Cal and Claire were a young couple thinking about the future. After talking it through, they decided to get into house flipping. As it turned out, that was easier said than done.
They thought they had purchased a two-bedroom flat in Scotland, but it turned out to be something way bigger with a whole lot of problems.
Cal And Claire Fell For One Another
Claire and Cal meet each other while working in the French Alps. It was ski season, and the two quickly fell for one another on the mountain. They even stayed through the spring, enjoying BBQs, parties, and various outings with their co-workers.
According to the young couple, “The Alps have a special place in our hearts.”
Thinking About The Future
The young couple knew they would have to move on from the Alps eventually. But when Claire was accepted into medical school and decided not to go, they had to develop a new plan.
They thought for a while about what their future was going to look like. Then, they came up with an idea. Cal and Claire were going to flip houses.
A Flat In Glasgow, Scotland
Cal and Claire did not really know what they were getting themselves into when they decided to go into house flipping. All they knew was they had to start somewhere. So, they began researching flats that were on the market.
Eventually, they found a flat in Glasgow, Scotland, which they thought would be perfect.
There Were Two Extra Properties That Were Not Listed
While the young couple was very excited to start bidding on the property, little did they know that there were two others that were not part of their initial search. When Cal began to bid online, he was actually bidding on one of the other locations.
They didn’t find this out until they won the bidding war.
The Unit Was In Jameswood Villa, In Sandbank, Dunoon
When explaining what happened, Claire said, “When he thought he was bidding on a two-bedroom flat in East Pollokshields, Glasgow, he was actually bidding on the second unit up for sale at Jameswood Villa, in Sandbank, Dunoon.”
Needless to say, the couple was not too happy when they realized what happened. But they decided to make the best of the situation.
The Villa Was In Need Of A Lot Of TLC
They decided to be house flippers, so Claire and Cal knew there was no going back. They had bid on the Jameswood Villa, in Sandbank, Dunoon, and they were going to do what they could to make it ready for sale.
The only thing was the Villa, located on Scotland’s Cowal peninsula, was in major need of TLC.
The Villa Used To Be Magnificent
Looking at old photos of the mansion, it used to be beautiful. With a lovely yard and a sturdy foundation, Cal and Claire didn’t think it would be too difficult to bring it back to life.
That is until they saw the Jameswood Villa in person… and saw just how much work they had ahead of them.
Two Stories, Four Apartments, And A Huge Backyard
Even before they ventured to the Villa, Cal and Claire began drafting up plans with the information they were provided about the property. As it turns out, it was massive!
The Villa was two stories, separated into three units. But the most amazing part had to be the backyard. They had a lot of land to work with!
A Shed, Patios, Vegetable Garden, Pizza Oven, And Fire Pit
There was so much space. The young couple decided they’d build a shed, a few patios, grow a vegetable garden, and even make a spare shelter with a pizza oven and fire pit.
The villa had very good bones, and they were eager to get started. Still, they hadn’t seen the villa in person.
Reading the listing of Jameswood, Cal and Claire noticed it mention the villa needed “upgrading throughout.” They would soon learn that was a massive understatement.
When they finally saw the villa in person, they didn’t even know where to begin. The entire property looked like a massive jungle. It was difficult to get to the front door!
Six Weeks Later
While the front yard was a mess, the backyard was something else altogether. Tree branches were everywhere, there was trash, and even after six weeks of working to clear the grounds, it looked as though Cal and Claire had made no progress.
They really had their work cut out for them.
Everything Was A Mess
Moving around the villa, Cal and Claire noticed aspects of the mansion that were in dire need of repair. According to the couple, they would need to work on “a partially collapsed front wall, bay window, and roof.”
And that was just the exterior! They were in for some more surprises once they went inside.
A Condemned Property
After looking around the 120-year-old mansion, it became clear why it was the same price as the two-bedroom flat Cal and Claire previously had their eyes set on. It was completely falling apart! It was no wonder why the city had condemned the property.
Even though they accidentally bought the villa, it was theirs. And they were determined to bring it back to its former glory.
The Interior Was Just As Bad
Walking through the front door, Cal and Claire saw a crumbling roof, entire walls on the floor, broken furniture, and even a crows nest nestled in the leaves, branches, and other garbage on the floor.
Amazingly, this was also just the first room of the villa. They hadn’t explored the rest quite yet.
They Already Signed The Contract
There was nothing left to do but get to work. They’d already signed the contract to the villa, so they really didn’t have a choice. They weren’t going to get their money back so they might as well start building.
First, it was all about getting rid of the moldy old furniture.
Multiple Trips To The Dump
According to Cal and Claire, “The apartments had been left fully furnished… with soggy, moldy couches and mattresses, broken furniture, and decades-old appliances.”
The first few days they were at the villa, it was spent getting all of the furniture together and transporting it to a nearby dump. There was nothing they could do until everything was gone.
There Were Holes Everywhere
After some more exploring, the young couple realized there were huge holes in various parts of both the floor and ceiling. It explained why all of the furniture had been so wet!
It became clear that they were not going to be able to stay in the villa while they were renovating.
A Broken Drainage System And More Water Damage
The water had done some serious damage. There was a nice amount of mold in almost every single one of the rooms. The holes weren’t the only source of the problem, though.
Cal and Claire noticed that the drainage system throughout the villa was broken, leaking water throughout the entire grounds.
People Thought They Were Crazy
Many people thought Cal and Claire were crazy for undertaking such a massive project. Even a civil engineer who came to inspect the villa thought they were better off demolishing the building and constructing something new.
It was out of the question. According to the couple, “[It] isn’t the quick flip we imagined our first building project to be together, but it is a challenge we are excited to undertake.”
Energy-Efficient And Sustainable (But With Modern Comforts!)
While there was a lot to do, Cal and Claire had a good idea of how they wanted to tackle their project. According to the couple, they wanted to build an environmentally friendly and sustainable property.
They said, “We wanted to keep, and reinstate the original beauty and character of our 120-year-old Victorian Villa, while also making this energy-hungry building more energy-efficient and equipped for modern living.”
A Huge Support System
It was a big plan and something that would take time to accomplish. Luckily for Cal and Claire, they had a huge support system of loved ones who were ready to help out where they could.
A good thing, too, because after all of the water-logged furniture was out of the picture, it was time to start repairing and renovating literally everything else!
A Balancing Act
After the furniture was disposed of, they got to work trucking out buckets of debris littered on the floor. Then came the balancing act of taking down timber from the floors and walls without disrupting the crumbling structure.
According to the couple, “We have to replace nearly all of the timbers in our home, but it’s not an easy task.”
Replacing Timber From The Ground Up
Continuing on about the timber balancing act, Cal and Claire said, “We can’t pull it out all at once, because it might disturb the already partially collapsed structure! Bit by bit, we’re planning on replacing timbers – from the ground up!”
It was all they could do to ensure the villa did not collapse around them.
The Floorboards Were Rotted
Needless to say, the entire renovation wasn’t exactly a safe project. Along with the timber, the floorboards were so rotted they were crumbling beneath Cal and Claire’s feet!
Even so, removing them was not an option. Once the first floor was set, they began digging a trench for ventilation and getting rid of the excess water in the villa.
Fixing The Plumbing Was No Small Task
The digging took place both inside and out, as Cal and Claire knew they had to repair the water lines so they wouldn’t have future issues. Sadly, the soil around the property was already soaked.
They didn’t have a choice, though; the plumbing had to be fixed. While it took some time, the young couple figured it out!
Next: Fixing The Electricity
Next on their list was tackling electricity. It was tricky, though. They had to find a live wire to connect everything to, or else it was going to cost them a whole lot of money. Thankfully, they found one.
According to the couple, “If we hadn’t have come across [it], we were going to have to pay for the road to be dug up, so they could connect our site to the mains.”
Cleaning The Sandstone Was A Learning Experience
The plumbing, electricity, and cleaning were just the beginning. Next, they were going to clean the exterior walls, which were made of red sandstone. Before they began using typical cleaning chemicals, though, they did a bit of research.
As it turned out, cleaning sandstone wasn’t as easy as they thought.
Sandstone Is Meticulous
Sandstone is a material that attracts moss and lichen, something Cal and Claire wanted to avoid. But cleaning sandstone turned out to be way more meticulous than they thought, especially considering they didn’t want to damage the 120-year-old structure.
With harsh cleaning chemicals out of the equation, Cal and Claire got to cleaning each and every panel with nothing more than a natural bristle brush.
The Bay Window Was A Huge Issue
One of the biggest structural issues the couple came across was one of the second-floor bay windows. It was holding on by a thread and could have come crashing down at any moment.
Cal and Claire held it in place with a yellow band while they worked tirelessly to fix it.
The Window Needed To Be Completely Repaired
Speaking about the bay window, Claire explained what the issue was and what they had to do in order to fix it.
She said, “We have a cracked lintel between the ground floor and top floor and two cracked mullions [upright stones] at the bottom left corner. They need to be replaced.”
The Back Of The Villa Was An Entirely Different Monster
Going around to the back of the house, it was clear a lot of structural work needed to be done. The stairs leading from inside to the backyard were disintegrating, the windows were falling apart, the roof needed to be redone, and the chimney needed new bricks laid down.
So, once again, they got to work!
The Chimney’s Bricks Were Repurposed
The chimney was clearly very old and the bricks needed to be replaced. With the help of their pulley system, Cal and Claire carefully removed the chimney brick by brick.
Their goal was to repurpose the bricks elsewhere on the property, such as the garden they wanted to eventually plant in the backyard.
Dismantling The Roof Took Some Time
Along with the chimney, the entire roof had to be replaced. The young couple got to work dismantling it and had to be very careful doing so.
According to Cal and Claire, it took several weeks and numerous calculations to ensure they didn’t injure themselves or have any of the roof fall back into the house.
The Interior Was Gutted
After they did serious work on the exterior structure of the villa, including putting new bricks in the windows to keep the structure supported, they ventured back inside.
It took a few weeks, but, eventually, Cal and Claire proudly declared that they had ” just gotten rid of the very last bits of lath and plaster in our house.”
Installing Sustainable Insulation
Once the interior was cleared, Cal and Claire got to work on installing wall frames. Their goal was to have sustainable and efficient insulation throughout the entire villa.
Speaking of the wall frames, the couple said, “One of the most important ways of doing this is by robustly insulating the building and leaving no gaps. So we are framing out the perimeter walls of the building and putting a sustainably sourced insulation in!”
Parts Of The Floor Needed To Be Replaced
Moving to the floor, Cal and Claire noticed that some of the antique beams supporting the floor were rotted. They would have to be replaced to ensure no one fell through the floor.
The young couple couldn’t believe all of the work needed to renovate the villa. But it was well worth it when everything started coming together.
End Game: Live In The Upstairs Apartment And Rent Out The Other Two
The couple was very happy with how their project was coming along, especially the upstairs. According to the couple, “The upstairs will be our apartment, and we welcome guests into the two downstairs apartments as holiday rentals.”
“This way we can recuperate some of the costs of restoring the building!”
Separating Rooms And Laying Down Dividers
Finally, it was time to start thinking about where they wanted to have each room. This was an especially exciting time for Claire. She said, “I can finally see this space in real life, instead of trying to imagine it or stand in the imaginary corner of the room to picture the space.”
“I can’t wait for us to entertain friends and family in this room, cook lovely meals in our kitchen, and have a cup of coffee.”
The Guest Rooms
Initially, Cal and Claire wanted to build a living space for guests with an office in the corner. After thinking it through, they decided it wasn’t the smartest plan. They wanted friends and family to stay with them, so two bedrooms were constructed instead.
They even decided to reconstruct the bay window, even though it was tricky and could have fallen down if done incorrectly.
A Happy Mistake
The cleaning, repairing, repurposing, and all of the renovations up until this point took Cal and Claire two years! And they still aren’t completely finished with the project.
Even so, according to the couple, they couldn’t be happier with the purchase. According to them, buying the Jameswood Villa was the “happiest mistake we’ve ever made!”