Although the majority of properties are purpose-built, for those who have a little imagination and time on their hands the UK is teeming with structures that were never intended to be lived in, yet would make great homes.
You will have seen that our previous blog examined how disused churches and chapels might be ideal candidates for renovation and conversion. But here, in the 2nd of our 3 pieces on unusual changes-of-use, we’re casting the net a little wider.
Disused water-towers have immense potential, and on reflection you’ll realise that there are some obvious attributes to recommend them. They are ordinarily built on higher ground than the residences and commercial properties that they were originally intended to serve. So they often afford views to die for and intending purchasers will recognise the kudos of becoming ‘the folks who live on the hill’. Like most utilities they often have more than their fair share of green space around them.
They’re also not rectilinear, which will be an attraction for anybody who is bored by straight-line-solutions. But perhaps most importantly, water-towers are ordinarily very sound structurally, and have only been made redundant because new technology and pumping stations have left them outmoded.
How strong are they? Well consider this: every cubic metre of water weighs a metric ton so the outer walls (and there won’t be much in the way of inner walls) are certainly robust enough to survive whatever the average family throws at them – no matter how destructive its teenagers might be. And, in all probability, this structural integrity could make undertaking work and raising a mortgage both relatively simple.
This already-converted Victorian water-tower in Hertford Heath illustrates exactly what can be achieved, and is an incitement to look for such a property as a finished project or to find a corresponding challenge. In the same way that a sphere holds the biggest volume for its surface area, this cylindrical water-tower is bigger inside than one would expect. It has three bedrooms and its beguiling space is linked by an American Oak spiral staircase that thrusts upwards through all three floors. It’s little wonder that the conversion won its developer a highly commended Hertford Civic Award.
Staying in the realm of water utilities, this former waterworks in Bolsover might look a little unassuming from the outside …… but those looks belie the opulent home within. Chronicled in the BBC’s ‘Grand Designs’ back in 2002, it features 4 bedrooms and comes replete with both a tower that has planning permission and 5 acres of land.
Lastly, you might even consider a reservoir. This 3rd property, a former South West Water facility near to the village of Culmstock in Devon, comprises a 2-storey 17m x 17m sunken concrete tank with full detailed planning consent. With a gross floor-space approaching 600 square metres this property’s potential would appeal to lateral thinkers who have the vision to think beyond the box – and the gumption to see such an undertaking through to fruition.