Tag: house

10 Weird & Wonderful UK Home Conversions

10 Weird and Wonderful UK Home Conversions

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Every few months, the inner pages of newspapers will be plastered with the latest outrageous home conversion. We love this type of news, the ingenuity of some conversions is admirable. So, as a bit of fun, we thought we’d bring you our favourite 10 weird and wonderful UK home conversions. Be prepared, this could just give you a little renovation inspiration.

10. Water Pumping Station Conversion – Ikley, West Yorkshire (£725,000)

Built in 1848, this Yorkshire pumping station has been redesigned as an open plan, two storey luxury home. Stylish, cool and equipped with a modern interior, this property boasts three bedrooms, two bathrooms and two reception areas. There’s even a cinema room too!

Water Pumping Station Conversion - Yorkshire
Image courtesy of Home DSGN

9. Spitbank Fort Conversion – Solent, Near Portsmouth Harbour (Hotel Accomodation)

Okay so it’s not actually a house but we couldn’t help featuring Spitbank Fort in this list. Originally built as a line of defence against enemy attack on the Solent and Portsmouth, the fort has since been converted into a luxurious hotel. Boasting nine exquisite suites, stunning panoramic views and a tranquil setting, the site can be hired out for venues and events.

Spitbank Fort Conversion

8. Cove Park Container Conversion – Rosneath Peninsula, Scotland

Sitting in a centre for creative professionals on the west coast of Scotland, these converted shipping containers offer temporary stay for artists. With a layer of grass covering the roof and decked balcony, these containers offer some pretty extraordinary views of Loch Long. The interior is bright and simply furnished with small porthole windows to allow extra daylight.

Cove Park Container Conversions
Image courtesy of Container City

7. Railway Station Conversion – Bredenbury (£495,000)

Originally a Great Western Railway Station, this converted two bedroom house with additional accommodation is a quaint and picturesque property. Boasting 2.76 acres overall, the land included comprises of the station building, former parcel office, garage/workshop and parking. The lucky owner would also lay claim to the railway track and trolley sheds too. It’s the ideal home for any railway enthusiast.

Railway Station Conversion
Image courtesy of Hereford Times

6. Radar Station Conversion – North Berwick, Scotland (£2,500,000)

It’s not every day you find an old military outpost converted into a luxury home. Found deep in rural Scotland, this wartime structure has been converted into an impressive two-storey property. With 6.24 acres of land, two paddocks and an additional detached two-storey, four bedroom house, this really is a quality buy.

Radar Station Conversion
Image courtesy of WowHaus

5. Water Tower Conversion – Kennington, London (£4,700,000)

The spectacular 99 foot tall water tower is the perfect example of a couple seeing an opportunity in unusual property. Originally part of the Lambeth Workhouse and Infirmary (then Lambeth Hospital), the building has 5 foot thick walls and a large steel water tank at the top. When bought, the building was in a poor condition. Now it boasts four bedrooms, a lift shaft and a 360 degree view of London. There’s an additional modern living space at the bottom, appropriately nicknamed the Cube.

Water Tower Conversion Kennington
Image courtesy of Home Dit

4. St John’s Church Conversion – Hertfordshire (£2,500,000)

Coming with an acre of land, 4-5 bedrooms and an exceptionally well designed interior, this award winning church conversion is a grade two listed building. Sitting in a picturesque Hertfordshire village, the building offers three floors, a vaulted ceiling and bold stain glass windows.

St John's Church Conversion
Image courtesy of Evening Standard Home & Property

3. Nuclear Bunker Conversion – Mill Hill, London (£4,500,000)

A 1950s nuclear bunker in North London doesn’t sound like the most attractive place to lay your hat but you’ll be surprised with this one. The site, originally built to protect local politicians in the 1950s, is now a luxury mansion set on protected green belt land. With 1.5m thick walls on the ground floor and 1.5 acres of grounds, there’s plenty to get excited about.

Nuclear Bunker Conversion Mill Hill
Image Courtesy of Subbrit

2. Water Tower Conversion – Hertford (£795,000)

The small town of Hertford is host to more than just a Pizza Express. It also happens to be the home of an exquisite converted water tower. The historic building is now a three bedroom residence with an intriguing interior. Sitting on three floors, the circular building presents an American Oak spiral staircase in its core leading up to spacious bedrooms and living areas. The garden’s pretty beautiful too.

Water Tower Conversion Hertford
Image courtesy of Money Week

1. Underhill House Barn Conversion – Cotswolds

This is a pretty extraordinary conversion. Originally a derelict 300 year old stone structure sitting on top of a hill in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Any conversion taking place would have serious difficulty obtaining planning permission. This didn’t deter the Underhill House project. Also designed as the first Passivhaus in England (a German standard that offers 90% less carbon emissions than average homes). The build was granted planning permission via a policy which allows special treatment for ‘truly outstanding and ground-breaking’ properties offering ‘the highest standards in contemporary architecture’. To put this into perspective, this is only one of twenty properties in the UK to be accepted by this rule.

Underhill House Barn Conversion
Image courtesy of Seymour-Smith Architects

If you’re moving house (or even converting a property), it’s worthwhile finding out about the local area. With our reports, you can find out the latest information on amenities, schools, demographics, crime rates, noise pollution and much more. Get your Property Detective report here.

Want to build your own house, here's what to consider

Want to Build Your Own House? Here’s What to Consider

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If you’re a fan of Grand Designs you’ve probably found yourself contemplating building your own home. If you’ve got the money, time and drive, it’s a genuine possibility. We’re not saying you should rush out tomorrow and start laying the foundations of your dream home. It’s a truly epic feat that needs to be done properly. However, if you want to build your own house, here’s what to consider first.

Benefits of Building Your Own House

So let’s first look at a few reasons why people opt for self-builds. Here are a few benefits of building your own home:

  • If done properly, self-builds will be worth far more than the cost of construction.
  • You can have the freedom to included added features which are either uncommon or very costly in other homes e.g. energy efficient features.
  • You can add luxury features which would also cost significantly more if added to an existing home.
  • You have complete stylistic freedom – your home will be a reflection of yourself.

A Huge Time Commitment

No matter how you go about the process, building is a massive commitment. Imagine taking up an additional part-time (sometimes full-time) job on the side. Your time is going to be seriously stretched. Unfortunately, you can’t suddenly walk away if it all becomes too much. Building a house will teach you about the importance of patience. Often, the process will take a number of years. Know exactly what you’re getting into.

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

Can you actually afford this? It’s a genuine question. You need to scrutinise your budget. Furthermore, be sure to over-estimate on everything – and we really mean everything. Many hidden costs are lurking around the corner, you need to be able to handle these. Consider every possibility. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to allow at least 10% of your budget for unexpected costs. If you finish building and haven’t spent it, you’ve got a little extra to play with for interior design.

Get Some Land

Before you can start building, you need some land to work with. Now, this can be a frustrating time. You’ll need planning permission as well as an understanding of rules and regulations. It’s not always easy to find land. Often advertisements are in short supply. Ask around, often estate agents, auction houses, architects or even the local planning office will be able to assist you with your search. Take a look at The Self Build Portal too, they offer a wealth of knowledge on the self-build process.

Get the Right People on Board

Not got any prior experience of building a home? You’re not the only one. Whether you opt for a package supplier, an architect or designer, you need to be confident you’re working with the right people. Find someone who will invest themselves in your vision. It’s also important to take a look at the reputation of any builders/contractors you use. You need to be able to trust these people with bringing your dream to fruition.

Think About Interior Design Early

Okay, we’re not saying you should think about which picture will go on which wall. What we are saying is that you should have an understanding of where your furniture will go, what the actual layout will be like and how it will actually look. No one wants to build a house and realise they’ve not accounted for storage space.

Think About Resale

Irrelevant of whether you’re building to sell on or not, it’s important to consider how your decisions will affect resale value. You never know what your circumstances will be in five or ten years. It’s great to personalise the house and add your own unique touches but don’t do anything that would damage the future value.

Consider Going Green

Building a house is a great way to go green. It’s difficult and costly to make an existing house sustainable. When you’re building a new one, it can just become part of the process. You won’t need to fork out a ridiculous amount of money for it either. Going green can lower future running costs and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside too!

Research and Plan everything

Above everything, when building a new home you can’t allow yourself to be surprised. Research and plan everything to perfection. This is a huge investment of time, money and effort. It will pay off but you’ll have to go through a lot of strain first. Don’t let anything creep up on you. Good luck!

Be sure you know what to expect from the area you’re moving into. Find out about the local amenities, schools, noise pollution, crime rates, local demographics and more with a property detective report.

What is Stamp Duty? How much will I pay?

What is Stamp Duty? How Much Will I Pay?

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Buying a house is expensive and difficult. When you get towards the all-important business end of the deal, it’s vital to question everything and seek clarity on all aspects of the process. So let’s deal with the elephant in the room. What is Stamp Duty? And how much will you pay? We all know you need to pay Stamp Duty, but what do you actually know about it?

What is Stamp Duty?

First-time buyers have a lot to think about!

When you buy a home in England, Northern Ireland or Wales costing more than £125,000, you need to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax. If you’re buying a second home, this drops to £40,000. If you’re buying a second home or buy-to-let you’ll also have to pay an additional 3% in Stamp Duty as well as current rates.

What About Scotland?

You don’t actually have to pay Stamp Duty in Scotland. Before you pack up your bags and head north, Scottish home buyers don’t get away that easily. An almost identical tax exists named the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. It’s the same style of lump sum tax – the only difference is the thresholds. More about that later.

How Much Will I Pay?

The more expensive a property, the more stamp duty you’ll have to pay. This goes up in bands and you’ll have to pay a percentage of the cost. You do however only pay the higher percentage on what is above that threshold.

Below you can find a table to help you with working out your Stamp Duty Land Tax:

Stamp Duty Table

Below is a table to help those living in Scotland work out their Land and Buildings Transaction Tax:

Land and Buildings Tax Rate Table

Money Saving Expert offer the following example to better illustrate this:

England, Northern Ireland and Wales:
If buying a property for £300,000
You pay nothing below £125,000, which is £0
You pay 2% on between £125,000 and £250,000, which is £2,500
You pay 5% on the value of the property above £250,000, which is £2,500
So in total this means you’ll pay £5,000 (£0+£2,500+£2,500).

If buying a property for £300,000
You pay nothing below £145,000, which is £0
You pay 2% on between £145,000 and £250,000, which is £2,100
You pay 5% on the value of the property above £250,000, which is £2,500
So in total this means you’ll pay £4,600 (£0+£2,100+£2,500).

If you don’t want the fuss with working out how much Stamp Duty you’ll pay, The Money Advice Service offer a handy Stamp Duty Calculator here.

How is Stamp Duty Paid?

Once you’ve completed the home buying process (signed the contract, received the keys) you’ve got 30 days to pay Stamp Duty. If you don’t pay within this time, you could be fined and charged interest. Your solicitor usually deals with this and will encourage you to pay immediately. Some are known to require the cash before completing the purchase. Having said this, the legal responsibility is yours – so don’t neglect it.

If you’re moving home, be sure to get a full and comprehensive understanding of your new area. Fill out a property detective report and find all you need to know about local amenities, noise, crime rates, schools, flight paths and more. Enter your postcode to view your Property Detective report here.

What Makes a House a Home?

What Makes A House A Home?

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So many people talk about the stress of moving. The truth is, the immediate time after moving house can be pretty uncomfortable too. After all, you’re living in a strange building which isn’t yet home. This got us thinking, what makes a house a home? We suspect this is likely to vary from person to person and we’re intrigued to hear what you’d say. So we crawled social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit for inspiration and then took to the streets of London to get the view of the general public. Here’s what we found.

Books, Films & Music

Many people said it’s all about the books, films and music. This is pretty natural actually. All these collections are a true and accurate portrayal of our likes and dislikes. If you’re the type of person who builds a personal connection with the books they read or music they listen to, your collection is like an extended family photo album.

Pets Misbehaving

So the most common answer we had was pet related. Not just the furry friends being around but misbehaving too. We associate this behaviour with home because this is how you know a pet is comfortable. Once a pet is comfortable, their owner will be too. Also one Reddit user told us that a house isn’t a home until they find ginger cat hair everywhere – we’ll pass on that one.

The Family Heirlooms

A house isn’t a home until it’s littered with your family heirlooms. You know that strange painting which you don’t actually like but you put up anyway because it came from a long lost great uncle? Well that could actually be the missing ingredient.

The Memories You Make

Lots of you told us that memories make a house a home. This is bad news for new home owners, you’re probably not going to feel ‘at home’ for quite some time. You can’t force this one.

The Smell of Home Cooking

Ah now this is an answer we can really get behind. We had plenty of people talk about home cooking. It’s not surprising really. When you think of your childhood home, you often think back to the food you ate there. The smell of cooking can evoke powerful images of home that can’t be ignored.

Internet Connection

A surprising amount of people said that internet connection and instant access to WiFi gave a homely feel. Others mentioned their collection of tech devices gave them a feel of comfort. A sure fire sign we’re reaching a new age.

The Imperfections

“The imperfections are what makes a home unique,” replied an elderly gentleman when asked. This is a strange concept but one which makes sense. He elaborated; “at first everything is new and fresh, you love it and can’t believe it’s yours. Then things start going wrong. Floorboards creak and doors won’t shut properly. You learn and memorise you way around your home. These are the things you’ll miss.”

A Few Random Answers

As with every survey like this, we encountered some silly, unusual and downright hilarious answers. When asking ‘what makes a house a home?’ here are some of the best answers we had:

  • The spelling
  • A hat rack
  • The toilet (and what you do in it)
  • A witty welcome mat
  • One of those tacky ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ signs in the kitchen

A house can’t be a home if the location isn’t right. If you’re looking to move, find out all you need to know about an area with a Property Detective report. Find out about the local amenities, schools, flight paths, noise complaints, crime rates and more here.

What to expect when making an offer on a property

What to Expect When Making an Offer on a Property

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Buying a house is the biggest and most stressful purchase you’ll ever make. In an article entitled ‘Confessions of an Estate Agent’, The Telegraph explains “we don’t so much purchase a house, as prise it out of the hands of the people who own it”. The truth is, making an offer is a minefield and you’re going to need all the help you can get. This is why we’ve put together a few simple tips about the process and what you can expect.

Before the Offer

There are some serious things to consider before making your offer. You have to research thoroughly, including the surrounding area. Keep your eyes peeled and be aware of what other local properties are selling for. If every house on the street is sold for lower than asking price, your offer should match this trend.

It’s also important to remember the estate agent wants as much money from you as possible. You’ve got to remain impartial for the viewing. Don’t rave about how you’ve just found your dream house. This will give the estate agent the opportunity to squeeze you of all the money they can. Your best approach is to downplay how much you’re willing to spend. Play it cool at viewings, ask scrutinising and testing questions. This will help when it comes to the offer stage. It’s also good practice to agree with the agent what fixtures and fittings will be included. This will avoid any nasty surprises or awkward discussions later on. It’s always best to get this list in writing.

Prepare for Negotiation

So you’re ready to actually submit an offer, it’s time to start negotiations. What must be remembered is that every offer you make must be passed on by the estate agent. This doesn’t stop the estate agent from trying you to up your price from that initial moment. In the Telegraph’s ‘Confessions of an Estate Agent’ experienced professional David Pollock advises buyers:
“Don’t be put off by the ‘ffffssss’ noise. This is the sucking-the-teeth-in sound I make, when a buyer puts in an offer that I think is too low. Quite often, that’s all I have to do for a buyer to start backtracking and upping their offer.”

It’s true that the negotiation stage is like a game of chess. Go in too high and you’ve got less room to manoeuvre. Go in too low and you’re likely to get laughed at. Meet the asking price and risk being taken for a ride. The exception to this rule is London, listen to the advice you’re given because the shape of the market is different in the capital.

Everyone will advise you not to get picked up in the excitement of the moment and overstretch your budget when negotiating. This is a serious mistake that you’ll be forced to live with. It’s always best to agree a budget beforehand, acknowledge how much you can move from it and then stick to your guns. The property isn’t perfect if it’s out of your price range.

Sell Yourself

When competition’s fierce, it’s important to make yourself seem like the most appealing option. There’s a strong likelihood the seller will have a close attachment to the property. If you look like you’ll take good care of it, they’ll be more likely to choose you over another competing buyer.

This can also relate back to the chain. If you don’t have a chain, you’re a very attractive option. If you do, it’s best to demonstrate that your property’s sale is in hand. If you have a ‘mortgage in principle’ agreed, it’s best to notify the seller. This way, you look like a serious buyer.

Survey the Property

We cannot stress this enough. You can’t let your feelings get in the way of such an important decision. This is why the survey is so important. Use the expert opinion to your advantage. You can use the outcome of the survey to negotiate a lower price or simply reassess your options.

Before you approach the offer stage, it’s important to be in the know about your prospective area. Take a look at a Property Detective report today to get the latest updates on crime rates, schools, amenities, noise pollution, flight paths and more.

Add value to your property with a house extension

Add Value to Your Property with a House Extension

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Selling your home is a big deal. We understand the stress and strain of the process. We also appreciate that you want to squeeze your investment for every possible penny. If you’re looking for ways to boost the value your home sells for, it’s worth considering an extension. Of course, adding value isn’t the only reason why people extend. Everyone could do with a little extra space. Yet, if your eyes are firmly set on the market value, here’s a short guide to help point you in the right direction.

General Extensions

Any addition in size will automatically boost your home’s worth. Don’t forget that a single-storey extension usually won’t require planning permission. Outside of London, property costs around £900 – £2000 per square metre, depending on where you live. Inside of London, this rises to a whopping £5,000 – £10,000. If you’re living in a favourable location, you could see more than £50,000 added onto your property’s worth for around £20,000 of work.

Extra Bathroom

An extra bathroom is said to add around 5% to the price of your home. This is nearly £15,000 to the average UK home. En-suites are also rising dramatically in popularity so consider this option too. Usually the cost sits between £2,500 to over £6,000. We recommend that you don’t go all out with this – luxury décor will eat into your investment.


Conservatories certainly divide opinion. Generally this extension is becoming more desirable but only if it looks good. We’d recommend if you get a conservatory, opt for something made from glass. A poorly built extension of this kind, especially those made from cut-price PVC will deter buyers. A conservatory will usually cost between £4,000 and £10,000 though will add about 5% increase onto your property’s valuation. Be careful not to impede too much into your garden, this is another key asset.

Extra Bedroom

Adding an extra bedroom is definitely one of the best ways of boosting your property valuation. The initial cost can be quite high – The Telegraph estimates between £15,000 and £40,000 depending on size and location. The best way of keeping costs down will be to reposition and renovate without the addition of an extension itself. It’s believed you’ll see as much as a 10% jump from your investment. Head down this route if you want to see the biggest boost to your property worth.

A Kitchen Refurbishment

The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in a house. Often this can be the difference between a property selling or not. If yours is in need of a bit of TLC, why not consider a refurbishment? Refitting an older, thoroughly used kitchen with something clean and modern will usually boost the desirability factor. Often cramped kitchens put potential buyers off, why not add an extra few feet onto yours? This is the perfect excuse for a renovation. If you’re a bit of a DIY wizard then you can save some serious money by doing much of the renovation work yourself – just don’t botch it! Be aware, all gas pipework needs to be done a qualified fitter. This is a law, not a recommendation. The price you pay for this seriously depends on how much you get done, the quality of your purchases and any installation costs. Be sure to pause and consider this one fully, make sure the updates complement the rest of your house. It’s difficult to put a figure on how much this will add to the valuation but never underestimate the ‘wow-factor’.

Not looking to add an extension? Energy efficient appliances, a new lick of paint and more storage space can all give your home a small boost. Find our tips for adding value to your property here.

Are you looking to move home? Take a look at a Property Detective report to find out about the latest crime stats, travel info, noise levels, amenities and schools in your prospective area. Find yours here.