Conversion Diversion 1: Welsh School House

Our latest House Prices & Affordability Index (published today) reveals that the average UK asking price is £218,654.

What, you might ask, can you get for that?

Well, in Wales – and apologies to all you Londoners who may be shelling out an equivalent sum for a one-bed basement flat – you can get this beautifully converted Victorian school house.

Click pics for full details
Three-bed detached house, £225,000, Strutt & Parker, Shrewsbury (Tel: 0843 2823 336)

Three-bed detached house, £225,000, Strutt & Parker, Shrewsbury (Tel: 0843 2823 336)

The property was used as the local school from 1872-1995 and is a rare and very early example of the use of concrete in construction (as is the nearby Gregynog Hall, on whose estate this school is built).

The highlight here is the large living/dining room (36’9″ x 18’1″) which features timber beams, a magnificent fireplace, stained glass windows and a fine hand-crafted oak staircase.

It’s all very lovely, and will, I think, arouse sharp pangs of property longing in those of us who live in the pricey South East.

Three-bed detached house, £225,000, Strutt & Parker, Shrewsbury (Tel: 0843 2823 336).


Three-bed detached house, £225,000, Strutt & Parker, Shrewsbury (Tel: 0843 2823 336)

Three-bed detached house, £225,000, Strutt & Parker, Shrewsbury (Tel: 0843 2823 336)

Three-bed detached house, £225,000, Strutt & Parker, Shrewsbury (Tel: 0843 2823 336)

Three-bed detached house, £225,000, Strutt & Parker, Shrewsbury (Tel: 0843 2823 336)

Three-bed detached house, £225,000, Strutt & Parker, Shrewsbury (Tel: 0843 2823 336)

November 13, 2009 at 12:15 PM 1 comment

Steampunk House on Wheels, Anyone?

Weary of the high-tech digital age? Nostalgic for a world of brass, wood, iron and steam? For the dials, rivets, cogs and pistons of classic Victorian design?

Well, you’re not alone. The Steampunk movement, which filters the modern world through late Victorian science fiction (H.G. Wells, Jules Verne) and Victorian technology and design, is just as keen on all that boiler plated vintage stuff as you are.

Here’s a frankly fantastic Steampunk house on wheels built by members of the Academy of Unnatural Sciences in Berkeley, California (a “DIY  group of tinkerers, gearheads, and steam bohemians who fabricate steam-powered art pieces out of repurposed industrial detritus”).

Image: Christopher Michel

Image: Christopher Michel

They describe it thus:

Neverwas Haul, a self-propelled 3-storey Victorian House, is made from 75 per cent recycled equipment and materials, with interiors, operating system, and collections from its travels around the world (i.e., oddities of the Jules Verne era including a Camera Obscura).

The Haul measures 24 feet long by 24 feet high and 12 feet wide and is built on the base of a 5th wheel travel trailer.

They sound a bit like steampunk estate agents, and it is, I fear, only a matter of time before someone suggests this as a low-cost alternative for first-time buyers … though I can’t see the Halifax being too keen to lend on one.

For more Steampunk lunacy get yourself over to the Oxford Museum of the History of Science – they’re currently running the first ever museum exhibition of Steampunk art and design.

Via:  Apartment Therapy.

Image:  Mudstone

Image: Mudstone

Image: AlmostJaded

Image: AlmostJaded

November 12, 2009 at 3:24 PM 1 comment

Windows From Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater For Sale

Do you live in a house with a top class architectural pedigree?

If so, listen up, because the conservation body that looks after Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater has come up with a crafty way to get the windows replaced: sell the old ones off to architectural relic hunters.

Their website explains that the old windows are suffering from decay (hmmm, wonder if all that falling water is to blame – the owner’s father dubbed the place ‘rising mildew’?).

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

And this, architecture groupies, is where you come in:

“Naming opportunities range from $500 to $10,000 and up for each window, skylight, glass door, or set of windows, depending on the size and location.

“You will receive a commemorative piece of the old Fallingwater glass, framed along with a drawing of the house, specifying the window that you have endowed.

“Additionally, if you endow a window at $1,000 or more, you will be recognized on a donor wall in the Fallingwater Visitors Pavilion.”

$1,000 for a bit of old glass? Genius!

Here’s a nice video about the house:

November 12, 2009 at 12:44 PM 1 comment

October 2009: Property Hotspots

Drum roll, please, for our latest list of property hotspots.

The ranking is based on the most enquiries (sales and rent) generated per area, which, we think, is a more genuine measure of actual activity than, say, the number of pages or properties clicked on.

City centres continue to do well, as does Bristol, but the most obvious change this month is the rise of suburban areas in Middlesex and Kent.

Top 20 Hotspots for October 2009
Rank Area Avg email enqs per property
1 Bedminster, Bristol 2.02
2 Sheffield City Centre, Sheffield 1.96
3 Leeds City Centre, Leeds 1.83
4 Manchester City Centre, Manchester 1.81
5 Bristol City Centre, Bristol 1.74
6 London SE11, London 1.52
7 Hounslow, Middlesex 1.51
8 London E8, London 1.51
9 Brighton, East Sussex 1.49
10 Whitton, Middlesex 1.49
11 Hayes, Middlesex 1.46
12 London WC1, London 1.46
13 London W12, London 1.46
14 London N1, London 1.45
15 London E2, London 1.44
16 Liverpool City Centre, Merseyside 1.43
17 London N16, London 1.40
18 Harrow, Middlesex 1.40
19 Bexleyheath, Kent 1.37
20 Redland, Bristol 1.36
Source: internal data Oct’09. Note: Based on areas with 50+ properties on

November 11, 2009 at 3:12 PM 2 comments

Lease Options: Are Tenants Protected?

I’ve just read an interesting blog post by David Lawrenson over at Letting Focus about a potentially expensive pitfall for tenants in the whole lease option idea.

magnifying glassA lease option basically works like this:

• Tenant rents property in usual way

• Landlord offers option to buy within a defined period (a year or two, for example) at a price agreed today

• Tenant pays lump sum up front (£2-3k, for example) plus a premium on the rent for the privilege

• If tenant buys, he gets some of this back plus the benefit of last year’s house prices;  if he doesn’t buy, he loses the money invested

Now, in theory, there’s nothing wrong with the idea – house-builders have used this ‘rent to buy’ concept as a way to sell when times are tough and it’s been great for struggling first-time buyers.

But what if the landlord is a small-scale buy-to-let investor?  And what happens if said investor, for example, defaults on his mortgage payments or goes bust?

This is especially worth asking since some investment ‘gurus’ are pitching the lease option idea to struggling landlords – see this lease options article, for example.

From the tenant’s point of view, as David points out, the process may be fraught with risk.

Is he right? If any of you out there know more about this, we’d like to hear your views.

November 11, 2009 at 12:26 PM 1 comment

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