Claire Segeran and Cal Hunter had been looking to buy a house for quite some time. Two months after they actively started searching, they came across an interesting building that caught their attention. The couple was taken in by its rustic beauty and traditional vibe.
Although the house needed repairs, they still went ahead with the purchase. After all, how hard would it be to restore the beauty? However, as time passed, they started realizing the grave error on their part. Soon that purchase would become the biggest mistake of their lives.
Cal Hunter, an Englishman, and Claire Segrean from Canada first met in the French Alps during the ski season. They instantly felt attracted to each other and soon began dating.
They then went on to cover the whole of Europe together which included various backpacking days, camping, and road-tripping. After covering Europe, Cal spent the summer in Canada with Claire. They have been inseparable ever since; so it was pretty obvious for them to take a leap and move in together.
24-year-old Claire was offered a place to study at Glasgow Medical School in Scotland for the fall semester of 2018. However, the fee of the medical school was fairly high and Claire decided to defer her admission to next year.
The couple decided to flip a house to make money for Claire’s college fees and also use this period to spend quality time together. Claire also decided to work as Cal’s apprentice the whole year. Cal was a 27-year-old carpenter. Only if they could change what they did!
The concept of house flipping goes back to the 80s where you buy a house, renovate it, and resell it. This allows the seller to gain a lot of profit, hence, Cal and Claire decided to use the profit for paying Claire’s college fee.
With Cal’s great carpentry expertise, they were sure to make a lot of profit. They decided to buy a house through an auction sale, but the big question was did they know how to navigate an auction sale?
Cal and Claire were going after a house in the auction independently, hence, they needed to research beforehand. To make sure they got the best deal and abided by all the laws, the couple did a lot of homework.
They decided to buy a two-bedroom apartment in Glasgow but in the bidding war, Cal made a mistake. Did all that research go to waste because Cal bid on the wrong property?
The property Cal and Claire had their eyes on was sold in three separate lots, each lot set at three separate prices. Unaware of this, Cal ended up bidding on a lot of the other property.
Cal realized his mistake immediately after making it but was it too late till then? Did the auction houses follow their “all sales are final” policy diligently?
After offering a lot of money, Cal did win a house but not the one he had his eyes on. Cal and Claire ended up with a 120-year-old Victorian mansion in Dunoon, Scotland called Jameswood Villa. Even this Victorian mansion was sold in three lots, someone had already purchased the first section, Cal and Claire got the second section, the third was still open to purchase and the fourth was already owned.
This meant if the couple wanted to flip the property, they did not only have to buy the third unit as well but also demand cooperation from the other owners. Was this possible or were they being very ambitious?
Cal and Claire were very stressed about the whole situation and were thinking of the right action plan to move forward. To their surprise, soon after the purchase, they received a call from the auction house.
They were ready to offer the third unit to the young couple for a discounted price. If they bought the third unit as well, they would own half of the property. Would this be the right way to move forward?
After a lot of thinking, Cal and Claire decided to move ahead and buy the third unit. They were now proud owners of two units but still, they were worried about the other two units.
They wanted to buy the whole property and flip it entirely. Then began the process of finding the other two owners and hoping they would agree to sell their portions to the young couple.
After some asking around with the locals and searching, the young couple found the other two owners. To their surprise, both the owners agreed to sell their portions.
After some negotiation, they got a decent price and were now proud owners of a Victorian mansion. However, this was not the tough part of the journey, the real struggle was about to begin now. The renovations were about to begin and so was the test of their love.
Claire and Cal were far from alone in this new venture and had a whole neighboring community supporting them in their new creative project. The neighborhood community of Argyll and Bute welcomed them with open hands and dropped by regularly to check up on how they are doing.
The first six months of ownership had passed, and the renovations did not even start yet. Before beginning to work on the structure, they had to work on the land because it was full of waste, overgrown trees, weeds, and roots.
The mansion had been left abandoned for more than 20 years and it was evident not just through the outside of the mansion but also the inside. They found tons of waste like broken chairs, torn mattresses, moldy couches, damaged electrical appliances, smashed crockery, etc.
Claire had to make multiple trips to the community dump in her van to get rid of waste. This was hard work, but this moved the couple to take up another inspiring initiative.
The couple had to throw away a lot of things even after spending hours with them, thinking about how to make them reusable. However, they were broken beyond repair and had to be disposed of.
Cal and Claire then decided to make their home eco-friendly. They then started on a spree of collecting building material that others were getting rid of. Who knew this will not only be cost-effective but also bring them closer to nature?
The mansion had significant structural problems and was rotten to the core. The walls were crumbling and even the roof had gaping holes in it.
Soon after they also discovered that the house was sinking into the ground. Were Cal and Claire still motivated to renovate this decaying building and bring it back to life?
Despite these herculean challenges, the young adventurous millennial couple did not give up and continued their journey of renovating the Victorian mansion. To be able to come up with sufficient money to carry out these repairs was another task.
Even if they took up multiple loans, it would not be sufficient. It was therefore time to make some major lifestyle changes.
Cal and Claire decided to become homeless for the project’s duration and embrace the caravan life. They rented a mini caravan and parked it in the garden of the property to be able to put in more work hours and save money on rent and mortgage.
They had no running water and electricity but with help from friends and neighbors, they were able to set up usable makeshift systems. Their will to live an adventurous life was really being tested now.
At the beginning of 2019, the couple decided to set up some social media platforms to keep their friends and family updated. They opened an Instagram account and also started a blog titled ‘What Have We Dunoon?’
Soon the blog grabbed international attention and they also started receiving advice regarding the renovation of the mansion. The number of people who were following their story surprised the couple, motivated them to work harder, and take their social media accounts even further.
To be able to keep pace with the challenges of the renovations, they opened a GoFundMe page. The couple was really lucky and soon they started getting donations for working on the mansion.
They were a little relieved now and did not go to bed each night worrying about money. However, despite the donations, the couple had more problems to deal with.
The work van which came carrying materials for the repairs kept getting stuck in the mud. Sometimes walking in the mud with heavy rains meant getting stuck in ankle-deep mud.
The couple had to install a driveway to make access to the mansion easy. Who knew they would have to dig up the driveway soon after they made it?
Weeks after making the driveway, they had to dig it up to find the elusive water supply. All the hard work and planning went to waste instantly.
They then decided to take each stop more carefully, to not regret it later. Soon after dealing with the disappointment of the driveway, the couple had more bad news to digest.
A civil engineer friend kept visiting the couple regularly to make sure they were on the right path. Their friend told them the walls are not strong enough to hold up the roof and the other fixtures. Soon they had to plan to fix the walls risking the rain coming in through the gapping roof and ruining all their progress.
Despite the huge challenge, Cal and Claire remained positive and continued moving forward. They did hear some positive news later.
Cal ordered scaffolding from Bristol and getting it transported to Jameswood Villa was a huge challenge. Going all the way to Bristol and renting a truck to bring it back would be very time-consuming and costly. As a solution, they turned to their social media page and found a savior.
Alan, who was going to drive an empty from Bristol to Glasgow, offered to pick up the load and deliver it to them. They discovered many helpful people like Alan in their adventurous journey.
Living in the caravan and working on the renovation was a very challenging task and a true test of their relationship. There were moments when Cal did not agree with Claire and vice versa.
Additionally, Claire was an optimist whereas Cal a pessimistic which led to more arguments. However, they did not drag the fights for long and tried resolving them as soon as possible. After all, the young couple had big plans for the future.
After investing so many hours in the creative project, the couple got very attached to it. After a lot of discussions among themselves and with friends and family, the couple decided to turn the four-unit mansion into a three-unit mansion, sell two of them and keep one for themselves.
They could see themselves building a life for themselves in the mansion. The couple had no idea that a mistake would turn into such a fruitful asset.
The couple took this decision after a lot of calculation and making sure the positives outweigh the negatives. Also, the biggest advantage of the success of the plan was they would become mortgage-free in their twenties.
A lot of young couples deal with a mortgage which can be stressful. Cal and Claire saw living mortgage-free to be a big achievement.
Someone rightly said all’s well that ends well. The young couple is still working on the creative venture and doing a phenomenal job at it.
The mansion is taking up its original shape gradually and the couple is updating all of their social media followers diligently. They would not be able to do it without the help of friends, family, neighbors, and their followers.