For some people, a semi-detached or terraced house is enough. For others, they won’t settle for anything less than a mansion. And then there’s the outliers, always on the lookout for unusual home ideas. Are you one of them? The suburban life not quite your speed? Here’s a few ideas for weird and wonderful homes that are a nice alternative to humdrum housing.
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Are you a sailor at heart? You can find houseboats moored along most waterways in the UK, including natural rivers and man-made canals. Houseboats are often a fair bit cheaper than a normal home. They offer scenic views and a different way of life.
Be warned, however, that a houseboat is still a serious undertaking. Houseboats run into a problem you’ll find with many unusual home ideas. Most mortgage lenders will not lend to you for a houseboat. You’ll instead have to go to a specialist lender who will likely charge you a lot more for their services than a more traditional lender. Still, if it’s a pirate’s life you’re after, it may all be worth it!
Windmills & Watermills
Windmills and watermills were, before the advent of steam power and electricity, one of the the main ways of getting energy from the environment to power machinery. They fell out of use in the 19th century, which means that many former windmills and watermills have been converted into accommodation. Some, though not all, even retain the sails and wheels.
Some windmill conversions allow you to climb to the very top of the windmill by stair or ladder. You can enjoy 360-degree views of the country all around.
Bear in mind, however, that mill conversions tend to be very expensive – some go for as much as £1m! If you’re a first-time buyer, it’s not very likely you’ll be able to buy a mill for your first home. Additionally, mills tend to be placed out of the way of settlements or by rivers. The ability to drive is very much compulsory.
With that said, if you are able to find a mill conversion that suits your budget, windmill are wonderfully unusual home ideas. you may find an idyllic little piece of paradise out in the countryside.
Churches, Chapels, Rectories & Vicarages
Odd as it may seem, many old churches that have closed down have since been converted into apartments as an alternative to demolition. In Woodside Park in London, St. Barnabas Church was converted into a stylish, modern apartment building while retaining its Edwardian exterior.
If you are religious, be assured that many religious leaders actively condone the use of former churches as living spaces. In many cases, the stained glass windows are preserved.
If you find the idea of living in a church a bit spooky, there are other options. Former chapels – that is, small churches with no vicars or priests – can sometimes be found converted into houses, for not much more than a normal, purpose-built home.
Rectories and vicarages, that is, buildings where priests and vicars live, can also sometimes be found converted into homes.
Bear in mind that many former rectories and vicarages are still attached to churches – often churches that are still operating. While congregants are not likely to bother you and maintain respectful hush, it’s worth making sure.
Prices vary quite widely, but you will not struggle to find a mortgage for a converted church or chapel. If you’re a first-time buyer, it might well be a nice option for a first home. Often, converted churches are well-established old structures with a history, yet still modern and refurbished inside.
Fancy feeling like royalty? Occasionally you will find castles on the market. Before you go all Game of Thrones, however, bear in mind that they’re going to be castles of the “country chateau” variety, rather than actual medieval fortifications with battlements and turrets – surviving medieval castles are usually turned into museums. Still, castles often boast stunning views, beautiful gardens and plenty of open space.
This, of course, also makes them ludicrously expensive, with some going for more than £30m. So, perhaps not the best option for a first-time buyer, unless of course you’ve won the lottery – in which case, congratulations! We’re not sure why you’re here, but it’s always nice to see a new face.
Enjoy the smell of the sea air? Big lover of seafood? Or perhaps you’re just a fan of Willem Dafoe. Whatever the reason, there are a number of lighthouse conversions around the country that occasionally appear on the market. Calling them “beachfront properties” would be a bit of a fib, given that lighthouses tend to be placed on cliffs overlooking the sea. Nevertheless, they are by their very nature very close to the coastline.
However, if you expect to be buying a lighthouse that you can actually climb to the top of and look out, think again. In many cases lighthouse conversions are really refurbishments of the lighthouse keeper’s quarters. The lighthouse itself is usually sealed off – often because many lighthouses still operate, albeit automatically.
Lighthouses, as you might imagine, aren’t cheap, and can be over £1m. However, it might be cheaper if you do just want to buy the keeper’s cottage, though still more expensive than usual.
This is just a fun and light-hearted article not intended as an actual set of recommendations for your first home. But it does have a serious point. You should be thinking about what sort of home you’d like to live in. There are plenty of ideas out there for you to consider when house-hunting. What features do you want the most out of your first home?
We can’t all live on the river, in old windmills, in churches and castles. However, we all have a sense of the home that would suit us best. So when you’re getting out there on house viewings, ensure you know what home you have in mind.