Some potential renovation projects

One of my worst faults is that I have a constantly roving eye for a house in need of a bit of TLC.  Here are a few that have caught my attention recently, though they’re all either sold or probably will be before long!

The Old Schoolhouse, Halkirk

Lovely traditional house in Halkirk, packed with period features – just look at this staircase!

Formerly inhabited by a heavy smoker, this would need stripping right back.

It’s got damp issues and I’d want to get a loo/shower room in downstairs somewhere (possibly by taking a bit off the dining room), but this house has amazing bones and has an enormous back garden that could potentially provide a plot to build another house on.  Was on at offers over £115,000, went to fixed price £103,000 and is currently under offer.

St Andrews Church, Thurso

Pete tells me I am not allowed to buy this until I am making more money than God.

The roof is shot and has been for years and a lot of the glass is broken.  But what’s left is beautiful.

And yet again, a wonderful staircase.

I think it would make a fantastic space to show off the area’s artists and craftspeople – turn the downstairs into cubicled work areas for creatives, turn the upstairs into a gallery/showroom to sell their wares. Downsides are the lack of parking and the fact that just sorting out the roof is going to run into six figures.  Also B-listed.  Currently under offer for the third or fourth time at £50,000.

Adastra, Wick

This is a former drill hall, used by the Territorial Army from 1890 to 2018.  Gorgeous proportions.

Lovely old stone floor and upstairs, the drill hall and those amazing windows.

It has three entrances at the front and looks from the floorplan like it would split vertically into three houses fairly easily.  The problem is that they’d be pretty big family-sized homes and there’s no garden.  Currently on at a fixed price of £120,000, down from its initial asking price of offers over £150,000.

I have a load more I’m keeping my eye on, but that’s probably enough for this evening, I’ll save the rest for another day.

That’s not something you see every day

My Rightmove feed has thrown up something a bit different – a former abattoir.  The local Caithness slaughterhouse closed down a few years back and despite many attempts to get it restarted so we don’t all have to take our livestock to Dingwall, its doors have remained closed.

25,833sq ft warehouse for offers in the region of £175,000.

 

 

Finding a house

House-hunting works a little bit differently up here in Scotland. For starters, we have fewer dedicated estate agents.  Most properties up here are sold via solicitors, most of which will have a dedicated estate agent in their office.

Up here on the north coast, I have a list of sites that I check on a regular basis for possible interesting new additions.

  1.  Rightmove
    Who doesn’t know Rightmove?  The problem here is that most local solicitors don’t use it.  However, for the ones that do, it has two very useful little tricks – firstly, I’ve got an RSS feed set up so that every time a new house within 40 miles of my postcode is listed on Rightmove, it pops up in my daily feedly.com blog feed.  Secondly, I’ve installed Property Bee.  If you’ve not come across Property Bee, it’s an add-on for Firefox that tracks changes to listings on Rightmove and a few other sites.  So when I look at Rightmove search results, this is what I see:Property Bee screenshot
    It shows me the date a Property Bee user first saw it and any changes to the listing or the price subsequently.  VERY useful!
  2. Caithness Solicitors Property Centre
    Or CSPC, to give it its shorter name.  Most areas of Scotland have one of these group websites, so there’s ASPC for Aberdeenshire, ESPC for Edinburgh, GSPC for Glasgow and so on.  However, CSPC is only used by two of the solicitors covering Caithness and Sutherland – Young Robertson and Georgesons.
  3. Highland Solicitors Property Centre
    HSPC covers the whole of the Highlands, including the Western Isles and Northern Isles.  It tends to be where solicitors outwith Caithness list properties they’re selling within the county and also shows anything the Highland Council is selling (which saves me a separate trip to the council website).
  4. Individual solicitors
    There are four other solicitors’ websites I check on a regular basis – Drever & Heddle, Pollards, Inksters and the local Re-max (okay, technically not a solicitor).
  5. Auctions
    I love auction catalogues!  There’ll usually be a handful of lots for sale up here each month.  I check SVA Property Auctions, Wilsons Auctions, Future Property Auctions and Auction House Scotland.

Are you in the process of finding a house in the Highlands?  Anywhere else I should be checking?  Let me know!

Auction browsing

Saturday evening and time to have a look through the Scottish auction websites to see if there’s anything local (by which I mean north of Inverness).

SVA has a Grade B-listed building with permission for conversion to a 1-bed house in Tain:

tain - the red house 1

I do like the look of some of the period features:

tain - the red house 2

Wilsons has a 2-bed house in Castletown with a guide price of £35k against a home report valuation of £50k.  I’d possibly have a look at this if I was buying, but the lack of internal photos makes me slightly wary.

5 Churchill Place, Castletown

Going in the other direction, there’s a very pretty cottage on Flotta in the Orkney Islands with a guide price of just £16,500 at Future Property Auctions:

flotta - orback cottage

However, that looks like a pretty big farm next to it – I’d want to go and see exactly how close it is and what they’re farming (my guess would be cattle with a barn that size).

flotta - orback cottage aerial

They’ve also got a shop for sale in Wick – now this is an interesting one, because I know this shop pretty well. It used to be a craft shop, then got split into upstairs and downstairs units with a children’s clothing shop downstairs and a tack shop upstairs, both of which have now moved into bigger premises. Its problem is its location; it’s tucked away off the high street and although a destination shop will do just fine there, it doesn’t get much passing footfall:

wick - kirk lane

The interiors are nicely done though, and with a guide price of £38,000 I’d definitely be tempted if I wanted to go back into retailing:

wick - kirk lane interior