Just over three years ago James and I sold our much loved Edwardian semi to buy a “project” cottage in a small rural hamlet in Warwickshire.
The cottage had already been extended in the 70’s, square footage wise it is generous: a large entrance hallway, utility, second reception room (that we use as a playroom) and a spacious kitchen/diner/living area. Upstairs we have a landing that mirrors the expanse of the hallway, four double bedrooms (one en-suite) and a family bathroom. In addition to this tick list we have a south west facing garden, lots of light, lovely neighbours and a huge double garage with loft. The village looks not unlike a chocolate box picture perfect postcard.
On paper, and for many of our friends that have visited, it is the dream family abode. When the sale went through I genuinely thought the impending renovations would result in a place we could call home for the foreseeable future.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when the doubt set in, but it was within the first few months of moving in. There were fundamental changes I had envisaged that were simply not possible. The downstairs ceiling height is low – not ridiculously so (my husband is 6ft 1 so we could never have bought somewhere which required multiple “mind your head” signs) but I had assumed we could do something miraculous with the floor joists that would at least add an extra few inches. Turns out we can’t. The upstairs windows are beautiful, but are very high up, and as I am a short arse, all I can see out of them are treetops. James’s view is distinctly more appealing (I know because I’ve stood on a chair/tottered about in skyscraper heels to experience the significant improvement of being temporarily leggy). There are various other first-world-problem aesthetics that I could bore you with but the decision to put the cottage on the market has eventually come down to two reasons:
1. It doesn’t feel right. It never has if I’m really honest. Turns out I appreciate the appeal of a cottage, but I don’t enjoy living in one.
2. We have hit ceiling on the value based on the renovations we have already carried out. This came as a surprise, any further expansion could result in us at least making the investment back but it’s not guaranteed, and we certainly wouldn’t make a profit. Thus it would be only worth the time and effort if we were planning on staying for some time.
In 3 years we have made just over 100K profit. This is a calculation based on what we have sold the property for minus the purchase price, renovation costs, legal fees and stamp duty. This is only my third “cosmetic” renovation (by that I mean no major build/extension work) so I’m by no means an expert, but I have learnt an awful lot about what small (often relatively inexpensive) improvements can have a significant impact on saleability. I don’t regret the move as such, it has certainly been worth it in terms of finding Mabel a lovely school and the confidence it has given me to potentially take on another project.
It makes financial sense for us to move on and move up the property ladder, rather than add on/endeavour to make the cottage work for us. So that’s what we are doing. Wish us luck…our requirements are quite extensive. We would be Kirsty and Phil’s worst bloody nightmare.
I am really interested (also see nosey) when it comes to renovations in general: my favourite sections of interior magazines is where you can see the house before and after and they give you the exact costings so you can see how much money they have made. Perhaps this is something we can look into featuring on Rock My Style? Not so much house tours in a “Barbara has excellent taste in marble counter tops” fashion, more of a hints/tips/this is what I spent/saved/made/designed to make my property more desirable/maximise profit.
Have you ever moved into “the one” only to discover it isn’t?
Do you know what I mean by feel? it has never felt like my home. I find it challenging to explain eloquently exactly what I mean.
In other news, it turns out we are open to a new build – I never thought we would be, but over the weekend we saw a bespoke detached property that was part of an overall conversion of a convent. Even though it wasn’t quite right for us location wise, it was a beautiful family home.