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, 25 March 2012

Week 2 and the roof is gone

Been away all week so it was good to get down and check out on progress today. All the slates have gone from the roof and inside everything is stripped down to the stone. These guys don't hang about
A lovely sunny day and the roof is gone
So have all the internal walls 

Upstairs looks equally as bare 

Windows gone
Sophie and mum checking out the daffodils in the garden

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Painting the steading

Last weekend we painted all the wood work in the steading in an attempt to preserve it from the elements. Looks pretty good, even if I say so myself. 

Here are some before and after shots to celebrate. They are not perfectly lined up but you get the idea.   

The part closest to the house. New roofs, new gable, new doors and the stonework cleaned up 

The north wing of the steading. Pictures not a perfect match but you get the idea 

East side of north wing. New roof, new doors and the cattle court on the left has been removed  
This pictures are actually perfectly lined up. The part that has the new roof and gable has no roof in the original and has a tree growing out of it. The cattle court and the entrance porch to it have been removed. 

Tearing stuff down

As soon as the builders took the boards of the windows the place looked 10 times better. Since then they have been busy removing all the plaster, ripping out the festering bathroom and kitchen and generally tearing the place down. Seeing the place laid bear makes you think about the people who built it. The internal walls are "lath and plaster" which involves thousands of strips of 2cm wide strips of wood, each nailed to batons which are then covered in plaster. It must have taken ages to put up. 
I would have liked to save some of the original features, such as the stair rails and the fireplaces but it was all gone before we got down there. We did manage to save an original mangle from the bothy in the attic which will save us having to buy a tumble drier. 

Some pics showing the progress

Downstairs, looking much better with some light. Some dodgy wallpaper left above the fireplace
Upstairs hall 
Upstairs bedroom, not sure why the chopped a hole in the floor so soon 

Outside the light patch on the wall is where an aluminium greenhouse/conservatory was 
And here is it now

Salvaged from a skip bound fate, not sure what we will do with it though

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Work has started!

Last Monday we picked a builder and he said they would start in a couple of weeks.
On Friday I headed down there to paint the woodwork on the steading and was rather surprised to find a bunch of work man already stripping the place out. They has started on Tuesday - well at least they are keen and perhaps that means they will finish two weeks early!

Official start date of the build is 13th March 2012.

By the time we got there they had already taken the boards off the windows, stripped all the plaster off the walls and pulled the bathroom out. Fortunately our friend Graham had taken some pictures of the inside last time he was visiting - so here they are. 

 Back entrance to the house - extension going here 
 Front view of the house 
 Kitchen - yes for real there was someone living here until just before we bought it 
 Main living room 
 Hall way and stairs 
 Bathroom - utterly horrible 
Other living room - the wall paper is slightly yellowed 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The concept

The image on the right is an aerial photo from Bing showing the place when we bought it (yes it really was a bunch of derelict buildings surrounded by scrap cars). The picture on the left is a sketch of what we are planning. We have already re-roofed the steading and removed the cattle court and the dutch barn. There is a dotted red outline showing the current house which will form the centre of the new dwelling. The new sections to the south and east will be glass to make the most of the views and warmth from the sun.  

Click the image for a bigger version. North is up and the sea is 400 m to the east.

Tender Awarded

Following long and fairly protracted discussions the Tender for the main house has now been awarded to Peterkin Homes. These are the same people who did the steading and we were very happy with what they did there.

The work will start within the next couple of weeks and the current estimate is that it will take 28 weeks (sounds like a Danny Boyle movie...) which means it should be finished by October.

The water pipes, a telephone cable and an electrical cable to the gate are now in. The weather at the weekend was stunning (17 degrees) and we spent Sunday having a picnic down there are dreaming of the day that this amazing place will be our home.

Now things are getting very exciting

More to follow soon....