Norfolk Escape to the Country


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Norfolk

Jonnie Irwin travels to Norfolk to help a businesswoman find a new home closer to her family for £500,000.


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Today I'm in a county renowned for its waterways. Created in medieval times by men digging for peat,

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this county's systems of dykes, rivers and broads is the largest stretch of wetland in England.

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Where am I? Find out in just a moment.

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'In today's show, I'll be helping a businesswoman, accompanied by her niece,

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'return to her family roots in the country.

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'And finding her the right size house is just one of our many challenges.'

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I think by the time you get a sofa in here and a bit of furniture, it is a little bit on the tiny side.

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'But our mystery house throws other unexpected surprises into the mix.'

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I like this room. I like the size of the room.

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Today I'm in Norfolk. For almost six centuries,

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these 125 miles of waterways were crucial to the local economy,

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allowing goods to be ferried inland from the sea.

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Nowadays, though, as you might expect, it's tourism that pulls in the pennies for the county

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and these broads attract around seven million tourists here every year.

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'Looking out over the North Sea, Norfolk is the largest of the East Anglian counties

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'and historically has prospered from its coastal position

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'with Wells-next-the-sea formerly one of the great ports of east England

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'which in its Tudor heyday traded with the Netherlands.

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'It was earlier, in the 14th century,

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'that rising sea levels created the inland waterways that formed the Norfolk Broads.

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'Today it's not only a draw for holidaymakers

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'but is renowned as one of the most important wetland sites in Europe.

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'The buildings that lie scattered across this predominantly arable landscape

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'provide a range of attractive choices, including distinctive cut flint facades and thatched roofs.'

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'Corporate event organiser Jane has roped in her niece Georgie to help her escape to the country

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'having spent the last 25 years in Romford, Essex.

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'These two ladies have an incredibly strong bond

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'and are certainly a dynamic duo.'

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Jane's a very vivacious character. She's very creative, actually,

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and has a lot of attention to detail, which is why she's so good at her job.

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And Georgie is a very vivacious character. THEY LAUGH

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'Being close to family is key to Jane's move and also important to Georgie.'

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My dad lives in Norfolk, and obviously Grandma,

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and we've got lots of aunts and great-aunts and uncles in Norfolk,

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so whenever I get time off work, that's often where I tend to be.

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So it'll be great to have Jane there, as well, cos it'll be easier to see Jane now.

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'Besides wanting a property with plenty of character,

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'Jane has a wish-list that taps into her sociable lifestyle.'

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What I'm looking for is ideally open-plan

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or rooms that connect, that work together.

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I really want a kitchen where I can have friends round.

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I'd then like a nice, large living room area

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I need a minimum of two bedrooms.

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'And the outside is important, too.'

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Jane's been talking about having a large garden. She'd definitely like some outdoor space.

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She's even been talking about a bit of a vegetable patch, growing her own veggies.

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'Continuing her business is a key priority for Jane so she'll need an office.

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'In addition, she wants her country home to earn an extra income,

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'so if there was the potential for a holiday let, all the better.

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'And with her house already sold, she's ready to go full steam ahead with this move.'

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My budget for the new property is £450,000 to £500,000.

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At £450,000 to half a million pounds,

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Jane's budget should be more than adequate to give her the minimum of two bedrooms and a garden.

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Views obviously come at a premium, but I think Jane's after quite an interesting mix of a period property

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that also gives her modern, open-plan interiors.

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Let's see if we can do Jane's handsome budget some justice.

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'We'll be focusing Jane's house search

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'around the Norfolk Broads where her mother lives,

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'not venturing any further west than Norwich.

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'We've selected three great properties to show her,

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'but I won't be revealing the price of each until she's had a guess first.

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'And finally, there's our mystery house,

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'which will challenge Jane's preconceptions about what she really wants.'

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What would you say are the most important parts of what you're looking for in a house?

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-Views are one.

-Certainly.

-What are the other things?

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Not to be in a built-up area, because I've always had a city lifestyle.

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I want to be either on the edge of a village or in the countryside.

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-All right, but a community nearby, I take it.

-Yes.

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What's Jane's taste like? Are we looking for something period or newer?

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Erm, Jane's often spoke about she does like the barn-type exterior,

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but in her current home, she has a very modern interior which she's definitely put her own stamp on,

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so she'd like something similar or something that she can change the interior of to be quite modern.

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-We'll get on our way, shall we?

-Wonderful.

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'Ideally, Jane would like to spend around £450,000,

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'but she's prepared to go up to £500,000

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'for a perfect period property

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'which gives her a large open-plan kitchen/diner, a least two bedrooms

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'and a dedicated office. An annex with holiday let potential

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'would be the icing on the cake,

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'but a large garden with views is a must-have.'

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'We kick off our property search with location firmly in mind

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'as we head for the village of Rockland St Mary.

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'You wouldn't think that Norwich was under a 15-minute drive away from such a peaceful, rural setting.

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'As well as serving up a useful shop and Post Office,

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'it's here where the river Staithe marks the start of the Rockland Broad.

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'Just a two-minute walk away is our first house,

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'approached via its own long drive and, like Jane, possesses plenty of character.'

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-What do we make of this?

-Wow!

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That looks really stunning. It's got lovely period characteristics.

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-It isn't an old property. The plans for it were drawn up around 1960.

-Mm-hm.

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-But it's done very sympathetically.

-Certainly is. I like it very much.

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'Besides its great period style, the internal layout is thoughtfully designed for modern living.'

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I briefly want to pause in here just cos I think it's quite an impressive entrance hall.

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Yes, yes, nice size entrance hall.

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There's a theme of wood throughout the home. You see the oak parquet flooring,

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a lot of timbers exposed throughout the whole property.

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Not 100% to my taste, but I think I could work on it.

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-OK. If you want to lead the way through there, the living room's first up.

-Thank you.

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So what are your thoughts on this for a living room?

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A nice size of room and a lovely aspect out onto the garden.

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-Jane currently has quite a contemporary interior.

-Right.

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And my impression is that she'd quite like to continue that theme.

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And although it's such a beautiful period property outside,

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you'd find it very difficult to convert the inside with a contemporary feel.

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It would have to be very, very carefully done.

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-Let's see what you make of this next one.

-Thank you!

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-Just mind the step here.

-Thank you.

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So, you tell me what you want this room to be.

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I think I'm pretty sure what I'm going to be hearing.

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I think it would be an office, wouldn't it?

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Yeah. This was built as a fourth bedroom.

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You've got an en suite shower and loo.

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Would you have this as an occasional bedroom, or would you want it as a dedicated office?

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I think I'd need to consider a dedicated office.

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-OK. That leaves us with three bedrooms upstairs. Will that be enough?

-More than enough.

-Great!

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For a lot of people, the next room is the engine room of the home. See what you make of it.

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So, the heart of the home for most people.

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-What do we think?

-The kitchen units, they're nice,

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but I'd change those to be slightly more contemporary.

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'The kitchen leads through to a spacious utility room at the back

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'and there's a relaxed layout for entertaining.'

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Just looking through here, this is your dining room.

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It feels a little bit open-plan, doesn't it?

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It certainly does. I like the more informal style of living these days

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where people can come into the kitchen, they can help themselves,

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or you can have a buffet out here. So, yes, I like that.

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'The dining room leads through to a timber-built conservatory,

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'another great space for socialising, with French doors onto the terrace.

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'We'll come to the garden later, but first let's take a look upstairs.

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'The three bedrooms include a good size twin room, and on the other side of the landing,

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'the family bathroom has the luxury of a roll-top bath.

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'There's also a spacious double room with built-in wardrobes.

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'But next we'll explore where Jane would sleep.'

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The master bedroom has an en suite just through there, recently refurbed.

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-We're up in the roof here now.

-That's right!

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So you've got lots and lots of storage into the eaves.

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-How would you think you'd want to do this room?

-I imagine a little, rather stylish four-poster

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with some nice drapes making it feminine.

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Some people might find it a bit of a challenge trying to get

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furniture to fit in with the eaves and things,

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but I think it adds a lot of character to the place.

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'Jane seems pleased with the layout and room sizes of this property,

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'but it's the gorgeous secluded garden that will hopefully win her over

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'as it's the perfect setting for some wonderful parties.

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'All told, it amounts to around half an acre.'

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You can see from the sun, it's a glorious west-facing garden.

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-Real sun trap.

-Isn't it?

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Now, is it daunting for you, actually, Jane?

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There's a lot of garden here.

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It goes with the house.

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It's sort of the quintessential English garden in a way. It's lovely.

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How much do you think this house is on the market for?

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-Good question.

-Mm.

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-I think about £450,000.

-OK.

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-What does Georgie think?

-I think it's going to be maxing the budget.

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I think it's going to be pretty close to £500,000.

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Very good guess. It started life, apparently, at around £500,000.

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It's now on the market for offers around £489,000.

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So now is the time for you to have a good look around the house without me there, look at all the rooms

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and discuss amongst yourselves what you like, what you'd like to change.

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-OK? I'll see you in about 20 minutes.

-Thank you.

-Enjoy.

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'Under budget at £489,000,

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'this charming character property leaves Jane money left over to redecorate where she feels fit.

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'It provides her with a large kitchen,

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'three bright reception rooms, plus an office and three bedrooms with a master en suite.

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'The half acre of landscaped garden is stunning

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'and it's wrapped up in a village location

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'in the heart of open countryside.'

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When we first walked in, I didn't think it was going to be Jane's cup of tea

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but it's opened her eyes to a different type of property that she would now consider.

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I hadn't originally thought that this might be the type of house

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that I would like, but it really has opened my eyes.

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I really love the feeling. It's got character.

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And, yes, I love the garden.

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I think it has really got to be a great contender.

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'Our house search edges closer to the coast.

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'Nine miles inland from Cromer is the village of Felmingham

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'whose 15th century church tower stands tall above the fields

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'and where local produce is readily available.

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'Our second property has plenty of gardening potential and history attached to it.'

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Now, I know you liked the period style of the first house.

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-This IS period, OK?

-Right.

-The middle part of the property is the old farmhouse, OK?

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-That's probably mid-18th century.

-Mm-hm.

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Coming to the end, you can see a Victorian extension, almost the same size.

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-And then the far end, you've got a modern extension.

-Wow!

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-What's your first impressions?

-It looks most unusual and I like the location.

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-We're right out in the heart of the country here.

-You really are.

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-Let's look inside.

-Thank you!

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'After pleasing first reactions, let's see if Jane can draw on her creativity

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'and see the potential of the unfurnished interior.'

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So through a small vestibule, if you like, straight into the kitchen.

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-And it's all gone quiet.

-Not keen walking straight into a kitchen.

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I like the period features, like the lovely bits of exposed wood,

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-but I've got to get over the concept of walking straight into the kitchen.

-Sure. Size-wise?

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-Not too bad.

-These aren't great reactions from Jane, are they?

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No. I quite like it. And having the range there, that's a real feature, very unique.

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-Let's look at this first room.

-Thank you.

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'Jane's slightly downbeat, but can we stoke up her imagination next door?'

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-I know you have a need for an office.

-Absolutely.

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It's certainly space-wise quite good.

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Logistic problems with all these radiators and how you'd cope with them for putting in office equipment

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cos suddenly walls have been taken up almost on three sides.

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I'm just considering, it depends whether the other reception room has got a feature fireplace,

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-because that would be lovely in a sitting room.

-'Good point.

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'At the other end of the house is another, even more impressive fireplace

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'and the option for a bit of remodelling.'

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Georgie, you mentioned the fireplace in the first reception room. I think that's bigger and better.

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Yeah, that is quite impressive.

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But by the time you get a sofa in here and a bit of furniture,

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it is a little bit on the tiny side

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Do you remember this morning, you said you wouldn't mind a bit of a project?

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This house isn't registered with the estate agent as listed. I suggest potentially turning the garage

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-into office space.

-OK. That actually has a lot of merit.

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-Sounds good.

-You're smiling again now.

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'Tucked away behind the fireplace is a utility area and shower room,

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'plus there's a nicely-designed conservatory with garden views.

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'Upstairs are four bedrooms, two singles with exposed beams

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'separated only by a stud wall, useful is Jane fancied making them one again.

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'There's also a large double with a feature chimney breast and double aspect windows.

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'But the master really raises the roof.'

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OK, now, I know it's difficult to imagine if a bedroom is suitable or not without any furniture in it,

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-but that's what I'm asking you to do.

-OK.

-What do you think?

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I'm very impressed by this beautiful vaulted ceiling.

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-Good.

-It does add space, doesn't it? Makes it quite spacious.

-Mm.

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I applaud your positivity. Let's have a quick peek into the bathroom,

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cos that was surprisingly big. After you, third on the left.

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-I like this room.

-It's big, isn't it?

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-I'm glad you like this room.

-I love the character of the wood here.

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-Yeah.

-And I just like the character of the room, so this would be a winner for a bathroom.

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'The property as a whole is awash with original features which Jane seems to appreciate.

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'Although I'm not sure it's fuelling her overall enthusiasm for the house.

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'However, the garden is an extremely generous half-acre plot sub-divided into different zones,

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'including a large vegetable garden with greenhouses and a range of small outbuildings.

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'Beyond the boundary hedging are splendid rural views, one of Jane's must-haves.'

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Now, this is a very big garden, isn't it?

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Yes, yes, a very nice size. And with a nice south aspect.

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You're surrounded by farmland, but similar to the thatched house,

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-you can't see a great deal of it at the moment. Would you want to change that?

-I think so.

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If you're going to be in the countryside, it's quite nice to rake through and see the fields.

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I get the feel this house isn't for you. But I'd like to know how much you think it's on the market for.

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I would think possibly about £350,000, £400,000.

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-Georgie?

-With the amount of land that's here, I'm going to be a bit more generous, I'm going to say 380.

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Not particularly generous. This house is on the market, it came on about four weeks ago,

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at £450,000.

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But I think that your guesses represent the fact that it's just not for you.

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-More than likely.

-Yeah. OK.

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Well, look, I think you should still go back inside and look around the house.

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For as much as anything else, to, hopefully,

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help you find out whether or not period properties like this are for you. Catch you later.

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'Under budget at £450,000, this cottage is full of original features

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'but still leaves enough money for some small-scale renovations.

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'As it stands, it offers Jane two reception rooms and a conservatory,

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'four bedrooms, a double garage which could convert to an office,

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'and just shy of half an acre of garden

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'with those all-important countryside views.'

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This house has got some plus points and some minus points for me.

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I like the exterior brickwork, I like the wood in the old part of the house,

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the lovely beams and the tiled floors, but unfortunately I feel the rooms are all a little bit small,

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and even if knocked some through to make a slightly larger room,

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which I think I'd struggle to do in the main rooms,

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I just don't think I'd be able to achieve what I wanted to achieve here.

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What's worrying me about this property is I just don't think it has enough space

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for the entertaining that Jane wants to do.

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However, it is a very unique house with the different eras of period features.

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But overall, I just don't think it's a contender for Jane.

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'As evening falls over the Norfolk countryside, our first day of house-hunting draws to a close.

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Well, I think yesterday got off to a pretty good start. Almost too good.

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Thatched houses are not everybody's cup of tea but I think Jane and Georgie really warmed to the fact

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that whilst it had a period look to it, it gave them the modern interiors inside.

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Conversely, in the afternoon,

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the period farmhouse with its extensions left them both pretty cold.

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Today is another glorious start to the day and we're off to see the mystery house.

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Now, as ever, I ask my house-hunters to expect the unexpected,

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although with this particular mystery property,

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I think it's going to give them something they've asked for but they haven't yet seen.

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Are there any facets of a property that you said you'd like to see

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that you haven't yet seen, do you think?

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Possibly back to the open-plan living,

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a kitchen leading through into a breakfast area.

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So you've got that sort of communal environment.

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'We'll hold onto that thought as we head to the mystery house in the coastal village of Bacton

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'which, along with its dramatic beach, boasts some impressive architecture,

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'including an array of thatched buildings and the 12th century ruins of Broomholm Priory,

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'once a famous site of pilgrimage.

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'Our mystery property has ready-made potential for Jane to earn an income.

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'But it will require her to be open-minded, as there's a nearby road.'

0:20:130:20:17

So, mystery property time. What do you think of what you see so far?

0:20:170:20:21

I love the colour. I love the pantiled roof.

0:20:210:20:23

I've always loved Georgian houses because they have lovely big windows.

0:20:230:20:28

There are compromises littered about this house, and I think, first of all,

0:20:280:20:32

it's not in the remote, quiet, idyllic location that you asked for,

0:20:320:20:36

so what do you think about being in the village?

0:20:360:20:39

Well, I want to be the heart of the community, so I have quite a strong checklist.

0:20:390:20:45

And it may be that, at the end of the day, I have to compromise on certain factors.

0:20:450:20:49

-You obviously have a front door. But we're going to go through the side entrance, OK?

-Lovely.

-Follow me.

0:20:490:20:54

'Dating back to the late 18th century,

0:20:560:20:58

'our mystery property has been greatly extended over the years.

0:20:580:21:02

'So inside provides the space, but not necessarily the contemporary feel Jane was after.'

0:21:020:21:07

-DOOR SQUEAKS

-Bit of a creaky door.

0:21:080:21:12

-I'm dying to hear what you make of this.

-Love it.

-Do you?

-Yep.

0:21:150:21:19

Is this your taste?

0:21:190:21:21

I think so. Yes. I do like it.

0:21:210:21:24

I think it's a gorgeous kitchen. The style of it is in keeping with the property.

0:21:240:21:29

Let's take a quick scoot around the ground floor as there are a few surprises for us. I'll squeeze past.

0:21:290:21:35

So, we have some office space.

0:21:380:21:41

Yeah, do you think it's big enough, Jane?

0:21:410:21:44

It's compact. Possibly not quite big enough for what my needs would be.

0:21:440:21:48

-Well, there are options elsewhere. So bear that in mind.

-Thank you.

0:21:480:21:53

-A more formal style of dining in here, I think.

-Certainly.

-Very sophisticated.

0:21:530:21:59

'And that Georgian sophistication continues.'

0:21:590:22:02

Now then, as a living room, how do we find this?

0:22:020:22:06

I like this room. I like the size of the room.

0:22:060:22:10

-This is the proportions I'm looking for.

-Is it? Right. Is this excited Jane?

0:22:100:22:13

-Yeah, definitely.

-Good. All right.

0:22:130:22:17

Well, look, this is just about Jane and her relaxing new way of life.

0:22:170:22:23

Next door gives you a completely different option. So follow me.

0:22:230:22:27

Now, there are other entrances into this part of the property.

0:22:300:22:35

But if you throw your eyes back yonder,

0:22:350:22:41

you'll see a self-contained small kitchen,

0:22:410:22:43

-with an en suite bedroom off.

-Wow!

0:22:430:22:48

So you can have this as just letting accommodation,

0:22:480:22:52

but also if you wanted to maybe look after your guests even more,

0:22:520:22:56

you've got the option of providing B&B accommodation elsewhere in the house, as well.

0:22:560:22:59

Sounds good. Cos I really wanted the house to work for me. So that sounds like a really good idea.

0:22:590:23:04

'The annexe also benefits from a superb en suite

0:23:040:23:08

'as do three of the four bedrooms upstairs.

0:23:080:23:11

'There's one impeccable double with its own light, bright shower room,

0:23:110:23:16

'and another double with an en suite of a similar size.

0:23:160:23:19

'Next door there's a single currently used as a laundry room

0:23:190:23:23

'and the master is finished to an equally high standard.'

0:23:230:23:27

Now, this is your master bedroom of three good-sized doubles.

0:23:270:23:32

I love it. I wanted to have view out of my window and I think you get a nice view of the trees here,

0:23:320:23:38

-a perfect-sized room and the house is immaculate.

-It really is, isn't it?

0:23:380:23:42

Everything has been finished so well. A lot of love and care has gone into this.

0:23:420:23:46

'Even though Jane only asked for two bedrooms,

0:23:460:23:49

'the size and grandeur of our mystery house doesn't seem to be phasing her in the least.

0:23:490:23:55

'Outside, the rear garden is a real oasis of calm with uninterrupted views of the field beyond.'

0:23:550:24:02

Now then, obviously you've got that huge fore-garden but this is a lot more private and secluded, isn't it?

0:24:040:24:11

-It certainly is.

-I think this is a great space. It's a big garden,

0:24:110:24:16

and you can do so much more with it.

0:24:160:24:18

-Good. So, try pricing it then, Jane.

-Mm.

0:24:180:24:22

I think it's about £500,000.

0:24:220:24:24

OK. Georgie?

0:24:240:24:27

-I'm going to go a little less. I'm going to say 475.

-OK.

0:24:270:24:31

Spot on. It's on the market for £500,000.

0:24:310:24:34

Now is your opportunity. I bet you can't wait to get back inside,

0:24:340:24:38

-discover all those other bedrooms, maybe pick one for yourself, Georgie.

-Lovely.

-See you in a bit.

0:24:380:24:43

'Bang on Jane's maximum budget of £500,000,

0:24:450:24:49

'our mystery house seems to be a hit despite it being on a road.

0:24:490:24:54

'As it stands, it gives her an open plan kitchen/dining area,

0:24:540:24:58

'four bedrooms, an annexe with holiday let potential

0:24:580:25:02

'and a garden with those all-important views.'

0:25:020:25:05

The house is delightful.

0:25:050:25:09

I love the lightness, the airiness, I like the fact that we've got two gardens,

0:25:090:25:14

I like the fact that there is a revenue income potential from the property.

0:25:140:25:17

That's actually put a big tick.

0:25:170:25:20

And I like the fact that it would achieve everything I would wish to achieve from a house,

0:25:200:25:26

so, er, yes, I think it's a very promising option here.

0:25:260:25:30

It really is a beautiful home.

0:25:300:25:32

A lot of love and care has gone into it and the finishes are immaculate.

0:25:320:25:37

So I'm quite interested to see whether Jane would consider putting in an offer on this place.

0:25:370:25:41

Well, it's now decision time for Jane and it's a good job she's got Georgie to use as a sound board

0:25:480:25:54

because I think it's between two properties.

0:25:540:25:56

But they're both completely different and in very different locations.

0:25:560:26:00

Let's find out what she wants to do next.

0:26:000:26:02

So, Jane, let's start with yesterday morning,

0:26:050:26:10

the first house I took you to, had some great reactions in that house.

0:26:100:26:13

It was. It was a lovely house. Sort of a chocolate-box house, wasn't it?

0:26:130:26:18

-But the garden was magnificent.

-Yeah.

0:26:180:26:20

Yeah, definitely. Jane was quite surprised, she really warmed to it.

0:26:200:26:23

Because you reacted so well, I thought you'd get on pretty well in the farmhouse in the afternoon.

0:26:230:26:29

-Not as well as I hoped, though.

-No. I mean, there were features in the farmhouse, like the nice flooring

0:26:290:26:35

and nice wooden exposed beams, but the house just didn't work.

0:26:350:26:39

The rooms were small and I couldn't see a way you could open them up and make them work well.

0:26:390:26:44

Now, as you both know, the mystery property is there to perhaps challenge your expectations.

0:26:440:26:50

This gave you a couple of facets that you'd mentioned before, such as a business opportunity.

0:26:500:26:56

What do you think about that now?

0:26:560:26:57

Well, being a single person, it's a big house and I love socialising, I like having people around.

0:26:570:27:02

And I think there was a complete annexe which could be a revenue earner for me,

0:27:020:27:07

or a granny flat if my mother came to stay.

0:27:070:27:10

Can you genuinely see your Auntie Jane being a landlady of a B&B, part-time at least?

0:27:100:27:16

I think she'd lend herself to it quite well, yeah.

0:27:160:27:19

Well, it's between two properties by the sounds of it. Do you have a favourite?

0:27:190:27:23

-The last house, I think.

-The mystery property?

-Yes, I do.

0:27:230:27:26

Well, I think, maybe go back for a second viewing then,

0:27:260:27:29

and see if it is the place for you, because if it is, that house seemed to be pretty much up your street.

0:27:290:27:36

-Please let us know how you get on. Thanks for all your help, Georgie, as well.

-You're welcome.

0:27:360:27:41

Well, I think we had a bit of a wobble in the middle of our house search here in Norfolk,

0:27:430:27:47

but by the sounds of it, according to Jane, the mystery property has really come up trumps here.

0:27:470:27:52

I think it's in a new location and Jane needs to do a bit of research there,

0:27:520:27:56

and hopefully she can find out even more on the second viewing.

0:27:560:28:00

But she also seems really excited about the prospect of running her own business from home.

0:28:000:28:04

This B&B idea would suit her down to the ground, especially with her hospitality skills.

0:28:040:28:09

So I wish her all the very best of luck with the second viewing,

0:28:090:28:13

and hopefully she can enjoy the warm embrace of being close to her family and friends here in Norfolk.

0:28:130:28:19

See you next time.

0:28:190:28:21

'If you'd like to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales,

0:28:210:28:24

'Northern Ireland or England and need our help,

0:28:240:28:27

'please apply online at:

0:28:270:28:32

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0:28:440:28:48