Edward and Amy Pickard have turned a run-down cottage into a characterful family home, introducing a wind turbine to provide power.

The estate agents didn’t mince their words when describing ‘Cosh Farmhouse’, which, situated in one of the highest, most remote parts of the Yorkshire Dales, was not a purchase for the faint-hearted. “Electricity is absent, water is from an untested spring and drainage is not mentioned,” they warned. Prospective purchasers were also advised to negotiate the 1.5-mile moorland track to the front door on foot.

But, first-time buyers Edward and Amy Pickard were undeterred. Although the agents were deluged with enquiries from people all over the UK who thought £100,000 was a snip for an ‘idyllic’ rural retreat, enthusiasm quickly evaporated when they saw the state of the property. It was quite the reverse for Edward and Amy, who fell in love with its isolation and huge potential.

The Project

  • Name: Edward and Amy Pickard
  • Build cost: £100,000
  • Build time: 1 year 4 months
  • Location: Yorkshire Dales

“We had been looking for something to do up and this was certainly in need of modernisation,” says Amy. “The previous owners, who had six children and had lived here for 10 years, went to bed by candlelight and walked the track every day to catch the school bus.” (Edward and Amy had no intention of continuing that tradition.)

Although they were living with their parents in Keighley at the time, they spent every weekend and holiday at the cottage to complete the project, which was to take over their lives for the next two years.

The couple were granted permission to convert an old lean-to into a new kitchen and utility, and extend the sitting room over a stream, with an arched base to allow the natural spring water to run freely under the building.

The first tasks included taking off the roof, digging foundations for the extensions and digging out one of the floors inside which was too high. All the earth was spread on the hillside to the rear of the house. The walls were rebuilt in block and reclaimed stone, new roof timbers were hoisted into place and a slate roof put on, then with the building watertight they gradually developed the internal stud walls and floors. Edward – with the help of Amy – did nearly all the work himself, including electrics and plumbing.

“By doing everything ourselves I think we saved about £150,000 on labour,” says Edward. “We earned money and paid for materials as we went along. Most of the materials had to be brought to site on a dumper, driven from the tiny village of Foxup at the end of the track.”

The couple refused to move in until the carpets were laid, by which time reclaimed radiators, sourced by Edward’s father, had been installed, stone floors laid and the house decorated — by Amy and Edward naturally.

“It’s definitely a lifestyle, rather than just a home,” says Amy. “It’s a lovely way to live and a fantastic place to bring up children. When winter approaches we stock up the fridge and freezer just in case we can’t get out for a few weeks. It is remote, but we are not cut off. You just adapt to the circumstances.”

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