Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Listed Building, Conversions

Some years ago I bought an old Coach House, the building was Grade 2 listed and had the benefit of planning permission to convert into a two bedroomed dwelling. The property was formerly the coach house and stables to a large Victorian Detached Property. Like most interesting properties it was to be sold at auction, so getting the money sorted out before the sale was a crucial aspect of the project.

Photo From the Sale Brochure

The photo above is taken from the sale particulars, the main coach house is in shot, the ancillary stables are off to the right out of the picture.
The idea for the project came about following a visit to the site and a view of the existing approved planning details. It was clear after an hour or so reviewing the plans that the applicant who had submitted the proposed details was less than familiar with the space available to develop and as a consequence had divided the floor area rather poorly, to provide two bedrooms and bathroom on the upper floor. Another hour or so and I had roughed up a sketch to fit three bedrooms, two doubles and a good sized single, along with a main bathroom and an ensuite off the double at the rear of the property; which overlooked the included kitchen garden.
Further investigation of the space on the ground floor revealed additional errors that would allow an extra ground floor study/bedroom and an ensuite shower room! The proposal looked good! If the other buyers were working on a two bedroom house, I could reasonably outbid them, assuming I could get the planning revised!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Starting Out: Contemplating the Project

One of the most traumatic experiences we are told is moving house, so is building your own, a greater trauma? My view is that it is dependant on a variety of factors. What are these factors you may ask? Well, given that I am relaying my experiences of this kind of undertaking in the United Kingdom, I will only set out those that are applicable in this location.

Land Acquisition
The United Kingdom is a highly developed country and therefore any amount of products and techniques can be deployed to produce a construction. However it is by world standards a small country, made smaller in terms of land availability by a sizeable population density. The country is shaped rather like a conical measuring glass and in the sense that when filled with a liquid, it is of a greater density at the base [South], thus the further south, with some exceptions, the greater the population density. This fact is complicated by a control system known as "Town and Country Planning", which sets out the rules concerning development, house building being a form of activity commonly considered as property development.
The foregoing is the backdrop to doing a private development or more commonly put a "DIY House build", given these conditions it is fair to say that it is not going to be a cheap alternative and it is hardly encouraged by anyone, in fact in my experience it is considered rather dangerous, particularly by your bank manager.
Well if you are determined as I was, you need to find a suitable site first. This is going to be hard work, do not rely on the obvious organisations, such as estate/land agents, although you can sometimes get a reasonable opportunity at an auction. I will use one such acquisition to exemplify how I undertook a house development.