Modern conversions of farm buildings or a steading can offer a perfect combination of old and new in a rural setting, writes Kirsty McLuckie.
Steading conversions offer a perfect kind of packaged rural living.
In the country, the preponderance of detached cottages and houses keep prices high, but for those looking to live rurally but not in isolation, a steading development can deliver a home with the security of neighbours, but still with peace and quiet in abundance at a much more affordable price than a house set in its own grounds.
Modern steading conversions create residences from under-utilised buildings and they can make for quirky and original homes.
However, there can be drawbacks. For some buyers, steadings can be neither one thing or the other.
Those craving privacy in a rural idyll will not want to be overlooked by close neighbours, while even the largest steading conversions may have a great sense of community but lack welcome amenities, such as a village shop or pub.
Hannah Christiansen, head of residential sales at Galbraith, says that the best examples of steading conversions have plenty of character in the original building, but internally modern features which will make for an economical, low-maintenance property.
As such, they offer a rural life without the hard work and are ideal for those moving out of a city to look for the good life.
Christiansen says: “There are definitely a body of housebuyers who are specifically looking for this type of property.
“They want neighbours, either because they are out during the day at work or because they travel and having people close by offers security when the house is empty and reassurance that someone is close by.
“There is definitely an attraction to living in cluster of houses, with all the advantages of the countryside on the doorstep.”
Galbraith deals with steadings at both ends of the conversion process. Christiansen says: “They sometimes come on the market as dilapidated agricultural buildings and are usually bought by small local building firms, who then work with local architects to turn them into imaginative homes.
“It is another advantage of the house type – you tend not to buy the finished product from large developers and the resulting properties are usually in a range of sizes, from one or two bedrooms to much larger homes.
"But each is absolutely unique in design, so offer plenty of choice.”
Planning restrictions mean conversions usually have to stick to the original footprint and the best will keep original features, such as the external stonework, as much as possible to retain charm.
However, Inside can be another story. Because most of these types of buildings – although old – aren’t listed, the interiors can be transformed to modern, light-filled spaces, with features such as double height rooms, beamed ceilings and extensive glass brought into play.
Modern technology in insulation and heating mean that a recent steading conversion can rival the energy performance levels of a brand new house.
Christiansen points to 1 Aulton of Fochel Steadings near Oldmeldrum, which her firm is currently marketing.
The four-bedroomed house is one of a handful of properties converted from former farm buildings in a scenic location amongst the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside, five miles from Inverurie and 15 miles from Aberdeen.
It was converted in 2010 and at its heart is an impressive open-plan lounge, dining room and kitchen, which creates a fantastic space with a striking high-vaulted ceiling.
A galleried landing with glass balustrades leads to an attic games room and the property has an integral garage.
Unusually for a steading, the house not only has generous walled gardens at the front and back with terracing and lawns, but a three-acre paddock.
It is also within easy commuting distance of Aberdeen, meaning that it not only has the best mix of old and new, but a good compromise between rural and urban too.
1 Aulton of Fochel Steadings is on the market for offers over £450,000 with Galbraith.