Re­lo­ca­tion, re­lo­ca­tion, re­lo­ca­tion, but leav­ing is cer­tainly no joke

Ren­o­vat­ing a cas­tle-style home was a chal­lenge, but now it is a home fit for a king and queen. Heather Dixon re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

MARK Tay­lor did not need a sec­ond look when he de­cided to buy the cas­tle-style house he’d gone to see “on spec” in El­loughton near Hull.

“It was un­like any­thing I’d seen be­fore,” said Mark. “Al­though the house was in great need of re­fur­bish­ment and ren­o­va­tion, it had bags of char­ac­ter. I couldn’t re­sist it.”

While Mark was shak­ing hands on the £700,000 house his wife, Michelle, was be­gin­ning to won­der what was hap­pen­ing af­ter a two-hour wait in the car.

“‘He had only gone to knock on the door and ask for a quick look round,” she said. “I couldn’t be­lieve it when he fi­nally came out and said he’d bought it. I thought he was jok­ing.’

But when Michelle even­tu­ally saw the house that had cap­tured Mark’s imag­i­na­tion she un­der­stood why he’d bought it on the spot.

The un­usual 19th cen­tury prop­erty, with its im­pos­ing tur­rets and large grounds, was ripe for ren­o­va­tion and the cou­ple rel­ished the chal­lenge. It was only when they started work on the house that they re­alised the pro­ject would be much big­ger than ei­ther of them pre­dicted.

“If we had known what we were tak­ing on, we might have had sec­ond thoughts,” said Michelle. “But once you start some­thing like this there’s no go­ing back. In the end it took three times as long and three times our es­ti­mated bud­get to achieve what we wanted.”

Pre­vi­ous ren­o­va­tion work had stopped many years ago as the pre­vi­ous own­ers be­came el­derly and it soon be­came clear that the el­e­gant dé­cor dis­guised some ba­sic struc­tural de­fects.

“The roof was crack­ing and leak­ing, the house was cold and damp and some of the floors and ceil­ings were un­safe,” said Mark. “Out­side there were 35 foot conifers grow­ing on the pa­tio and the gar­den, though well kept, would be much eas­ier to main­tain if it were land­scaped.”

Be­fore the fam­ily could move in, the house had to be made safe for the chil­dren. This meant re­plac­ing most of the roof and un­safe ceil­ings, in­stalling new electrics and putting in heat­ing. Floors came up and new ones were laid, crack­ing plas­ter­work and cor­nices were re­paired and the old bath­rooms and kitchen were re­placed with fit­tings which were in keep­ing with the beau­ti­ful Vic­to­rian house

But the prob­lems did not end when the fam­ily moved in. “Each job led to five more and we were spend­ing tends of thou­sands of pounds sort­ing out prob­lems. It took two or three years to find and fix all the leaks and ev­ery time there was a leak it caused dam­age to floors or fur­ni­ture. The money ran out sev­eral times,” said Michelle. “But we ploughed on and tried to see ev­ery­thing as a chal­lenge. Mark en­joyed the ren­o­va­tion side while I kept my eye on the end re­sult.”

Not ev­ery­thing turned out quite as they had planned, but ev­ery chal­lenge was worked round to achieve the best re­sults pos­si­ble. This was cer­tainly the case when their plans to knock through the kitchen area were thwarted by a re­in­forced con­crete wall and they had to re­design the kitchen space.

“The builders couldn’t phys­i­cally knock through the con­crete. In the end it worked out re­ally well, but we had to be pre­pared to com­pro­mise,” said Mark.

The cou­ple chose a clas­si­cal look for the dé­cor and fur­nish­ings, com­bin­ing mod­ern pieces with an­tiques to cre­ate a home which is light, and com­fort­able.

Some of the main liv­ing rooms were pan­elled to re­flect the prop­erty’s ar­chi­tec­tural grandeur, and larger scale fur­ni­ture was cho­sen to com­ple­ment the pro­por­tions of the rooms.

“You have to think big in a house where the ceil­ings are high and the rooms are spacious,” said Michelle. “Small fur­ni­ture looks com­pletely lost.”

It took Michelle and Mark six years to com­plete the ren­o­va­tion of their un­usual home but, as a re­sult, they have a house of ex­tra­or­di­nary char­ac­ter and qual­ity.

“There were times when we thought ‘never again’, but then we look at the end re­sult and it’s easy to put all the pain, ex­pense and has­sle be­hind us,” said Mark. “We en­joy the whole process of tak­ing a di­lap­i­dated house and giv­ing it a new lease of life. It’s re­ally sat­is­fy­ing – like pol­ish­ing a pair of filthy shoes and mak­ing them shine.”

But fate has dealt an­other hand to Michelle and Mark who are in the process of mov­ing to Aus­tralia, where Mark is set­ting up a new busi­ness.

“It’s a wrench to sell the house af­ter we’ve in­vested so much in its ren­o­va­tion, but who­ever takes it on will have a unique fam­ily home,” said Mark.

“The per­son who would love this house would have to em­brace the high pro­file Cas­tle as part of his life and take on the chal­lenge of adding their own mark to its his­tory. It re­ally is an English­man’s cas­tle.”

The light, spacious en­trance hall sets the scene for the whole house and in­cludes an in­laid ta­ble that was found at the back of an an­tique shop. The snug, left, is part of an Lshaped open plan liv­ing area. The chair in the guest bed­room, right, was won in a char­ity raf­fle.


Re­fit­ting the bath­room, left, cost about £10,000. When builders tried to knock down a wall to the kitchen they found they couldn’t drill through the con­crete, so units were re­designed to make the most of ex­ist­ing space, right, while the en­tire build­ing has been re­stored to a con­di­tion that will make new own­ers proud.



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