By James W Drakeford – Managing Director
This topic is something that I know quite a lot about due to personal experience. I live in a converted barn in a small hamlet half a mile up a dirt farm track that has seen better days.
Due to the ‘remoteness’, when our barn was converted 15 or so years ago, the owner decided not to pay out for mains drainage… or mains water… or mains gas. In fact when we bought the barn, we didn’t even have independent electricity! We got a quote for all services to be piped up, but at between £30-40,000, we felt we could find a cheaper way. So, let’s talk about each one by one.
Water – We have a bit of land, so we went for a borehole that could be dug in our nearby field. We used an excellent company called Blair Drilling who were very professional and technical in their geology research (as well as reasonably priced, polite and understanding!). It cost just under £10k and the water has been perfect and is of course free forever without a chance of it drying up. The hamlet also has a spring water feed but it lasts for about a bathful a day between us so we don’t use that, many places do have spring water, I’d advise a regular check but if all is safe, take advantage!
Drainage – We decided to stick with the septic tank, it needs emptying once a year (for about £150) and as long as it all works properly, there is no issue and no nasty aromas. We do have an issue with it at the moment, but a weekend digging should fix that. It is far enough away from the house that even if there was an aroma, we wouldn’t be impacted. A neighbour of ours has had a septic tank for 30 years and never had it emptied, nor has she suffered any problems.
Electricity – Here we made a mistake, we got a quote from the electric provider but went with a cheaper quote from a local electrician who did everything we asked for but didn’t tell us it was an illegal connection! It cost us a few more thousand to fix and get a legal connection. We ended up paying pretty much what we had originally been quoted, so please, BE CAREFUL who you use!
Gas – we have stuck with LPG gas cylinders, probably the most expensive way of heating the barn, and as the barn is fully air conditioned (ie has lots of holes) does hurt the pocket. We are considering a large underground tank or maybe going the green route of ground source in the future. Oil does work out cheaper than LPG canisters, although not as cheap as LPG tanks, however as you will probably need to change radiators, boiler etc, it is a big decision.
There are of course other ways to heat your house, a multi-fuel stove is very popular during winter time, and as I understand it (not being a cook myself!) with an AGA you can put a joint in at 9am on the bottom tray and get it out at 6pm and it falls off the bone!
Telephone – Fairly easy to get set up, except that our wire now goes to our neighbours’ roof and then onto ours. This saved us having to install a second pole because the original is too far from the house and the wire would be too low for a double decker bus to pass under it (if anyone can actually GET a double decker bus up to our driveway, I’ll buy them an ice cream!)
All in all, moving to the countryside can be a bit of a shock for many people, however it isn’t all muck and wellies, these services do mean a bit more work sometimes but if everything is set up correctly, it will work as well as a townhouse with full mains services. Just make sure you choose the right fuel for your home and that you regularly service the septic tank etc.
If anyone would like some free advice on this, please don’t hesitate to call James at Homefinders Plus on 01457 511236.