Monday 10 February 2020

The joy of the before and after, and Wreck's 5 rules

This will be a longer post than usual. And a bit of a different post. You might want to grab a coffee or a glass of something and chill with me for a while.
So, Alison emailed and asked: "I just wondered in what respect you consider the old Manor House at Helperby (above) to be a wreck?"
She suggested I say why I think a property deserves to be called a "wreck" if it's just a bit tired, or "the hideous estate agent's term 'now in need of modernisation'". Which, as Alison pointed out, can mean a bunch of potentially expensive things in relation to a historic house such as Helberby.
Anyway, I thought I'd try and tackle those questions because Alison isn't the only one of Wreck's five million or so visitors in 10 years to wonder why I've picked a particular property.
So, here goes.

My first rule of 'Wreck Club' is it should be detached with a decent bit of space around it.
Occasionally, I do break that rule. Such as when I wanted to show you four terraced houses ripe for renovation, or that picture-book pretty end-of-terrace Cumbrian cottage (sold now).

And sometimes - like today - I'll want to tell you about two houses, kissing distance apart but up for sale together. Frondeg and Frongeri (below) are neighbouring two-bedroomed detached cottages.

Frondeg looks like it mostly needs updating and titivating, Frongeri needs lots of work. 
The houses have a lovely bit of garden land around them, plus off-street parking, and they're close enough to link the two buildings and create one impressive home.
They're in the Carmarthenshire village of Cwm Cou, about 5 minutes drive from the market town of Newcastle Emlyn and around 15 from the coast.
And the pair are on the market together for £199,950. Details and lots more pictures here and here.

My second rule of Wreck Club is it shouldn't be a total wreck.  
In the early days, I did sometimes post about properties that were little more than land with a ruined tower, but that's pretty rare for me now. I need to be able to imagine the property renovated, rebuilt and lovely again. I need to be able to see its character and the home it could be.
Like those two derelict Scottish mansions from 2016.

Both those mansions, including the gorgeous Asknish House at Lochgair, above, seem to have sold (if you know otherwise, please tell me?).
But for those of you made of tougher renovation fibre than me, here's B-listed (and still available) Sourin Mill on the Scottish island of Rousay

Stunning views (I do love a property with a view) and all the mill gubbins still in situ. 
A BIG building and a HUGE job waiting for someone who knows what they're doing. And it's on the market at offers over £55k. Details and lots more pictures here and here.
And incidentally, if £55k is bit on the steep side for you wreck-wise, agents D&H also have this renovation "challenge" on Sanday, with sea views, and a deadline for offers (over £25k) of this Friday. 

Could be a pretty amazing Valentine's gift for someone... ; )  Details here.

Quite often, what I'm drawn towards is what I call my "old lady gone" houses. The ones that lost their way alongside their aging owner: kitchens and bathrooms (and often electrics and fixtures) unchanged since their 1950s heyday; spare rooms disappearing under piles of stuff; rooms stuck in time. These ones tend to be closer to that "tired" rather than wrecked tag (not that any us know what we're really buying when we take on an older house).
But these are the houses that I'm drawn to because of the story I feel that I see in the bricks and mortar. The house that was a home and the owner that was perhaps abandoned along with it: 

So, my third rule of Wreck Club, is does this house appeal to me emotionally? 
Basically, I'm a ridiculous romantic running a property blog in my spare time because I really hate to see a once-loved home left to rot.
Like this riverside home in Kidderminster, sent to me last week by long-time reader Ben: "A couple of red flags, but beautiful". 

One red flag being the lack of vehicle access, another that two of its rooms are derelict and "open to the elements". We're talking cranes, and/or permission to build your own access for the very many trades vans you'll need. 

But... it's detached, it comes with four acres of land and woodland, and that amazing river frontage. Tick, tick, tick.
On the market with Herbert Banks at offers over £150k. Details and more pictures here and here.

And here's my fourth rule of Wreck Club - is this a property worth renovating because it has something more to offer than its resale value? 
Even though many of the people who have bought my featured properties over the years have renovated and re-sold or used them as a holiday rental, what they have all done is bought a wreck - in whatever stage of wreckiness it was - and put their heart and soul into bringing it back to life
You're the reason I've kept writing Wreck for a decade. All of you who see the same soul in the properties I pick, and are able to spend your time, money and creativity in bringing it to life again. 

Back in 2014, I wrote about the Old Forge in Great Barton, in Suffolk. Then, it looked like this:

Sandy saw that post, bought the Forge (which was actually an old engine house, not a forge), and now it looks like this:

The story of that particular "do-up" is here (and the rest of the pictures are quite, quite stunning).
Sandy emailed me at the weekend to thank me for featuring the Old Forge/Engine House and starting her "biggest joy" working with a long-time friend to restore it, "finding the loveliest local builders" and enjoying four years of post-build fun there with friends and family.

And here's my fifth and final rule of Wreck Club. There are no rules - every property I pick only needs to find that one new owner with the vision to erase the word "wreck".
: )