Derelict house restoration - advice?

WGH_AshFebruary 26, 2014

You will all think that I am completely insane, and you may be right!
I'm an eighteen year old girl, living in Ireland, in my final year of education, and I've completely fallen in love with a totally derelict, rundown old house in my area. (Pic attached.)
The piping is stripped, walls have been kicked in, windows and doors ripped off. Structurally however, the house could be in worse condition.
I obviously wouldn't be moving in for several years as I am so young, but I've started digging for information as it could be my forever home in years to come.
I believe that the house is unlisted, so I will not have to protect any original features (although this would obviously be a priority for me.... Any remaining, that is.) the house is named Clonavell House, by the way. How beautiful :)
I was wondering if it would be cheaper for me to buy this house & accompanying land (with access to the sea and amazing views) and restore it to its former glory, or buy an empty plot and build a new house from scratch. Would there be a difference? I know that restoration is costly, but surely the fact that there is already a structure to work off would make a difference.
How much, roughly, would I have to put away for restoration of the house? Please feel free to reply with dollar prices. I'm sure the land and house itself could be bought for fairly cheap.
Again, as I am so young, I wouldn't be purchasing for quite a few years, but I'm very interested in finding out more about this.

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Here's a view from the side, showing how rundown the house in.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:37AM
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I am sorry I can't answer your questions, but I can see why you fell in love. That house is beautiful. Are the exterior walls masonry? If so, what kind?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 12:16PM
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Find a sugar daddy?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 12:42PM
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It's beautiful! I love it too...and with views of the sea?

What worries me, is why has no one purchased this? At least here in the states, oceanview land is expensive!!! That house would have been scooped up by now and either torn down for a new build or remodeled like you want to do.

So...several possible reasons: 1. The real estate is sluggish in your area and this property is priced too high.
2. It's still owned by someone that doesn't want to sell for whatever reason. 3. To bring this house up to your local codes would cost a LOT....and/or structural issues.

If none of those are the case, then I would guess you would need anywhere from $50K to $100K US to fix it up. That's $28,688 - $57,377 Irish Pounds

I like the idea of a sugar daddy that is also very handy! Or a general contractor would be even better. A plumber or electrician would come in handy as well. :-)

Find out if it's for sale, then find a general contractor kind of man to go through it with you....or a housing inspector. Find out your local codes and what would have to be done. At the same time, take a plumber and electrician through with you. Take them all and get their advice and ballpark figures on costs. Then make a decision.

Also, find out what property taxes will need to be paid on this every year? You say you might not live in it for years, but there are still costs! Taxes, insurance and general maintenance.

Also, talk to your parents about it. I bought my first house at 21 yrs old and it can be a great investment...but it can also wreck havoc on finances too! Just be sure you do your research and not buy it for emotional attachment reasons.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Here's the critical part ... Has the ROOF protected the roof joists and the masonry walls and the floor joists from the incessant Irish moisture. Sneak in and take some pictures inside, and get into the attic too.

You can fix almost anything if the roof hasn't been compromised so that the shell is solid. If you have a compromised shell it gets into not even "sugar daddy" won't have enough money ... replacing rotting joists, jacking up walls and replacing foundations ... mega bucks.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 2:44PM
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@mxyplx, Sugar daddy.. Tempting option!!
@Kompy, thank you very much for your advice. I've included pics detailing proximity to the sea. The house has been derelict for years, and it's unclear as to who owns it or when it was even built. The area is on a flood plain, which is another factor. However, I think this house usually escapes flooding. Ireland have used the Euro since 2001, which changes costs somewhat. I will have no issues sourcing plumbers, electricians etc. I am also concerned about the dangers of letting my heart lead me, so I think I'll wait this one out. The issue of land is still quite archaic in Ireland, with houses and property still passed down through generations, often becoming abandoned or simply 'lost' along the way.
@lazygarden, the roof and walls seem to be the only parts holding up well. I'll be taking a trip down this weekend to see it. I'll examine it closely and take more pictures. Sneaking in won't be hard, as it's a hotspot for antisocial activity and general hooliganism.. Which I think adds to the reasons for it being derelict for so long, as the owners aren't willing to take on the project (if they're even aware of it!)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 3:13PM
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Holy cow! That would be an amazing place to live and raise a family. You weren't kidding when you said it was close to the sea and amazing views!

I'm sure you've probably already seen these pics online....but I'm attaching them below. They show some interior pics as well.

Another thought is to contact the local authorities. In our area, derelict houses that have been abandoned are sold by the city for $ just have to promise to fix them up and live in them.

Good luck and let us know what happens. This is very real estate works overseas etc.

By the way, for 18, you sound like a VERY intelligent and well educated young woman! And I'm impressed with your ambition to own a home at such a young age!


Here is a link that might be useful: Clonavell House

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 3:34PM
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@Kompy, you can see why I've fallen in love with it! The views truly have to be seen to be believed. I've loved the house since I was a young girl, my parents even refer to it as 'Aisling's House', and I feel an attachment and attraction to it that I just can't explain.

Funny story.. Those pics are the only evidence I've found of the house, at all. Nobody in the area knew the name of the house or anything about it. It appears on no maps, not even Google Maps. There's no mention of it EVER. I've contacted the photographer of those pics and the local historical society and am currently awaiting response.

$1? Wow. That would be a dream come true for me. A house for the price of a can of soda!
Thank you so much! I suppose I've just truly fallen in love with the house, and love makes us do silly things ;) I'm eager to make something of my life, and I feel that this house could be a huge part of it. The financial side is obviously terrifying to me, especially for a girl who lives with her parents and has nothing but a car to my name.

I will keep you posted on my adventure with this house! I'll be visiting with my boyfriend on Friday. (Whether he likes it or not is his business, this is MY HOUSE!)


    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 4:26PM
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lol Aisling! Re: Boyfriend comment!!! I love your spunky attitude! Keep it and never let your beautiful spirit be crushed by your dreams. What so wrong about dreaming. I remember my husband (now ex) always saying....why are you even thinking about this or that....we probably can't afford to do that for at least 5 years. I would say, "It's fun to dream and imagine! Let me have my fun!" He finally gave up after years of being "logical" LOL. You are a kindred spirit! My family ancestors owned a castle in Ireland at one time. I'm attaching a photo for you to see.

Longfield House (Cashel, Tipperary, Ireland) was built in 1790 by my ancestors. Colonel Richard Hutchinson Long (1740-1814) and I believe his wife's name was Charity. The picture I've posted was taken around 1900.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 4:59PM
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Thank you so much, Kompy! I'm a true dreamer (that's what brought me to this forum in the first place) and I'm just gonna keep on dreaming! Who knows, my dreams might come true.. I might just be warming my toes by the fire in my beautiful seaside home in years to come ;)

Oh, wow. That's quite a castle, alright. Look at all those chimneys. Tipperary is an area I know quite well- it's not too far from where I live. It's beautiful, and so huge. As they say, Charity begins at home!!

Actually, before I forget, do you happen to know what type of house "my" house is? I thought perhaps a foursquare, due to the shape and the fact that there's a porch, but I don't think it's that simple to pin. The wood detailing around the roof and sash windows whisper of other possibilities.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:21PM
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My guess would be "gothic revival". Google Image it! Most of them have that same gabled peak in the middle of the house.

I would so love to visit Ireland someday. I'm also Hungarian and Norwegian. I visited family in Hungary in the 90's...and I would love to visit Norway as well.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:34PM
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With a mix of "cottage style" as well.

Check out the link below on US President Lincoln's "cottage house" with gothic revival influence. Similar to your house. Cottage refers to style more than size. Your house has a finial on the roof and they mention this for that style.

Is your house sided? or stucco? or a mix? It's hard to tell in the photos.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lincolns Cottage House

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:42PM
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Ok, I"m posting too much. Sorry! LOL.

Here are some links to check out. I google imaged "cottage gothic revival" and here are some homes similar to yours!

You may have to copy/paste.

See the roof peak finials?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 5:55PM
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You are so helpful! Thank you so much! It's definitely got gothic revival features, and in my mind I considered it a 'seaside cottage' but was thrown off by the larger size of it.

I have absolutely no idea what the masonry work is like, I've never had a close enough examination yet! I think it's sided. I'll know for sure once I get a good look at it.

Ireland is well worth a visit, we have a very unique culture and landscape! Norway and Hungary? Wow. That's so interesting. Norway seems beautiful.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 6:02PM
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NHBabs z4b-5a NH

What a gorgeous house, and an amazing location.

We moved into a house with no heating, no insulation, unsafe electrical, unsafe chimneys, no septic, missing window glass, rotting posts as the foundation under the ell, and one part of the roof of the ell that let water in plus all sorts of cosmetic and less major work. Most folks were asked why we didn't start new since it looked to be in such tough shape, but the bones were in good shape. We moved in at the middle of May and so had 4 months to get it closed in enough for the first winter. That first summer we both worked 12 to 14 hour days but we were warm and dry by winter. It took us about 6 years of work to get all the major work finished, but DH had 20+ years experience as a carpenter, builder, and general contractor for residential buildings. He took off several months from other jobs (including 3 months of the first summer) over the years we were working on the house, so it was good that I was working full time to bring in income.

So, if the house is available, it is possible to live in fairly primitive conditions in a building that you are renovating, and with money, skills, and patience for constant dust and mess you can end up with a nice home. However, we don't have kids, and we are both tolerant of a mess. I wouldn't say it is something that most folks would enjoy, however, and I don't think I would do it again at my age of 50+. I definitely wouldn't do it without someone skilled in the building trades as part of the deal. I also would be sure to have someone with experience with old buildings do an inspection. We were able to save our house, but the barn that was also here wasn't salvageable. Without DH's expertise, we wouldn't have been able to make sound decisions about whether we could manage such a large renovation project.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 7:19PM
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@nhbabs, my father is actually skilled in building trades and has several reliable contacts, however I am reluctant to approach him about it as I am so young! He'd think I was insane and refuse to support me in it. The shell of the house is in good condition, but the interior has fallen victim to vandalism and the likes. I do think it could be salvaged, and quite easily. The house has no heating and I'm sure the insulation isn't even worth taking into account, the interior walls have holes kicked in, piping, wiring etc has been gutted for scrap metal and the likes, but I do think that it is structurally sound.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 2:48AM
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You're 'too young' until you can show your dad that you've worked out how to finance this venture, indicated a time frame and the order of work, and know the steps you'll take to make the purchase - or walk away.

If you can't actually purchase, can you long-term lease on favourable terms? Perhaps thirty years with the right of renewal and first right to buy if the owner wishes to sell. If the Citizens Advice Bureau in your area has a free legal adviser - you could find out quite cheaply or free.

This site might be useful:

The the text it says: "When you don’t know the relevant folio number or the name of the registered owner

In this case you can obtain the relevant folio number by applying for a map search (you must be able to identify and outline the property on a map). You should send the map with the plot outlined to the relevant office with your request or you can attend the public counter at the relevant office. (See 'Where to apply' below).

A fee of € 2.50 is payable in for a names index search or €6 for a mapping search. Once you have obtained the relevant folio number in this way you can apply for a certified copy using the application forms (see forms in When you know the folio number above ).

If the property is not registered in the Land Registry it may have been dealt with by the Registry of Deeds (see below)."

You've said your place is a bit of a target for the local larrikins, or worse, and I can see why. It might be safer to live on site in a caravan with company, and install a lock up shed or garage for tools, materials and a suitable dog.

And check out the cell phone coverage. For safety, you understand.

Flood plain. And spring tides, plus freak weather events like the massive flooding in England these past few weeks. What does the state of the garden beyond the sea wall tell you? Is there driftwood, or salt damage? If you had to, could you form a protective stop bank around the property and safely leave at need? Is there somewhere to tether the kayak?

What work can you do on the property? What has your dad taught you?

What would you forego to own and restore this property? Do you think it's a fair price in terms of time, money use, lost or gained social opportunities? Would you be able to further develop the skills and experience you'll inevitably acquire - and make them pay off? (As a property assessor, restoration specialist, tradesperson and expert, or something that will be obvious to you, though not me). Is this the direction you have in mind for now, as you get ready to either leave school or progress to higher education? Can you access relevant training easily and cheaply - even distance learning?

Does the property have potential as an enterprise in its own right? A bed and breakfast? Training site? Work base? Living museum for heritage plants or traditional crafts? If it has - are there agencies who would help with grants or funds so you can achieve one or more of those ends?

Not impossible. Not too young. Keep digging and developing. If not 'Aisling's house' - then, maybe, 'Aisling's even better house'. Go well.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 3:50AM
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Everyone has given you great advice, so all I'll say is that I find the house utterly charming on the outside. And the property is like a fairy tale. Then I saw the interior photos and it made me so sad. Yes, you could make it liveable again but it will take some $$$ and quite a few years. I know what it is to fall in love with a house. Good luck and keep us posted if you can. Hopefully most of us will still be here in 20yrs. :)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 11:08AM
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@vetivert8, thank you so much for your helpful advice. You have really put things in perspective for me. I don't currently have any source of income as I'm still in full-time education, and I will be moving on to college in September. I plan on getting a job in June and, due to the nature of my course, I will be able to find employment right after college, and it will be possible for me to work at home which adds to the appeal of the house for me. Financially it's a very daunting prospect, but I firmly believe it can be done. Your suggestion re living onsite is one I hadn't considered, and I think that would definitely be the best course of action to take.
The area in which the house is situated has experienced some flooding, but I think the house itself has escaped. I'll check the property and see if there's any evidence of water coming past the sea wall. There are places to tether kayaks and the house is situated right next to a train station (which reduces the price of the property!!) and a busy road. Escape from flooding, should it occur, would not be an issue.

@schoolhouse, it is indeed beautiful! The inside definitely needs a lot of work, but the issues are largely cosmetic. I'm hoping it will take a lot less than 20 years!!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 11:54AM
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I went to that photographers flikr account and set pic to full screen. It is a stucco home. Click on link to see it bigger and with higher clarity. If you're on a phone...sorry :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Clonavel house full screen

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 12:03PM
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Breakthrough! Clonavell House (also known as Clunavene) was built in the 1880s by a wealthy family known as 'Stuart French' for their Estate manager. The last family to live in the house were the 'Quillty' family.. Now to track them down.

@Kompy, I'm relieved to hear it's stucco! I hadn't had a close enough look at the house to make sure.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 12:30PM
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For more on abandoned properties in Ireland, check out this website....and he publishes photographic books.

Very interesting....wish I could go to one of his lectures!

Here is a link that might be useful: Abandoned Ireland by Tarquin Blake

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 12:56PM
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I don't know how it wors in Ireland, but in the US you would check at the county Registry of Deeds to see who owns it. If you want a "quick and dirty" method you could check with the town tax assessor to see who's been getting the tax bill. It's generally a matter of public record. Some towns even have this information online. Just remember to check local government sources and not just google.

If it is nearby I'd stop by after a major rain and wind storm in the Spring and see what it looks like...does it look flooded or leaky? How close to the house do the waves get? Which coast is it on? Is it a sheltered harbor? Its a bit close to the water for a spot that gets hurricanes.

Unfortunately, these things are very cyclical. If there is a local real estate boom someone will gobble it up for the view.

Here is a link that might be useful: Property Deeds in Ireland

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:04PM
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I'had been planning a trip to the Registry of Deeds as soon as I found out more information about the property, and having discovered more details re the house, I will check there ASAP. The town tax assessor is an intriguing idea! I have been able to get the name of the last owners, but I have no idea where they are now.
I'll be going down there the day after tomorrow and we've had exceptionally bad weather around these parts recently, so I should be able to check all weather-related issues.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:37PM
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Do a facebook search. I found two people with the last name Quilty that live in Ireland. One lives in Waterford? Is that near you? Maybe they are related and can give you some information. Message them privately.

My brother-in-law (adopted) found both of his birth parents by messaging people on Facebook with the same last name as his birth mother. By chance, he messaged her cousin and withing minutes he was on the phone talking to his birth mom. Neat story. They (his birth parents) were in high school when they got pregnant with him. Their parents forced the adoption on them. My brother-in-law tracked down both of his birth parents. The birth parents reconnected and got married.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 2:44PM
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I have just sent messages to the Quiltys in Ireland! Waterford is actually fairly close to where the house is, although its in a different county. I'm currently awaiting response.
Wow, that's a lovely story. My mother works in the adoption sector, tracing birth families.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 3:37PM
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Newest information. The house was part of a fertilizer factory, and was lived in by an engineer at the factory for two years in the Eighties. The house has been derelict ever since, and the factory shut in 2004. The house is now owned by NAMA- the National Assets Management Bureau. And thus ends my search.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 8:52AM
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Oh, the close-up photo of the house kompy linked to took my breath away. I want to save it as my desktop pic! WGH_Ash, you really are in love and congrats on the search. "The National Assests Management Bureau" - what is that dept? is this good news or bad?

I bought my house when I was 26yrs. At that time the bank manager was leery of giving a loan to a single young woman - imagine! I paid it off after 16yrs. so they had no reason to worry. Because I had a small income, making repairs and remodeling took me a very long time. I'm still remodeling after 36yrs. ha. Good luck to you and as I said, please keep us posted on your progress.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 9:38AM
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Appears to be in charge of derelict properties from foreclosures, etc. Worth asking them about the house. You can search their site

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 12:55PM
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NAMA, four letters that strike fear and repulsion into the hearts of Irish people!! NAMA are the bad guys of the recession here in Ireland, responsible for repossessing unpaid property, possessions etc. and the transferral and acquirement of loans. The house is interestingly not showing up on the NAMA site. I'll have to dig a little deeper.

@schoolhouse, thank you for your kind wishes! You have really inspired me and spurred me on to continue in my quest. Congratulations on paying off your house, I hope I will be as successful as pursuing my dream as you were.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 1:30PM
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I think it's a wonderful house! And it does look like a fairy tale :)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 7:03PM
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It is with a heavy heart that I walk away from this project. The house is just past the point of repair. I visited the house with my boyfriend and extensively photographed it. It's in far, far worse condition than i had anticipated. Love truly is blind! After long talks with SO, photographs and finances mulled over, and opinions sought, I've decided to let the property go. SO is more of a dreamer than I am and is fighting to save the house, but I just don't think we can do it in terms of finances. Maybe someday we'll build a house together that looks just like this one. Who knows?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 3:19PM
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I suggest we all immediately abandon jobs and family and relocate to Ireland to help WGH-Ash restore this home. First one there gets the bedroom with the best view :)

Are you familiar with Nicole Curtis and the Rehab Addict tv show? She has a website. Maybe you can interest her in an Ireland venture!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 4:09PM
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Last one here gets the little box bedroom downstairs! I've never heard of her, but I'll google it right away. I'm at a last resort here :)

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 10:32AM
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