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I need to start with an apology.

When Charlie asked me to write about wreck hunting for Tat London, I said absolutely! Because I already had in mind a clutch of the most perfect little do-ups I knew Tat readers would love. But I should have got my rear into gear that very day because, two weeks later, they’ve all sold.

So, I can’t tell you about the camping barn in Mallerstang’s wild moorland, or the 17th century stone cottage with its 1,000 year lease, or the beautifully down-at-heel country manor and four acres. Snooze you lose, and two weeks is a long time in renovation property land.

I should go back a step; we’re missing a bit of exposition.

Charlie got in touch because, like several million other people, she’d stumbled across the clunky little blog I’ve been writing for ten or so years. Wreck of the Week is my spare-time passion for sharing gorgeous wrecks that come onto the market.

She asked me to write about how I find those ‘wrecks’, and I’ll give you three tips and three properties by way of explanation.


Tip one - Encourage others to send you properties they find. Family, friends, colleagues rather than signing up to estate agent lists. My readers forward many of the properties I’ll use. Like this gorgeous Victorian cottage sitting in its own acre of Dorset borderland and sent to me by Sally.

Grasshopper Cottage is a detached brick and cob Victorian cottage with three bedrooms, a downstairs configuration that would be a whole lot better after the introduction of a sledgehammer, outbuildings and paddock - but no mains water.

On the decidedly upside, it’s up for auction (September 24th) with a guide price of just £275k (Symonds and Sampson) in a very, very pretty part of Dorset greenbelt.


Tip two - Pick a preferred location, then widen your search by ten miles. The mark-up for properties close to the coast or holiday hotspots puts second-homing out of the reach of most of us. I’m a big fan of using Google maps on satellite or terrain and wandering inland until I find hills, water, remote valleys - whatever appeals. Think less about your ideal location, more about your ideal type of location.

Property prices follow travel-time convenience, but you’ll get more for your euro in Ireland right now than in France, while the further North you’re willing to travel, the likelier it is that you’ll find your thatched cottage by the sea for under £200k.

And around 150k euro (c£128k) will get you a farmhouse to renovate with two acres, overlooking the Atlantic ocean, sitting between Hungry Hill and Sugarloaf mountain. Seriously.


Tip three - Repurpose. Former churches, ex-barges, a former engine house. Thinking outside the three-bedroom box opens up so many creative options.

Or a whole new lifestyle. How about a Grade II listed gift/antique shop in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with a four-bedroom, three-reception apartment to show off all your Tat treasures?

Rather more tired than wreck, though there will be a fair bit of work to do. But, at offers around £300k, Bank House has masses of potential – particularly if you’re able to overturn its dual commercial/residential planning class.

Celia Imrie would be right at home.


I can't thank Sue enough, when I received the copy I genuinely yelped with happiness!


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