A project to create a Yorkshire property with income helped one couple retire at the age of 52

Working 9 to 5 no longer thanks to holiday let that pays the bills. Sharon Dale reports

The power of property is being harnessed by a growing number of buyers looking for a life change.

That's why homes with income-generating potential are becoming much sought-after by wage slaves who long to wave goodbye to the “nine to five”. Those who retire without a decent pension are also hunting them out.

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Richard and Debbie Heyes had extra income in mind when they swapped their three-bedroom semi in Leeds for a rundown cottage and workshop in the pretty village of Hunsingore, near Wetherby.

The plan was to renovate the cottage and live in it while converting the workshop into a family-size house.

“The idea was that we would eventually move into the house and rent the cottage out to create an income. We never dreamed that the project would eventually give us enough income to quit our jobs and retire early,” says Richard.

It took ten years of hard work and determination to get to that point but it was well worth it.

Richard, a former teacher, and Debbie, a former environmental health officer, handed in their notices at the age of 52 and are now making a living from letting one of their properties to holiday makers.

The former workshop is now Glebe House, a five-bedroom home that is let through The Travel Chapter. In the last seven months, it has made £43,000. With bookings booming for next year, it is already on track to make £50,000 in 2019.

The couple have also made a substantial capital gain on the renovation and conversion thanks to Richard's self-building skills. He did most of the work on both properties himself.

“We knew it would take a long time if I did most of the work myself but we saved a lot of money by doing that,” he says.

The 400-year old oak framed cottage and detached woodturner's workshop, which came with planning permission to convert, was exactly what they hoped for. They bought it 12 years ago and it sits in an elevated rural spot in pretty Hunsingore, with views over the Nidd Valley.

“It took a lot of imagination to see the workshop's potential but I have a design background and that came in very handy,” says Richard.

He and Debbie, who have two children, bought the whole property for £280,000 in 2006.

The unrenovated cottage was valued at around £180,000. They spent £50,000 on it and it is now worth £270,000, which gives them a £40,000 gain.

The workshop with planning permission was worth £100,000. They spent £240,000 on the conversion and the house is now valued at £700,000 to £730,000, which means they have more than doubled their original investment.

The profit is largely a result of Richard and Debbie's free labour and their patience. They renovated the cottage in just over a year but it took a further nine years to create the house.

“I worked on it evenings and weekends. I would come in from teaching at school and work on the house until it got dark then I'd go to bed exhausted and then start all over again,” says Richard.

The build suffered two delays. The first was a 10-month wait for planning permission after Richard changed the original design of the conversion and got permission to replace an attached garage with a contemporary kitchen.

After a year, the Heyes put the work on hold for 12 months to care for their eight-year-old son while he recovered from a brain tumour.

Back on track, they moved in when the house was partially finished so they could let their cottage and use the cash to complete the project.

“We had a kitchen, one bathroom, a couple of rooms to sleep in and a ladder instead of stairs. It took another couple of years to finish the work,” says Richard.

Glebe House now has a kitchen, utility, shower room, snug, sitting room and a bedroom on the ground floor. Upstairs, there are four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

“When the children left home we decided to move back to the cottage and rent the house out but we realised that we could get more income by having the house as a holiday let.”

After a makeover to ensure it was right for holidaymakers and installing a hot tub on the advice of The Travel Chapter, they opened for bookings in March this year.

“The Travel Chapter have been excellent in giving advice and getting bookings and we manage the house ourselves, which means doing the changeovers,” says Richard. “The hot tub was an added expense but there is no doubt that it has brought in bookings as it is something that people look for.”

He adds: “It can be hard work getting everything clean and ready within a few hours for new guests but I'm not complaining. This house and the cottage have allowed us to retire. Looking after the house is our only job.”

The Heyes plan to keep their homes in Hunsingore for another eight to ten years then they plan to tackle another renovation.

“We're thinking of splitting our time between here and abroad,” says Richard, “Ideally we'd like to buy a wreck in Portugal and do it up.”

*For details on Glebe House, Hunsingore, which sleeps 10, visit The Travel Chapter at www.holidaycottages.co.uk/yorkshire/north-yorkshire/glebe-house.

*You can speak to The Travel Chapter representatives about holiday letting this weekend at the Homebuilding and Renovating Show at the Harrogate Exhibition Centre. They'll be on stand no. A331.

They can give advice on how to prepare your home for letting. This includes the essential gas and electrical safety checks and certificates plus how to decorate and furnish to attract more business. They can also give valuable tax advice.

*The Homebuilding and Renovating Show is at the Harrogate Exhibition Centre this weekend, November 3 and 4.

The show offers advice from property experts, a series of masterclasses, seminars and face-to-face consultations with specialists, including architects and builders.

There is also a planning clinic. Standard tickets are £8 in advance or £12 on the door (children under 16 go free. homebuildingshow.co.uk.