Don't Be Afraid of Falling in Love with a Building and Turning It into Your Home

Article excerpt

Byline: By Michael Davies

From a house made from straw bales in Cardiganshire to a futuristic barn conversion near Caerphilly, a new book takes a look at some of our hidden national treasures. But is restoring a property back to its original splendour for everyone? Author Michael Davies builds an argument on both sides of the property fence

IF we're honest, I think we would all love to visit some of Wales' most magnificent and interesting private houses, just to have a good nose around.

But when I did this as part of a TV series, and now a new book called Discovering Welsh Houses, I was able to look way back into the history of the building, who lived there, and discover the experiences of the present owners of these special homes.

Some owners buy their properties as a project, keen to restore the neglected building; some buy it because of its fascinating history and character, and for others it's simply love at first sight.

But they seem to have one thing in common, a sheer devotion to their new home, something that becomes a very big part of their life, like a member of the family; and they have all learned lessons along the way.

If you are about to buy a house or restoration project, you should first ask yourself how long you intend staying. If it is no more than five years then think carefully about the finances. What will it cost to buy and renovate? Will you get your money back when you sell?

But most of us buy that special place because we love it and want to be there forever. So, making financial decisions should be based upon what you can afford and if it is right for you.

Most people I spoke to on my travels around Wales had not only bought a house but had taken on a project. …