Refurb Renovation News talks to real estate and travel expert Laura Hamilton about renovating homes Home Renovation

Laura Hamilton. Picture © Sam Riley

Have you always wanted to renovate?

I started renovating a property for the first time at the age of 19, and that happened rather by accident. My mother saw that in the same street where they lived in Meopham, a small 1-bed apartment was vacant, and I wanted to buy a property since I was 16. An old head on a young shoulder! I saved all my money on part-time jobs and went to this property with my mother to see it. It was a small apartment which had to be completely renovated and I thought I could do it, and that's how it all started!

What's the most interesting thing about renovating for you?

I love to turn the worst house on the street into the best house on the street. I enjoy taking back features and discovering features that have been hushed up and then restoring them. I love interior design, but to be honest, it's the whole process. Of course, real estate renovation is stressful and projects rarely run smoothly, no matter how experienced you are, but I find these challenges interesting as well.

You travel regularly to places where you are looking for a place in the sun. Has this broadened your knowledge of real estate and inspired you in any way?

I've learned so much about real estate abroad through the exhibition, but I've also learned so much about business and commercial real estate, and renovated it since I opened our restaurant and coffee shop nearly 3 years ago. It is a pleasure to be able to advise so many people through "One Place in the Sun" and help them to realize their dreams. Even if they do not shop on the show, they always feel so good that they have learned so much.

How do you select properties to display the families? Is it difficult to find something that fits all your needs and desires?

Well, the moderators can not accept the credit for finding the properties. There is an amazing team of researchers and producers doing all the hard work – every episode is full of work before we even get together with the house hunters. The director of each episode sends us the details of the property a few days before the shoot and we can see them. Occasionally, I may suggest that properties need to be changed, and we'll look at other alternatives, but it depends on how the search runs.

What are some of your most important tips for buying real estate on board?

Always make sure that you visit the destination at different times of the year. Some resorts are closed during the winter months. So it's very important that you know how they are. Check out what the itineraries look like all year round, as you may not be able to access your foreign countries as easily as you think. Before exchanging your money in euros, check if the seller returns to the UK and if he wants to get the money from the sale in Stirling. In this case, you can negotiate the purchase price as both parties can save money.

Laura Hamilton. Pictures © Andy Newbold

Renovating is something you have been doing for years; Do you feel that it has become more popular in recent years?

It's not for everyone – some people do it once and then get discouraged for life! A few people I know have encountered problems and have said, "How can you handle the hassle and stress of so many renovations?" I think it's about having a great team of professionals – if you build a good relationship with them and you know you're going to do more projects, both parties can benefit.

Be inspired by Lord Roberts On The Green's inspiration to open your coffee shop and deli and explain how the idea came to life.

It is total madness! If you had told me three years ago that I would qualify as a postmaster and open a restaurant and café with 27 employees, I would probably have laughed at you. We no longer have a post office, but we have created a thriving little place in our community and I'm really proud of it. Our little village shop was closed and I saw the potential to make something out of it. Now it is at the heart of our property and somewhere real estate agents mention marketing material when selling homes in the area. It's not easy to run a business, and I would say it's more of a passionate project, but it's become a big part of our lives and we love it.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned on your way to renovation and ownership?

Never expect a smooth project flow! Always allow at least 25% of the originally budgeted budget. Make sure you commission a city council building supervisor instead of a private one. I have both used. Although the city council may be slower, it is better in the long run.

Have you ever experienced a stigma as women who are passionately interested in renovations?

I have not, but my builders have seen how I worked on site as a worker with boots, work clothes and dust covered and then ready for a photo shoot. I know, they had to think twice: "Is that the same person?" I love that, but I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty and have always wanted to learn as much as possible about the renovation and construction process.

They have gained some truly amazing opportunities over the years. What are the plans for the future?

Who knows what's around the corner? I learned that from Lord Roberts on The Green. I'm pretty sure Alex and I will be developing more real estate – we send links to real estate projects almost daily. I also love my job on TV, so I am very happy that I was able to incorporate everything into my career.

Laura Hamilton presents A Place in The Sun on Channel 4, alongside her local coffee shop and the Lord Roberts on The Green deli (

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