Getting a mortgage for a windmill or watermill


Windmills and watermills are unusual properties, and as such many general mortgage lenders are unwilling to arrange mortgages for them. However, there are alternative lenders, who are prepared to lend on such properties.

The Ecology Building Society

The Ecology Building Society are well known for their willingness to consider lending on unusual properties. If you consult their What do we lend on? list, they explicitly note that they lend on renovation of derelict and run down properties, and for conversion of disused or redundant buildings. Mills may also be considered as part of their willingness to lend on eco or community orientated businesses.

Case study - Weatheroak Hill Mill

Bob Larbey's purchase, and subsequent conversion work on the derelict windmill tower of Weatheroak Hill was done with the aid of an Ecology Building Society mortgage. The project was featured on the BBC News 24 programme It's Your Money, and written up in the Autumn/Winter 2004/5 newsletter from the society.

This is not a rapid project - as of early 2007 the conversion work is not complete, but 2006 did see advance from an open topped tower through to one with a steel observation structure having been added, and completed with a lead roof. The copper roof originally planned and mentioned in the mortgage newsletter had to be dropped due to a lack of craftsmen available to do copper roofing in a residential setting. There are however plenty of other examples of traditional material at use in the conversion, which when finished will offer a two bedroomed house, over 5 floors.

See Weatheroak Hill Mill for some more pictures of the ongoing work.

Norwich & Peterborough Building Society

The Norwich & Peterborough Building Society also offer a variety of non-traditional mortgages that can apply to the purchase of a windmill or watermill. These include their offerings for Brown mortgages (for conversion or restoration of an existing property), and perhaps their selfbuild mortgages for related projects.

Triodos Bank

The Triodos Bank lends on a number of unusual projects. In their words, they "help to finance projects that prevent our heritage from disappearing forever."

Case study - Barnham Windmill, Susses

From the Triodos Bank project list 2003:
Barnham Mill Projects are restoring a windmill in Sussex which last ground corn in 1926. The current building was erected in 1829 and there has been a mill on this site since 1155. The mill tower and outbuildings house an educational facility, and a visitors' tea room generates income to meet maintenance costs.

Case study - Little Salkeld watermill

From the Triodos Bank project list 2003:
The Watermill at Little Salkeld was purchased by Anna and Nick Jones in 1975 and consisted of a watermill in need of renovation together with mill house, farm buildings, pasture and woodland. Since then the couple have restored the mill to full working order and converted some of the farm buildings into a small tearoom and shop.

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Last updated 03/03/2017 Text and images © Mark Berry, 1997-2017 -