The penultimate episode of Scotland’s Home of the Year airs on Monday and features a former water tank that has been turned into a fantastic family house.
The Old Waterworks is a remarkable property near Crail that’s been made from an abandoned concrete water storage tank.
Sam and Ewan Robertson bought the Old Waterworks when they were just 18 years old. The abandoned building sat in a quiet corner of the farm owned by Ewan’s family.
“Ewan loved the building since he was a kid,” Sam says. “He used to do all sorts of things he wasn’t supposed to – explore inside it, drive his motorbike over it. He’s wanted to turn it into a house since he was a little boy.”
Having dreamt of the project for so long, Ewan knew exactly what he had in mind. He drew up his own plans and had an architect polish them up and submit them.
However it took until 2011 to obtain planning consent and then four more years to build the house itself.
Sam continues: “We had a mortgage agreement but it was withdrawn after the financial collapse. We had to finance the build ourselves.”
Building their dream home
This wasn’t easy, but fortunately as a joiner Ewan could do most of the work himself. “It was a very tough time,” Sam explains. “Our daughter is 13 now so she was just born when we were at the beginning of the project.
“We were both only around 20 years old. I was at university with a baby. Ewan was newly qualified as a joiner and was taking on this incredibly ambitious project.
“He got a few tradesmen he worked with to help out but he did at least 80% of the work himself. The walls are two and a half feet of solid concrete. Cutting through them to create openings for windows and doors took forever.”
Today the Old Waterworks is an extraordinary three-bedroom home. The vaulted concrete structure has a living roof covered in grass.
Inside, the main living area is open plan and the beautiful barrel concrete ceiling forms a remarkable feature. There is a double-height living area and a beautiful sunroom that is accessed from the decking outside.
The house is well insulated. “A wood burning stove provides most of our heating so all we pay for is electricity,” says Sam.
Old Waterworks a local landmark
Sam and Ewan, both 33, live there with their 13-year old daughter Sophie, nine-year old son Reuben and their golden retriever Coco. Ewan recently took over the family farm along with his brother and Sam works from home as an accountant.
The couple managed to complete the Old Waterworks with savings and money they earned along the way. Sam explains: “We had to keep to a really strict budget but it was worth it in the end. A couple of years ago we took out a very small mortgage to pay off credit card debt. We’re in the very fortunate position for our age of having a tiny mortgage on a house we love.”
Since the couple completed the Old Waterworks it has become something of a local landmark.
“At least five or six times a day we get cars stopping at the end of the road and people getting out to take pictures,” Sam smiles.
“We really like that the house gets so much attention.”
Episode nine of Scotland’s Home of the Year is broadcast on BBC One Scotland on Monday May 30 at 8.30pm and will then be available on iPlayer. The winners from all nine regional episodes go into a grand final broadcast on Monday June 6 where Scotland’s Home of the Year will be crowned.
- Think your house has what it takes to become Scotland’s Home of the Year? The show’s producers are looking for the finest properties to feature in the fifth series of the programme. To apply visit: www.bbc.co.uk/shoty