When a Cotswold farmhouse wouldn’t sell, the owners found out why and made some changes. About 18 months ago, the Hollands put their 3,000-squarefoot (279-square-metre) fi ve-bedroom farmhouse on the market at £1.25 million. Along with a three-bedroom cottage and four acres of paddock and garden, you would think the house would shift quickly.
However, it started to languish on the market. Interested buyers lined up to view the house, but felt it lacked a good bedroom layout and large reception room. Ironically, the main reception room in the accompanying cottage was larger than the living room in the house.
So the owners decided to add some extra rooms and give the buyers what they were asking for. Just over a year later, the thoughtfully extended 4,000-square-foot (372-square-metre) house was back on the market with a large new ground floor drawing/dining room and an en-suite master bedroom and dressing room above. Along with the extra floor space, the price went up accordingly to £1.5 million, to cover the building costs of nearly £100,000.
Making key rooms bigger gives the property an added dimension and added value, says the estate agent who helped with the Hollands’ sale. ‘You are turning a modest farmhouse with a cottage into a splendid country house with a cottage.’
This is an example of a homeowner taking expert advice to enhance a house and help sell at a good price. It might seem baffl ing that buyers felt the property lacked space, as the place was awash with rooms before the building work was even planned or carried out. However, people expect a good-sized living room in a country farmhouse where they imagine everyone gathering for Christmas and other major occasions. If it is too small and out of balance with the rest of the house, it doesn’t fit in with what people expect from a decent-sized rural property.
The original 16- by 14-foot (4.9- by 4.3-metre) drawing room is now called the sitting room and the extension has become a spacious drawing room of 25 by 24 feet (7.6 by 7.3 metres), with doors opening onto the dining room. Above, the new master bedroom suite with a fitted dressing room and smart en-suite bathroom is closer to the ideal a prospective purchaser would have in mind when buying a family house in this area.
Marcia Holland, a 48-year-old health practice administrator, says they were careful to match the new rooms to the older Victorian house.
‘Some people go hunting for animals, but I went hunting for beams,’ she explains. ‘During my search, I also found round bricks and slate for the fireplace, so it doesn’t look too glaringly new.’ The Hollands also put in wood skirting and architraves that look similar to what would have been in the house originally.
Costs were kept down with members of the family carrying out some of the work themselves. Marcia’s husband Kevin, a 50-year-old lighting designer, helped drive a small digger to get rid of some of the soil and Marcia sourced most of the materials, ordered them and kept track of the budget.
The family is moving on with their children, Jeff, 15, and Louisa, 13, and Marcia says the extension has been ‘lovingly done for us, and not just to sell the house. This is not a quick bodged job. We selected good oak flooring over less-expensive laminate and put in wood detailing above the windows’.
Marcia and Kevin also have planning permission in place to build a tennis court on their land. An outbuilding has been converted into a small gym and new owners could turn it into a home office or a studio if they preferred.
‘We wanted to use the best of the space we have and offer flexibility as needs change,’ says Kevin. ‘There is a large games room above the garage and a separate 2,000-square-foot (186-square-metre) three-bedroom cottage, ideal for visitors or for an office if you work from home.’
After only three weeks on the market, the re-launched house with its roomy new extension sold for close to the asking price.
‘We covered our costs, managed to make a bit on top and sold the house for what we felt it was worth,’ points out Kevin. ‘And guess what the new owners like most? You guessed it – the master bedroom suite and the new living room.’
– From Adding Value to Your Home