Ren­o­va­tions in great de­mand as buy­ers seek out a coun­try idyll

Buy­ers are flock­ing like sheep to coun­try ren­o­va­tions. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

THE mar­ket is slow, buy­ers are cau­tious and some For Sale signs have hung around so long they’re in dan­ger of be­ing listed.

But one sec­tor is boom­ing, so much so that cash buy­ers are queue­ing up, bid­ding wars are be­ing sparked and prop­er­ties are be­ing sold within weeks.

Coun­try ren­o­va­tion projects are more pop­u­lar than ever be­fore and the more derelict the prop­erty the higher the in­ter­est.

Ragged Ray – a tum­ble­down cot­tage in Kil­burn – had lost its res­i­den­tial oc­cu­pancy and the Na­tional Park is adamant it can­not be used as a home, yet it at­tracted 1,000 tele­phone calls to Robin Jes­sop’s es­tate agency in Bedale and sold at auc­tion for £62,000.

Stock­ing House Farm at Scaw­ton, near Helm­s­ley and High Ash Bank Farm­house, near Bedale, both needed ren­o­va­tion and were re­cently sold within weeks by Jes­sops af­ter at­tract­ing over 60 view­ings each.

Red House Farm and Low Gill Cot­tage in Rosedale, near Pick­er­ing, are also ex­cit­ing a stag­ger­ing amount of in­ter­est.

The farm­house, which needs com­plete ren­o­va­tion, comes with 10 acres and sta­bles and has a tempt­ing guide price of £200,000 to £250,000.

The semi-derelict cot­tage, on the same site, comes with seven acres but has no gas or elec­tric­ity and re­lies on a long drop toi­let.

It has also lost res­i­den­tial oc­cu­pancy af­ter be­ing un­in­hab­ited for over 20 years, hence the low guide price of £45,000, though the Na­tional Park seem to be in favour of relist­ing it as a home with a pos­si­ble lo­cal oc­cu­pancy clause if it needs to be com­pletely re­built.

Tom Wat­son, of Cundalls in Mal­ton, which is sell­ing the North York Moors farm as a whole or in three lots, says: “The in­ter­est is un­be­liev­able, but these houses are in a beau­ti­ful, se­cluded lo­ca­tion. They’re like some­thing out of Heart­beat.

“We’ve sent out 300 brochures and had well over 200 view­ings, with in­ter­est from as far away as Corn­wall, Sur­rey, Scot­land, Manch­ester and Nor­folk.

“We have shown fam­i­lies, young cou­ples, re­tired cou­ples, de­vel­op­ers and lo­cals round.”

Many of the above are ro­man­tics, who dream of leav­ing the rat race for a new life in the coun­try, but res­cu­ing a re­mote wreck can be fraught with dif­fi­cul­ties.

Fund­ing is the ma­jor is­sue. Un­less you have cash or a huge de­posit, banks may be un­will­ing to lend. Even if you have enough to buy a ren­o­va­tion project, make sure there is plenty left in the pot.

Tom Wat­son reck­ons that Low Gill Cot­tage needs at least £100,000 spend­ing on it, while the farm­house needs about £150,000.

Even if you are a cash buyer and don’t re­quire a sur­vey to sat­isfy a lender, it is al­ways worth get­ting an ex­pert opin­ion. At least then you know ex­actly what you are buy­ing and can cal­cu­late how much it might cost to ren­o­vate.

A sur­vey might also save you a small for­tune.

David Hornsby, a sur­veyor who spe­cialises in his­toric build­ings, says that many buy­ers as­sume they can see that “ev­ery­thing needs do­ing”, but there can be some hid­den hor­rors.

“One of the most chal­leng­ing jobs that I have had was the sur­vey of a Grade two star listed tim­ber framed manor house, which had been va­cant for the best part of 10 years and re­quired a ma­jor up­grade,” says Don­caster-based David.

“A pro­vi­sional pur­chase price had been agreed at just un­der £1m and clients buy­ing the prop­erty for cash only de­cided to have a sur­vey at the last minute on the ad­vice of their so­lic­i­tor as they had taken the view that the prop­erty ap­peared to be sound.

“Af­ter all, it was still stand­ing af­ter 500 years and they ac­cepted a sig­nif­i­cant amount of ex­pen­di­ture was re­quired to pro­vide cos­metic up­grad­ing, so what more could a sur­vey pos­si­bly tell them that they didn’t al­ready know about the prop­erty?”

Af­ter in­spect­ing the house David re­vealed that the lower half of the tim­ber frame had been re­placed by ma­chine-sawn soft­wood tim­ber and had de­cayed in parts, and as­bestos was lurk­ing un­der an ex­ter­nal plas­ter ren­der.

He says: “In short, the prop­erty was not worth any­thing like the orig­i­nal agreed pur­chase price and there were sig­nif­i­cant hid­den costs.

“Thank­fully, my clients with­drew from the pur­chase.”

Sally Coulthard, a sea­soned ren­o­va­tor of pe­riod prop­er­ties, agrees that knowl­edge is power when it comes to old prop­er­ties.

She says: “Any­one think­ing of tack­ling a restora­tion project needs to un­der­stand the in­tri­ca­cies of pe­riod prop­er­ties. It’s dirty and ex­haust­ing, but the joys of restor­ing an old home far out­weigh any set­backs.

“Not only do you get to work on a house filled with char­ac­ter, but ren­o­vated pe­riod prop­er­ties reg­u­larly com­mand sig­nif­i­cantly higher prices than new builds of the same size.”

But she ad­mits that find­ing a project is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult.

“When my par­ents bought their first ren­o­va­tion project 30 years ago, a Vic­to­rian town­house, most peo­ple thought they were mad. Phrases like ‘mill­stone around your neck’ were of­ten quoted at my par­ents, who cheer­fully ig­nored the naysay­ers. They bought in the late ’70s when pe­riod prop­er­ties were still viewed with dis­dain – no-one wanted draughty old houses when they could have mod­ern, shiny new boxes.

“Some­thing hap­pened in the ’80s – peo­ple started see­ing the po­ten­tial in pe­riod prop­er­ties again and it be­came the done thing to find a ‘project’, es­pe­cially in the coun­try­side.

“True ren­o­va­tion projects, to­day, are like hens’ teeth. That’s why they gen­er­ate so much in­ter­est. It’s get­ting harder and harder to find an un­touched prop­erty – most of the ren­o­va­tion projects these days are putting right the mis­takes that overzeal­ous ‘re­stor­ers’ did in the ’80s – rip­ping out sash win­dows and putting in hideous UPVC dou­ble glaz­ing for ex­am­ple.

“Barn con­ver­sions are sim­i­larly hard to find – there was a rash of them in the ’80s, many of them poorly con­ceived and ren­o­vated – and it’s only now that we re­alise that his­toric build­ings need a much more sen­si­tive ap­proach of con­ser­va­tion and min­i­mal restora­tion.”

Sally sug­gests one of the best ways of find­ing a coun­try restora­tion project is to get to know a good es­tate agent and let them know you are in the mar­ket for a prop­erty.

“Be spe­cific as pos­si­ble and keep in touch on a reg­u­lar ba­sis – they might just tip you off that some­thing is com­ing on the mar­ket if they think you are a se­ri­ous buyer. That’s how we found ours.”

David Hornsby is a sur­veyor spe­cial­is­ing in his­toric build­ings, tel: 01302 371723.

IN NEED OF REN­O­VA­TION: Red House Farm, above, and Low Gill Cot­tage, be­low left, in Rosedale, near Pick­er­ing. Guide prices: £200,000 to £250,000 and £45,000. Con­tact: Cundalls, Mal­ton, tel: 01653 697820, The prop­er­ties are for sale by auc­tion on Novem­ber 8. The farm­house comes with 10 acres and the semi-derelict cot­tage with seven acres. There is also the chance to buy the pair with an­other 76 acres to run as a stock farm. The guide price for the whole is £400,000 to £450,000.

PROJECTS: From left, Low Gill Cot­tage in Rosedale (see caption above). The Hayloft at Glasshouses, near Pate­ley Bridge comes with per­mis­sion to con­vert into a three-bed­room home. It has a 1.65 acre pad­dock. Price: £200,000. Con­tact: Dacre, Son and Hart­ley, tel: 01423 711010, Barn for con­ver­sion at Park Grange Farm, Ley­burn, North York­shire. Price: £170,000. Con­tact: Charl­tons, Rich­mond, tel: 01748 822525, www.charl­tons­es­ There is a po­ten­tial to cre­ate a three-bed­room prop­erty with stun­ning views over the sur­round­ing coun­try­side and to­wards Penn Hill. The tra­di­tional, stone-built for­mer barn has plan­ning con­sent for con­ver­sion and comes with a third of an acre of land.

TUM­BLE­DOWN: Dean Hall, Sneaton, near Whitby. Guide price: farm­house, out­build­ings and six acres, £425,000, with the chance to buy 33 ex­tra acres. Con­tact: Cundalls, Mal­ton, tel: 01653 697820, www. Auc­tion on Novem­ber 5. This semi-derelict prop­erty has been re-roofed and made wa­ter­tight.

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