Now all the gears are turning!
We reached a point where we could see the bottom of the DIY to-do list so we made appointments for estate agents to stop by and go through the ritual of giving a tour and chatting about their company, their pricing and our goals for purchase price of our house. At the end of all the visits we had a bit of an idea of who we wanted to work with. I have to admit it feels like a decision made on the smallest of factors. Property marketing has shifted to exist almost entirely online so aside from making sure they are hitting all the right websites we just have their pricing and the 15 minutes conversation to base a decision on which feels ludicrous when I consider that they are going to be responsible for selling the biggest thing we’ll ever own. We’ve ended up deciding on the company who has been most responsive and seems most engaged. Having worked sales from the opposite angle recently I’m well aware that this behavior may not last.
This activity also cued up some progress on the side of our purchase. We submitted our “development enquiry” to the Highland council, trying our best to indicate that we don’t want to change the cottage, just update everything and make it habitable again. I’m expecting it to take a while to get a response but the goal is to get a planning officer assigned so we can speak to a qualified human and make sure they are comfortable with us moving a caravan on site (and living in it for a bit!), the work that we plan to do and additional activity that will be triggered by that work. I’m predicting a steady stream of skip deliveries for the first few months.
I also found that Scottish Environmental Protection Agency requires septic tanks to be registered. Why is this important? Weeelllll, we’ll need somewhere to plumb a caravan sewage lines to and it would be really good to know where the septic tanks are so we can find out what shape they are in prior to purchase if possible. We’re pretty sure there are two somewhere under all the brambles and overgrowth; one for the cottage and one for a toilet/shower building that was erected when the land was used as a mini caravan site (joy…). If we can connect the caravan to the one for the toilet/shower block that would be fantastic, if not…well, let’s not think about the alternatives just now. Chances are the septic tanks weren’t registered but it’s most definitely worth asking.
We’ve started a conversation with a lender who specializes in mortgages for conversions, renovations and self builds. They focus on owners who want to reduce their impact on the environment which very much fits our ethos. They’ve sent us a packet of info, including a somewhat intimidating documentation checklist.
Lastly we’re talking to a solicitor to handle the conveyancing. It’s pretty straight forward for the sale of our current house but more complicated than usual on the purchase side. On that side we’re trying to buy a property that likely has a single title but we want to pay for part of it with a mortgage which means the title has to be split. There’s a bit of extra fun to be had dealing with crofting law as well. We’re currently waiting to hear back from the solicitor after forwarding all the documentation we’ve managed to collect which really isn’t much.
All the gears are turning and I’m pretty sure one of them will require a return visit to the cottage.