BuildStore - self build, renovation & home improvement

Mark Watson - Conversion in Somerset

Mark Watson has been restoring old buildings as a hobby for a number of years, and after selling his house in London to move to the country, it soon became much more than just a hobby. Now, home for Mark is on the top of the Mendips, in one of the original Mendip barns dating back to the 1800, which he has carefully converted and restored.

Mark spent a lot of time searching and visiting different sites, but at the time, there wasn't much on the market. He decided that Somerset in the South West would be the ideal spot, and whilst researching the area and looking for the perfect country home, Mark stumbled upon an old dairy, and thought it was a perfect opportunity to create the home he wanted, with plenty of land, and unspoilt views.

origional building and work commencing on it

Excited by the potential of the site, Mark did some sums, to see if the project was viable, and promptly contacted BuildStore Mortgage Services, to look at the finance options. At the same time, he commissioned a full structural survey, as the building was semi-derelict.

BuildStore advised and arranged its exclusive Accelerator mortgage for Mark, which allowed him to borrow enough funds to cover the cost of the site, and for all his building costs. The Accelerator mortgage allowed him to draw down the finds he needed in advance of each stage, so he always had the right amount of money, at the right time. Mark took responsibility for the finances for the project, and found that this positive cash-flow made things easy:

"Compared to finding the site, getting the finances sorted was relatively effortless. Once I spoke to BuildStore, and they identified a lender with a good product for me, it was smooth-sailing. Although I wasn't managing the project on-site, I was responsible for all the budgets, so it was very useful to know how much money I had available for each stage of the construction, and getting it at the start of the stage was great."

Internal shot of finished buildingMark still had a day job in London, so, his uncle managed the build on his behalf:

"My uncle managed the team onsite, with my daily input over the 'phone and on site whenever I could be there. This worked very well. It was John's first large project and it was a real learning curve for us all. But with everyone's input, the end result was fantastic."

Mark's work in London, and frequent international travel meant that he couldn't spend much time on site. During weekends and time off work however, he did visit the site, and helped the team whenever he could; he did a large amount of the painting, some plaster boarding, and landscaping. The team made good use of BuildStore's TradeCard too, getting trade prices and discounts on building materials and products.

The result of two years hard work is a beautifully restored barn, with a modern twist. Mark has given the barn a high quality finish, mixing modern fixtures, fittings and furnishings, with the original features restored to their former glory, including the stonework, and wooden rafters and beams.

external shot of finished buildThe project was not without its challenges, and some structural issues early on in the project meant that Mark went over his initial budget. He advises anyone else undertaking major project like this to set aside a healthy contingency fund, for those things that you just can't account for, no matter how much research you do.

Summoning up his experience, Mark says:

"I really enjoyed it. Yes, it was hard, stressful and emotional, but to sit back and look at what has been achieved makes me very proud. I will definitely do it again and again.

"BuildStore has been invaluable - both the Financial Services and The TradeCard team were very knowledgeable and gave me lots of advice, and they have been key to the whole success of the project."

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