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Leap OF faith

Hamish and Liberty Martin took a gamble on an overgrown plot and built a vernacular home that supports both their lifestyle and business needs
PHOTOS DOUGLAS GIBB

Liberty and Hamish Martin had long dreamt of a more rural lifestyle. “Back in 2012, we were living and working in the centre of Edinburgh, but we’re both country-born and weren’t really city people at heart,” says Liberty. “Hamish had recently qualified as a herbal practitioner and we began looking for a site where we could live and also start our own business running a herb garden and cafe. Initially we focused on properties within the city catchment area but we soon realised we had little chance of finding a suitable spot within our budget. So we began to think about the self-build option.”

Months went by as the couple looked at potential land located further and further away from Edinburgh. “I dread to think how many plots we viewed, easily 100 all told,” says Liberty. “Then, by chance, Hamish stumbled across this 7.5 acre site, which is situated just 30 minutes’ drive from the city centre.”

The property was totally overgrown and included a gigantic glasshouse, several derelict outbuildings and an earth barn complete with a leaking roof. It was also being sold without outline planning permission in place. “The site had previously been supporting a veg box scheme, so we were hopeful that a mix of business and residential use would be approved, but there were no guarantees,” says Liberty. “Just to complicate matters even more, it was classified as green belt land. But we’d already fallen in love with the location, so we decided to take a risk and go for it.”

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About Build It

Find the advice & inspiration you need to build or renovate your dream home, including: - Cover house... a charming vernacular new home in the countryside - Specifying sustainable building materials - Design ideas for listed buildings - Can smart homes be hacked? - Self-building for profit ... and more!