THEIR lives were turned upside down by a blaze which destroyed their beloved 350-year-old thatched cottage.
More than 75 firefighters battled the blaze which began in the roof, and only the front of the building, in Southleigh Road, Havant, was left.
The remains were so dangerous even police were not allowed on to the site to gather evidence after looters stole what they could from the carcass of the cottage.
But 18 months on from that terrible night, in May 2011, cabinet maker Colin Pope, partner Sacha Pennington and three-year-old daughter Beaux, are once again enjoying their cosy homes.
They have overseen a £500,000 sympathetic, rebuild keeping as much of the original building as possible.
And where replacements have been needed they have made sure it is in keeping with the rest of the oak fixtures and fittings.
Sacha, a 39-year-old physiotherapist, said: ‘The whole house was completely destroyed and the council condemned it because it was unsafe.
‘Obviously it was very frustrating because we wanted to get in and get our stuff out but, legally, we weren’t allowed to. We had two lootings but the police couldn’t even go in to take fingerprints.
‘The only thing left of the house was the fascia and the chimney stack.
‘The floors, stairs, the beams and even the lime plaster is new.
‘We’re so excited about moving back in.
‘We were worried that it wouldn’t feel like our home any more but the insurance company and the builders have done such a perfect job.
‘The house still retains its wonderful character and if feels so nice being here.
‘For such a long time it was full of tradesmen everywhere.’
Throughout the rebuild neighbours and local historians would pop by asking to have a peek inside to look at how the work was progressing.
Some have even kept a photographic record of the work.
Sacha added: ‘One saw one guy taking pictures who said he was an artist and wanted to paint it.’
The couple say it is down to the insurance company, Halifax, the project managers Ross Associates, builders Concept and M2 Architects that the rebuild has gone so smoothly.