Page under construction

(building finished)


Attempting to rebuild, furnish and decorate a home from scratch on a very tight budget is the stuff that nightmares are made of. Nick and Ann Curtis are a brave couple from Sunderland who are about to undertake such a task. A year ago they saw a disused electricity sub-station in a quiet suburban street. They decided they had to have it - and - £35,000 later had a shell, but they knew exactly what to do with it. A few years ago Nick brought Anne a book on Moroccan interiors and she fell in love with the style immediately.

"Morocco" has hit the high-street in a big way - but what looks good in a glossy magazine does not always translate so well to the dull, grey skies of England. Kevin is concerned, not only at the scale of the task that the Curtis' have set themselves but also that the final outcome may look out of place and disappointing. "It's a very long journey they've got ahead of them," he says. "It's a long way from Sunderland to the Sahara."

Their plans are spectacular. The original building consisted of a single level with a central tower, but the Curtis' want to convert this simple shell into a family home comprising living room, kitchen, double height dining room with balcony and four upstairs bedrooms. And the budget? Just £50,000, which must include not only the building work, but the interior decoration as well - not much to realise the house of their dreams. But what Nick and Ann lack in finance they certainly make up for in passion and energy.

They estimate that the work will take eight months. But the build seems to be going on forever. And they can't live in the place in the meantime so the whole family is squashed into a caravan onsite. Nick is project managing the whole thing, and holding down his job as a policeman. Ann is working full-time, the kids have to get to school, and do their homework in the caravan. Money is very tight - life for the family is going to be very tough for the next few months. The living arrangements and the sheer scale of the task begin to take their toll. But at the lowest ebb, a trip to the Morocco 2000 exhibition and the fashionable Momo's restaurant provides a much needed shot of inspiration, and our intrepid couple rush back to Sunderland, their enthusiasm recharged and brimming over with new ideas.

But ten months later the family are still living in the caravan, they've gone over their budget and tempers are starting to fray. Will this former sub-station turn out to be the Moroccan paradise they dreamed of or have they started on something they simply cannot finish?


I just thought you might be interested in an update on the 01/003/2001 house (Sunderland). I pass the house quite frequently. Several years ago the owners tried to sell the house. It was on the market for a long time (very expensive, a minute front no back garden)) but nobody wanted to buy it. It really shows that the more unusual developments would probably sell quickly in places like London but are difficult to shift elsewhere.

You do!? Yeah from waht I can remember it really was shoehorned onto the plot, as sub-stations usual are Wink As you say it was quite an unusual themed building so I wouldn't be surprised that it might not be to everyones taste.
After saying that I read somewhere (think it was The Times Online that....."Sunderland tops the table for the highest house price growth in the past five years. Property prices here rose by 147 per cent to March 2006. Parents hoping to buy here would need to find on average £132,142." I guess a Morrocan Modernist design might not be on everyones shopping list Moon