Times have been tough for everyone in recent months, and we’ve been forced to come up with different means of keeping ourselves occupied.
Working on a major renovation project might sound a bit extreme, but Paul Crighton decided that it was exactly what he needed.
He has worked in construction for the past 35 years, and watched building sites fall silent as lockdown took hold.
Rather then sit idle, he got to work after his wife Julia, who is a veterinary surgeon, spotted Junction Cottage on an auction website.
The couple put in a successful bid, having fallen in love with the idyllic location at Muir of Fowlis near Alford.
It is difficult to believe that Junction Cottage was once an empty shell, after a previous project didn’t work out.
One man’s loss was Paul’s gain, however, and he has breathed new life into this gorgeous family home.
There have been obstacles along the way, from having to organise tradesmen with social distancing guidelines in place, to accessing materials.
Paul has no regrets, though, and has transformed the one-bedroom bungalow into a beautiful, modern family space complete with a charming garden.
“I’m a project manager, I build things for a living,” said Paul.
“Investing in property was a sideline until Covid came along, and then all the building sites closed.
“My wife noticed Junction Cottage on an auction website, and we thought to ourselves ‘This looks interesting’.
“It was a shell; it had been built as a one-bedroom bungalow but the previous owner hadn’t been able to complete the project.
“It was a new-build and wind and watertight, but nothing had been finished internally. We knew we wanted to make it brighter and bigger, so we essentially added three bedrooms.
“I knew it had so much potential, it’s in a gorgeous setting. It hasn’t exceeded my expectations, but that’s only because my standards are incredibly high.
“Junction Cottage has certainly met them, though.”
Although the name would suggest a rather twee abode, Junction Cottage is deceptive.
The kitchen/lounge is open plan, making it perfect for family life.
When restrictions finally allow for entertaining, you’ll be eager to host dinner parties or curl up in front of the cosy log burner.
The kitchen itself offers trendy integrated appliances, and patio doors provide access to the garden.
“Junction Cottage is a Tardis, it is much bigger than what you would think from the outside,” said Paul. “It surprises you because it’s so unexpected.
“It looks like a cute little cottage, then you go inside and think ‘Oh my goodness’.
“Lockdown helped in that I was unable to work, so I finally had plenty of time instead of doing bits and pieces in the evenings or weekends.
“It allowed me to continue doing a job I love.”
Paul has clearly thought carefully as to what makes a house a home in the midst of a pandemic, and noted that people have much higher expectations.
“The trends have changed because people are spending so much more time indoors,” said Paul.
“That’s why I included a home office in the design, because people have been having to make do with working from their living room or even their bedroom.”
You could also use the home office as a fifth bedroom if required.
Your commute could now be a short walk to the family room, which also comes with plenty of versatility.
Whether you want to use it as a further entertaining space, fourth bedroom, or playroom, the choice is yours.
Three great-sized bedrooms can be found upstairs, and the master bedroom boasts an en suite and excellent storage.
The main bathroom has been fitted with a three-piece suite.
Not content with creating gorgeous accommodation, sustainability was also on Paul’s mind.
Central heating is provided via an air source heat pump, and new owners will benefit from seven years of renewable heat initiative payments.
“It really helps lower the running costs, and I think people want their home to be more sustainable these days,” said Paul.
“I also focused on creating quality outdoors space, and again that was a very conscious decision.
“Some people have really struggled without a proper garden during lockdown; here you have all the space in the world.
“There are different levels in the garden, and of course you’re in the middle of the countryside.
“It is idyllic and I actually feel very emotional about saying goodbye.
“I’ve never experienced a project like it, because it’s not about the money.
“You invest your time and your emotion.
“The vision has paid off.”
Offers should be made of more than £345,000.
Contact Ledingham Chalmers on 01224 632500, or the owner on 07779 659280.