Robert Williams Estate Agents, Exeter

Congratulations to Carol Finning for winning two cinema tickets in our Social Media Giving Day promotion!

Here's Carol collecting her prize from our Gemma in the office.

Some people are put off buying a listed property due to the responsibilities it brings, but listed buildings have a special quality and that’s probably the reason why you’re thinking about buying it!

You’re right to be a bit wary as there are indeed certain restrictions on what you can and can’t do to listed buildings, in terms of both bringing them up to modern standards and putting your own stamp on them. Generally, though, owners of listed properties understand, respect and accept this responsibility and its limitations.

Grade II listed status doesn’t mean you can’t touch anything at all - you are simply obliged to respect the character of the building. All properties need updating at some point and there are enough Grade II listed buildings that have been modernised to see that it’s perfectly possible to include every creature comfort, from luxury fitted kitchens to wet rooms. And while alterations to an existing listed building may well mean using appropriate traditional materials and methods, it could be a requirement that modern materials are used on brand new extensions.

If you do decide to buy a listed property, it’s important to use a solicitor who is familiar not only with the area, but also with the sort of anomalies that may crop up during legal enquiries. For the same reasons, you should use a local surveyor with good experience of listed buildings, who fully understands the structure.

Finally, when it comes to making any alterations, it’s always best to involve the local listed buildings people from day one. They are generally extremely co-operative, appreciate that we live in the 21st Century regardless of the age of the building and in some cases may just be relieved that someone is prepared to take on a particular property.

We have RICS qualified Chartered Surveyors and property specialists within our team, so if you’d like some specific advice, just give us a call on 01392 204800 and we can help.

A: Cob is basically a variation of the ancient method of building with mud and straw that has been used throughout the world for thousands of years. In the UK, this type of construction was used in several parts of the country including Hampshire, Wales, Dorset and Cornwall, but was particularly popular in Devon.

Traditionally, English cob was made by mixing clay-based subsoil with straw and water, which was then built up in layers (normally on a stone foundation), with each layer being given time to dry out first. Finally, the walls would be rendered with a mix of quicklime putty and coarse sand, followed by a lime wash. Unlike most modern coatings such as cement render, gypsum plaster and vinyl paints, this traditional finish is breathable, allowing any moisture to evaporate quickly - a fairly important consideration when your house is basically made out of mud.

But if all this all sounds like stepping back into some historical time-warp, don’t worry. Thousands of cob houses still survive today. Yes, many of them may date back hundreds of years, but living in them is really no different from most other types of older rural property.

What’s particularly interesting about cob, however, is the fact that it is currently undergoing something of a renaissance. The traditional skills, almost lost in the second half of the 20th century, are being revived, and there are specialist suppliers and builders to handle any necessary repairs or renovation work.

Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that growing numbers of brand new and often strikingly designed cob homes are now being built. Why? Well, for one thing, architects are increasingly being drawn to cob construction because, being basically moulded out of gloop, it lends itself to exciting new flowing shapes. More important in today’s world, it is very environmentally friendly. Cob homes are cool in summer and warm in winter. The construction process consumes virtually no energy and produces no pollution. Finally, the raw material of cob is not only infinitely recyclable but can generally be excavated from the building site itself, thereby reducing transportation.

In fact, I suspect we may all be hearing rather more about cob-built housing in years to come.

We're thrilled to offer for sale a substantial wing of a former farmhouse incorporating a converted barn annexe with a total of six bedrooms, just outside the pretty Exe Valley village of Rewe.

With views over the surrounding Devon countryside, the stunning period farmhouse sits adjacent to a complementary development of converted barns to form an exclusive rural community at the end of a long, no-through, private driveway just 15 minutes north of Exeter.

Heazille Farm Cottage carefully incorporates an adjoining annexed barn and as such, provides a unique opportunity for super-flexible accommodation in various arrangements, subject to requirements.

In the main part of the house is an entrance reception and atrium-style hall, laundry room, boiler room, main kitchen/breakfast room fitted with light wooden cabinetry and double doors to the reception room, which opens out into the garden. There is also a study/fourth bedroom and a secondary bathroom downstairs. On the first floor are three bedrooms with an ensuite bathroom and family shower room.

The converted barn annexe has a conservatory entrance, a 20’ open plan kitchen/sitting room with an arched window and vaulted beamed ceiling, two ground floor bedrooms and use of the secondary bathroom via either the main entrance reception or one of its bedrooms.

Outside, to the front is a pretty lawned garden with a raised deck area, arbour and planted borders. To the side is a lovely, sheltered courtyard-style sitting and entertaining area, and to the rear is a large, gravelled area suitable for parking several vehicles.

Graham Coton, Associate Director, said: “Beautifully restored and converted, this period property could be easily adapted to suit various living arrangements. It would work very well, either as a large family home, or the annexe would provide a great living space for a dependent relative, teenager or workspace with the extra bedrooms used as offices.”

For further information, to arrange a viewing, to book a valuation of your property or to discuss any property-related matter, pop into the Robert Williams office on Southernhay West, call 01392 204800 or browse our website.

Address: Heazille Farm Cottage, Near Rewe, Exeter, EX5 4HQ

Guide price: £775,000

Details at:

Q: I totally understand that good photos are important for selling my house, but do you recommend I do anything to prepare for them?

A: Good photos are absolutely essential as potential buyers expect to see photographs of almost every room in a house, both online and on the sales particulars and first impressions count for a lot, as it could mean the difference between them booking a viewing or deciding against it.

At the higher end of the market, agents routinely use professional photographers but luckily, most estate agents these days appreciate the value in investing in the latest technology and opt to buy good quality cameras as well as attending and sending staff on photography training courses to learn how to use and get the best results from all of their settings and gizmos, in order to produce decent, professional-quality photos showing your home at its very best.

However, an agent can have all the best tools and knowledge but if a home is untidy or cluttered, that will be captured with piercing clarity in the photographs, so some preparation is needed. Your estate agent will offer tailored advice on preparing your home but generally, the key is tidiness.

So, make sure the garden looks well tended and clear of anything unsightly, like weeds in the beds or rubbish bins. In reception rooms, make sure cushions are plumped up; dining tables either laid for a formal meal or completely clear; children’s toys and magazines tidied away, etc. Check all the lights work and if necessary, remove surplus pieces of furniture to create a feeling of more space.

Also, try to make your kitchen look as pristine as it did the day it was installed – no washing up on the side, tea stains on the work surfaces or limescale on the sink. Make sure all clothes are away and beds are properly made. In the bathroom, fold towels neatly and remove any unsightly collections of shampoo bottles, etc. And toilet seats should always be down!

If you’d like any advice without obligation, pop in and see us or give us a call on 01392 204800 and we’ll be happy to help.

Vouch Tenancy Deposit Scheme The Property Ombudsman RICS Rightmove Zoopla OnTheMarket Prime Location