Buying a home to revamp as a holiday let is not for the faint-hearted - but Katy Banner says it led to the best summer of her life. Although the house is now so beautiful she’s finding it difficult to want to let it out to others. Read her story here.
I’d been watching Rightmove every day for months to find the perfect property.
Finally, I found a house in the Lake District. It was perfect. And of course it has a pub within walking distance so it’s even better than perfect.
It might have needed a little work. Or should I say, a lot of work.
It is only when you get the keys to an empty property do you really see how much work is required.
I had a budget of £15,00 to equip, decorate, and make it beautiful but the end result took an awful lot of man hours.
During the summer school holidays I camped on the floor with mattresses, along with my two boys, aged eight and ten, as the husband was working away.
I, of course, had help from a few tradespeople and effectively became their apprentice. I was working from 6am until 2am most days.
I would be up early to prepare everything and work with them during the day, play with the children at lunchtime and then be preparing for the next day into the early hours. I knew that if I didn’t get this done in the four weeks I had then I would be working on it every weekend for two years.
I made the mistake of being drawn to more luxury items despite my budget. But I quickly learned what you can do when you scour the charity shops, the internet, and just being smart when ordering furniture.
One of the tricks I learnt was that by ordering a standard sofa and then, changing the fabric, back cushions and legs you could make it into a luxury one.
I was bidding online for £74-a-roll wallpaper but by searching around I managed to get it for £35.
I found a couple of very good, trustworthy tradesmen who all came out to see the job first and gave me a good day rate, with an estimate of time. If you get quotes per room then they will go higher because of being unsure on the time.
If you’re there and work with them, like I did, then you get the best from them. Aim to do as much as possible – and of course plenty of coffee and biscuits help.
I can honestly say this was probably one of the best summers of my life. The children played in the garden and we had great swimming days with stunning runs and walks from the village. I worked hard and saw some amazing sunrises and moon and stars, due to having no curtains.
One evening I greeted the husband at the door with a bottle of champagne, after a team from a local carpet company ( Fell side Carpets Penrith) had fitted out the whole of the house, and helped make it feel like a home.
The problem is I am now worried about it being a holiday let and I think I have got too carried away on the detail.
I got double of everything, created store space for stock rotation for bedding and equipment and even kitted out the shed for a bike store. I was worried about the parking so built a car park area for 4 cars and then I worried about the wind so made a BBQ area.
I think the chandeliers may be a bit over the top – but I just got carried away on bidding on line.
I chose a letting agency by inviting a couple of them to the house to talk to me about pricing structure, tips to prepare the house and insurance.
They take between 18.5 and 20 per cent plus VAT, then there is house cleaning and laundry on top of this, which does seem steep, but then I get the marketing package from them.
Having the house photographed was finally a realisation moment. Yes, this was happening.
The support team for maintenance, preparing the house and assisting with all those little niggles is what you pay for. It’s a team effort at the end of the day.
I wrote a blog site for guests and got carried away making little videos for blog posts. Doing the photo shoot of the house was great fun, especially the tour in fast motion.
My thanks go to Mind furniture shop, TKMaxx for bedding and lights and Barker and Stonehouse for elegant furniture at a good price.
But without Ed the plasterer, Adrian the decorator and of course Fell Side Carpets Penrith for my carpets I would never have made it.
I hope I did a good job. Visit Cumbrian cottages and you tube to tell me what you think.
We have completely fallen in love with this house. We hope you do too.
We went live and within 4 hours got a booking for a few weeks later for the Easter weekend. The start of a new chapter.