The House that wasn’t a House.
This blog is partly a tribute to Samantha Collet’s excellent blog series What Sam Saw Today. A friend asked me to look at an auction lot in Larkhall, Bath, on with Strakers. It was advertised as being attached to the pub, but having planning consent for conversion to residential use. As you can see from the photos it appears to be a terraced house that has been incorporated into the pub and had the windows blocked up, possibly for use as a function room. My friend thought the guide price of £95K looked enticing as it was in an affluent area and might easily sell for over £200k after some fairly straightforward works to open up the windows, re-fit kitchen and bathroom etc.
When I looked inside all I could see was a single largish room that had been used as a store for beer barrels and pumping equipment. There was no staircase or means of getting upstairs. I asked the agent how I could view the top floor – “There’s no access”, he said. “No access?”, I replied, “So how can I take a look upstairs?” This is when the truth finally came out.
“There is no upstairs.” The front wall was just a façade, it had all the appearance of a house from the outside and had fooled both my friend and me, as well as others who had come to view, but it was just a flat-roofed single storey building. To get change of use to residential you’d have to build the next floor and roof from scratch. And that’s only if Building Control would accept use of the existing foundations, which they might not as they were almost certainly too shallow by contemporary standards. You might well be required to pull it down and start again, in which case you’d be better off with a vacant lot. So a wasted trip, I suspect not just for me but for many others. It would have been so much better if the auctioneer or agent had made it clear that there was no house, and would have saved a lot of people a lot of time. Cheers, Rich