beach cottage :: the long awaited update

Many readers have asked me about the cottage and I have tried a few times to do this post with a few pictures, however, each time I have abandoned it as it has been too upsetting.

So here I am trying again.

For anyone that isn’t familiar with my previous blog the tale of the cottage and the flood can be found here – Beach Cottage and the tab above.

And so for the tour…please mind your step it is a bit dangerous inside as all the floorboards had to be removed.

This is the kind of state that met us when we first went into the cottage after the flood. The water level had reach 2 feet in the conservatory but only about 1 foot elsewhere. There was brown sludge everywhere.

Looking from the other direction when we had cleared some of the debris and the sludge had dried a bit.

This is the kitchen above now completely stripped out of units – the contractor’s schedule and makeshift electrics board on the walls still remain. Everything from here ended up in the skip even the fridge freezer which was like new. Luckily we had not renovated the kitchen at the point of the flood.

Likewise the bathroom – with toilet and basin removed.

The bedroom above stripped of plaster and floorboards – the bed and wardrobes all had to go in the skip. Only the light shade remained and is still hanging there like a ghost of times past.

The living room is the saddest room for me, we had almost finished the renovations in here. The old tiled fireplace had been removed and a larger opening made to take a wood burning stove. One of the windows had been knocked out and french doors fitted so we could access the conservatory at the back.

We had boarded around this room and carefully painted it with umpteen coats of paint, sanded between each one – the finish was so smooth. At this point just the skirting boards to fix…

…and now we have gone backwards as all the boarding had to be removed.

This is just a handful of the many pictures we had to take – I can hardly bare to look at them and now it just sits in this empty state – just a shell of its former self, cold and forlorn. I never go inside anymore it is too heartbreaking – it was to be our retirement home.

We have plans on the go – they keep changing as the years pass – somehow the 3 year fight with the insurers left us drained and now life has just taken over so much ( we have had a wedding and 3 grandchildren since the flood) we barely can find the time to sit and discuss what the future might be. We could just have the place renovated but I am so scared it might all happen again and although I can cope with the flood and the practical things I could never cope with the wrangle we had with the insurers to get our money, they make you feel like some kind of criminal who is trying to defraud them. We were fully insured and even they agreed that in the end.

Part of the problem was a useless building surveyor who eventually left – had it not been for DH knowing about buildings and contracts etc we could have had a big problem on our hands. They could never add up either and had it not been for my job in finance and a keen eye we would have been robbed of thousands of pounds due when they made payments to us.

I know we must get on and do something – the caravan is far too cosy but is not a long term answer. I am hoping 2020 will be the year – let’s hope everyone in the family keeps well and problem free to allow us more time to progress.

There is always a silver lining though and I am waiting for it! xx

16 Replies to “beach cottage :: the long awaited update”

  1. I could barely look at the photos. I feel your pain and your hesitation in redoing your hard work. I couldn’t stand going through the devastation again either. What utter bastards insurance companies can be!!! Lucky you and your husband could bring your skills to review their work.

    If you do redo a cottage, maybe on in high blocks so water passes below?


    1. Yes if we rebuild rather than renovate we would build higher off the ground but it is expensive and we have limited funds. The insurers do nothing to make a place flood proof that is why so many people often move back in and get flooded out again during the next period of bad weather.


  2. Oh, how heartbreaking! Your living room would have been beautiful – it already looked it, with that lovely panelling. I can’t imagine how you must feel. I do have an idea of how you felt about the insurers, though -years ago we had our gorgeous 8-week old caravan stolen, we did get it back but it was in an awful state, needing several thousand pounds worth of work, and all our possessions inside stolen. The insurers (like you, we were fully insured) were bastards, to put it bluntly, they tried every trick in the book to get out of paying up, I had such a fight on my hands but managed to get what we were due (and had paid for in premiums) in the end. It wore me out though. It would be such a shame if you decide not to proceed any further, it’s a beautiful house with an absolutely lovely garden and in a wonderful setting. But if you don’t feel the same about it anymore, or the thought of it all happening again is too worrying, then it would obviously be time to rethink.


    1. It seems like the insurers are trained to be quite off hand and be able to weadle out of paying up. I am not sure how the elderly go on. They met their match with us – DH a trained architect of over 40 years and me working in a solicitors office and in the finance section too. We made them amend every document we were asked to sign and every building schedule and always trawled through the terms and conditions before signing anything. They did remark that no one had ever asked them for their terms and conditions before when on our very first meeting we had to sign a mandate to proceed and we would not as the mandate referred us to the terms and conditions in the very first sentence and they could not produce them. We waited three weeks for those to appear. It took them 4 months to check our deeds by which time the place had almost dried itself out! After that the building surveyor sent us a crap schedule of works and after a year left because another company took over and we had to start at the beginning again a whole year later.
      At one time their where emails going back and forth everyday – it was only when we threatened to get the ombudsman involved that they eventually got moving. We took a cash settlement in the end – there was no way I was going to let their builders in to renovate the place.
      So sorry to hear about your caravan – I can sympathise with you. The insurers almost made me ill – mostly because of their attitudes when you are at your most vulnerable.


  3. The whole episode sounds utterly exhausting Viv .It just shouldn’t be like that with insurers. I hope you can find a happy way forward in 2020.


  4. I can hear your pain in every word. Hoping that 2020 is a better year all around and that you can find a way forward.


  5. So sorry to hear of your troubles but you are right to believe in a silver lining.
    In the 6o’s my sister who was 14 died of cancer and when my parents took the policy to the insurers they found out the collector who had come every week for 10 years to collect the money for all their various policies had been keeping it for himself. They had the books to prove they had paid but got nothing. They were not in a fit condition to fight anybody for anything. I was 17 then and grew up with a deep distrust of insurance people. I think they should be made to pay double when as in your case you were proved right in the end and that might help them smarten up and respect people more.At least you have the satisfaction of winning in the end.
    We sold our house 5 years ago and moved to the other side of the country to be beside our family but found we couldn’t afford a house here and had to rent a tiny cottage instead of owning a large house and garden.
    The silver lining for us is we have many more friends,a great social life are near our lovely family and are having fun! You will get your silver lining even though you don’t know yet what it is. The journey will take you to it !


    1. Hi Megan and thank you for commenting. I am so sorry to hear about your sister – that must have been such a sad time for you and your family and even now I expect you feel the loss, I couldn’t imagine life without my brother or sister or even my two daughter’s. The insurers always come into your life when you are at your most vulnerable – it comes with the job because you only make a claim when some disaster has happened – I am sure most of them out of work are very nice people but are not trained in handling people a little more respectfully at such difficult times. Sometimes they have to realise that it is hard to know when you are actually fully covered for something – those policies they give you are hardly easy reading and it is easy to misinterpret some of the cover and be underinsured – it is not always fraud just misunderstanding.
      I am so pleased you are living a good life now and you have found your silver lining – experiencing our flood was upsetting and changed our plans but at least we still have our main home in Yorkshire and did not lose everything like some people. I am sure there will be a reason for all this in the bigger picture.


  6. That must have been a really hard post to write, I am not surprised you had to keep abandoning it. I hope you can work out where the future of your lovely cottage is for you both, sometimes the answers to those difficult decisions come to us when we stop thinking about them.


  7. I’m so very sorry you’ve had to go through this – and are still going through it. You may well have thought of this already, but what about a “tiny/small” prefabricated house, particularly since this is for the two of you for your retirement. They are gorgeous inside, with the style of finish that you were aiming for in the cottage. I visited one in Edinburgh and wanted to move in immediately! A few of the main names are TinyHouse Scotland (which is made in Scotland) – this is the one I visited and it’s a proper house, not a shed, and beautifully designed. Total “hygge”! and Prices for a completed house seem to range from around £37 to £55k. There’s also Echo Living; and Tiny Eco Homes Wishing you all the best.


    1. Thank you for the information and links – we have been looking into some of these types of buildings. I cannot say a lot more at the moment but I am hopeful we can find something that will prove workable for our site.


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