How having a baby helped us save £20k deposit for £180k four-bed house


HAVING a newborn will send most household finances soaring but for Shona Hornby and her partner Nick Trutwein becoming parents actually kick started their saving for a house.

As soon as baby Heidi came along in 2012, the couple became “really boring” cutting back on going out and moved house for cheaper rent.


Nick and Shona, both 32, with Heidi, five, and Ryan who’s two[/caption]

But it meant that in just over a year, the couple, who are both 32, managed to save £20,000 – enough for a house deposit and to cover moving costs.

Nearly five years on, the now family-of-four still live in their four-bed house in Kelbrook which they bought for £180,000.

But it wasn’t easy giving up their much loved home in Skipton to live in a smaller village so they could cut rent costs by £155 a month, which went straight into savings.

Nick, who’s an aerospace radiographer, also sold his car saving them another £100 a month to help them towards their goal of putting aside £600 to £700 a every month.


The family bought their home in October 2014 for £180,000[/caption]

Being a 15 minute drive away from town to go shopping and without parking, the their new house was less than ideal for a new mum, but the parents knew it was only temporary, a stepping stone to getting on the property ladder.

We caught up with Shona, who works in the digital team at a bank, for this week’s instalment of My First Home.

What’s your place like?

We’ve got a middle terrace house in a cul-de-sac where there are three rows of five houses, and we’re in the middle of one of those rows.


The couple already had furniture which they had bought while they rented[/caption]


The family have lived in their house for almost five years now[/caption]

It was built in 2009 so it’s fairly new but we’re not the first ones to live in it.

It’s got a downstairs toilet, an open kitchen and living room as well as a private garden.

There are three bedrooms, one has an en suite and the main bathroom is on the third floor.

Let’s talk money. How much did you buy it for?

We bought our home in October 2014 so just over four years ago now for £180,000, with a 10 per cent deposit.

It’s a leasehold property because it’s on a private road, which costs us £120 a year – that goes towards cutting the grass and getting the pavements fixed.


Heidi was just two when Shona and Nick bought the house in Lancashire[/caption]


Ryan, who was born after they moved in, has his own room[/caption]

Because we bought before the tax relief, we had to pay stamp duty which came to around £1,700 plus another £300 for legal fees.

We really did have to take into account the extra costs because we could have got a way bigger mortgage but we decided not to because we still wanted some cash to spend every month.

Are you a first-time buyer who want to share tips on how you did it? Email us at or call 0207 78 24516. Don’t forget to join the Sun Money’s first-time buyer Facebook group for the latest tips on buying your first home.

We were paying £791 a month but now that we’ve remortgaged we pay £540 a month.

Do you mind that it’s leasehold?

Not really because we pay into a management company which is owned by the residents, so I don’t mind that it’s leasehold.

We have AGMs with the neighbours and get a say in what companies we use to get things done. It would have been a different if we didn’t didn’t.

We also locked in to a three-year fixed-rate to make the most of low interest rates.

Wasn’t it hard saving while you had a newborn?

Yeah it was hard because our costs did go up, what with having to buy all the bits that come with a newborn but it also made us really boring.


The house is leasehold because it’s on a private close but is managed by the neighbours[/caption]


The house has a garden as well as a driveway which was a must for the family[/caption]

We stopped going out as much and only had freeview on the telly.

It took us two-years to save enough cash to cover everything.

Once we found out that I was pregnant with Heidi, we moved from our rented place in Skipton to another rented place near to where my parents lived.

We loved Skipton but our two-up two-down house cost us £750 a month, but in Earby where we moved to we lived ina a three bed end of terrace house for £595 a month.

What help is out there for first-time buyers?

GETTING on the property ladder can feel like a daunting task but there are schemes out there to help first-time buyers have their own home.

Help to Buy Isa – It’s a tax-free savings account where for every £200 you save, the Government will add an extra £50. But there’s a maximum limit of £3,000 which is paid to your solicitor when you move.

Help to Buy equity loan – The Government will lend you up to 20 per cent of the home’s value – or 40 per cent in London – after you’ve put down a five per cent deposit. The loan is on top of a normal mortgage but it can only be used to buy a new build property.

Lifetime Isa – This is another Government scheme that gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and get a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home. You can save up to £4,000 a year and the Government will add 25 per cent on top.

Shared ownership – Co-owning with a housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount. You can buy anything from 25 to 75 per cent of the property but you’re restricted to specific ones.

“First dibs” in London – London Mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a scheme that will restrict sales of all new-build homes in the capital up to £350,000 to UK buyers for three months before any overseas marketing can take place.

Starter Home Initiative – A Government scheme that will see 200,000 new-build homes in England sold to first-time buyers with a 20 per cent discount by 2020. To receive updates on the progress of these homes you can register your interest on the Starter Homes website.

That’s when we really started saving – it would have been impossible for us to do it without paying cheaper rent.

It was hard moving away to somewhere a bit more out in the sticks but we had to do it if we ever wanted to stand a chance at becoming homeowners.

I struggled with where we were living to be honest.

It was on street parking which meant that I would always end up parking miles away from the house – less than ideal when you have a newborn.


The family moved out of Skipton to rent elsewhere to save some extra cash[/caption]

The house was also a converted corner shop and people would park on the pavement right outside the door so that I couldn’t get the buggy in.

It definitely was not my dream home, and I missed Skipton, but it was worth it now that we’ve got our own house.

I was also breastfeeding and Heidi was a challenging baby which didn’t make me want to go out much.

We saved the same amount every month which was between £600 and £700 minimum, sometimes tucking away extra when we had it.


Shona said that they wanted to live in an area with a choice of primary schools for Heidi[/caption]

We sold one of our cars – a Vauxhall Corsa for £1,500 – which we put into savings but also we saved another £100 a month by not having to pay for running costs, like insurance and tax.

I also finished off paying finance payments on my ford fiesta which saved us another £150 a month.

It was a challenge but we knew it was temporary and we really wanted to get a mortgage.

Did having a baby change where you wanted to live?

Originally, we wanted to stay in Skipton where we could walk into town and there is a bit more going on but we were sort of forced out by the rent prices when we started saving.

To be honest, those years of renting taught us what we really prioritised.


Ryan, two, and Heidi, now five, each have their own rooms[/caption]

We realised that a driveway was an absolute must – I was so fed up of people parking right outside my front door.

We had a yard which made us realise that we wanted a garden and we realised that we weren’t bothered about living in Skipton so we picked somewhere that was about 15minutes drive away which mean our money could go further.

Having had a baby, schools were also really important too us.

I wasn’t bothered about being close to a school with a great Ofsted rating because Heidi wasn’t going to start school for another few years and anything could change during that time.

I wanted somewhere with choice and there are about six primary schools around here.


Ryan wasn’t born when the family first moved into the house[/caption]

I would say we were looking for about three months. We set up a RightMove alert and we looked at six properties in total.

We weren’t actually going to even bother viewing the house we bought in the end because we weren’t that impressed with the listing but it turns out you should always bother looking!

What was it like finally getting the keys?

It was all so exciting when we finally completed – we wanted to sleep here on the first day but we couldn’t because we didn’t have any of our stuff here.

We gave a month’s notice on the rent and got our deposit back which helped with some of the moving costs.


Shona and Nick only really started saving for a house when they found out they were pregnant with Heidi[/caption]


The family-of-four have no plans to move any time soon[/caption]

By the time we moved, Heidi was two years old and I’ll be honest, I didn’t do too much.

My dad and brother in law helped us out with the big pieces of furniture, which we already had from when we rented.

Did you have any problems?

There were a few issues actually which we didn’t find out about until after we’d made an offer and it had been accepted.

Apparently there were problems with the drainage system in the close a few years ago but the builders had gone bust so the council had to pay to get it fixed.

That meant that each property owed the council £900 and we weren’t prepared to take on the debt.

We couldn’t technically buy it until it had been paid off and the previous owners were disputing the bill which held us up a bit.

In the end, they paid it because they just wanted to move.

What’s next for the future?

I think we’ll stay here for a while – we’ve just tied into another five-year fixed-rate mortgage deal.

We love the area and the house is beautiful but in the future, we would like some more downstairs space and a garage.

We’re not actively looking but if something came up that fit the bill we wouldn’t rule out moving either.

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