Offer accepted!

Very wonderfully, our first offer was accepted, and my solicitor managed to get a formal offer to them before close of business today, which is only conditional on us getting both mortgages.

The paperwork has arrived for the Ecology one and it appears they want written estimates for all the work we intend to undertake, which is fair enough, but not something that I’d factored into the timeline, so I suspect I’m going to be spending an hour or so on the phone next week trying to co-ordinate getting Dougie, Pete, David, Jeff, someone from ERG Windows and a Green Deal-approved energy assessor all in to have a look without annoying the keyholder neighbour too much.  Ecology requires a full schedule of works together with costings, and I suspect my back-of-an-envelope scribbles will not cut the mustard, as they give it to their valuer when he comes round to assess whether or not our plans will get the required two grades of improvement on the EPC.  On the plus side, once I’ve got all that together, plus all the bank statements, proof of income etc., they say they can turn round an application to a full formal offer in four weeks.  We’re going to need the money from the Cumberland first and that’s just one form plus proof of income and a month’s bank statements, so I shall get that done over the weekend and then concentrate on Ecology.

Want to have a look at the house?  Video below 🙂

Fingernail-biting time

So we did make an appointment to view inside house number 4, Mick took a half day last Friday and we spent an hour having a really good look around it.  The executor was up visiting friends and family, so showed us round herself, a really lovely lady.  It was her aunt’s house, which she’d bought in 1976 as a kind of insurance policy against being asked to leave her family croft if either of her two older brothers came home and showed an interest in taking it over.  They didn’t and so she stayed on the croft, with the house remaining mostly empty apart from the odd family holiday week and an occasional prayer meeting in the living room.  She eventually moved into it in 2013, when she started to need more regular care visits and the house was more accessible for carers than the croft, which was down an unmade-up track.  After two years there, she was moved to the local care home.  For a house that’s been mainly empty for the past 42 years, it’s in pretty good shape, though it does need a fair bit of work.

We got home, had a good chat through it and decided to go for it.  Cumberland, who does holiday let mortgages, had a look at the details and said that sadly it needed too much work for them to lend on it, but they’d be happy to do so once renovations were complete.  I found a bridging loan company who would lend me up to 60% of the value of Ethel’s plus this one, but it would have been at 1.25% a MONTH and they wanted all the interest and fees taken out up front which (a) totalled over £20,000 for 9 months and (b) wouldn’t have left us with enough to get the renovations done.  After a lot of calculator-bashing I realised that if we did it as a buy-to-let instead of a holiday let, then the Ecology Building Society might be able to help – they specialise in lending on houses with the potential for energy improvements and since the EPC graded it F, there was certainly plenty we could do on that front, so I gave them a ring at the start of the week and then went through things in more detail with a mortgage advisor yesterday morning.

The upshot of that call was that they’re happy to lend me up to £96,000 or 80% of the purchase price, whichever is lower, subject to completing a full application form and providing proof of income for us both.  I’d also been in touch with Cumberland about taking a mortgage on Ethel’s and after a few questions, they also got back to me yesterday afternoon to say we could borrow £100,000 as long as we used some of it to pay off the remaining 0% credit card debt from renovating Ethel’s and could get Scottish Cottages to write us a letter confirming expected income was more than £7,500 net of commission.  At 4.45pm I got through to the selling agent and, after a discussion with them about where to start negotiations, made an offer.

We’ll see what happens, I have a good feeling about this house, and it was 10 years ago on 14th February that our offer on the house we live in was accepted, so I’m hoping this is an auspicious time of year for house-buying for us!  To take my mind off things, I’ve been busying away down the road.  The hall is now completely painted and the knocks on the stair skirting touched up.  Just the cupboard doors to go on, lampshade to fit, sockets to be screwed in and coat rack to be purchased and put up opposite the bottom of the stairs.

I’ve also touched up the scrapes in the kitchen and painted over the plasterboard cut-out round the extractor.  You can tell that something’s been done there (the paint was still wet when I took this) but I think that’s sufficiently disguised not to need anything putting over it.

For comparison:

I painted the new wood frame around the bathroom window bay and, despite being very careful not to press the masking tape down too hard and removing it slowly as soon as the paint was dry to touch, a load of grey paint peeled off, so today’s first job is to sort that out!

David has been making doors for me in his workshop at home, one for the cupboard next to the bathroom and two for the byres outside, so I must drop him a text today and see when he’s coming back to fit them.  Mick has taken next week off so we can have a big blitz and get everything finished.  My to-do list is still looking frighteningly unticked, but I cheered myself up yesterday by realising that more than a third of the items on it simply involve buying something and putting it in the correct room.  I shall crack on with that as soon as my cashback credit card ticks over to a new statement period in the next couple of days!

When the going gets tough, the tough…go shopping!

It was slight panic stations here on Friday, as I woke up to another booking – for 4th March!!  That means four weeks today we have a paying guest arriving and we haven’t finished the shower or the decorating yet.  But the sun was shining and it was the first day of the year with a whiff of spring about it, so I’m afraid instead of picking up my paintbrush, I jumped in the car and headed west to have a drive past a few houses I’d picked out as potential next purchases.  Nothing like a spot of window shopping 🙂

House number one I only really went to look at because I was going within 5 miles of it, I wasn’t really considering it.  At £280,000 it’s by far the most expensive of the four (or was when I set out, read on…), but it’s currently being run as a holiday let and that price includes all the contents and the income from the forward bookings.  It’s got three ensuite bedrooms and has the most stunning view over to Ben Loyal.

Judging by the photos, it needs absolutely nothing doing inside, but I am slightly put off by the proximity of the house next door and that the conservatory is on the end rather than on the front.  Plus £280,000 for up here is a LOT.  At a guess, the house on its own is worth £200,000-£210,000, they’d probably have paid about £25,000 for the contents new and they say a year’s-worth of bookings is worth £25,000, but they’re not fully booked for the year ahead at the moment.

Next on the list was a 2-bed bungalow.  This one interested me, because when I was Googling it, I found a home report for it dated 2009 and the land registry showed no sale since it was built in 1999, so it looks as if they’ve been trying to sell it for a while.  The home report was about as clean as they get, the house was a bit dated, but only really needed decorating and some new doors for the kitchen cabinets, and at £120,000 it was about the right price.  I suspected what might be causing the problem was its location and access.  It’s right on the edge of the carpark for the cafe next door and the only access to it is through that carpark – so if the owner locks the gates, you’re stuck.  That blue sign in the first picture says, in very large letters, no parking for the house, so I suspect there’s a dispute of some sort.

The bungalow does have a big garden with a little summerhouse and deck looking out over a great view (that’s the cafe garden in the second shot, but same view).

Without solving the access problem, it’s a no-go – BUT the cafe is also for sale.  It’s a cafe plus gift shop plus owner’s accommodation plus two en-suite letting rooms.  The owner’s accommodation and letting rooms would turn into a single 3-bed holiday let with no modification needed.  Buy that and the bungalow and bingo, no more access problem, and you have two holiday lets and a small business, which could either be run by a manager or leased to someone else to run.  The problem?  An asking price of £395,000, so £515,000 plus stock at value plus furniture money required to buy it.  I did run the idea past Pete, who I can trust to tell me when I’m living in cloud cuckoo land, and he said it wasn’t idiotic at all, but to look at it on the basis of the income from the holiday letting part of it covering all the costs and treat any income from the cafe and shop as the profit.  It just about stacks up on that basis, but even if I threw Ethel’s into the mix as security, I don’t think any bank in the land is going to lend me £550,000 (about 70% LTV) on previous experience of one renovated house with 4 weeks booked!  If both of them are still on the market when we’ve got a second project done and dusted, then we might take a look.

Number three was a little house I’ve had my eye on for a while and it’s recently come back on the market after a sale fell through.  i know what the matter is with this one, it’s a pre-fab and therefore unmortgageable, hence the asking price of £75,000.  To be honest, the only thing you could really do with this is knock it down, the rooms are absolutely tiny and it’s not in great nick.

But is this a £75,000 view?  Close to it, I think!  One for when we have a lot more working capital.

House number four is another one that has recently come back on the market after a sale fell through.  I have to admit, I like this house a lot, not least because of its stunning view.  It’s on at £130,000.

The roof is fine, albeit in need of a good scrub, and the gutters need clearing.  Those aluminium windows need replacing.

It has a little garage on the side with the oil tank in it.  This needs taking down completely – it’s likely to be asbestos sheeting and it looks as if it’s been built over the neighbour’s boundary line.  Every time I’ve driven past this house there’s been a car pointedly parked in front of the bit of the garage that’s over.

The garden needs clearing and the boundary fence replacing (currently dilapidated post and wire), and there are a couple of trees I’d want removing just to be on the safe side, but once tidied, this would be lovely to sit out in, looking up at the Watch Hill.  Sadly it’s not quite steep enough to get views over the top of the house to the sea!

The main problem with it is that it’s very, very close to the road and this causes problems with parking – the road is single track here, so parking on the road outside the house completely blocks it.  In theory you can put one small car inside the garage and another outside it in front of the garage door and house (there are some slabs down forming a rudimentary parking space).  The car in the below picture is where I think the boundary actually is and is taking up most of the dropped kerb, so I think permission would be needed from the council to drop a further bit of kerb and turn everything past that post into a parking area for the house.

Inside it’s currently laid out as five bedrooms and one downstairs bathroom.  I’d turn one of the upstairs bedrooms into a big family bathroom, remove the downstairs bedroom to make a big kitchen diner and turn the current kitchen into a utility room – like this:

I drove Mick out to have a look at it on Saturday morning and he loved it so much that he was happily making plans for us to move there until I pointed out that there was no land with it, and the back garden was way too small for 3 horses and a flock of sheep!  But with the paperwork for decrofting Ethel’s now submitted to the Land Registry, we can definitely start the search for our next project and so I’ll be speaking to the agents next week to try and arrange a viewing for us.

 

Pay day!

Excuse me while I jump up and down and whoop a bit, because when I checked my business account today I saw that £75 had been deposited yesterday, which is 3 x £25 deposits from our first three bookings 🙂  We get the balance month-end before the stay, so at the end of February I’ll get the balance of the 3-day stay booked for March less the annual property registration fee of £105.  We’ve also had another week booked for September.

I had an answerphone message from BT on Monday telling me that the engineer would be visiting again on Wednesday 31st January and please could I be in from 8am until 1pm?  The line was a bit crackly, so I double-checked with BT’s Live Chat who confirmed the engineer was booked.  I’d picked up some new plaster, so was able to get those last few screw heads and plasterboard joins filled in, but confidently expecting that BT wouldn’t let me down twice in a row, I hadn’t taken down much else to get on with, and I couldn’t carry on painting the hall over wet plaster.  So I made a big snagging list (it runs to three pages):

And I discovered that my phone talks to the TV as they’re both Samsungs.  I can throw my phone screen to the TV or put the TV screen on my phone, and if you put the phone screen on the TV and then switch the camera on, you get this:

(Can you tell I was slightly bored by this stage??)

Anyway, no-one showed up again, so I stomped back down the road, and at 1.12pm an email pinged in saying they were continuing to work on my line installation and would contact me with further information on 5th February – at which point I was so icily polite to Live Chat that they opened a complaint without me asking them to!

Today I’ve been re-doing the screw heads in the plasterboard, because the first lot of plaster shrank a bit, and then decided to have a go at sorting out the hole David had to cut in the plasterboard to put in some stud to attach the extractor hood to.  I mean, plastering a wall around a freshly installed extractor over brand new hob and wood worktop, what could possibly go wrong??  I did the sensible thing and got a sheet and some masking tape.

And amazingly managed not to make too much of a mess!  The nice thing about this paint, annoying as it was to apply, is that all its claims about being washable are true.  Once I’d plastered around the cut-out line and filled in the screw heads, I was able to wipe it over with a J-cloth and take most of the excess plaster off.

(Those three little dots are nail holes, I have no idea how they got there.)  I’m not 100% certain I’m going to be able to cover it up properly, but I’ll sand it tomorrow and then see how well it takes another coat of paint.  I need to get rid of David’s pencil marks as well.  If it doesn’t look good then we’ll go back to the original idea of getting some brushed metal cut to size and attach it to the wall.