Thursday, 22 December 2011

That's unusual:Beach huts are the ultimate seaside property

Fancy a bit of sand between your toes this summer? The traditional English beach hut can be cheap, charming and buckets of fun 

Sunshine, long weekends, picnics and sand between our toes - yes, the quintessential English holiday season is on us again. And so is the traditional beach hut story. But whereas the papers concentrate on the high cost of huts in a few parts of the country, the reality is that in most places they are cheap, charming and enormous fun.
“Mine has been in my family for three generations and I intend to pass it on to my children and theirs” says Sylvia Jones, who lives in Cardiff but has her hut at Dunster Beach, Somerset. “There is no way we could afford a second home but this is a low-cost way of having a retreat with the best sea view in the world. We come down on bright days during the winter, then stay overnight for weekends in the spring and summer. Lovely.”
Of course you can pay the earth. Back in 2001 artist Tracey Emin sold hers in Kent to advertising guru Charles Saatchi for £75,000 and at Mudeford Spit in Dorset some have changed hands for over £100,000. With celebrities like Suggs from Madness and the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards having huts, ownership may carry a certain cache.

Yet beach huts began as simple changing rooms on beach edges where nothing else could be built and even today plenty are, in the best sense of the word, cheap. Scour the internet for private sales or try seaside estate agents (Pittis on the Isle of Wight is selling one on Appoley Beach for £14,000.
Whatever your budget, follow these tips:
• Check local council 'occupation rules'. Some forbid overnight stays;
• Some huts have covenants that prohibit letting, although this is rare;
• Find out management fees and costs of security measures like CCTV, security lighting, or occasional security guard visits;
• If you cannot visit frequently, hire a 'carer' - they exist in most resorts and will do a weekly check for a nominal fee.
Annual costs include council tax or commercial rates, repainting and weather-protection. Insurance is about £100 per year and annual council licences are £125 to £1,500. You may also have to pay 20 per cent of your rental income to a lettings agent if you hire one.
 Have fun - and remember the sun tan lotion.

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