With an expensive location making renting unsustainable, Persimmon brand ambassador Natasha made it her goal to get on the property ladder. She tells us about the journey to find her Persimmon home, how she’s personalised it to suit her perfectly, and her tips for how you can do the same.
Getting onto the ladder
One of my biggest dreams in life has always been to own my own home and live comfortably in it. I moved to Kent 13 years ago and have loved living here, but renting is extremely expensive, and it was hard to stay in a property for more than 3 years without the landlord wanting to sell. So, when I turned 28, my partner and I set ourselves a goal to save every penny we could towards a deposit for a house. A year and a half later we started the search for our dream home.
Choosing a location
I was already in living in Maidstone and knew the area well, so I had every intention of finding a new build development close by. However, Maidstone is a very expensive area to live in due to its close transport links to London. It was impossible to find anything bigger than a two-bedroom house with our budget.
We spoke with a property agent who suggested looking further afield as it was likely to be cheaper, so I started looking at developments in Sittingbourne, Ashford and Canterbury. After visiting each location, it was clear to us that Canterbury would be the best fit for us. The house prices were a lot cheaper in Canterbury which allowed us to be able to buy a much bigger house than we had originally hoped for, especially as first-time buyers.
Benefits of buying new
We always knew we wanted a new build home so that we could make it our own and everything would be shiny and new. With busy lives and jobs we just couldn’t take on renovating an older property. I love the feeling that no one else has lived in the house and I feel safe knowing that no damage has been caused to the property prior to moving in.
Finding the right home
In April 2019 we started the buying process for our Chedworth. Prior to this we also met with another housebuilder, but we just didn’t like the house styles and the overall look of the houses were outdated and unimpressive. When we first visited the Persimmon site, however, we not only fell in love with the modern floor plans, but we could instantly envision living in the area. It just felt right.
We visited four different plots and had our heart set on each one but unfortunately they kept being reserved before we could get our mortgage in place. We now believe this was fate, because the plot we secured turned out to be the perfect layout and size for us!
Our Chedworth is a four-bedroom detached house with an en suite main bedroom, downstairs WC, a large garden, and a double driveway. The house was only partially built at the time of placing our deposit, but everything moved really fast and we moved in only four months later in time for summer.
The buying journey
The journey for buying a house felt like a long and stressful process, but in reality, that’s only because every stage of the house checks and mortgage requirements is handled by solicitors and it’s completely out of your control as a buyer.
The only input we had in the beginning stages was choosing the plot, paying the deposit and providing all the necessary paperwork to the mortgage advisor and solicitors. Once the mortgage in principle was agreed upon, the exciting part happened. We were invited to attend a meeting with the Persimmon sales team who showed us all the upgrades and Finishing Touches we could add to the house.
Selecting Finishing Touches
We added quite a few extras such as spotlights in the kitchen and all the bathrooms, an outside tap and a front porch light. There were so many upgrade choices it was hard to narrow down what was a priority - I wanted it all!
We had a budget to stick to, however, so settled on upgrading the oven and hob in the kitchen first. We also added an integrated fridge freezer so it would be hidden. The whole kitchen was upgraded to feature sleek and glossy white cupboards with slow closing drawers. It’s extremely spacious and provides plenty of storage.
In the en suite we wanted a powerful raincloud shower as well as the handheld, so we also upgraded this. Surprisingly, all of these choices were easy to make and we ticked off everything we wanted from the Finishing Touches brochure.
The hardest decision to make was which tiles to go for in the bathrooms. I actually couldn’t decide and had to go away and think about it for a few days because I knew this wasn’t something I could change and redo in a year or two. Tiles are costly, and we wanted to make sure we were thinking ahead of what the overall decor would look like once we moved in.
In the end we chose a very dark charcoal grey for the en suite, using the same tiles for the walls and the floor. We decided to half tile the walls so that we could add mirrors later on. In the main bathroom and downstairs water closet we chose a light grey marble effect textured tile, that would blend beautifully with dark grey floor tiles upstairs and white ceramic tiles downstairs.
Making it personal
Since moving in, I’ve made a lot of changes to the décor. This has included redecorating certain rooms several times, mainly because my style has evolved over the last four years, but I am finally almost done with all the painting.
I love creating unique furniture for every room in the house and I am incredibly proud of my dining table and dressing table that I built and upcycled.
When it comes to decorating, I recommend making a list of all the things you want to do in your new home and prioritise them in order of what you can DIY, and what you will need to hire tradespeople for. This will help you budget and set realistic goals.
Then, I’d recommend working your way through your list one project at a time. I found trying to do little bits in each room really deflating because you end up feeling like no room is fully complete, so I would give your full attention to one room at a time.
The only space I have yet to touch is the garden. I still don’t know what I want to do with it and have had several quotes in the past for adding a larger patio area, higher fences and a shed, but the cost has always put me off. However, next year we fully intend to renovate the garden ourselves and hire the equipment needed to build a shed base and level out some of the grass areas.
A welcoming new community
Other than just loving our home, we are so glad we moved to Canterbury. We love the area and really appreciate how close we live to the beach. The village is super friendly, and as we were one of the first to move into the road, we’ve been able to meet all of our neighbours one by one as they moved in.
It was already a tightknit community, but I’ve noticed that everyone seems to be using the local Facebook groups to offer their help and give away home items for free. I feel safe living here knowing everyone is looking out for one another. It’s also a very dog-friendly area!
Natasha’s top tips for buying a new Persimmon home:
1. Visit several different developments to find the one that’s right for you. Bear in mind that homes will be priced differently according to location and transport links into the nearest city.
2. Save two different budgets - one for your house deposit, and another for upgrades, Finishing Touches and the moving day itself.
3. When choosing your upgrades with Persimmon, think about things that will be convenient in the long term, such as adding an outside tap. It’s also a good idea to add outside lighting early on.
4. Consider where you want all your power outlets to be, plugs and lights. If you’re able to decide these as your house is being built, this will allow you to personalise the house to your needs. I added extra plug sockets in the living room and bedrooms.
5. Lastly, once you have chosen your house type, search for it on Instagram and look at how others have styled their home. This will not only give you inspiration for what you might want to do with your décor, but it’ll also help you identify things you don’t like.