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ucked down a country lane in rural Shropshire is Houlston Manor, a dairy farm owned by Bob Griffiths. One of a number of buildings on the land is a bungalow Bob’s late father had built by a local builder in 1966. It had stood there ever since without incident, until several grim winters eventually took their toll. “Quite suddenly, it started to get subsidence cracking all around the property,” Bob explains to Selfbuilder + Homemaker.


After his father passed away he decided to let out the bungalow, but points out the irony of his reaction when asked if he wanted to add subsidence insurance. “I thought ‘it’s been there 60 years, it’s not going to fall down now!” he jokes.


The bungalow, which is home to Bob’s farm manager Neil, sits on sand, and a firm commissioned to do some experimental digging found the ground was essentially washing away underneath the slab the building sits on. “We had been having wetter winters,” explains Bob, adding that because in the 1960s Building Regs weren’t in place, the foundations it sat on were “pretty minimal.” It is also west facing, so subject to prevailing winds and generally quite exposed to the elements. “When there was driving rain, it would actually come through the brick walls,” Bob says. He considered demolishing completely and building anew, but decided instead to conserve the asset he had. “It’s a nice property; space is not an issue of course because it was built on farmland so it’s spacious and its outlook is


74 www.sbhonline.co.uk


BOB TO THE RESCUE


The building suddenly began to have subsidence cracking, but Bob decided to save it from demolition


LOW POINT


“Definitely discovering that the building was actually falling down. I was not expecting that!”


He was also able to claim back VAT, despite the fact it was a renovation


good,” says Bob. “It was cheaper to spend some money on it rather than knocking it down and starting again.” He was also still able to claim back VAT, despite the fact it was a renovation, because being home to the farm manager, it’s classed as a business asset. The bungalow – which sits approximately 100


metres from the main farmhouse – had been extended in the 1970s, so as well as underpinning it to solve the subsidence issue, he also took the opportunity to replace the flat roof


may/june 2021


HIGH POINT


“Completion! The fact that it all went well, there weren’t any hiccups – everybody talked to everybody. The suppliers were supportive.”


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