23 August 2010

More big adventures

Given that my Wife-to-be and now my child-to-be, live in another country from me it seems logical that I would, at some point in the near future move across the water to Aberdeen. It was originally planned for the end of next year and we started looking for a suitable house (or project). It was going to take something pretty special to beat the lair, especially on the view front.

So the criteria were -
1. A good view, preferably of mountains or the sea
2. Within walking distance of a nice pub (I have really missed that in Norway)
3. Within commutable distance of Aberdeen
4. A house with some character, preferably old
5. Some land

It was the last bit that created the most trouble. I grew up on a farm and have long had an inkling to have a bit of land to just do.... stuff. Preferably about 6 to 10 acres to have some donkeys, chickens, grow some veg and maybe get some llamas. So we looked at a number of places but nothing quite fitted the bill, that was fine, there was no rush.

Then we saw a place just south of Stonehaven, derelict farm up as two lots, the house and the steading (stone out buildings) each with about 2 acres. The think that blew me away, just from the photos on the internet was the position. Right on top of a cliff with an amazing sea view. We immediately went to visit and when we got there we met another couple also checking out. They were pleasant and the guy made a joke about being future neighbours. I was smiling but inside thinking "no chance, if we go for this place it will be all or nothing".

A quick check told us it was going to be popular, 13 notes of interest after the first weekend. We know we would be up against all sorts of folk, not least the developers looking to turn the whole thing into 3 or 4 houses to sell on for a tidy profit.

The Scottish house buying system is by blind bids, which means on a given day you submit your bid in an envelope and the solicitor opens them all and the highest wins. There is nothing good you can say about this ghastly system, not least because it is highly susceptible to corruption. Even without that the amount of stress of either missing slightly or bidding way over is horrible. So after lots of thinking I contacted my friend Pat in the US who specializes in "game theory and decision analysis" and asked for his advice. Armed with his wise words of wisdom we concocted a strategy. We also spoke to a variety of architects and solicitors, who gave us mixed opinions and advice.

When the final day came around we placed our bid, which was a fair way above the asking price. The advice we got from various corners was that we were bidding too much but we had decided. In our minds it was not really a question of if we would get it or not, it was how much money would we "leave on the table" and did we really want it?

The bids went in at 12 on Friday and three hours later, whilst heading up to the top of Mount Ulriken in the cable car for Sandy and Helen's wedding reception I got a call to say that we had narrowly missed out and there were two bids above us. Bugger! We consoled ourselves that we had bid our maximum and that was that. But we were both very disappointed.

Two hours later, Katharine got a call that went to voice mail to say there had been a mix up and we were in fact the winners, although this could not be confirmed until Monday. We were blown away! Despite having to wait the weekend, this was a near perfect result. We had won the auction, we had left virtually no money of the table and the brief interlude of failure had confirmed that we really did want it and we were doing the right thing.

So now we are the proud owners of a derelict farm house and steading, with four acres, one mile to a great cliff top pub that does excellent food, 15 miles south of Aberdeen, with an amazing view and loads of potential.

Now all we have to do is plan and redesign the house, fix up the barns and buy some llamas and chickens. How hard can that be?


Bekka said...

John it looks STUNNING and I can see why you have both fallen for it. I am sure you and your new family will be very happy there :-D I look forward to seeing how it progresses. Bx

John said...

Thanks :-)
I am sure there will be plenty of posts of the trials and tribulations...

M.R. said...

Looks amazing. Enjoy turning it into your family home.

Ian McNeill said...

Looks fantastic

Good luck with everything :-o))

Christian said...

seems like there is a lot to do before it is inhabitable, but it looks like one of the nicest places to live I've ever seen

Gail Grinstead said...

Katherine just put me onto this site cos I asked about the house. I was a bit dissapointed when I got to the end as I was looking for the next chapter but of course it has yet to happen and be written so I'll look forward to "what Katie (and John) did next" when I think of what you two have going on it could save me a fortune in reading material for a hell of a long time XX

Malinda Arab said...

Congratulations! The pictures of the place tell me that the lot must look amazing. Stonehaven is really a great place to settle down as it has the old “country” feel and walking along its streets in Aberdeen makes you feel like you’ve went back into the medieval era. You’ve been able to snatch one of the best dreams anyone can have: owning a house overlooking a cliff. Good for you!
Malinda Arab