Living communally: co-buying friends with shared mortgage open up their strikingly modern house share in south London

House sharing with even the very best of friends an be a big enough challenge when renting, so co-buying a property and demolishing most of it to create a shared living space has to be the ultimate sign of trust.

David Money, the architect who shares a three-bedroom house in Camberwell with three friends, has happily managed to do just that.

“Communal living gives us more space than we could possibly afford, I’d definitely recommend it if you’re lucky enough to have friends you can trust in everything,” he says.

It also helps if one of your friends is, like Money, an architect, who can oversee a complete renovation and extension of your new property, to suit four adults who want to live together while retaining their privacy and independence.

Having bought “an old wreck” with his friend Kane Chan for £750,000, Money took on the complete renovation of the Victorian terrace house. Only the front of the 1900 terrace house was left untouched; the rest was demolished to create a strikingly modern house which has become a super-stylish houseshare for grown-ups.

Money, Chan and his boyfriend, Donald, and another friend, Thien Win, who rents the attic floor, have all known each other for at least 15 years so rubbing along well together – and apart – is easy.

“It’s quite a large house, so even though there are four adults sharing we still have plenty of space,” says Money. “We do socialise together, so the living space and particularly the dining space was really important. We always eat together every day, regardless of how busy we are, so that’s the social hub of the house.”

An en suite bathroom connected to each bedroom ensures the morning shower rush is amicable and fights over how to squeeze the toothpaste or buying loo roll are kept to a minimum, while a clever space-saving layout adds separate spaces for downtime.

“If Donald and I feel the need to be away from the rest of the house and be alone together we have our own living room that’s next to our bedroom and so that’s our little private space,” explains Chan.

This is a communal lifestyle with not a whiff of living shoulder to dreadlocked shoulder in enforced veganism with a crowd of censorious crusties.

And with the number of single-person households on the rise and loneliness now a public health concern, it’s a model that more adults could consider.

Others keen to follow suit should take heart that the buying process was simple.

Money says getting a mortgage “was quite straightforward, no different to any two people buying together whether they be a couple or friends. We just found a good broker and didn’t have any problems with it.”

Co-buyers should also be sure to agree all terms and conditions from the start to avoid nasty surprises or fallings-out further down the line.

“We made a solemn pact that we’d live here for three years, after which if one of us wanted to sell then the other would have the option of buying them out, or we sell the house,” says Money.

“Nothing’s forever, three years is quite a long time, especially for me because I’m always thinking of designing my next house, so in three years’ time I’ll be thinking of my next project.” 

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