Cowieswells is a derelict farm south of Stonehaven in NE Scotland. We were lucky enough to acquire the place in August 2010 when we were moving back to the UK from Norway and looking for something to match or even better our previous, fjord-side home. The farm house and steading (barns) command an impressive and exposed cliff top location with fantastic views across the North Sea. The buildings were constructed from sandstone in a traditional style and our goal in rebuilding it is to be sympathetic to the original design whilst creating a much larger house which is modern, efficient and maximizes the unique views.

Since we bought the place we have spent over a year working with architects, planners and generally doing stuff that doesn't make for interesting reading. This blog picks up the renovation process in late 2011 when work outside got started. Over the coming months it will be updated every week or so with pictures, movies and the odd bit of text. Like Grand Designs but without the suave sarcasm of Kevin McCloud.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Steading

When we bought the place it was originally up in two lots, the house with two acres of land and, the steading and bothy, also with two acres. Ordinarily the steading would have been bought by a developer and turned into 3 or maybe 4 houses. We were greedy and we wanted the whole lot, partially because we wanted space for animals etc and partially because we didn't want neighbours living on top of us. Living in town with neighbours is fine, but it seems just a bit weird to be out in the middle of nowhere with several other families living on top of you. So we bid on and where lucky enough to get the whole lot.

Our first job was to secure the steading which was in a pretty sorry state. The plan was to clean the junk out, remove the cattle court and recent structures, replace the roof including new trusses, repoint all the stonework and fit new windows and doors. The new roof  is corrugated iron, primarily because it was a lot cheaper than slate however the trusses are designed to support slates in the future and the slates that could be salvaged were.

The work was carried out over a  four month period from September to December 2011. I was lucky enough to be off work in that period and spent a fair bit of time down there. It was a bigger job than we had anticipated and once it was finished we are amazed at how much space there is. The guys did an excellent job and the place looks so much better already. Since its been finished I have already started filling it with shelving for storage. Workshop next.

There is a timelapse video here of the roof going on. Photos below show some before and after.


Roof hanging off the west wing 
South wing, note the asbestos roof and the state of the walls

Pig pen, complete with tree and the cattle court from the east 

Cattle court 

North wing of steading, nice brick arches but no roof.

After the clean out 
West wing 

Some serious work required on the wall heads 

Cattle court gone 

Those brick arches look somewhat precarious

Look out the bosses are on site 

Doorway in west wind looking more secure 

Rebuilt wall head at the end of the north wing

Rebuilding the gable on the north wing 

Starting to look like a proper set of buildings with the trusses on 

Inside the north wing

Looking good
Finished result

New roof in corrugated iron. Looks water tight to me

Looks a lot better now
The south wing with new gable and doors

Those brick arches look a lot better now

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Back Story

You can find the back story to Cowieswells at my other blog 

Buying the place 
First Impressions 
and an update once we started on the steading in December 2011


Cowieswells is a farm house and steading (traditional stone barn) in the village of Crawton near Stonehaven. The farm sits 500 m from the cliff top and commands impressive views eastward over the North Sea. The place had been seriously neglected by the former owner who had done nothing to it for 40 years. The roof was missing on the east and north sections of the steading and hanging off the west wing. The centre of the steading was an asbestos cattle barn. The entire place was literally and figuratively full of shit,

The house was boarded up and very run down inside. Plaster was hanging off the walls, it was damp and the electric was the old round pin plugs from the 1960's. The kitchen and bathroom were extremely squalid. This was a property in need of a lot of attention, which is exactly what we plan to do over the next two years.

This blog will track the project.

 View of house and steading from the road 
 Steading and cattle court from the sea 
Roof hanging off the north part of the steading