these more austere times (the show is 10 years old after all), but there is still much to be learned from this slightly weird, unloved show.

  • Auctions are viable ways to buy houses. Yep, you don’t have to suck up to a greasy estate agent if you don’t want to. Just make sure you see the property first.
  • Renovations don’t have to cost the earth. I’m always constantly surprised at the cost of some works. I’ve managed to halve my budget on my kitchen renovation, just by watching this show.

Whether you are buying a house right now, or will be buying a house in the future, these tips have ensured I’ve managed to buy my first home, renovate it and come out unscathed all within the year. Sure there have been tears, but that’s always the backbone of a good bit of property porn.

Or maybe you watch these shows to laugh at all the idiots like me who have been so desperate to own your own home. I don’t blame you. Home ownership is ridiculous.

Does anyone else out there have a slightly inappropriate obsession with Phil Spencer?

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