Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Lovely (not haunted) Seafield House up for auction

Seafield House, in the Devon resort of Westward Ho! goes under the hammer tomorrow. You may have already seen some of the press about the 12-bed former B&B. Because, according to the story that did the rounds last month, it's supposed to be haunted.
Now, setting aside whether you do/don't believe in ghosts (or, like spotting a big spider on the ceiling, you'd just rather not be in the same room as one), I did try to find out where that 'haunted' tag came from.
The story originated in the Western Daily Press, which said neighbours claimed to hear strange noises and see a dead old lady waving at them.
Though the story didn't include any quotes from these "neighbours". Which is shame because clearly they'd have to have pretty damn good hearing...

By the time the story was copied by the Telegraph and AOL, the neighbours had become "locals" - still un-named and unquoted. The best I could find is that 'Haunted House' and 'Spooky House' were local nicknames, carried through to the Facebook group pictured above.
These things bother me. Not just the sloppy journalism of stories that get repeated without filling in the gaps, but because being a wreck-lover, I think it's just plain houseist to call every dilapidated old pile 'haunted'. Even if it looks like this:

Stunning pic from 2011, taken by Nick Woodrow. More here

Seafield House is mad-looking and lovely and sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Atlantic.

Built in 1885 as the summer home of London banker Brinsley de Courcey Nixon (clearly some hefty banker bonuses even then) it's had a happy holiday-focused past, flipping between family home and holiday B&B, with a short spell as requisitioned offer accommodation during the war.
The Westward Ho! History blog does a fabulous job of outlining Seafield House's past with some lovely pictures, including this one from the '50s:

Downstairs are five reception-ish rooms (a couple had been converted to bedrooms), plus kitchen, bathroom, loo. and a grand hallway. On the first floor are six bedrooms and bathroom, and a further five bedrooms on the second floor. Many of the rooms have sea views, others overlook a rather less appealing a caravan park. It needs a great deal of work - inside and out.

Outside is dilapidated garage and a grassed garden area - a fair bit of which seems to have fallen into the sea since its B&B heydays. For the best view of the location, have a look at Jason Ford's quadcopter video from 2013, below.

Seafield House is up for auction on Wednesday May 25th, at 3pm, with a guide price of £400k, via Seldons. Details here

Picture by Jonathan Billinger for Geograph. More here

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.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Three country houses, North Yorkshire

It's been a bit of gap (a two week gap; I've done worse) and by way of recompense, I'm showing you three properties today. That's sort of your weekly "wreck" doubled and upgraded.
And also because I've spent most of this morning updating my running list, (my secret list that would be..) and have now put property in groups by location, rather than by how interesting, I'm going to give you three in one area.
Look away now if North Yorkshire's not your thing.
First the house above and below, in Pilmoor, North Yorkshire. It looks ex-RAF or station-master residence to me (it's actually called Station House) and is more tired than wrecked,

There are damp issues in some rooms and I'd want that roof checking over. However, it's a big, detached three-bedroom home with good-size, bright rooms, and best of all gorgeous gardens of around a third of an acre in a woodland setting.
Plus the kitchen Aga thrown in!

On the downside the house is reached via an unadopted track and it's next to a railway line. I think it's this house here, next to the East Coast mainline, but I may be wrong:

On the market through Stephensons at £225k. Details and more inside pix here and on Vebra here.
Here's another three-bed detached. This time rather less isolated (in a quiet area of Burley-in-Wharfedale) but with a decent-size garden wrapped around it.
I couldn't work out from the agent's pictures which was the front of the house. You pick:

Inside it's stuck in the '50s, but the house itself looks sound and at least that roof looks this decade.

On the market through Dale Eddison at fifty squid under £300k. Details and more pictures here.
Finally, the farmhouse below was sent to me by reader Eleanor. Grade II-listed Bracken Ridge Old Farmhouse is just outside Lofthouse, in Nidderdale.

There are no internal pics (yah boo Dacre, Son & Hartley!) and I don't know what's going on with those two properties around it, but the detached building comes with it's own bit of land and quite stunning views.

It has planning permission to convert it into a three-bed, two-bath house, plus listed building consent, plus permission to install a "package treatment plan" (I think they mean "plant", and I think you know what they mean by "package").
On the market through Dacre, Son & Hartley at a fixed price of £150k. Details and more pictures here and on Rightmove here.