Extract from “Period Living” magazine, May 2010

"Imagine taking on a costly eight-year renovation project – a damp, waterlogged thatched cottage with no services andno road access – with the knowledge that you will never own the property. It’s not the sort of deal that would tempt many people; but former builder Andy Singleton was intrigued, especially by the cottage’s location, in the woods and beside a lake on the Knebworth Estate in Hertfordshire. Andy recalls: “In 2001, the trustees of the estate advertised the cottage in The Sunday Times; they were looking for somebody to take on the renovation and resulting costs in exchange for a 21-year rent-free lease. They had an open day inviting people to put forward proposals, and it was eventually whittled down to me as I was able to demonstrate a track record of working on these kinds of projects.


Although he’d never renovated a timber-framed building before, and certainly not had a chance to thatch, Andy – who is originally fromYorkshire – does have many years experience working on period properties and stone barns in the Dales. ‘We agreed a specification for the renovation,’ he explains, ‘which I’ve since exceeded because I fell in love with the place and got a little carried away!"