just to set the scene about "our plan"... and it may take a
second build project that we hope to be starting in 2011, is the
culmination of a plan that, as you already know, we formulated over 20
years ago when we were living in a housing estate (albeit a very nice
one) in an area known as Werrington to the north of Peterborough. It
was fine but, in truth, we yearned for somewhere
rural, hopefully with a bit of a view, a few trees and hills - the
latter are in very short supply in Cambridgeshire.
the master plan that evolved was that we would eventually move to
Ken's home town of Hereford, and which Sandy had grown (or was going) to grow to love over the years.
this end, and way back back in 1989, we decided to start looking for
a suitable building plot somewhere in Herefordshire but we didn't have much success. Then by a pure
"flook" involving Christmas, a bag of frozen peas and peacock (may tell
you more about that sometime) we did find a lovely plot in rural
Cambridgeshire - some 20 miles south of Peterborough.
Deer at sunrise in Woodwalton Fen nature reserve ... just a mile or so from home.
the site was a derelict property and numerous outbuildings an unbelievable quantity of rubbish, and the
whole lot came with outline planning permission for a replacement
time was on our side and the investment in land represented a
means of keeping pace with property prices we decided to try to buy and do a “practise” self-build. Of course, the ultimate goal
of a move to Hereford still remained.
spite of a less than encouraging response to an initial discussion
with planners we eventually secured planning permission for a 4 bed
Caxton house with large double garage and attic room over.
we put our estate home on the market because we couldn't
afford to start the new build until we had sold, cleared the
mortgage, and arranged a self-build mortgage. Everything was going
well up to to that point but then it took over 12 frustrating months
to finally sell the house.
The problem was that selling the house would mean we had nowhere to live
during the build. We considered the sensible option
of renting, but it was too expensive and we also realised it would be
useful to be living on or close to the site. So, a chance
remark whilst chatting in an accountants office
resulted in an investment of £800 in an old mobile home. We sold it for £1,200 2 years later so we recovered our expenditure and
lived rent free for 7 months at least.
new "neighbours" were farmer “JT” and his wife Joyce (now 17
years later they are our very good friends). "JT" quizzed us about where we were going to live when we
sold our house. We told him, "on site in a mobile home",
and he then went on to list all the reasons why we couldn't. Followed by an
exceptionally kind offer to "park" the mobile home in his farm yard and so it was that they became our landlord. They
provided water and metered electricity, overnight garaging for our
two cars, storage for all our white goods and they never ever, ever
….... asked where we emptied the portaloo.
Nearly a year later and the project was finished and here it is!
Caxton Showhouse as amended by us ..........
years later, following the sudden and sad death of “Storm” an old, noisy and very flatulent donkey we bought a small paddock adjacent to our rear garden
boundary so Ken just had to have a ride-on mower .... boys toys!
view of our enlarged "estate" ...... well the
few years of making 260 mile round trips to home matches Sandy suggested we should buy a small apartment in
Hereford to ease travelling and as a stepping stone to our eventual
move to Hereford.
objected - quoting "an expensive luxury" Sandy agreed so the idea was dropped. So it came to pass that in May
2007, we moved into our new, modern, purpose built and well appointed
2 bed, 2nd floor apartment in Hereford! Now you know who wears the trousers!
Then three years later came the catalist that resulted in a dramatic change when Sandy
took a job in Hereford with a large
drop in salary but with a much better quality of life.
So now we had to sell "The Old Smithy", in a very depressed housing market. Four neighbouring
properties had taken up to 3 years to sell and at
greatly reduced prices.
So, we de-cluttered the house, dumped most of the existing furniture
and put the house on the market anticipating 2 or 3 years to find a buyer. We had a minimum price we wanted
(needed is a better word) after expenses –
so as an incentive we offered the lads at the agents 10% of anything
they achieved over our target figure.
Incredibly it sold three days before
the house was “officially” available for viewing and, sadly,
we had to pay the agents a £500 bonus for a settlement in excess of our target figure. We could hardly
believe our luck! If you read this David and Louise then we sold too cheaply!
Also to confirm, again, that we did not take the house name sign with
last night there we had pleasure in hosting a party for our friends in the village
and to introduce the “incomers” to the locals. Sorry everyone!
are probably "odd" in that we prefer new properties. We are also quite particular with regard to specification. thus,
previous experience told us that we either had to find a new or substantially
rebuilt or converted property (Sandy quite fancied a barn conversion)
or self build ….. again!
This time we were looking for -
– not on a classified road and within 10 miles of Hereford. Private
– but not totally isolated and with views
- over the beautiful Herefordshire countryside. Only a small(ish)
plot so no large garden to be maintained.
We wanted to build a single storey property with separate garage for two cars with workshop all in a contemporary design with lots of glazing overlooking the views. A minimum of two bedrooms with wet
rooms en suite. A study that could double as a third bedroom and a utility room and separate cloakroom. The idea was to go for low maintenace, no dark internal corridors and the exterior finish to be off white render.
"must have" specification to include
heating (ufh) (essential in our view both in terms of efficiency,
comfort and economy)
recovery system (mhrvs) (now much improved over our 1993 system)
vacuum (a must – for power, convenience and quiet operation)
Renewable energy system, i.e. air source heat pump, solar water and/or pv panels.
pressure hot water (no loft tanks)
Automation - minimum of sound
and TV system in living and bedrooms
in storage (lots of)
electrical sockets everywhere
to suit the rooms
LED or low energy lights with spots for pictures / ornaments
plan – kitchen – dining area and lounge
wood floors to living and bed rooms
slip tiles in wet rooms
September 2010, we started to look (in passing) for a suitable
dilapidated property, or conversion, or new build or plot, however,
given our list of requirements it will not come as a surprise to
learn that we were unsuccessful. We should have realised sooner that with our list of requirements we had to do another self