Abandoned cottages are often the stuff of folklore. But with the advancement of technology, one can easily use the cottage to create something wonderful. And this is what George Dunnett, a resident of Kinnesswood in Scotland did. The video editor had spent his entire childhood in this village, and he remembered walking past the abandoned cottage which lay just a street down from his parent’s place of residence.
Sure, Dunnett could have purchased any of the other houses in the village which were far nicer, but there is a rustic feeling that comes from a building that is about to break down. This cottage was weathered and old, with cracks completely filling the masonry walls. The 28-year-old, speaking to Insider, stated, “It was kind of dilapidated, so I always thought it was a bit of a shame that it was left to this condition.” Nevertheless, he could see the potential that this place had.
George decided that he would purchase the abandoned cottage and then transform it into a home- his first home. But, it wasn’t easy. The cottage was around 400 square feet and did not have any insulation. The building had been desolate for so long that it also didn’t have running water. Incidentally, a proper floor was also lacking in the cottage. The video editor purchased this property in October 2020 for a sum of 55,386 pounds.
Renovating An Abandoned Cottage Isn’t As Easy As It Sounds
Insider also checked out the proof of purchase in order to verify the price. Dunnett stated, “The floor was basically just ground and mud. There was no concrete floor. The windows were bad. The roof needed quite a lot of work. It was pretty much just a shell of a building.” Some foundational parts had to be reinforced for safety due to the age of the building. George further stated, “There was a lot of structural work that had to be done before I was at the stage of picking out my curtains.”
The abandoned cottage also had a pretty gritty layer of cobwebs and dust inside- simply because it had been left alone for over 50 years. The previous owners of the building simply used it as a storage space. Dunnett said, “There’s a family in the village that’s owned a lot of property that they’ve picked up here and there over the years. This was one of the properties that they owned.” The surrounding village folks told George that the building was built during the 1700s and was used as a bookstore of sorts to distribute and bind religious books.
Dunnett stated, “People have said that it used to be joined to a church which was taken down and that was just the garden of the next-door neighbor.” After clearing out the debris, Dunnett used external contractors to assess the condition of the house. The two stories, according to the contractors, had an open plan for the floor- with absolutely no internal walls that could be sectioned into rooms. George mentioned, “There was almost nothing in the house except for an old fireplace and a flimsy wooden staircase.”
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More And More Weaknesses Came To Light As He Continued The Work
The contractors informed the owner of the abandoned cottage that some parts of the wall needed reinforcement. They also claimed that the old fireplace had to be boarded to not be a fire hazard. Dunnett stated, “The wall on the side of the house where the chimney was turned out to be hollow and unstable. It would obviously be a nightmare if that collapsed while I was living in it.” The video editor decided to get his hands dirty. So he started working with the builders to make the most out of the tiny space. This would also allow him to create his home in the way he preferred. “The plan was to section off two rooms on the lower floor, which would become a bedroom and a bathroom.”
On the other hand, the kitchen, the combined living area, and the dining area would be located on the second floor. The builders also decided to add some necessary insulation to the walls. Dunnett stated, “With all the insulation put in, it was actually nice to come in here during the cold winter and have it be semi-warm.” The biggest downside to the insulation was that George wouldn’t be able to keep the brick walls inside the house exposed- like they previously were.
The abandoned cottage also needed quite extensive repair work for the roof. The contractors discovered that the roof had its own set of problems. It wasn’t sturdy enough, and also had problems with waterproofing. Dunnett mentions, “Because of this, I had to pay a fair few unexpected stacks for the scaffolding and the repair work that followed.”
George Needed Much More Help Than He Thought He Would
George also had to take the help of a stonemason to make sure that the stones lining the house’s exterior weren’t chipped. He said, “The stonemason had to come and repoint all of the cement filling around the stones to make them secure and waterproof.” Other changes which George introduced involved new windows on the front of the house. It also featured a new skylight on the roof. With the external repairs coming nicely along, the house was finally starting to take some shape. George claimed, “The windows brought in so much natural light into the building and made it look like a house rather than just an empty building on the street.”
With the completion of the electrical wiring, the builders were now about to install the drywall. Dunnett stated, “The cottage didn’t have a proper wiring system that would serve the needs of a modern home. With most of the installations completed, the joiner was able to put in the plasterboard to block off the rooms downstairs. This helped me to see how the space would work and made the interiors look much cleaner.”
The Abandoned Cottage Renovations Was An Exciting Project
Dunnett’s mom helped him in painting the walls of the abandoned cottage, after the installation of the hardwood oak floors. George mentioned, “I went with white paint throughout the house to keep it light and cheery but added a few accent walls in the bedroom and the bathroom using a blue-gray color.” The newly renovated cottage has a single bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor. The second level has a kitchen, a dining area, as well a living space.
The part of the renovations that George Dunnett was looking forward to the most was the installation of the staircase railings. As it turns out, there had been no barrier that could block off the open space on the second floor. Dunnett stated, “I hated going up the ladder to get upstairs and having this big hole in the floor that overlooked concrete. I had this fear of falling through the hole and landing on my head.”
George’s dad helped in setting up cobbles that created a nice walkway in front of the house. Incidentally, that was a genius idea- for the cottage is situated on the street known as The Cobbles. Dunnett said, “It used to be a fully cobbled street, although it was tarmacked over some time ago.”
Time And Money Well Spent On The Abandoned Cottage
The renovations, George claimed, took less than a year. This is quite impressive considering the state of the abandoned cottage before he bought it. The renovations for the house began in January 2021. The majority of the renovations were done by August, with the finishing touches completed in November.
After moving into the tiny house at the end of November 2021, Dunnett stated, “This is the first time I’ve ever moved out of my parent’s house.” Overall, the renovations cost a solid 102,458 pounds. This included the fees of the solicitors, as well as the administrative payments. Dunnett estimates that he must have spent about 157,844 pounds on this entire project. This included the cost of the abandoned cottage.
“Using the money I saved up over the years from my work as a video editor and my YouTube channels, I paid for the house and all of the work and furnishing myself, minus the loan amount.” Dunnett actually has a piece of advice for people who are looking towards renovating an old house. He believes that people should expect the renovations to last longer than what was promised. Furthermore, the price could be a lot more than what is initially thought of.
“I was quiet naive about just long how it would take. Initially, the builder told me it would be two months and it would cost 40,000 pounds to do it all. But with time, and as they get into the build, you’ll find that it’ll take at least twice as long and cost twice as much.”
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