Here we go! A blog to chart the progress of our new house (assuming it gets underway; still far from a done deal.)
Elmo and I have just had an offer accepted on our dream plot, a south-facing acre of land looking out over Todmorden, West Yorkshire (I am assured it is not in Lancashire, despite the post code.) We’re waiting for our solicitor and the vendor’s solicitor to get things going, as it’s all just verbal and via the estate agent so far. I’m trying not to fall in love until contracts have at least been exchanged, but I fear it’s a losing battle.
The plot is broken up into two pieces, one of which is £250k and the other (which has no planning permission) is £55k. The main plot is a tree-lined approach to a beautifully level (well, terraced) ex-kitchen garden to a sort of neo-gothic mansion (now 5 apartments) down the hill a bit. It’s the ultimate blank canvas, lined on the north by a 3 metre whitewashed brick wall, which then slopes down the west side, between the plot and the trees of the access drive. On the east side is what looks like a similar sloping wall, but turns out to be a row of old potting sheds which separate the building plot from the old raised beds and glasshouse foundations beyond. The main plot ends a metre before the potting sheds begin, which is a shame, since that’s the bit we can’t really afford (yet.) But the vendor is willing to give us a two-year option to buy that bit, and hopefully we can negotiate the use of it in the meantime, since its tumbling mess of victorian potting sheds, though in a very rough state, would provide very useful storage space if shovelled out and re-roofed.
We found the plot a month or so ago, but didn’t chase it too hard, since it looked nice but not necessarily *incredible* on (e)paper. However, when we were up that way and did a drive-by, which turned into a walk-around, we were suddenly very interested indeed. The deal was sealed for us when David Snell (Plot Finder Challenge, Homebuilding and Renovating Magazine) came to see it and kept saying things like “incredible” and “I can’t believe it”.
Financially, we could be said to out on a limb. We will have used about 2/3 to 3/4 of our total budget on the land alone. Not, I believe, the recommended cost ratio. However, I am not one of those people who needs the latest expensive integrated music system and a trendy fitted kitchen and all new furniture. I heard a radio piece about a woman, recently, who couldn’t afford her dream wedding, so she appealed to Freecycle groups for “wedding stuff”. She ended up doing the entire wedding for free on the goodwill of Freecyclers. “Hmmm…” I said to myself. “I wonder if I could build a house on the goodwill of freecyclers?” I’m frequently appalled at the sort of thing people throw away when “improving” their homes, and besides, re-use is the very purest form of recycling. Loads of people have bits and pieces of building materials lying around, stuff that they maybe intended to use. Eventually. The greenest of the green ways to acquire materials, it strikes me, is also to help out our new neighbours (immediate and more distant) when it suddenly occurs to them that they are not, despite their fondest hopes, ever going to build that sauna in the garden. Skip-diving for the twenty-first century, minus the potentially smelly skip.
Now, first off, lets see if I can get a trailer…