‘Haunted home improvements’: following the highs and lows of renovating a 17th century home.
A Russian model has teamed up with a complete stranger to renovate one of Liverpool’s oldest houses – home to the ‘ghost of a little boy’.
Anastasiya Kasimova helped to transform the 17th century Grade II-listed cottage with Jamie Gould – and their efforts featured on the new show, The Great House Giveaway.
They bought the family home at auction, before carrying out major refurbishments and reselling the property within six months. They got to keep the profits they made to put towards deposits for their own homes.
Anastasiya, 32, from Liverpool, said: “I’m always looking to get involved in lots of projects and have lots of interests to keep my mind occupied, so when this opportunity came up, I applied straight away.
“Jamie’s in the construction industry, so did all the technical jobs and I helped with DIY between modelling and when I wasn’t working at the restaurant I manage. We worked really well together – although I did find it a bit strange taking delivery of a skip at 7am in my high heels!”
A former professional gymnast, Anastasiya moved to the UK when she was 15 and couldn’t speak a word of English. The Liverpool John Moore’s University graduate later signed up with top modelling agencies in Liverpool and Manchester, and an agent in London.
She’s previously been the face of a make-up and skincare brand and appeared on a furniture company’s TV advert - back flipping onto a sofa.
For her latest challenge, Anastasiya, who lives near Sefton Park with a menagerie of pets - including a talking parrot named after Italian fashion designer Emilio Pucci – was partnered with 32-year-old electrician and builder Jamie.
They were allocated a budget of £110,000 by the Great House Giveaway’s presenter, property expert Simon O’Brien, and successfully bid for Moss Cottage, Old Swan, which dates back to 1642 - the first year of the English Civil War.
The show’s producers also provided the contestants with a £12,000 refurbishment budget.
Jamie, from Warrington, said: “It’s one of the oldest habitable buildings on Merseyside and, when we first saw it, it looked like a property with a lot of potential. But, in hindsight, it was probably one of the most difficult renovations we could have done, because of the age of the building.
“When we got inside, we found some damp and we saw that everything had been covered in hardboard in the 70s or 80s. We had to rip it all out, which was a huge job, but it was good to be able to expose original features like a cast-iron Victorian fireplace.”
Anastasiya said they were lucky they didn’t uncover more than they’d bargained for when renovating the 380-year-old cottage in Derby Lane.
She said: “When we started filming, we heard that the house was haunted by the ghost of a little boy, who’d once lived there. Luckily, I didn’t experience anything personally but I was always quite cautious, and only went in at night with friends and family.”
Jamie, who roped in his dad, a builder, to help with the renovations, said he hopes to put any profit towards a deposit on his own home with his partner Alyson and their new-born baby daughter, Althea.
He said: “It was a fantastic experience and quite exciting because it is such a unique property. But it was a difficult renovation on such a tight budget. Althea was born about a month after we’d finished and my partner was tearing her hair out because I’d been working seven-days-a-week for months. It will be worth it though, to be able to get a deposit for our own home.”
We agreed to a sponsorship deal, which includes us providing auction finance for the contestants to buy the properties, after being approached by Criccieth-based Chwarel Productions.
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