Posted on 11th January 2016

Buying a Windmill, Castle or a Lighthouse?

Martin Williamson, Head of Residential Property

Television shows such as Grand Designs and The Restoration Man have led many of us to covet unusual buildings such as windmills, castles and chapels. But financing such a property can be more difficult than getting a mortgage for a conventional home.

Unique properties currently for sale in the region include a former Methodist chapel in Stanley, Crook, which is ripe for conversion, a former Sunday School in Barnard Castle and barns to convert in Sadberge, Stockton.

Meanwhile, a garage converted into a tiny £30,000 studio home within a commutable distance of London has highlighted not just hefty southern price tags, but the growing trend to convert buildings once used for other purposes into homes.

Office-to-home conversions in particular are on the increase following a relaxing of planning rules by the coalition government.

If you have your heart set on something unusual, talk to your solicitor and mortgage advisor as soon as possible so they can warn you of any potential problems and pitfalls which you may need to overcome.

While many of the big lenders may be unwilling to agree to providing finance for a home which is out of the ordinary, it could be worth looking at smaller, more flexible lenders.

Any potential lenders will look very carefully at the valuers report and any issues with re-saleability. If you are looking at a building which has already been converted, they will examine the quality of the conversion.

If you plan to convert the building yourself, you will not be able to get a mortgage in the same way as you would a conventional home.

If the property you want to buy is run down but still habitable, most lenders will be prepared to offer you a percentage of its value, but could withhold some funds, pending the completion of any essential repairs. You will have to fund these yourself through your savings or salary before the monies are released.

For properties which arent habitable, then youll find the range of lenders willing to help will be more limited. You will probably discover that, even though you arent starting from the foundations up, you will still have to look at special self-build mortgages.

Its easy to get carried away with the romance of giving a historic building a new lease of life, but make sure that you arent saddling yourself with large ongoing maintenance costs which would ruin your enjoyment of living there once your conversion is finished.

Pick the right location and the right building, however, and you could achieve what you set out to do: to create a home like no other.

Martin Williamson is Head of Residential Property at Latimer Hinks Solicitors in Darlington. Latimer Hinks has a team of around 40 people serving private and corporate clients. For further information: www.latimerhinks.co.uk or call 01325 341500.

Please note: This article is intended as guidance only and does not constitute advice, financial or otherwise.

For further information please contact Martin Williamson

Latimer Hinks solicitors, based in Darlington, has a team of around 50 people serving private and corporate clients. Their range of expertise and services covers legal issues surrounding commercial, residential and agricultural property, wills and lasting powers of attorney, trusts, probate, long-term care, tax planning, commercial law, alternative and renewable energy, employment, and land-owning.