House Hunting | March

Spring certainly seems to have sprung this week, with warmer weather and blossoming trees and the change in the weather also signals the time of year when people start to think about moving and renovating. So with this months ‘house hunting’ I thought I would cast my net a bit further a field. However as usual, the properties are all in need of modernisation and renovation… some more than others!

01. Rockdean, St. Leonards Road, Hythe, Kent

Starting off in my comfort zone, the first house is situated in the centre of the Kentish coastal town of Hythe. The property is grade II listed, with the main house dating back to the early 19th century. Over the years the traditional Georgian façade, has become home to a large amount of pyracantha and forsythia, which is probably one of those things you either love or hate, but it maintains lots of period features, including sash windows and gorgeous clay tiles. The interior has three reception rooms and five bedrooms, however you may want to change one of the bedrooms to a bathroom to make a big master suite. The interior doesn’t seem to have quite so much period charm as outside, but with the correct consents some features could perhaps be uncovered or reinstated to add some charm.

Rockdean in Hythe currently For Sale with Colebrook Sturrock (Image courtesy of Colebrook Sturrock)

Rockdean in Hythe currently for sale with Colebrook Sturrock (Image courtesy of Colebrook Sturrock)

For me however, the real draw of this property is the garden and outbuildings. Set in approximately half an acre of beautifully planted grounds, the property includes a period stable block, workers cottage, barn and stores, plus a walled garden, orchard and Victorian greenhouse. Unfortunately there aren’t any internal pictures or floor plans of the outbuildings, but the external shots look very enchanting and there appears to be enough space for a gorgeous home studio, plus one or two holiday lets, which could provide a good second income.

All the outbuildings are accessed via a shared driveway, so it would also be relatively easy to create some off street parking, which in the centre of a small coastal town like Hythe could be a real plus point, especially in the summer.

Unfortunately this doesn’t all come cheap and the property is currently on the market with Colebrook Sturrock, for £800,000, however it has been on the market for over 10 months so there may be a deal to be had. Further information can be found here.

02. 16 Church Street, Martock, Somerset

The second offering comes from the West country village of Martock, between Taunton and Yeovil. This area of Somerset is renowned for being particularly beautiful and my google street view trip around Martock certainly didn’t disappoint; the village is made up of lots of ham stone cottages, an 18th century market house, Grade I listed church (rumoured to be one of the largest in Somerset) and even a 13th century National Trust property; the Treasurer’s house, plus a couple of pubs, a post office and a few shops – what more could you want?

The Market House in Martock, Somerset (Image courtesy of Somerset Guide)

The Market House in Martock, Somerset (Image courtesy of Somerset Guide)

The property itself is in the heart of the village and is a Grade II listed, former bank with planning permission to convert to a four bedroom, three reception room cottage, full details of the planning application can be found here. Like lots of old village properties the cottage has a bit of an odd layout with a floating freehold over one of the neighbouring cottages. This is slightly unusual by modern standards, although it shouldn’t cause any problems and does provide an extra bedroom.

Former Bank in Martock, Somerset (Image courtesy of Savills)

Former Bank in Martock, Somerset (Image courtesy of Savills)

I did a little digging on the property and discovered that it was occupied by Natwest bank until August 2014, when it closed due to insufficient use – apparently the average number of customers was just 42 per week – I can’t imagine there was ever much of a queue! My search also turned up a great image on Somerset Guide which showed the bank before its closure and described it as ‘possibly one of the quaintest bank branches you are likely to come across.’ Which I would certainly agree with.

Former bank in Martock, Somerset taken a few ago (Image courtesy of Somerset Guide)

The former bank in Martock, image taken a few ago (Image courtesy of Somerset Guide)

Unfortunately the interior isn’t quite so quaint and as far as I can see is devoid of any period features, however there are only a few pictures, so fingers crossed there could be a few pleasant surprises for the incoming purchaser. Although they may be lurking behind dodgy plaster work and 1930’s fireplaces, which despite their unremarkable appearance are also listed so would require the appropriate consents to remove.

It certainly requires vision, but if it excites your imagination, more details can be found here. You will need to move fast as it is going to auction through Savills, on 29th March, with a guide price of £175,000+. However it is worth noting this is just a guide price and I would expect it will go for quite a bit more than that, perhaps even as much as £250,000. As with any auction, you will need to pay a 10% deposit when the hammer goes down and complete within a month or six weeks, depending on the terms. But I think it would make a beautiful family home, so could be worth all that hassle.

03. Cuithir House, Grean, Isle of Barra

Now when I said I was casting my net a bit further a field, I didn’t mean Somerset – I meant much further – the Outer Hebrides in fact!

Beach on the Isle of Barra (Image courtesy of Geography.org)

Beach on the Isle of Barra (Image courtesy of geography.org.uk)

I was initially put off this property by my perception of cold it can get in Scotland, however Wikipedia assures me that the Outer Hebrides are warmer than I initially thought, with an average temperature of 4 degrees (celsius) in January and 15 degrees in July, so it may not be as bad as I first thought.

Situated in a rural location on the west of the beautiful Isle of Barra, the property was originally built as a Manse and most recently operated as a bed and breakfast for the thousands of tourists that visit the Island every year, mostly between May and September. However the last Tripadvisor review for the bed and breakfast was left back in 2013 and the photos suggest that even then it was in need of work, which only seems to have become more necessary since.

The grand Cuithir House on the Isle of Barra (Image courtesy of Anderson Banks)

The grand Cuithir House on the Isle of Barra (Image courtesy of Anderson Banks)

Information on the property is a bit limited, however it is listed as a category B property with Historic Scotland, this is similar to England’s Grade II* listing, so all work would need to be carefully considered and appropriate permissions would need to be sought. However looking at the floor plan, there wouldn’t be any major alterations required to the main house to bring it in line with modern living standards, so this shouldn’t prove to onerous. But, coupled with the property’s location (no builders merchants or Screwfix, for last-minute orders) means that the renovation could prove quite a bit more expensive than usual.

The house is set within approx. 2 acres of its own grounds, which include a walled garden and a few stone and timber outbuildings. The outbuildings are all in need of extensive renovation and it looks like one may even need a new roof. However if consent was forthcoming they could make beautiful holiday lets, which just like the first property would be a great way to earn an income in this remote part of the UK.

If this all takes your fancy the property is currently listed with Anderson Banks who are inviting best and final offers in the region of £110,000 by 12 noon, on Friday 31st March, more details can be found here.

I hope you have enjoyed this month’s offerings and if any of you are interested, my Rightmove app informs me all of the properties I featured last month are now under offer, so I must be picking good uns! What are you favourites from this months offerings?

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