You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but you can make a Forever Home out of an old pig farm. That’s exactly what Michaela Zaben has done at The Old Piggery in Surrey since she invested £610,000 in it back in 2014. Michaela explained: “The original house was built in 1947 by an RAF officer. Sadly he never got to live in the house and it was later bought and completed by the owners we purchased it from.
“The house was in good working order, but it was extremely dated. The family had lived there for many years and it was a very loved, lived-in and cherished family home.
“To give an idea of when it was last renovated, the house was run via a coal-fired boiler which had to be lit every day.
“This was so impractical and I had many cold showers as a result. Needless to say, it was one of the first things to go.”
The Old Piggery, transformed into a £1.3 million Forever Home. All pictures: Instagram: @theoldpiggery
The Old Piggery refurbishment has cost around £230,000
Michaela estimates that she and her husband Ramy have spent £230,000 on The Old Piggery refurbishment. It took two years to get designs, planning permission and the inside finished. The outside took another 18 months for the landscaping, refurbishment of the outbuildings, and larch cladding.
“We did most of the work ourselves, which cut down on the costs. My husband took a break from full-time work and concentrated exclusively on the house for a while.
The finished product is a statement residence, which is now run as an idyllic holiday let.
The Old Piggery boasts four double bedrooms, office/snug, separate studio/workshop, and Michaela is particularly pleased with the smooth lines of the kitchen where, apart from the oven, all the equipment is built-in and hidden.
It was renovated top to bottom, inside and out, with a full rewire, all new plumbing and heating, solar panels, and a two-story side extension. The garden was completely landscaped and a bespoke chicken house was built.
The existing outbuilding was also renovated to provide extra kitchen/studio space and there is a fire pit with a steel screen and vegetable beds, all of which were designed and created by Michaela and her husband. “We also had a lot of fun creating a hidden bar area with a bespoke neon sign,” she said.
The dated house when it was bought (above) and the Forever Home in transformation (below).
These are a few of my favourite things
“My favourite elements are the larch cladding outside, beautiful bespoke details like the green bathroom or steel hand-built pond. All of which are unique to The Old Piggery.”
The home has various eco-friendly elements too: “We installed a heat recovery ventilation system and solar panels. We are looking at changing the boiler, possibly to ground source or air source.
“A lot of the interior items have been sourced sustainably. We also went above all of the thermal building requirements to ensure it’s as future-proof as possible.
“When we first started looking into cladding the house with larch, we were pretty unsure of all the regulations. Back in 2014, we were going to get it rendered but we did a massive u-turn as we felt it wouldn’t be sympathetic to the landscape. Plus, being an ex-agricultural property, it simply didn’t sit well.
“We took a lot of expert advice to ensure the cladding met all the regulations, even down to how it was fastened to the building, insulation, and fire precautions. Throughout the cladding project, we worked closely with building control.
And one other money-no-object project for The Old Piggery? “It would have to be a swimming pool. We’ve always dreamt of adding a pool but it always seemed a bit of a stretch taking the British weather into account.”
The Old Piggery bathroom turns daily ablutions into the height of luxury.
Home is a star of social media, TV, advertising, and fashion
The Old Piggery is certainly getting a lot of traction on social media and has even aroused interest as a film and fashion shoot backdrop.
Michaela explained: “We have had a wide range of filming at the house from photo shoots for fashion, interiors, and branding. There have also been adverts, and we have a possible TV series filming here soon. I’m not allowed to provide specific details, it’s all top secret, but watch this space!
“It makes me feel incredibly proud. The stylists always change it up, depending on what they are shooting, and I love seeing what they create. The house is a fantastic canvas for them to work their magic.”
The last time The Old Piggery was valued back in 2020 the rather conservative estimate of £1.3 million was put on the property – with property prices soaring you could probably add £250,000 to reach today’s value.
The fire pit (above) and the chicken house (below) are two home design features that Michaela finds particularly pleasing.
Now The Old Piggery is finished it’s all hands on “project Kent”
Not satisfied with just one refurbishment project, Michaela and her husband took up a second, in Kent, in 2019.
“The home at the centre of the Kent project has had many lives and finally it was converted into four flats in the late 90s when traditional seaside holidaymakers made use of cheaper air travel and went abroad.
“The building was fully tenanted when we purchased it and it wasn’t until a tenant moved out that we took the decision to start the long process of restoring the building.
“It had a huge amount of neglect, bad workmanship and wear and tear as a result of the seaside weather. It was in a very sad state.
“After two years we have completely restored the outside, including all the original mouldings. They have all been hand sculpted, moulded and reattached by myself and my husband.
“The inside is well underway too, with the top flat being fully renovated and relet. We are currently working on the basement which we plan to keep for ourselves as we have fallen head over heels in love with the place! We plan to use it for a holiday home, for ourselves as well as friends and family.”
Work on the Kent project launched in July 2020 and it should be completed by the end of this year. “Unfortunately we keep getting held up by problems, structural issues, damp… you name it, this property has it. But hopefully we will get to celebrate Christmas there this year.”
Click this link if you want to find out more about The Old Piggery.
The Old Piggery is a Forever Home built for entertaining.
Non-standard insurance for your Forever Home
If you own a statement home like The Old Piggery, its unusual features will probably mean it needs non-standard Forever Homes household insurance. For a fast no-hassle quote from the home insurance experts at Adrian Flux, call 0333 256 1610.
Read our blog to discover the features and possessions in your Forever Homes that may not be covered by standard household insurance.