David’s back!

And he’s doing a wonderful job 🙂  The kitchen cabinets are finished, though we’ve decided not to glue the upstand in place until Dougie’s installed the extractor fan and we’ve put the splashback in.  The oven’s been slid into place to save space, as David’s brought both his saws inside due to the weather.  Just the knobs to go on the doors now.

He’s also nearly finished the window seat.  I’ll be painting this white and then getting a seat cushion made for each end.

Mick finished the wallpapering.

And Pete came by to put the ridge on the barn roof, so we’re now watertight again – no bad thing, given the weather over the past few days!  He’s coming back tomorrow with a hearthstone for the bedroom fireplace.

Finally, I have to commend the Highland Council’s Council Tax department for their efficiency.  After a few back and forths with them when they kept sending me 200% charge council tax bills and I kept writing back to say the house was still uninhabitable, I sent them this website address and said they could keep an eye on my progress this way if they liked – after which no further bills arrived.  They obviously have been dropping in occasionally, as about 10 days after I put this post up to say we were just about mortgageble, I got a new bill putting me back up to the 200% charge!

What’s on the radar

I might not be in a position to buy any more houses at the moment, but I never stop keeping an eye on the local market.  When I was at the local sheep auction a couple of weeks ago, I got chatting with with a gentleman down the Strath who was cutting down numbers with his sheep because he’d reached an age where he wanted to take things a bit easier, and he mentioned he’d decided to sell his old house as well.  My ears pricked up, especially when he said he thought it was an old wreck of a place, but the estate agent said someone would buy it as a holiday home.

It seems that we’re getting a bit of a reputation amongst our friends, because the moment it appeared on the estate agent’s Facebook page, someone tagged Mick in a comment!  I happened to be down that way a few days later, so I stopped off to have a look.

A lot of house for £50,000, but in such a state that it didn’t require a home report and, in all honesty, not suitable as a holiday let.  While the house itself is almost identical to Ethel’s (a couple of extra windows, a little bit bigger and it has a small kitchen extension on the back), it’s 7 miles away from the coast, the Strath is midge heaven, and those outbuildings just wouldn’t get used.  If I was looking for something to do as a normal rental to someone who wanted to live in the countryside and keep a few chickens (the back garden is a chunk of field and is huge), then it would be perfect, but this one’s not for us.  Good thing, as less than two weeks after coming on the market, it’s already under offer 🙂

This next one has been put on the market in the past couple of days and I think it may also go quickly.  From the outside, it doesn’t look like anything too special.

But look in the opposite direction, and this is your view.

For a little house, it packs in a lot of rooms – there are four bedrooms in the square bit and then kitchen, bathroom and living room in the extension.  Upstairs it’s got two ‘loft rooms’ and a small room for the hot water tank.  So why is it only £75,000?  Well, it’s a 1965 pre-fab and the whole thing is asbestos, though the original structure has been built round with blocks and then harled.  For a quick ‘get it up and running’ you’d probably want to turn the third bedroom into an en-suite for bedroom two and stick a cinema/games room in the loft rooms if there’s sufficient headroom, but I suspect someone will buy this, demolish it and start from scratch – if they can find anyone up here to handle the asbestos.

The final one I’ve had a sneaky look at recently isn’t actually for sale, but the estate that owns it has sold four buildings off recently, so it’s not out of the question that this might one day hit the market.

It’s an old fishing net store with a flat up above it, and it sits on a harbour, looking back at the main beach.  If you climb that very old set of steps at the far end of the building, there’s a little private beach at the back.  The flat has a separate entrance from a track that goes around the back.

It’s Grade A listed, but the Highland Council is remarkably sympathetic about conversions of these – this is an almost-identical Grade A building at Keiss Harbour, which is run as a holiday let – and I don’t think that middle row of windows was there originally.

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Elephant’s breath or elephant’s backside?

Greys are a minefield, aren’t they?  My cousin has the most gorgeous silver-grey living room and it was her house I had in mind when I chose grey for the living room here.  Not the wonderfully-named Farrow & Ball Elephant’s Breath, but a Crown colour called Granite Dust, which I was hoping would come out a soft dove grey.

It looked alright in the can, but the more I put on, the more it looked like I’d flayed an elephant and thrown the skin at the wall.  I decided to stop, let it dry and see how it looked in the morning.  Thankfully it lightened, but you can see from this shot of dry on the left and freshly painted on the right why I was a bit concerned!

Amazingly it only needed one coat, and even more amazingly I just about managed to do the whole room with one can (though I did end up scraping round the can with the brush to finish under the window seat and then going over it with the roller to give it the same texture!).  MIck’s improvised pasting table in the middle of the room!

There are a lot of cliches in the Highland tourist industry.  One of them is tartan carpets, which is not a route I’m going down, but I couldn’t resist a little bit of Highland kitsch with a few stags and a bit of tartan on my feature wall!  Mick is the wallpapering guru in this household, it’s a skill I have yet to even learn the basis of, let alone master (the one time I tried was a total disaster!).

I also got the double bedroom finished, with the teal paint, and I’m pretty happy with it.  The second photo is probably the more accurate representation of the colour.  I still need to put a top coat of Milk White on the inside of the dormer, but wanted to get cracking with the living room in case David turned up this week (we’ve since had confirmation he’ll definitely be here from Wednesday next week).  As we’re due some days of heavy rain over the next week, Pete is trying to get back to me on one of them to pick and point that fireplace.

So that’s five rooms out of eight painted – just the twin room, hall and landing left to go!