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Lady builder Sian Astley uses lockdown to work on her interior

TV’s lady builder Sian Astley is all about property development, but it took a global pandemic to prompt her to look inwards at her own interior.

“For the first time ever I’m doing a personal development course and I am thoroughly enjoying it,” says the queen of renovation.

“It’s taken a global crisis for me to take time out, look at my own work direction and ask where do I want to be, what am I doing right and what am I doing wrong,” says Sian (pronounced Si-ann).

“I find the whole world of digital courses really interesting. I’ve been learning all about female entrepreneurship, tapping into money manifesting, knowing your self worth, not taking any bullshit and overcoming the patriarchy.”

Sian, who is project manager on BBC programme Your Home Made Perfect, says she’s a typical creative who has long struggled with charging for her time and talking money.

“I’m a 50-year-old woman with long built-in triggers, but you have to ask why should it be. Why do I not like talking about money. Why do I not like charging for my time, why do I talk myself down and say ‘I’m just a lady builder’ when I’m one of the UK’s best renovation experts. Women, especially of my age do that, which is crazy considering we were brought up in the 80s with Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister.”

Sian is a landlord with a 17-property rental portfolio. Prior to Covid she was hosting renovation days at Moregeous Mansions – the Fallowfield, Manchester, home she shares with Martin, Mr Moregeous her partner and right hand man. But Covid and social distancing put paid to that.

In addition, Martin had a serious leg operation and infection during which time she became his primary carer for six months which “was challenging”.

“I’d started to run supper clubs at the house prior to lockdown as I have a big passion for food. But a group of local men were very vocal on social media saying I shouldn’t be doing them. The police were called. But we had put really good systems in place. It’s a business, we pay the chefs, they have food certification. We have risk assessments and insurance in place. The police checked us out a couple of times and went away happy.

“I’ve not been on furlough. I haven’t been able to do any of my work since January and it’s a way of keeping positive, keeping in contact with people and everyone who has been has bloody loved it.

I go in guns blazing and try to find an exciting, fun thing to do that will keep my head above water and keep me busy and sane.”

“You can put your head down and get depressed at times like this – I’m lucky I haven’t been personally affected by the illness – but you have to make a choice of how to deal with it. I go in guns blazing and try to find an exciting, fun thing to do that will keep my head above water and keep me busy and sane.”

That same attitude was applied to the tenants of the three buildings she rents out. “We set up a WhatsApp group and did cookery competitions and offered support to each other and we will come out of this with them all knowing each other. Tenants have been personally affected by Covid and the support in the building has really helped them.”

Sian has also been running online cookery courses, sharing kit and ingredient lists with clients who cook along with her and chef Claire Woodier on a Friday evening from 7-9pm.

Woman’s work is never done

The queen of renovation has a law degree and over 25 years experience in the industry, acquiring a wealth of knowledge simply by doing. With expertise covering everything from damp proofing to upholstery and wallpapering to kitchen layouts, she first ran a specialist building company.

Buying her first apartment in 1996, she has enjoyed 24 years hands-on experience as a lady builder, renovator and developer, re-designing and refurbishing hundreds of properties for herself and clients, significantly raising property values through innovative & intuitive design, in both boom years and recessions.

Trading as Moregeous – making properties not just gorgeous but more than gorgeous – Sian provides design services, invaluable advice, expertise and building work for clients anxiously looking to get the best value for their money. She re-thinks homes, organises all the works, controls the builders and ensures everything is finished off to the very highest specification.

Coming up soon is a brand new renovation club, so if you have work that needs doing she can help and even offer trade discounts.

However, appearances can be deceptive and although petite, Pre-Covid Sian was renowned for getting her hands dirty, jumping in and out of skips and getting stuck in on site at every opportunity.

Surprising to many, Sian also manages a chronic pain condition and can offer expert opinion on the effects and management of such conditions.

Life is one long project for Sian Astley and one that she ensures gets better and better, despite the circumstances.

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Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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