I’ve just realised that I never did a post about what it actually cost to renovate Ethel’s House. And this one is only happening today because I’m procrastinating about doing one for Coldbackie, because I know I’m not going to like the result!

So, Ethel’s wasn’t a traditional purchase in the sense that we were buying two croft tenancies that happened to have a house on one of them, rather than buying an actual house. We paid £95,000 and at the time of purchase the croft with the house on was valued at £75,000 and the bare croft at £25,000.

Our first purchase on the project was in October 2015, two months after our offer was accepted but four months before it completed, when Mr J got a bit overexcited on Tooled Up and bought himself a pair of plasterboard props. We finally got the keys at the beginning of March 2016 (nothing involving crofts ever happens fast) and the spending started in earnest. We had our first guests at the beginning of March 2018, so the figures below cover pretty much exactly two years.

Bills – £3,311.02
Two years of electricity, oil and council tax when I ran out of exemption time.

Interest – £9,933.31
You can’t get commercial lending on a croft tenancy unless the house site has been decrofted, which it hadn’t. We were exceptionally lucky in that family members were prepared to lend to us, but we agreed it was only fair that interest should be charged.

Legal – £766
Fixed-fee conveyancing from our lovely solicitor.

Tools – £618.94
Mr J was relatively restrained here, for him! (This is a man with many, many sheds…)

Materials – £16,648.76
Now the numbers are getting bigger. This covered things like insulation, flooring, plasterboard, internal doors, carpets, the kitchen units and so on.

Tradesmen – £56,349.27
Wallop! This was the painful one, although it does include a lot of tradesman-supplied materials as well. Top of the list, a brand new roof in slate, £19,367.80. £9,000 for totally rewiring the house, £8,300 for the underfloor heating system (and that didn’t include a new boiler) and £9,300 in total for joinery work.

Subtotal – £87,627.30
I’m subtotalling here because if we’d decided to sell the house, this is where we’d have stopped. When we bought it, the croft Ethel’s stands on was valued at £75,000, that included the stone byre outbuildings and about 6 acres of fields. We got a £5,000 discount from asking price, so take £2,500 off each croft, bringing it down to £72,500. When we got a mortgage on it, in May 2018 (after doing all the required paperwork to decroft the house and a very small piece of garden ground behind it), the house and little bit of garden were valued at £165,000. So add, say, another £10,000 on for the rest of the six acres and the four stone outbuildings to give a finished value of £175,000. Subtract the original £72,500 and the £87,627.30 spent and you end up with a profit of £14,872.70. Not a lot for two years of hard work if you divide it up by the hours we put in, but at least it was a positive figure!

Furnishings – £14,627.95
But of course we didn’t sell it and I underestimated how much it costs to kit out a house from scratch! Furniture and white goods were, of course, the major part of this, coming in at £11,105.78, but then you’ve got cushions, duvets, pillows, pictures, curtains, table lamps, log baskets, all the kitchen equipment, cleaning stuff and three complete sets of bed linen and towels (one in use, one in the wash, one ready for changeover). Take all that off and the profit comes down to a tiny £244.75.

But we now have a wonderful warm house that guests love to stay in and in non-Covid times it’s producing a decent income, which was the ultimate aim. Looking at local prices, I would say it would now value £10,000-£15,000 more than it did in 2018, so as long as we keep it well-maintained it’s acting as a savings account for my retirement.

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