HIT series Homes Under the Hammer has famously discovered its fair share of disastrous homes from 39 cats in a room to a house with no roof.
The show, presented by Martin Roberts, has captivated millions of house hunters over the years.
The show has even attracted famous fans such as Meryl Streep and Mark Wahlberg.
It’s based around the auction of a property. The buyer then considers the property’s potential for refurbishment, set against their budget constraints. The show then returns to the property after work is done and sees how much it is worth.
During the show’s tenure Martin has travelled the country and famously discovered some terrible homes.
A dead body
There are some properties Martin will never forget — like the house in Cumbria where the crew thought they had found a dead body.
He recalls: “The director went into the house and came out absolutely ashen.
“She said, ‘There’s a dead body in the bed’.
“We thought, ‘Well that’s a first’. People leave furniture but not dead bodies.
“So we all tiptoed in to the bedroom and, sure enough, lying underneath a white sheet was a body.
“Then the body started snoring. When we nudged it an old guy sat bolt upright in bed and said, ‘Where’s my family?’
“There had been complications with the completion of the sale and on the morning we arrived to do our filming the family had left in such a rush they’d forgotten to take grandad with them.”
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Martin said: “Of the 2,000 properties we have featured there have only been a handful of times where we have all gone, ‘We need to get out of here, quick’.
“One property, in Warrington, Cheshire, looked like The Addams Family house.
“There were security cameras all over the place.
“We were interviewing in a bedroom and halfway through a light bulb fell out of the ceiling socket.
“But instead of landing where gravity should have taken it, the bulb fell down in an arc.
“The estate agent told us afterwards that the previous owner had died in the room we had been in and he had been paranoid about intruders, which is why he had all the security cameras.
“The dead man really didn’t like us being there. And he told us.”
Property developer Justin hoped to breath fresh life into a council depot he bought at auction.
He invested in the abandoned building in Milton Keynes for £79,000, way over the guide price of £35,000.
And when the council refused his planning application to build on the plot, he was “back to square one.”
He said: “The council didn’t like that both houses weren’t facing the road in alignment.
“They were talking about the frontage needed to be the same all the way down the road so they told me they wouldn’t allow it.
“But we went ahead anyway, it got refused, we went to appeal and it got refused again so now we’re back to square one and looking at a single semi-detached house with four bedrooms.”
Martin, who used to work on TV travel programme Wish You Were Here, and Lucy Alexander were chosen to present the first ever episode, which aired on November 17, 2003.
He recalls: “We went to Devon to meet a man wearing a fluffy red checked shirt who had bought a pet shop on the opposite side of the street to his own house.
“He wanted to build a bridge across the street to link the two properties, but I don’t think he got planning permission.”
The 39 cats
Martin said he will never forget the house he went into where the owner had kept 39 cats in an upstairs room for ten years — and never once let them out.
A historic court house that was set to appear on the show suddenly collapsed into a river.
The back of the Old Courthouse in Cockermouth, Cumbria, crumbled away, including the back walls over three floors, sections of flooring and parts of the roof.
The 194-year-old building is due to feature on BBC TV renovation show Homes Under The Hammer.
The bridge over the River Cocker was closed after the collapse and people were urged to avoid the area. It was declared unsafe in November 2021 after the fast-flowing river eroded the stone section underneath it.
Rats and sewage
One rat infested property that appeared on the show was so bad presenter Dion Dublin refused to enter.
The “incredibly filthy” property in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, was auctioned for a dirt-cheap guide price of £20,000.
Dion said: “When you take on a property like this, in this condition, the first thing you’re going to have to think about is skips and how many you’re going to need.
“It all needs to go before you see what you’ve got to work with.
“Now, I’m not going to be going in there because there’s sewage, it’s incredibly filthy and there’s signs of a rat infestation as well.
“Neither me nor the film crew will be going in there because it’s a huge health and safety hazard.”
Martin said that one of the worst homes he ever visited was etched into his memory.
He said the derelict home’s previous owners had been living in “squalor” and allowing their animals to poo all over the floor.
He said: “Properties where, I remember once were people had obviously had animals inside and not let them out, so you can imagine the state of the house was awful.
“All the urine and the faeces was on the floorboards and it’s spread under the floorboards and the house just was rank.”
He went on to detail how the new owners tried everything they could to save money and not replace the floorboards, but “the smell” was stuck within the wood.
“They thought they could get away with it,with lots and lots of bleach, they ended up replacing all the floorboards, because there was no way to get rid of that smell,” the property expert added.