Would you live in a cramped caravan with two small children and box away your belongings for a year to achieve your goals? Sarah and Mark Russell did, in a bid to fulfil their dream of building their own home.
The large five-bedroomed detached family house at Milton of Cushnie, near Alford, is the biggest project the young couple have taken on since they started renovating properties some years ago.
The couple previously renovated a flat at Banchory and a house in Aboyne before buying the land in Aberdeenshire.
Sarah, 29, who works part time as an accounts assistant, said: “The flat was mainly just interior work that needed done but the house got a real revamp and an extension so it was a lot of work.”
The couple decided to push their property developing skills to the limit with their next project – building a house from scratch.
Mark, 35, who works as a builder, said: “Building a house was something I always wanted to do.”
The couple found the site, which already had planning permission and a design, shortly after they started looking. They moved into a caravan on site while Mark took on the job of building their family home, with the help of their son Rocco, now four.
Sarah, who is also mum to 18-month-old daughter, Livia, said living in a caravan was not as bad as she thought but not something she wanted to do again in a hurry.
She added: “We were in there with two children and it was a long time. We put our belongings into storage but it did show us that you don’t need all of your stuff.
“When we got it back it sat in the garage for a while and you just think do you really need all this? I didn’t even know I had a lot of it!”
Dad spent nine months building the house in his spare time, after work, at weekends and during his holidays. In December 2011 it was ready to be moved into. Mark said he was delighted when it was finally completed.
“I just kept working and working, came home from a day’s work and went straight back out. But it was really enjoyable, it wasn’t a labour. I didn’t see it as the same as my full-time job.
“When it was finished I was delighted and exhausted. I think what I got most out of it was the satisfaction of knowing I had finally built my own house.”
North Mains, a five-bedroom house on the market for a fixed price of £430,000, has been decorated in a modern style and has a huge kitchen and dining area, living room, bathroom and shower room.
The master bedroom comes complete with an elegant en-suite and a large dressing room which would fill every woman’s dream. As well as outstanding views of the rolling hills and countryside, it also has a landscaped garden and patio. Next to the property is a large double garage with potential for an office to be created in the floor space above.
Features of interest include French doors which lead from the dining and kitchen area into the garden; underfloor heating; and a wood-burning stove housed in a fireplace in the living room.
The house is around eight miles from Alford, which has many amenities including a range of shops, leisure facilities and is home to the Grampian Transport Museum. Primary and secondary schooling is available in the village.
Now after just over a year of living in the family home the couple have decided to pass it on to someone else and find another project to sink their teeth into.
Sarah said: “I think one of the best things is that we are out in the country but we are not on our own. There are still so many neighbours but you have your own space as well. It’s quite good if you have kids because you are not up a farm track on your own. There is a nice community feel here.
“And the views and all the animals that we see, especially for the kids, are amazing too.
“We have learned so much during this experience for future projects, we won’t be living in any more caravans. We want to stay in the area because we just love it here. It’s amazing when you think about what you have right on your own doorstep.”
Contact: Mackinnons on 01224 868687.