Thursday, 12 May 2016

A house near a fort, in a wood, off the grid

Blimey O'Reilly - two weeks with nothing, then two posts in one week?! Have I forgotten that I called this blog "wreck of the week" as in one wreck in every week??
Nope, and I don't care. Because this week, among all the emails I got from you lovely, renovation-hungry readers, were two in particular that in different ways made my day.
This post is by way of saying thank-you to the senders of those emails, and to all of you who send me suggestions of properties, kind words about the site, and pictures of your own renovation projects.
I really, really do appreciate it.
Elizabeth sent me the property featured above and below. It's the home she and husband Tony have lived in since 2007. It's clearly not a wreck (although it was once) but I'm featuring it because it's so unusual.
Warren House, at the foot of Wapley Hill Fort, in Herefordshire, is owned by the Forestry Commission. And therein lies the rub.

There's just over 11 years left on the lease, which Elizabeth says isn't renewable. So the sale price (c£70k) represents the cost of buying the remaining lease. You would never own it.
Elizabeth and Tony have spent the last eight years renovating Warren House and turning it into the loveliest property I've seen this year (so far!). She wrote:
It was a wreck when we took it on 8 years ago but we renovated it on a ‘repair lease’ from the Forestry Commission and it’s now beautiful. However, my husband’s ill-health means we can no longer look after it - and it does need some extra TLC because it has no mains services and sits up a mile-long track behind a locked barrier in the middle of a forest, and right next to an iron-age hill fort. There are 11.5 years left on the lease and we are looking for someone interested enough to take it on and manage this wonderful paradise property when we leave in the summer. It is a one-off property and someone will absolutely fall in love with, as we did.
I've never featured a repairing-lease house before, I couldn't really see the point in not fully owning a house you've put so much work into. But I suppose the other way to look at that £70k price tag is 11 years of £530-ish a month rent, fixed, for a big, detached house, with an acre of gardens and land, in the middle of a protected forest.
The four-bed, two-bath property is off-grid - ie no mains services, but self-contained (more here).

I asked Elizabeth if they'll be sad to leave:
Absolutely! It has very special memories for us and I guess there will be tears, but that just shows how wonderful it's been for us here.

I mentioned that this post was by way of thank-you for your emails and two in particular. One was Elizabeth's, the other was from Sarah. I read it at the end of a pretty grotty day in my 'real' job and it was just what I needed:
I am just emailing to say that my diagnosis is confirmed - I am unashamedly addicted to your blog.
I must admit to concern these past weeks waiting for your next post... Had you stopped ? Had you found your own wreck and were in some off grid location renovating? Even muttering to myself "she's going to have to rename this "wreck of the when she gets around to it".
That's when I knew I had a problem and just when I thought I had to start myself a detox programme (there is only so much time you can spend reading posts from 2012 after just checking for the third time that day to see if a new post was out), you come back today with an absolute smasher of a triple in one of my favourite places in the land and I'm hooked again. 
Thank you Sarah, and all of you who take the time to send me encouraging emails - I hope Warren Hill inspires your renovation dreaming.

Warren Hill's lease is for sale through McCartneys with a guide price of £70k  - details here.And on Rightmove here and the blog here.