A woman has transformed her local Spar into a stunning luxury seaside home now on the market for almost £500,000.
When the shop in Newton, Porthcawl in Wales closed down and went on the market, for Elizabeth Williams, it suddenly became an opportunity to add to her property portfolio.
But it would no longer be a convenience store where locals could pop in for a loaf of bread.
Instead, it would become a stunning and luxurious home by the sea which is now on the market for almost £500,000.
Elizabeth, who has renovated several properties over the years, says: “When I saw it, I instantly knew we had to buy it.
“For many years, I’ve had a fascination for old buildings, especially buildings with some history behind them and it’s always a bonus if it is located in a conservation area, as many of the original character and features remain.
“Four years ago we renovated a hayloft on Clevis Hill, just up the road from the Spar, so we already had a feel for the area.
“Initially I knew we could design something with a contemporary feel which would fit in with the character of the existing properties in the village, a place that includes a variety of designs.”
The Spar building, a single-storey commercial unit, didn’t look like anything special, but Elizabeth saw past the dated exterior.
She says: “It was totally derelict, with no amenities, very dark and dingy, extremely wet but I couldn’t wait to get started.
“Friends and family thought we were mad, and couldn’t believe we were taking on another project involving a derelict building.
“Overall the residents in the local community were extremely pleased that the building was going to be restored from its derelict condition.”
Of course, before any of Elizabeth’s creative ideas could even begin to become a reality there were discussions with the local authority’s planning department to get change of use from commercial to residential and discuss the design of the proposed new home.
Elizabeth, 55, and originally from Port Talbot, says: “The process generally ran smoothly, there were certain challenges as the design had to meet a certain criteria set out by the planning department.
“This involved, for example, adhering to certain design of bricks, tiles and colour of rendering which was in keeping with the local area. The overall process took approximately two months to conclude.”
But finally, building works could begin.
As the Spar was attached to the property next door, there was work to do separating the drainage system between the two properties.
Elizabeth says: “Due to the close proximity of the neighbouring property a party wall agreement had to be put in place too which ensured certain stipulations were met which served everybody’s interests.
“However the main challenge then appeared in the form of Covid-19 and building had to stop. This delayed the project for a considerable amount of time as not only were our builders refrained from working there was also a dearth of building materials when they eventually resumed as the building suppliers had no stock.”
All in all, the works took seven months to complete.
Elizabeth says: “I wanted to create something with a coastal feel, being so close to Newton beach, so we discussed the matter with our architect Peter Lee and tasked him to design a property encompassing this. He came up with the boathouse design and that’s how it evolved.”
Maybe the most pleasing aspect of the layout design is the way the reception rooms on the ground floor cluster around an inner courtyard that has created a tranquil and private outside space within the core of the site.
There’s a spacious hall, room for a home office and plenty of storage.
The property also boasts open-plan kitchen diner, with living room off it.
Elizabeth comments: ” I wanted an open-plan design with a contemporary feel. The kitchen is of linear design and I feel it is the perfect fusion of functionality and style.
“The units are lacquered high gloss in light grey, with integrated handles J-Pull style, and marble effect work surfaces and I think its sleek design sits seamlessly within the room.”
A ground floor bedroom also has bi-fold doors that lead out onto the garden terrace and an ensuite.
Up the attractive American oak tread staircase, and the house has two further double bedrooms, both with an ensuite shower room.
Added extra practical features include two off-road parking places and state-of-the-art sprinkler system installed inside.
Elizabeth says: “My favourite space is the open-plan kitchen overlooking the garden that oozes tranquillity, but maybe my favourite feature is the locality – being so close to the sea and situated in an area of so much history and character.”
She adds: “After purchasing the property we were reliably informed that the first ever owners of the store were known as Mr and Mrs Chard so, as we wanted to retain some of the history, we named it Chard House.”
Elizabeth has completed a number of property renovations now and has some tips for others thinking about their own projects.
She says: “Speak to as many people as possible who have been involved in property developing, get as many quotes from builders as possible and have continuous dialogue with the builder you choose.
“Always make sure there is a contingency budget in place, use all available resources to obtain the most competitive prices of materials, have nerves of steel and be prepared for the unexpected!”
Elizabeth says the local community has been very supportive of the project.
She says: “They seem very happy, as in recent years the area was becoming extremely busy with the shop attracting increased footfall and traffic, as well as delivery vehicles attending the premises at all hours of the day.
“With Chard House we feel we have helped transform our area of the village and enhanced the value of neighbouring properties, especially with its shape and individuality – there is no other one like it.
“I feel extremely relieved and proud and can’t wait to do it all again – I’m already looking!”
Chard House is for sale for £495,000 with Thompsons Estate Agents, Porthcawl.