AN Irish businessman is reaping the rewards after renovating a derelict site in Donegal and turning it into a stunning holiday home.
Bernard Greene, 55, who usually commutes from his family home in Loughnahure, Donegal to his business in Loughton, Essex, has recently turned his hand to holiday home letting.
After purchasing a derelict site in a Dungloe beauty site the businessman spent three years completely renovating it into the impressive House Crohy Head holiday home.
He began letting the luxury property to holidaymakers in April 2019, with the help of his wife Teresa and children Ciara, Michael and Joe.
And now, with lockdown easing and staycations the activity of summer 2020, the family are busier than ever with bookings for the property, which they let through Sykes Holiday Cottages.
This week Mr Greene told The Irish Post more about the business and their journey into the world of holiday home letting...
How do you run your holiday home property?
Since I began letting House Crohy Head in April 2019, it has been a family affair. My wife, Teresa, and children, Ciara, Michael and Joe, love to get stuck in and have helped me with the changeovers of guests and general maintenance of the house. Our friend Ray, who lives nearby, also assists with any changeovers that might take place while we’re away.
From the money we make monthly on the house from bookings, we’re able to pay the children for their help, so they’re able to feel as though they’re part of the letting process and earning money in their teenage years.
We also work with local businesses, such as our resident laundrette on cleaning the sheets and towels after each stay.
Why did you choose the House Crohy Head site?
I chose the site because of the stunning views which surround the property. I originally bought it around 10 years ago, with planning permission to refurbish and extend it.
At first, the old property on the site was in ruin, so we had to completely renovate and rebuild it. Though there were strict planning constraints, I knew it would be worth it for the location - I feel pretty privileged to be able to own such a fantastic spot in County Donegal.
What was your renovation journey like?
The renovation of the house took around three years, as it was in complete disrepair. When we began the revamp, we made sure to use local stone, natural slates and timber windows to ensure it blended into the rural environment and captured the spirit of Dungloe.
Overall, the renovation cost in excess of £200K, as we also had to add in triple glazing, hot water pressure and a new heat recovery and ventilation system.
I was also keen to make sure the property would be finished to a high standard and be considered a luxury holiday home, which meant factoring certain extras into our budget. This included the addition of under floor heating and enhancing security, building an electric entrance gate and walling off the property’s garden.
How has your experience as a holiday let owner been?
Thus far, it has been much less hassle than I expected. Sykes Holiday Cottages handle all the bookings, so we don’t need to worry about marketing the house ourselves or securing visitors for each year. Moreover, Sykes have always found us lovely guests that return for year on year stays and treat the house well, so we’ve been really happy with the outcome of partnering with them.
We’re actually working on an additional site to let out as a holiday home, which is in the Dungloe area. We’re aiming to have this ready to list with Sykes next year which is very exciting, particularly given how popular House Crohy Head is proving to be this summer.
What are your top tips for anyone considering buying a holiday home to let?
I would advise anyone who is looking to let out a holiday home to ensure it is finished to a high standard. If you put in the extra time and money to make sure it is comfortable, with quality furnishings and décor, you’ll see you get repeat visitors on a consistent basis.
I’d also recommend partnering with a trusted agency such as Sykes Holiday Cottages, as they can offer expert advice on how to price your property, how to market it and also help with overseeing bookings and customer service. I found it really useful to have professionals guiding me through the process.
How do the finances work?
With the income we earn from bookings, we use this to cover the costs of the house, such as utility bills and ensuring it is constantly kept up to standard for guests. As it’s our first full year of income, we’re putting the majority of it in further enhancing the property, such as extra planting externally. However, in the future, we plan on using it for payment of our children’s college fees.
How have bookings been since lockdown has eased?
Following lockdown, bookings are back and busier than ever as travellers look to holiday closer to home. The months ahead are set to be extremely busy for holiday let owners, with properties booking up fast as people look to take a much-needed break.
In the past two months, we’ve seen a whopping 239 per cent year-on-year increase in domestic bookings of our properties based in Ireland and the occupancy level has already hit 89 per cent for July and August.
Looking beyond the end of the lockdown to the long-term, we’ve witnessed the number of domestic tourists holidaying in the Ireland grow significantly in recent years and we’re confident that this trend will continue.
For further information or to view the property click here.