How your life can change unexpectedly.

It was in 2012 at a Christmas meal with my Uncle when he sprung it on us. “What would you say if I left the family house to you?” After a stunned second or two I said that would be a great privilege.

We didn’t really know what to say. Was he just sounding us out or was he genuinely saying he would leave the house to us? I have since discovered he made the decision twenty years ago but didn’t want to tell me in case I wanted to sell the house.

He was being serious.  At the time he was elderly but in reasonable health and quite active. We were able to imagine moving to an idyllic rural West Country life instead of moving to start a new life in the south of France which had been a wistful dream of ours!

Fast forward a couple of years and my Uncle passed away and I took over the house after a lot of legal procedures and time with lawyers (still going on 2 years after he died). A shock awaited me.

One of my brothers used to call the house “Uncle’s money pit”.

My other brother whilst walking around it said “This is what Kirsty and Phil (Location, Location, Location) would call a project. This will cost you £20,000. Or maybe £50,000 …. Or maybe £100,000 ….. or £200,000”.

“You can stop there” I retorted. We carried on looking round without any further reference to costs. So many thoughts were running through my head – what a lovely house

but wow what a lot of work to be done, how will we do it?

Naively we looked at the house and decided we could change this and change that, in fact completely refurbish the house. We were going to start straight away and get everything done within a year. Well it didn’t happen.

To summarise the house needed


Re -plumbing

A new boiler

Two new bathrooms

A new kitchen

We were not sure about the drains

The house was extremely damp

We had an infestation of mice and possibly the odd rat

The whole house needed redecorating

There were some suspect timbers

Some vegetation including a huge bay leaf tree was too close to the house

Half the house is unheated.

The garden had been left to nature for a few years- it’s a jungle out there.


And we had to learn about:

Inheritance Tax

Planning Permission

Listed Building Consent

Building Regulations

Natural England

Historic England

Dealing with local Councils

Dealing with Builders etc.