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Couple bought crumbling Scottish mansion for £10,000 after misunderstanding Scots auctioneer accent

A young couple who mistakenly purchased a derelict mansion have revealed the remarkable transformation at the property over the last three years. 

A bemused Callum Hunter, 28, and his partner Claire Segeren, 26, thought they had bagged the bargain of the century when they purchased six-bedroom Jameswood Villa in Dunoon, Scotland.

With a rich local history dating back to the early neolithic period, the young couple couldn’t believe their luck.

Until they visited the 120-year-old house itself. A derelict property with crumbling walls, the grounds were peppered with warning: keep out signs, according to carpenter Cal.

Jameswood Villa had been empty for at least two decades, according to the locals who lived in the nearby village of Sandbank.

Young couple Cal and Claire had their eyes set on a £30,000 two-bed flat in Glasgow, but accidently ended up with the six-bedroom mansion after misunderstanding an auctioneer’s strong Glaswegian accent.

After momentarily panicking, the pair decided to commit to a full-scale renovation project in 2019, and now live in a caravan in the grounds as they work night and day on the property.

A bemused Callum Hunter, 28, and his partner Claire Segeren, 26, thought they had bagged the bargain of the century when they purchased six-bedroom Jameswood Villa in Dunoon, Scotland

Carpenter Cal Hunter revealed he mistakenly purchased Jameswood at auction after misunderstanding the Glaswegian auctioneer's strong accent

Carpenter Cal Hunter revealed he mistakenly purchased Jameswood at auction after misunderstanding the Glaswegian auctioneer’s strong accent

Jameswood Villa in Dunoon, Scotland before
Jameswood Villa in Dunoon, Scotland after

Before and after: The 120-year-old house once had crumbling walls and the grounds were peppered with warning: keep out signs

With his partner otherwise occupied, Cal ventured to an auction alone in 2018, with a £40,000 budget and ambitions for a small place to call home in Glasgow. 

Speaking to the Guardian, Cal revealed: ‘The problem was auctioneers speak fast, and this one had a strong Glaswegian accent: I was really struggling to follow. 

‘Thankfully, a brochure on my seat contained the details for every lot, while a screen behind the stage displayed its corresponding number.’

As the screens in the auction house showed the flat the couple had set their sights on, Cal tentatively raised his hand to start the bidding war at £10,000.

No-one else batted an eyelid. With the resounding strike of the gavel, the flat was his. 

Claire Segeren works on Jameswood Villa, Scotland

Claire Segeren, 26, (above) wasn't with Cal the day he purchased the derelict Jameswood Villa, but committed to a full-scale renovation with him in 2019

Claire Segeren, 26, (above) wasn’t with Cal the day he purchased the derelict Jameswood Villa, but committed to a full-scale renovation with him in 2019

The couple’s What Have We Dunoon social media pages document the trials and tribulations they’ve faced over the last three years

To his horror, the screens showed a different property as the person sat beside him asked if he’d seen the property. 

Recalling that moment, Cal said: ‘I looked up, and was filled with dread. 

The number on the page in front of me and the one on the screen were definitely not matching. 

‘Someone had mentioned a few last-minute additions to the sale that hadn’t been in the booklet. 

‘The penny dropped. What had I bought?’

Wading through overgrown shrubs and danger signs, Cal and Claire (above) discovered the electricity hadn't been for two decades and were shocked to find a chair had fallen through the floorboards

Wading through overgrown shrubs and danger signs, Cal and Claire (above) discovered the electricity hadn’t been for two decades and were shocked to find a chair had fallen through the floorboards

After momentarily panicking, the pair decided to commit to a full-scale renovation project in 2019, and now live in a caravan in the grounds as they work night and day on the property

After momentarily panicking, the pair decided to commit to a full-scale renovation project in 2019, and now live in a caravan in the grounds as they work night and day on the property

The answer was Jameswood Villa – a crumbling Scottish mansion with graffiti on the walls, rotting furniture and disintegrating ceilings.

With Claire alongside him now, Cal ventured down to the property to scope out his new home.

Wading through overgrown shrubs and danger signs, they discovered the electricity hadn’t been for two decades and were shocked to find a chair had fallen through the floorboards.

The couple hope to spend winter 2021 inside Jameswood Villa - a remarkable achievement considering the state of the property three years ago

The couple hope to spend winter 2021 inside Jameswood Villa – a remarkable achievement considering the state of the property three years ago

The couple's What Have We Dunoon social media showcases some of the beautiful scenery around Dunoon in Scotland

The couple’s What Have We Dunoon social media showcases some of the beautiful scenery around Dunoon in Scotland

But, their determination to see the project through ensured they would not give up in spite of some surprises. 

The couple have committed to a full-time renovation since 2019, and document all their progress on their What Have We Dunoon? social media pages.

‘While quiet Dunoon isn’t quite Glasgow city centre, we love it,’ Cal told the Guardian.

‘The neighbours have welcomed us with open arms: stopping by with soup and lending us tools. 

‘It’s a special place – if you’re going to accidentally buy a house, you couldn’t do it somewhere better. 

‘Given the chance to go back to that auction, I’d put my hand up for this house, no question.’ 


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