The VPR Blog

lawnswood lodge Despite the explosion in interest for auction properties you can still snatch up a bargain in a good neighbourhoods from under the hammer. The property left is the former caretaker's lodge to the rear of Lawnswood School, Leeds. It sold in Edisson’s February auction for just £200,000. 00 plus 4% cost to the Council.

The house was the latest in a succession of gate lodges sold off by Leeds City Council in the last few years. Vintage Property Restoration purchased and restored the corresponding rear gate lodge of Roundhay School a couple of years ago. The Allerton Grange gate lodge was also auctioned in 2014.

All are detached properties that sold for 200k or under. All posed challenges due to their location adjacent to school entrances and all had similar architectural features, potential and limitations.

The Lawnswood lodge was bigger than the other three and had room for a fourth bedroom, albeit on the ground floor. It boasted a largish garden and sizable reception rooms so could be convincingly converted into a family home. It is situated right on a school entrance but luckily the house faces away from the entrance so there shouldn’t be too much disturbance from the uniformed masses.

The wooden eaves and stone mullioned windows are the only visible clue that the house probably dates from the mid 1800s. Location on the edge of the West Park Conservation Area has not prevented Council workmen from destroying all other period features.

The original exterior stone or brickwork has been smothered by an awful render job, complete with bell and corner beads. This gives the property all the style and elegance of a council house. It would cost a fortune to hack this off and restore the original walls beneath. The best that can be hoped for is that the new owners paint it a nice colour.

Not content with this, the Council had built a series of ungainly extension to the right of the main house and fitted uPVC doors and windows throughout. It is somewhat irksome that Leeds City Council whose own Conservation Officers insist we conserve original features and windows should let their own workmen indulge in such vandalism.

Inside the house was drab and in need of comprehensive renovation but there was little actual building work to done. There wasn’t, as far as I could tell, any cellar and the loft space was already incorporated into the first floor.

The layout required a bit of jigging but there was scope for an open plan kitchen dinner and a large living room, four bedrooms and two, possible three, bathrooms. In all, a few months’ work for a couple of competent tradesmen or women with the biggest expenses being the new kitchens and the new bathrooms.

The only part of the project that could require planning permission was the vehicle access. There is an overgrown parking lot off the main school entrance. However, a better arrangement would be to open a vehicle entrance to the front of the house. This would require a dropped curb and, more problematic, may require trees to be cut back. 

I calculate that the whole job including the garden could be done for around 60k. That’s allowing for a reasonable standard of finishing, a nice new kitchen and bathrooms, closets in the bedrooms, rewiring and replumbing, insulating the roof from within, new floor coverings, restoring or replacing doors and decorating throughout.

A nicely finished four bedroom detached house in that area should fetch well over 300k so it looks like someone got themselves a neat little bargain.

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