July 2019 – and suddenly everything is starting to take shape rather quickly indeed.
Making a run down to Brixham for almost the first time in ‘proper summer’ allowed us to make some of the final choices in regard to details – taps, shower fittings, stair carpets and the like – and to see the progress now that the Captains Cottage is in sight of completion
The windows and balcony blend in pretty well to the roofline – something we wanted to achieve, which meant we have ended up with a “frameless” all-glass balcony which makes it almost invisible from any distance away.
On the middle floor – the living room – we’ve also added similarly frameless glass panels on the outside of the house, which means both of the large, full-height windows can be fully opened into the living space without risking life and limb in the process!
And this is the much-trailed balcony, opening out from the master en-suite bedroom at the top of the house and looking over the harbour. There’s plenty of space for a table and a couple of chairs so you can watch the sunset from the best spot in town!
With new doors, flooring and radiators throughout it’s ended up being a bigger task than we first imagined. The house is entirely unique, and has been built on a slight ange so it faces the sea – this means that every room and doorway in it is built slightly askew, and standard doors simply didn’t fit in the existing frames, so all of them ended up being replaced too! Final-fit electrics are yet to go in – that hole in the wall won’t be there, we promise!
Despite the unseasonably damp weather, our builders have managed to crack on with essentially taking the whole lid off the Captains Cottage, and replacing it with a brand new upper storey – with the planning-permission-challenging balcony and patio doors as well.
On our latest trip we were therefore greeted with a house festooned with scaffolding, and what can only be described as a bl–dy great hole at the top where the sliding doors will go!
Even so, it gives a great idea of what the view is going to be when it’s all finished.
They’ve also made a start on tiling the downstairs bathroom, which is going to be a walk-in shower / wet room. Apparently the tiler is the same chap who has re-done all of the tiling in the expanded and refurbished Simply Fish restaurant in town – our favourite place to go the minute we arrive in Brixham after driving down from London !
After a seemingly endless delay, finally the planning permission for the balcony on the top floor master bedroom at The Captains Cottage came through today !
It’s been an epic quest, in which our architect has worked tirelessly to push the plans through what seems to be a desperately overstretched Torbay planning department, but now it’s all in the clear – so our builders can start work on replacing and remodelling the loft room to give the cottage a proper master bedroom with floor to ceiling windows looking out across the harbour.
With snow sweeping in across the West of England, a Thursday night trip down the M4/M5 to Brixham might have seemed a bit of a bold step to take.
Luckily we managed to miss the worst of the snow, diverting off the M5 just past Exeter to head to Dawlish and then along the coast to Brixham, where the warmer sea air had kept the snow at bay.
It was still cold – very cold – but the crisp mornings and clear blue skies more than made up for it as we managed to fit in a bracing walk to Berry Head inbetween a couple of great meals in Rockfish and The Lytehouse, and a pint or two in some of Brixham’s cosier pubs as well.
We also discovered Chocella, and it’s rather excellent cakes… which made the Sunday morning walk up to Berry Head even more necessary!
All in all, a very pleasant and sunny weekend for what appeared to be the depths of winter across much of the rest of the country.
We always knew renovating a house might not end up being a straightforward project, but we never for one moment imagined that we might be asked to call in the Bat Man !
However that’s exactly what Torbay Council planning team asked us to do last week as part of our planning permission application.
Well, it turns out that Brixham – or more accurately, a 400 million year old limestone cave in the famous Berry Head Geopark and nature reserve a couple of miles away from The Captain’s Cottage – is one of only a handful of places in the UK where the Greater Horseshoe Bat roosts and breeds, meaning that any roof-type development in the whole area will be asked to have a “bat survey” before work can be undertake – hence the need to get in a local “Bat man” – aka Ecological Consultant David Wills.
Luckily David discovered no evidence to suggest that bats have ever used the roof of the property as a roost or resting place (an outcome which is hardly surprising as it was converted into an attic room many, many years ago!) but anyway, it’s good to find out that Brixham and it’s surrounding area is not only beautiful, but also home to some of the rarest flora and fauna in the whole country.
If you’re visiting Brixham in the summer you can go on evening Bat Walks and see the bats at Berry Head on a Bat Cam as they nest – details available online on the Berry Head website. You can also take part in September’s Bat Festival, or learn more about these fascinating and elusive creatures at the Devon Bat Project
The one place however we can guarantee you absolutely, definitely will not find any Greater Horseshoe Bats is hanging upside down in The Captain’s Cottage – we’ve had The Batman in to check they aren’t any there!
Another trip down to Brixham this week to check on progress with The Captain’s Cottage – and the good news is that the interior work is progressing well, with all of the walls replastered and new wiring installed throughout the house.
Still waiting on some feedback from the planning office in regard to our plans to re-do the loft room and add a balcony and patio doors to the front of the room though.
It’s also been another fabulous few days in Brixham – hard sometimes to remember this is a working trip with weather like this.
Calm seas in Brixham harbour
Progress with the lounge – it’s already looking a lot more light and airy without the pine ceiling.
Fingers crossed for planning permission to replace these windows with patio doors and a balcony.
Well, we’ve only gone and completed on The Captain’s Cottage, meaning we’re now proud (and a little shocked to be honest) owners of a house in Brixham.
We’ve been coming down to stay in Brixham whenever we could over the last couple of years, having stumbled on the town as part of a holiday in the West Country initially. On those trips – as seems to be almost mandatory – we started peering in estate agents windows in between visiting restaurants and picking up a pint of milk in the Co-op, wondering if it might make sense for us to actually own somewhere of our own down here.
And now its come true!
In proper “Grand Designs” style, The Captain’s Cottage is actually far more of a “project” than we were initially thinking of, but the combination of having made tentative bids for a couple of places only to see them snapped up quickly, and the absolutely killer views from this particular house persuaded us to take the plunge. And here we are…
There’s a lot of work to do from here we’re sure – finding builders to refurbish the house (especially that 1970’s interior!), decorating, kitting it out with furniture and the like… but hey, the adventure starts here!
Sadly, this staircase isn’t particularly legal in 2018..