Doug Martin regularly admired Pawston Birks Farm on his journey to work.
On one particular commute 30 years ago, he noticed a for sale board had appeared at the Rowlands Gill property.
And after just one visit to the derelict former farm, he and wife Ruth knew they could transform it into the family home of their dreams.
Doug, a semi-retired accountant, said: “I worked in the area and used to drive past the property every day and think it would be nice to live there. One day the board came up for sale and that was it.
“Despite being derelict for over 30 years, it was full of character and we knew instantly that it was going to make a beautiful home.”
While embarking on the renovation project, the couple, along with their 18-month-old daughter Rebecca, moved into a caravan on site for six months.
“It was a big task,” said Doug. “The only thing we had were four walls and the roof. It took us around a year to make the property habitable and another few years to finish off the bits and pieces.”
Dating back to around 1600, the Grade II Listed building formed part of Lord Clavering’s estate. Located in the semi-rural location of High Spen, the property is set in around 1.9 acres of land.
Ideal for those with equestrian interests, the house is complete with a stable block, kennels and a good selection of outbuildings and workshops. As well as being a stunning family home, Doug says the site offers much potential for a wide range of businesses.
The couple have launched a range of businesses from here and Rebecca, now 31, also runs a business from the farm.
“Pawston Birks Farm is asking to be more than just a house. It’s ideal for those with horses, but the outbuildings also lend themselves to all sorts of uses. There’s also parking for around 10 cars,” he said.
The main house features a lounge/dining room with multi-fuel burning stove, fitted dining kitchen with stable door, and study/family room.
“We spend a lot of time in the lounge/dining room. It’s very large and has a wood burner. It’s a big house with big rooms, so we have plenty of space.”
The couple were careful to retain the property’s period charm.
Doug said: “We retained as many period features as we could. There’s a listed fireplace and window seats in the sitting room and exposed beams upstairs.”
The first floor includes four bedrooms and family bathroom. The attached outbuilding features a garage, utility room, kennels, and three upstairs rooms with vaulted ceilings. There is also a stable block and low maintenance gardens.
As well as the house, the location is a key selling point according to Doug. “You’re very much in a rural setting with views towards the Cheviot hills, however we have a bus stop right outside. The views are beautiful and yet you’re just 10 minutes from the Metrocentre.”
The couple are looking to downsize, but admit they will miss the space the farm has to offer.
Doug said: “I’m looking to fully retire soon, so we’re ready to downsize.
“We’re ready for a new challenge but will probably miss the space the most.”
:: Pawston Birks Farm, Pawston Road, High Spen, Rowlands Gill, is for sale through Fine & Country at £545,000, tel: 0845 459 6000.