Abandoned stone house turned into cosy tiny home

Originally published at: Abandoned stone house turned into cosy tiny home | Boing Boing


Though he didn’t do much DIY himself, it’s remarkable how a professional but modest rehab of a building like this ends in a financial loss, even if profit wasn’t the aim.

For all that the shortfall may have been the result of the costs of obtaining permits and paying for utility hookups, in the end it is the sacred “free” market (blessed be it’s name) that doesn’t take those necessary costs into account when assigning a final value to the finished product.

I’m also sure that the market price for this place would magically increase by much more than 5k the minute some real estate speculator bought it off this renovator.


What a lovely little project!

Conversions of little buildings like this always make me think of my old boss and the house he made of a little mews building in Edinburgh:

…An absolute and total lack of comparison as far as budgets are concerned, of course, but that trick with the mirrors and rooflight still works brilliantly, and it’s pretty incredible that there was still genuinely space to store a car in the finished project!


Yep, even here in Minnesota there was resistance to even give homeless folks tiny homes in a warehouse. And not due to any questions regarding the safety of the homeless in such a setup but more of a complain that they would be in the neighborhood at all which bugs the hell out of me that this is an issue in the first place.


Said this before; tiny homes don’t work in extreme temps or climes. These are a dime a dozen up here in the High Desert. This was nice project, did it come with a Welsh to English interpretation app?


he bought an “abandoned” building? I don’t think you know what that word means…


My family over in Ireland has similar sort thing to deal with. Not sure it’s exactly a problem since it boils down to “owns house” in a place where that’s pretty difficult to do.

But anyway.

My grandfather was raised in a stone house a lot like this, the particular street was apparently built out with a run of identical houses in the 20’s (I think). If I’m remembering it right the run of houses was built as part of an early affordable housing project, to foster home ownership among Catholics.

And the thing is they were never really built to last. So shades of this:

Aside from assorted stone, roof and foundation problems. The entire block has a terminal damp problem. They’re all historic buildings, and so have various protections and rules around the exterior these days. But they are more expensive to fix then they would be worth fixed. Or at least were until recently.

Several of the houses have actually straight up collapsed the last few years, others have had to be torn down for safety’s sake. Which seems to have loosened the rules a bit, since if the historical building is not there anymore. Does it matter if it’s perfectly historical?

But the family house was largely fine, better than most. Until my aunt who still lived there passed about 10 years back. A couple years vacant let the damp take control though, and this hundred year old house just started to degrade.

A couple rounds of the cousins took a turn living there, three people gave up. Fortunately one of them is an architect who works with historic churches and buildings, and was able to get EU and Irish government grants to stabilize the building (including TWO new roofs!). So it survived when other buildings didn’t, sort of same problem for the whole street. The last generation of residents died off, and with no one in the buildings they just started to molder.

Currently there is a cousin living there (think my grandfather finally passed off ownership to her too). She’s pretty dedicated to saving the house and living there. But they are doing a lot of DIY, and after another couple years vacant they were basically starting over. With all that DIY, and some newer grants they make enough to actually do a full renovation.

There’s definitely red tape costs. Like for a long time there no one was allowed to take the ivy off the building. Even though the ivy was basically eating the mortar keeping the house together. And they have to have particular kind of costly roof. But a lot of it is just inherent to the kind of building and it’s age.

From what I gather there are more people willing to do this, and more of a push to keep these houses standing given Ireland’s housing shortage. But the usual thing is to build expensive look a likes after they collapse, and a lot of these houses are straight up abandoned. Like you can’t figure out who to buy them from, even if you want to.

It could also be in choosing to go with hand made oak stairs, floors, and a local blacksmith to make your railings and hardware.

I can’t neccisarily speak to Wales. But I know in Ireland anything made of hardwood is phenomenally expensive.


Any kind of historic home restoration is a money sink. And people wonder why in the US most people tear down. Aesthetically and historically a loss perhaps, but it saves money.


He didn’t have a house and now he has a house. How is that a financial loss?


In my (admittedly limited) experience buying and selling houses for my own use (I’m not a flipper), I think this is the norm. The idea that you can renovate a house for $100k and add $125k to its value in the process is a myth created by cable TV house flipping shows. There’s a reason those shows only exist in bullish housing markets. The $25k gain in value was achieved by simply waiting six months, not by adding faux beams to the living room and subway tile backsplashes. The price of any house is 99.9% driven by the local market, and 0.1% by what the actual house looks like. Renovate for your own enjoyment, but don’t treat it as an investment that is adding value to the house, because it won’t. I’ve seen houses that haven’t been touched since 1972 go for ten times what the owner paid for them. Should they have put 150k into renovating it? Or course not.


Considering he spent about £5K resolving who knows how many decades of neglect, I’d say he came out way ahead.

Sometimes people forget that a home is a money pit to maintain, not just buy. When I think of all I spent to maintain the deck, replace the roof, replace the windows, replace the trim, replace toilets, faucets, repair the fences, and how much I’ll be spending to replace the carpet, repaint the rooms, replace the heat pump (5 years past it’s useful life), and replace/update the insulation….

Yeah, if I could just upgrade the whole thing at a $10K loss over the current market value, I’d be a happy camper!


Per my cousin’s house.

You aren’t allowed to tear them down. Which has created suspicions that owners are just keeping them vacant till they collapse. At which point you can build new.

While their neighborhood was one of the first (I think) three of those developments there’s apparently a ton of them all over Ireland from that period, with not a lot left standing. But it’s a thing. Apparently down to complications with doing anything with the buildings they were pretty cheap for a while. Supposedly banks are sitting on a bunch of them.

There might be something similar going on here. Given the age of the building, the presence of a museum, and Wales.

Having worked for cable reality TV, though not directly on the housey ones. It’s usually way more of a fib than that.

The gains often enough come from the TV show providing part of the renovation budget, and free shit for product placement. The houses are almost always already sold, may actually have already been renovated, by the time shooting starts. Or they may just be acting as contractor for an owner, with no buying or selling going on.

It’s the entire flipping part that’s the fiction.

ETA: oh and all of the numbers are fudged. The purchase price and reno costs you’re told are much lower than the real costs. And the sale price is always higher than it actually sold for. The time it took them to “sell” is a fraction of the actual time. Provided there was ever an actual sale involved.


I mean this guy bought this house to do this with so obviously it’s what he wanted. Different countries different buyers different zoning laws and some people view restoration as a hobby or social good etc. I do agree Veronica made a great post and did a really good job of explaining why house flipping is a racket. Short and to the point too!


What bugs me is that well-maintained, older houses get treated like fixers (even in a bullish market) because of changing trends. I LOLed when reading stories about families who found open plan living didn’t really work well with small children (or cooking without a good exhaust fan). Some items - like baby gates - require walls. That’s not a cheap trend to undo.

In this area, staging and updating the decor can mean the difference between selling or getting very few offers from folks who want to pay $50-$75K below the sales price because they want to remodel. After a few months of dealing with that, I put about $25K into painting every room a shade called “Millennial Grey” and updating a kitchen, bathroom, and basement to match that theme. I wound up with a bidding war, which more than covered my costs. :woman_shrugging:t4:


If only others would take notes!

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Judging from the amount of houses in the northeast (my current market) that have the exact same slapped-on grey backsplash and large bathroom tile, there are some active flippers out there who think or know there’s money in this. Those “imporoved” have sale histories that show that they were bought a year ago at 100k lower than current asking. Anything that needs a little work, and thus is more reasonably priced get scooped up for cash within days of going on the market. Wo has all this cash? Contractor Llcs with investors, I’m guessing…

As you say this may only be such a rampant business practice in bullish markets and the northeast is incredibly bullish right now.

This trend frustrates me to no end, as a person willing to buy something that needs some love. The repairs are always superficial and slapdash, and rob the new owner of the opportunity to buy something more affordable, and to put their own touch on a new house.


Coming in at 5k over the current market value in order to get a home designed exactly to your specifications sounds like a win to me!


Personally, I love the makeover and think this would make the perfect home for an aging bachelor like me. All it lacks is a weatherproof bicycle shed.


My agent blamed HGTV and DIY Network. They’ve got a formula, and people are eating that stuff up with a spoon. Some folks who love those programs believe anything that doesn’t fit the formula is just wrong. Of course the companies producing them show incredible results within unrealistic time frames and few details about the true costs involved (like labor, or pandemic pricing/delays). All brought to viewers by cabinet, bath, flooring, furniture, home improvement, and home decor companies.


A Welsh weather proof shed, at that