Three weeks to photos – eek!

I rang the Scottish Cottages rep today to find out how full her diary was, as I knew she was away visiting family overseas for Christmas.  We’ve settled on 7th December for her to come up, which is three weeks tomorrow!  After a flurry of phone calls, text messages and standing at the foot of Pete’s scaffolding shouting up to him, I have Dougie coming next week, Pete coming in the next five days IF the wind speed is low enough for him to get on the roof and drop the flue liner, Roisin at Riverside is checking they can do the furniture delivery on 30th November (1st December is the first day of their Christmas shopping event, so everyone will be tied up with that) and I’m waiting to hear back from David.  However, if the doors aren’t on for the photographs it’s not a problem, so all I really need him to do is a little bit of work on the stairs before the carpet fitters come and the rest can wait until after he gets back from holiday.

In terms of actual work down the road today, I got the white top coat on the landing cabinets, door frames and tongue and groove and then took advantage of the lack of rain and slapped a second coat of green on the gates, which means the slate Mick got me for Christmas with the name and house number can be fitted at the weekend.

I also might have been a tiny bit naughty and driven out west to scout out a small cottage that’s for sale.  I might have been even naughtier and asked the Scottish Cottages rep to have a look at the for sale listing and give me an idea of what it would make as a holiday let.  It’s in a much better condition than Ethel’s was, the home report is nearly all 1s with only one 3, but that’s for damp, which doesn’t worry me in the slightest, because it specifically states that high damp meter readings were obtained in X, Y and Z locations.  My view is that an old stone cottage which hasn’t been lived in for a number of years and has electric heating which hasn’t been left on is going to produce high damp meter readings simply because it hasn’t been warm enough inside to evaporate the moisture in the air, so it’s condensed onto the walls.  It’s got a large garden, two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs (unusual in a traditional croft house that hasn’t been altered much) and two living rooms and a tiny kitchen downstairs, so that would get turned into a utility, one of the living rooms would become the kitchen, pop in some central heating, redecorate, furnish and welcome guests 🙂  Okay, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, since I haven’t seen inside it yet, but I like the location, I like the home report, it’s got character and it’s not a mammoth project.  My concerns are (a) they’re overvaluing the croft land with it and (b) it’s been up for sale on and off since 2013 but no-one’s bought it.  The home report is clean enough, there isn’t anything in the surrounding area that would put you off, no planning applications in (in fact the local plan from 2010 specifically states that road in the village is not under consideration for new housing due to the standard of the road and visiblity concerns with its junction to the main road) and the current owner lived there for over 50 years – I’m wondering if it’s simply the price putting people off, as the asking price is nearly a third more than the home report values it at, but does include the croft land, which the home report doesn’t take into account.  Watch this space, anyway!

Sensible heads on

Apologies for the radio silence, but it’s been a bit quiet on the house front – so quiet that Mick got itchy DIY fingers and we went to look at another project on Friday!  A seriously cute little gatehouse on the edge of an estate in a gorgeous woodland setting.

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At offers over £50,000 it was within budget, but we knew it would need a LOT of work.  The extension would have to come off for starters – that horizontal crack goes most of the way around it.


The layout is tricky as well.  There are only two ways I can see to make this work – one is to knock through from bedroom one to between the kitchen and bathroom (which we found out when we viewed wouldn’t work, because that’s the original external wall and the Listed Buildings people tend to take a dim view of you punching holes in original walls where there previously weren’t any), and the other is to re-do the extension, put a matching one on the other side, make them the bedrooms and turn bedroom one into the kitchen – but then it would look like the Millennium Falcon and you’d be spending a LOT, even if you could get permission to do it.  And I’ve no idea what you’d do with that room that was the kitchen and the entrance hall is almost as big as the lounge and the bedroom – awkward.



The final clincher in our decision not to go for it was when we checked its listing with Historic Scotland.  It was listed back in 1984 with the following description:

Later 19th century, single storey 3-bay gate lodge; coursed rubble, tooled dressings. Projecting canted centre porch in east front with centre door and single windows with lattice pane glazing; chamfered angles; 2 corniced ridge stacks; piended slate roof with deep eaves, gabletted at angles. Gate piers; pair octagonal tooled ashlar gate piers with pyramidal caps linked to similar end piers by low coped quadrants with cast-iron carriage gates.

No mention of an extension, and this doesn’t look very much like lattice pane glazing to me:


Plus part of the roof has been replaced in asbestos cement tiles:


So, given that whoever buys it will almost certainly be applying for planning permission and listed buildings consent to work on it, they’ll become liable for the full costs of reinstating the windows and the roof (I assume they’ll want to take down the extension anyway) if the Listed Buildings Officer feels inclined to enforce the rules.  It’s a beautiful little house, but not one for us.

In matters slightly closer to home, we have progress in the form of the hearthstone arriving on Friday!


That’s the underside of it.  It’s been cut by water jet at 50,000 psi to precision measurements to fit straight into the fireplace over the old stone.  Pete, James and Mick did an amazing job getting it out of the van and into the house, given it weighs (best estimate) about 250-300kg.

What we need now is to get the chimneys sorted so that no more water is coming in – Pete has bumped us up his list now he’s realised that we’re waiting on that.  Once they’re sorted we can finish the plasterboarding and then Derek can put the heating system in and the floor can go down.  Mick has been hard at work today:

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The action shot was taken about 15 minutes before he attempted to fire a screw through his finger and called it a day!  Fortunately it didn’t need stitches…


It’s been a day of discoveries in the house.  We’ve spent the last couple of days concentrating on the kitchen, which we knew was going to be hard work, but our efforts are slowly paying off.  Pete the Roofer came over this evening to introduce us to Dave the Joiner, and it was great timing because we were able to ask him about a couple of things we uncovered that looked slightly worrying!


Yes, it’s a very big crack and that whole white bit wobbles, but fortunately it’s old lime plaster and just needs to be knocked off the stone and picked out.

We made a good start on breaking through the plasterboard and oooh, look – is that a lintel I spy emerging?


I think that’s definitely a lintel!


Would you look at the size of that fireplace behind??  It’s blocked up with cement and rubble, but we’re going to get it opened up and see what’s there (subject to the crack in the side of the lintel not being an unresolvable structural issue…).  It’ll make a fantastic feature if we can do it!

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The remains of the pantry innards have been removed.


And would you believe that behind the plasterboard we removed, we found at least five layers of wallpaper??


I ended up making a collage photo of all the different ones we found that still had enough left to photograph the pattern – this is just the kitchen, remember.


And finally, scratched into the plaster behind the wallpaper, three names – Ethel’s three children


Anyway, the good news is that we’ve found nothing that worries Pete and the even better news is that he thinks he’ll be able to start on the roof in about three weeks’ time.  I’ve spent very little so far, but now the bills are really going to start rolling in.  Pete’s bill will be split into three, the first part paid when materials are delivered to site, the second at the halfway point (to be predetermined and agreed) and the final third once I’m happy with the completed job.  Time to start working out the best way to extract the cash off my 0% balance transfer offers.