Cal Hunter went to an auction to buy a flat in Glasgow, Scotland, but instead accidentally ended up buying a derelict, eyesore property 35 miles away in Dunoon. Cal, 28, from Hull, and his 26-year-old Canadian girlfriend Claire Segeren wanted to start a new life in Scotland. They wanted to live in the “vibrant city of Glasgow.” But matters did not go as planned. Cal said: “I was struggling with the auctioneer’s Glaswegian accent.” He tried working out what was going on from the auction brochure, but said some lots had been added that were not in the magazine. A property came up Cal liked the look of. He put his hand up to bid – no-one else did. Outside the auction, Cal frantically called Claire to ask if she wanted to go ahead with the sale. The battery on Cal’s phone was dying, so a decision had to be made quickly and they agreed to proceed with the £10,000 purchase.
Claire said: “At the time I was excited that we had managed to get a property. It was only when we got to the house that it really shocked me.” “I accidentally bought the wrong house,” said Cal. “It was a little further than we were planning to be commuting. It’s about an hour, an hour and a half out of Glasgow, if you take the ferry.” “It was completely derelict, and it had been for 20-30 years,” added Cal, who believes the picture used at the auction was taken from a flattering angle several years ago. The roof was falling in, one of the walls was on the verge of collapse and all the timbers were rotten. But Claire and Cal were determined to make a home for themselves in the historic villa called Jameswood. The couple lived in a small trailer while renovating the villa.
“I was drawn to the idea of being mortgage-free in my 30s and having a beautiful place with a nice garden.” “I knew it would be hard work, but we’d really been wanting an opportunity.” The pair threw themselves into something that grew into a 5-year home renovation. Documenting it all on their blog and Instagram, What Have We Dunoon, they did everything. At 26, Hunter was already an experienced carpenter and set to work cutting floorboards and laying new pipes for the plumbing as well. He and Claire had help from experienced professionals with gas and electricity, but an almost unbelievable amount of the finished building was done by their hands, working five and a half days a week.
They consulted books, YouTube, tradesmen, and of course other renovators and homesteaders who commented on their social media, they learned how to frame doors, put in glazing, flush radiators, insulate, work with stone, wood, and metal, roofing, and obviously so much more. They lived in an on-site tent camp and mobile home for over 5 years—Claire splitting time as waitress and Cal as a contractor to earn money for the necessary materials.
At times they bought materials new, such as their marble countertops, but much of the base structural fittings were cannibalized from the house and other abandoned houses like it in the area. People became very interested in the effort. A 2019 article in the Dunoon Observer went viral, and masses of second-hand materials began coming their way. Their GoFundMe raised about $38,000, while their Instagram account amassed 300k subscribers. In early July, the two no-longer-young people got a visit from the inspectors who officially cleared the house for habitation, and their five-year story finally came to a warm and cozy end.
As a real estate broker, I often advise my clients how to make their houses more marketable. Two weeks after suggesting one client do some repairs, I received a call from him. “I fixed the leaking roof, replaced the gutters and painted inside and out, he told me. I asked him. “Are you now ready to sell your house?” “No, I’m sorry,” he apologized. “Now I have no reason to move.”
My husband is so good at home repairs that they have a special VIP area for him in the emergency room.
Here I am, watching Property Brothers and the lady’s “profession” is dog manager. Their budget is $725,000. What am I doing wrong with my life?
I wrote a DIY book.
It comes with a free pen.
The Canadian restaurant by my house has been closed for renovations.
They’re just doing some poutine maintenance.
October 9th Birthdays
1970 – Anika Sorenstam, 1994 – Jodelle Ferland, 1952 – Sharon Osbourne
1953 -Tony Shaloub, 1940 – John Lennon, 1958 – Mike Singletary, 1973 – Simon Sinek