Thinking of Renovating a Cottage?

Whitewashed walls, neat golden thatch, glossy red doors and dancing fireplaces are all images brought to mind when contemplating cottages and modern media such as magazines and books help to perpetuate this fantasy. What you don’t see is all the work that goes into bringing a derelict cottage back to life and maintaining it. Although cottage enthusiasts love their homes and wouldn’t change a thing, most do agree that renovating a cottage is once in a lifetime experience, best left behind them. The process requires endless reserves of patience, adaptability and creativity, not to mention a substantial budget.   Before you consider buying a cottage, take the following points into consideration: Costs It is immeasurably easier to build from scratch than it is to retrofit modern conveniences to an old property. Costs you may have to take into account, outside of the regular build costs include –  Reinforcing or creating foundations  Installation of services on difficult sites Damp proofing and insulating existing stone walls  Higher electrical & plumbing costs  Hiring craft trades people eg: thatchers, stonemasons etc… Bespoke windows & doors to fit non-conventional openings Higher insurance costs Even after the cottage has been completed there are the maintenance costs which may be considerably higher then a new build for example:  reapplying lime washes to the exterior maintaining thatched roofs repairing damp spots excluding draughts & coping with unwanted guests such as mice which are dealt with below. Locating good trades people and professional advice. One of the main difficulties faced when renovating and living in cottages is access to competent, reliable, like-minded trades people. Cottages are not a passion everyone...

The Old Farm Cottage – Co. Kilkenny

In 2001, we were on an extended holiday in Ireland, staying in a self-catering cottage in the Midlands. Although we enjoyed doing the typical “touristy” things, we found we were becoming increasingly fascinated with all the abandoned and derelict cottages dotting the countryside, no doubt inspired by the renovated stone coach house that we were staying in! We decided to search for a derelict stone cottage of our own.  We looked in every auctioneers’ window we passed and spent hours searching the internet.  One day, we stopped into a real estate office to seek information on a cut-stone cottage.  They were about to close for lunch, so we quickly grabbed a selling sheet on this cottage, as well as another on another cottage being offered, and headed out. The cut-stone cottage was unsuitable – in a bog with no views. As we followed the directions to the other cottage, we were already sold before we arrived – the hillside views were stunning!  And the cottage – derelict, yes, but otherwise just what we were looking for: not too big, well-sited on a ½ acre lot surrounded by grazing fields, great vistas, in other words …..PERFECT for us! The cottage was built in the 1770’s as a farm worker’s thatched cottage.  After a fire destroyed the thatch roof, a second storey and a slate roof were added, probably in the 1860’s.  The cottage was lived-in until the 1960’s and then lay derelict until we found it in 2001. Although the slate roof on the cottage was still in excellent condition, the stone work was in desperate need of re-pointing and...