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Opportunity to leap frog into green energy

There are still a surprising number of derelict rural cottages and old farm buildings lurking behind the ivy and down green lanes, which farmers for very good reason may not wish to sell off their holding. Renovation can seem daunting both in cost and organisation.

However, your surveyor has an armoury of skills to help you plan and realise a rebuild, whether it be for letting potential or the family’s own holiday enjoyment. It is rarely worth abandoning these properties where new planning consent in the ‘open countryside’ is so hard won these days.

Each year Balfours project manages a number of developments primarily in Shropshire and Herefordshire and Wales. The aim varies from four star holiday let status, to enabling the owners to enjoy their special rural retreats.

We have also achieved turnaround on properties, so isolated that they have never benefitted from mains services. Green sustainable energy is now leapfrogging properties out of the 19th century into the 21st century, bypassing prohibitive hook-ups to mains facilities.

One such project, a former keeper’s house in south Shropshire, is now back in family use with rain water is collected from roofs, pumped to an existing reservoir and fed back to the house by gravity for general use and through a cartridge filter for drinking.

Heating comes from two separate wood burners and a wood-powered rayburn stove, providing energy for radiators and from solar panels for hot water. Electricity is powered by solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and a vertical wind turbine.  It is stored in batteries; there is also a back-up generator.


An initial feasibility study can ensure project costs are budgeted and that the right service choices are made. Even telecoms, phone and internet are integral and essential to a refurbishment project and may well come through a satellite link-up.

Contractors can be recommended and overseen within the realm of the stringent construction and design management, safety regulations and with due diligence for our furry bat friends. Renovation can seem daunting both in cost and organisation; all in a day’s work for a Balfours surveyor in Shropshire, Herefordshire or mid-Wales.

Julia Phillips is a rural surveyor based at Balfours Herefordshire office.

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