A COUPLE have had their dreams of a beautiful home shattered by burglars and arsonists.
They spent more than a year renovating their 250-year-old dream home in Huddersfield - only to be left distraught after burglars stripped the house, leaving them with just the kitchen sink.
Kate Brace, 25, and fiancé Vincent Field, 24, were horrified after their semi-detached cottage at Longley was raided and ransacked by thieves who took everything the couple had bought.
The criminals were so determined to empty the house they even made off with the lightbulbs from every room.
But the pair's horror story does not end there.
Two months later arsonists broke into the property and set it on fire - leaving the couple homeless.
The couple bought their home in August, 2001, and, even though it was damp and ageing, decided to move straight into the house and do the work themselves.
"It was a labour of love," said Kate. "It was not really habitable, but we could not wait to get in and get started."
The pair knocked down walls, damp-proofed the floor and installed a fitted kitchen and bathroom.
The first-time buyers bought the house for a bargain £55,000. With spare cash the pair were able to transform it - including changing it from a two-bedroom to a three-bedroom property.
Over a year the couple spent every spare minute they had plastering and building between their day jobs.
Sales assistant Kate said: "Every night when we came home from work we would do something, and every weekend and holiday."
The pair spent £25,000 on turning the stone cottage into their dream home.
Kate said: "It was to be our marital house and we were so looking forward to it being ready. It was perfect in every way."
But burglars struck last November as the couple put the finishing touches to the house.
"We had a phone call from the police saying they had received a call about a break-in.
"We rushed over, expecting it to be just the TV and DVD players. We were totally unprepared for what we saw.
"The thieves had stripped each room bare - even ripping off the plasterboards.
All the furniture was taken, as were a new 6ft 3in fridge freezer, dishwasher, washing machine, tumble drier, fitted kitchen units, an eight-plate Aga cooker and a £1,500 bathroom suite."
Kate said: "They shattered my dreams. It is horrific.
"I couldn't believe it. I just cried."
But, just as Kate and Vincent thought things couldn't get any worse, two months later they returned to the house with the loss adjuster from their insurance company - only to find arsonists had struck.
The fire left the shell of the house scorched and burned.
"It looks like something from a war-torn country now. It's worse than a wreck," said Kate.
"It is heart-breaking. We still have to pay a mortgage on a house that is uninhabitable."