The initial thoughts on the farmhouse I saw in France have been positive. If we bought it now, we would settle the transaction around January-February, spend the summer planning the refurbishment, then we would aim to spend a year in France from the autumn of 2014, having rented out our UK property for that period of absence. This is an extremely radical idea about our future but working through this plan in detail seems to show that it is a very robust plan, and it appears to have a number of features that are considerably better than the original plan, which was to try to buy something else next autumn.
But this new plan also relies on the fact that this particular property was quite a lot cheaper than the other renovation projects that we have looked at. We could be cash buyers for this property, which would considerably improve our chances of doing the deal as well.
Looking at the property in detail, the initial job would be to refurbish the farmhouse itself ready or the rental season in 2015. The main structural work would be to knock through the wall between the landing and the large grenier and so create two new large bedrooms. The downstairs bathroom would have to be stripped out and re-done completely and probably one of the rooms upstairs would become a second bathroom. The two narrow bedrooms downstairs would have their dividing wall removed to make one larger room. This would leave the farmhouse as a four-bedroom, two bathroom property. Then the entire house would have to be redecorated - in fact there would be barely a single feature that would remain untouched (though the wood floors and beamed ceiling are fine as they are.
Structurally, this is less work than our current property, though the decoration work is far higher. It looks like a ideal project if the two of us are going to be there.
The barn conversions are much more complex. I really need to see some more examples of finished gite complexes so I can get a better understanding of what work had to be done in these cases. We do have some other resources for this though, for instance, a very-detailed book on complex renovations which has loads of checklists to work through. Loads of thought needs to be put into this part of the project prior to us going ahead with it I think.
But I am going to try and see it again in a week or so's time when I am doing a wood flooring and furniture delivery to our current property. Hopefully I will have a proper working plan for that visit and can accumulate a load more info. Then Wife and I will try and see it again two weeks after that and make our decision then.
Barns in the distance, 30 vines in the foreground - a major challenge!
Addendum - some day's later
Bogged down in other discussions, I suspect that the initial momentum behind this project is slowly seeping away. Though it appear to fit the bill, it might require too much thought now. I may still go and see it again, if only to work through the detailed questions I have so far thought of - maybe for next time.