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We pick four mini country estate renovation projects for sale

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Renovation projects are proving to be one of the stars of the show for the housing market during the pandemic.

Some are currently fetching seven figure sums despite often needing substantial amounts of cash spent on them just to make them habitable.

A leading estate agent reported dozens of viewings being booked on such a property within hours of it going on the market, due to its appealing countryside settings in Devon.

A renovation project in Totnes, Devon: Moore Farm is for sale for £1,025,000 and comes with several outbuildings, one of which has planning consent to turn into two five-bedroom homes

A renovation project in Totnes, Devon: Moore Farm is for sale for £1,025,000 and comes with several outbuildings, one of which has planning consent to turn into two five-bedroom homes

People are often attracted to renovation projects because they allow buyers to put their own stamp on them from the beginning.

And of course, there is the potential to make a profit – most look for around at least 20 per cent – through capital gain. And additional income could be generated by turning outbuildings into holiday lets, for example.

Renovation projects also tend to offer plenty of space, a highly desirable commodity amid the pandemic. Such properties with outbuildings mean there can be thousands of square feet of floor space on offer, as well as acres of land surrounding them.

Ultimately, whether a project works comes down to a buyer’s unique circumstances, their budget and the time they have to invest in it. As such, it is important to do plenty of research before embarking on such a venture.

We speak to Richard Speedy, who heads up the Exeter branch of estate agents Strutt & Parker, for his views on taking on a small country estate renovation project. 

We then go on to list four such renovation projects around the country with price tags of between £500,000 and more than £1million.

Why do people take on renovations projects?

Mr Speedy said: ‘Buyers are attracted to renovation projects because they like to have a blank canvas that they are able to put their own stamp on.

‘They don’t necessarily want to pay for someone else’s renovation in the past that might not be to their taste – a blank canvass enables a buyer to be more creative and pick the fixtures and fittings they want.

‘Building projects tend to attract people who are looking at a longer-term project for themselves or those who might want to make a profit when it comes to resell – normally they look for a 20 per cent profit.’

He added: ‘A farmhouse in the countryside is simply the most desirable property for many at the moment due to the pandemic and the popularity of space.

‘With Moore Farm – a renovation project in Devon – we have had a variety of buyers including those who want to keep the farmhouse for themselves and convert the barns that already have planning permission for income – either as holiday lets or long-term rental properties.’

What sort of features are people looking for the most?

Mr Speedy suggested that for renovation projects, people tend to prefer Georgian or Victorian period homes that still maintain original features and some character that comes with an older home.

‘People can look past dated bathrooms and kitchens should a home have high ceilings and inglenook fireplaces,’ he said.

‘That said, we do however see buyers who are interested in renovating all types of homes. Even a nondescript 1970s bungalow can be turned into a home worthy of Grand Designs with a little creativity and a good architect,’ he added.

What might have changed in the past 18 months due to Covid?

One of the main challenges to the property market off the back of the pandemic is a lack of stock, according to Mr Speedy.

‘This is especially true in the hottest markets, as it is here in the South West,’ he said.

‘The knock-on effect is that people who might once have been a bit more reluctant to a renovation are now considering them in droves. 

‘They would rather take on the work with a property that is in the right location and has the right features now more than ever. 

‘A property like Moore Farm might have been on the market prior to Covid for a few months, but within two days of bringing it to market we had booked in more than 60 viewings and it will be going to best and final offers in a couple of weeks.’

What are the potential pitfalls to look out for?

Mr Speedy said: ‘When it comes to buying any property, getting a thorough survey done is the best starting point. This is especially important considering that some of these renovation projects have been standing for 100, 200 or even 300 years. 

‘A survey will uncover problems that could cause a headache further down the line such as subsidence or even if the roof is about to cave in. 

‘For more substantial building projects, it is also worth bearing in mind that the cost of materials and labour has increased in the past 18 months and could continue, therefore its best to build extra allowances into a budget for this and to get a builder lined up as soon as you can. It’s not unheard of for buyers to bring builders along to second viewings to get an opinion.’

How long do renovations projects take?

Renovation projects such as the farmhouse at Moore Farm can normally be completed within four to six months, Mr Speedy suggested.

‘This, however, depends on the work the buyer wants to be carried out – but with this home the buyers can live in the home while it is being renovated should they choose to,’ he said.

‘Building a home from the ground up does naturally take considerably longer – I would say that normally this should take between a year and 18 months, and a big part of this is laying the groundwork and foundations to be able to build upon it. As the stone barns at Moore Farm already have permission, the buyer can really hit the ground running and get the building project underway.’

Here are Mr Speedy’s top renovation projects for sale around the country, available via Strutt & Parker

1. Five-bed Farmhouse, Totnes, Devon, £1,025,000 

This five-bedroom farmhouse in Devon's Totnes is on the market for £1,025,000, with best and final offers by midday on Monday August 2

This five-bedroom farmhouse in Devon’s Totnes is on the market for £1,025,000, with best and final offers by midday on Monday August 2

The property includes several outbuildings, one of which has planning consent to turn into two five-bedroom houses

The property includes several outbuildings, one of which has planning consent to turn into two five-bedroom houses

The outbuildings could be turned into holiday lets as the South Hams has access to some of the country's best beaches

The outbuildings could be turned into holiday lets as the South Hams has access to some of the country’s best beaches

Updating required: The main house includes exposed beams and brickwork on the walls, including in the kitchen

Updating required: The main house includes exposed beams and brickwork on the walls, including in the kitchen

Moore Farm dates back to the 1800s and requires updating, but has scope for an annexe.

There are exposed beams, windows seats and fireplaces, including an inglenook in the drawing room with an original bread oven.

It comes with several outbuildings, one of which has planning consent to turn into two five-bedroom houses.

Mr Speedy said: ‘Moore Farm offers a rare opportunity in a great location with a range of options with what people can do. We have had interest from families who have moved into the area and are currently renting, local people who want to upsize and those who want to retire in the countryside with the option of a home that can provide an income for them.

‘The South Hams with it’s rolling hills and access to some of the country’s best beaches provides many with a lifestyle they can only dream of. As such the property here has really been flying off the shelves here since the property market reopened last year. Moore Farm is a prime example of how a property can generate interest extremely quickly and will sell fast with best and final offers.’

2. Five-bed house in Shocklach, Cheshire, £980,000

The property is accessed a private driveway leading to a part-cobbled courtyard with a range of outbuildings that include seven barns.

The property is accessed a private driveway leading to a part-cobbled courtyard with a range of outbuildings that include seven barns.

The outbuildings are includes with this five-bedroom Georgian property in Shocklach, Cheshire, which is on the market for £980,000

The outbuildings are includes with this five-bedroom Georgian property in Shocklach, Cheshire, which is on the market for £980,000

There are several outbuildings that could be converted into additional accommodation subject to planning consents

There are several outbuildings that could be converted into additional accommodation subject to planning consents

The interior includes some dated features - such as the fireplace surround - that can be updated to create a modern family home

The interior includes some dated features – such as the fireplace surround – that can be updated to create a modern family home

This five-bed Georgian property in Cheshire includes a main house covering more than 3,000 square feet and outbuildings extending to more than 7,000 square feet.

While the main house needs updating, it has the potential to become a welcoming family home. 

The property is accessed via a five-bar gate and a private driveway leading to a part-cobbled courtyard with a range of outbuildings that include seven barns. Planning permission for the barns is for two three to four bedroom properties.

3. Barn conversion, Baconsthorpe, Norfolk, £900,000

Pitt Farm Barns is in Norfolk and includes an extensive range of traditional barns that made up a cattle yard and grain store

Pitt Farm Barns is in Norfolk and includes an extensive range of traditional barns that made up a cattle yard and grain store

The property is being sold with a price tag of £900,000, with the seller retaining one of the barns on the development site

The property is being sold with a price tag of £900,000, with the seller retaining one of the barns on the development site

Access to the seaside: The property is in Baconsthorpe, which is about four miles from the north Norfolk coastline

Access to the seaside: The property is in Baconsthorpe, which is about four miles from the north Norfolk coastline

Pitt Farm Barns is an extensive range of traditional barns that made up a cattle yard and grain store.

It has planning permission to convert the barns into five homes. The planning permission is for six barns but the seller is retaining one of them.

The property is about four miles from the north Norfolk coastline, which offers sailing walking and other leisure facilities.

4. Six bed house, Rhiwbryfdir, Wales, £500,000

This six-bedroom house in Wales was original converted from two properties, and once again needs to be renovated

This six-bedroom house in Wales was original converted from two properties, and once again needs to be renovated

The interior needs extensive updating, including the kitchen - but it could be transformed into a beautiful family home

The interior needs extensive updating, including the kitchen – but it could be transformed into a beautiful family home 

The property is the cheapest in our list, with a price tag of £500,000, despite enjoying spectacular views across the Snowdonia countryside

The property is the cheapest in our list, with a price tag of £500,000, despite enjoying spectacular views across the Snowdonia countryside

The property extends across 2,400 square feet and comes with an impressive 22 acres of land and a river frontage

The property extends across 2,400 square feet and comes with an impressive 22 acres of land and a river frontage

This six-bedroom house in Wales was original converted from two properties. It now needs renovating once again to become a family home.  

It extends across 2,400 square feet and comes with an impressive 22 acres of land and a river frontage. 

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Fraser to attend Oireachtas committee on Zappone controversy

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The State’s highest ranking civil servant will appear before an Oireachtas committee to explain the circumstances around the now-scrapped appointment of Katherine Zappone as special envoy.

The secretary general of the Department of Taoiseach Martin Fraser will appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs next week.

Members of the committee are expected to ask Mr Fraser to explain in detail when precisely Ms Zappone’s name was communicated to the Department of the Taoiseach.

Controversy erupted in late July over an attempt by Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to appoint Ms Zappone as a special envoy for freedom of expression and LGBTQ+ rights.

On Monday, former minister Zappone turned down an invitation to appear before the committee to discuss the matter.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was not aware of plans to appoint her before they came before Cabinet just before the summer recess.

Moreover, Fianna Fáil has disputed a claim from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s that Ms Zappone was named as a UN special envoy in a memo sent to the Taoiseach’s office the day before the Cabinet discussed the proposed appointment.

“The memo with the name of Katherine Zappone was in the Taoiseach’s office, the day before the Cabinet meeting,” Mr Varadkar said earlier this month.

“Notwithstanding that, Simon Coveney and I had a responsibility to flag that to him as a Minister, me as a leader in Government, there should be good faith and no surprises, and I’ve spoken the Taoiseach about that, and apologised.”

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath disputed this and said that an “under the arm memo” sent to the office of the Taoiseach the day before the Cabinet meeting on July 27th did not mention Ms Zappone.

Mr Fraser’s decision to appear before the committee means the controversy will continue into another week.

Mr Fraser, who has been secretary general at the Department of the Taoiseach for a decade, is to move from Government Buildings late next year to become the Irish ambassador in London.

In mid-September, the Dáil voted confidence in Mr Coveney by 92 votes to 59.

Separately, Mr Varadkar has now sought to downplay reports of a “sting” operation arising from the Zappone affair, whereby a junior minister reportedly gave false information to a senior minister during a phone call, which then made its way to a journalist.

The Tánaiste said he had spoken with Patrick O’Donovan, reportedly the junior minister involved, but said he had not been shown text messages arising from the “sting” and that “there have been no confrontations” about it.

“He’s shown me no text messages or anything like that. This is an internal matter that will be dealt with within Fine Gael,” Mr Varadkar said. “I’m aware of what’s been reported and I’ve spoken to all the Fine Gael cabinet Ministers about this.”

Asked whether Ms Zappone should attend or otherwise respond to written questions from the Oireachtas committee, Mr Varadkar said it was a matter for her and the committee, arguing the Government had “moved on”.

Speaking in New York on Monday, the Taoiseach also sought to draw a line under the controversy, saying Ms Zappone was a “private citizen”. Mr Martin said: “As far as I’m concerned we’ve had enough debate about it now.”

“This was in effect, an under the arm memo which means it is brought to Cabinet on the morning of the Cabinet meeting itself and that was the first time that the name Katherine Zappone was with the Taoiseach and with all of the other Cabinet colleagues so that is certainly the case.”

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How much it costs to buy near new Nine Elms and Battersea tube stations

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Two new Underground stations opened this week – Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station.

But while the areas feature lots of new housing for London, people looking to move to there and jump on the Tube’s extended Northern Line will pay a hefty price tag.

The average price of a house in Nine Elms is £726,131, according to Zoopla, but they have got cheaper. This is a drop of more than 6 per cent on a year ago, the equivalent of £50,000. 

But that average price doubles to £1,501,091 once you narrow a buyer’s search area from the wider Nine Elms area to just the Nine Elms development site, which is the new housing just south of the River Thames. 

And there’s the opportunity to spend much more – among the three homes we found below in the location was a flat in Battersea Power Station for £16million.

A luxury penthouse high up on the eleventh and twelfth floors of Battersea Power Station is for sale for £16million with estate agent Copperstones - see more details below

A luxury penthouse high up on the eleventh and twelfth floors of Battersea Power Station is for sale for £16million with estate agent Copperstones – see more details below

Two new Underground stations have opened this week: One at Nine Elms and the other at Battersea Power Station

Two new Underground stations have opened this week: One at Nine Elms and the other at Battersea Power Station

Buyers looking at the Nine Elms development will need a typical budget of £1.5m, according to property website Zoopla

Buyers looking at the Nine Elms development will need a typical budget of £1.5m, according to property website Zoopla

Billions of pounds of investment have been pumped into the area in recent years, including through the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station.

The decommissioned coal-fired power station is now luxury flats and penthouses – while there has also been the building of a new US Embassy in Nine Elms.

Despite the recent falls in average house prices near the stations, property experts suggest that values will rise, at least in the surrounding areas.

Billions of pounds of investment have been pumped into the Nine Elms area in recent years, including through the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station

Billions of pounds of investment have been pumped into the Nine Elms area in recent years, including through the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station

Buying agent Henry Pryor said: ‘While some might expect the new stations to be full of people fleeing the Nightmare on Nine Elms Street, these new infrastructure nodes are really going to give the area a genuine lift.

‘Lower Chelsea and the area around Battersea Park may well see prices bumped up by as much as 10 per cent, even if many buyers in SW11 thought that they were high enough.’

We take a look at three properties for sale at Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms 

1. Two-bed flat, Battersea Power Station, £1.15m

This luxury flat is close to the Battersea Power Station Underground station, which opened this week in London

This luxury flat is close to the Battersea Power Station Underground station, which opened this week in London

The modern property is on the market for £1.15million and is being sold via estate agents Martin & Co

The modern property is on the market for £1.15million and is being sold via estate agents Martin & Co

Inside, there is an open-plan living area with a fully-fitted kitchen, while outside there is a covered and tiled private balcony

Inside, there is an open-plan living area with a fully-fitted kitchen, while outside there is a covered and tiled private balcony

There are two bedrooms, including the main one boasting an en-suite shower room and room for a baby's cot

There are two bedrooms, including the main one boasting an en-suite shower room and room for a baby’s cot

There is also a smaller balcony at the rear of the flat that overlooks the railway tracks that carries commuters in and out of central London

There is also a smaller balcony at the rear of the flat that overlooks the railway tracks that carries commuters in and out of central London

This luxury two-bedroom flat is in the redeveloped Battersea Power Station and has an asking price of £1.15m.

It has an open-plan living area with a fully-fitted kitchen and a large private balcony.

Residents have access to a library, private cinema, communal gardens, a gym, swimming pool and a concierge service. The flat is being sold via estate agents Martin & Co.

2. Six-bed penthouse, Battersea Power Station, £16m

The modern interiors include designer crittall-style doors and walls, which are made from many panes of glass

The modern interiors include designer crittall-style doors and walls, which are made from many panes of glass

The property has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms - including this one with a cooper bath -, a roof terrace and two parking spaces

The property has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms – including this one with a cooper bath -, a roof terrace and two parking spaces

The penthouse boasts far-reaching views from the private balcony across the River Thames and towards the city

The penthouse boasts far-reaching views from the private balcony across the River Thames and towards the city

The London penthouse has a hefty price tag and is being sold via estate agents Copperstones for £16million

The London penthouse has a hefty price tag and is being sold via estate agents Copperstones for £16million

This luxury penthouse is on the eleventh and twelfth floors of Battersea Power Station, with views across the River Thames and the capital.

It has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a roof terrace and two parking spaces.

You’ll need deep pockets to buy it due to its £16million price tag. It is being sold by estate agents Copperstones.

3. Three-bedroom flat, Nine Elms, £3.95m

The three-bedroom flat is in the Ambassador Building in Nine Elms and has a light interior with walnut parquet flooring

The three-bedroom flat is in the Ambassador Building in Nine Elms and has a light interior with walnut parquet flooring

The luxury home has floor to ceiling windows and is being sold via estate agents Johns & Co with an asking price of £3.95m

The luxury home has floor to ceiling windows and is being sold via estate agents Johns & Co with an asking price of £3.95m 

The famous Sky Pool floats 10 storeys up between two skyscrapers at the Embassy Gardens development in London

The famous Sky Pool floats 10 storeys up between two skyscrapers at the Embassy Gardens development in London

This flat is in the Ambassador Building in Nine Elms at the Embassy Gardens development – home to the Sky Pool.

It is three bedrooms, walnut parquet flooring, marble work surfaces and floor to ceiling windows.

It has an asking price of £3.95m and is being sold via estate agents Johns & Co.

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What to expect in Budget 2022? Small tax cuts and modest welfare increases

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Public spending may have rocketed over the past 20 months due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic but it appears that tax cuts and welfare increases will be on the table nonetheless when the Government sets out its budget on October 12th.

As Tánaiste Leo Varadkar recently said, there will be tax measures aimed at “middle-income people in particular”, as well as a welfare package to offset the impact of the rising cost of living.

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