Roll up, roll up, here begins the saga of the
not so New House… (and a very wordy post… sorry!)
Here’s what we signed our
lives savings away to last Spring.
We knew from the outset that certain things were going to be deal-breakers when looking for a house:
- It had to have a room that I could turn into an office, so that I could work from home.
- It had to have a garden, as I wanted to grow lots of green, tasty vegetables and pretty flowers.
- It had to be close to rail / bus links to the city and beyond, as Jack’s the only driver, and I travel around the country semi-regularly for work.
- It had to have a largish kitchen. This was of course a no-brainer – the amount of time spent in a small kitchen made me realise how much I need the space to cook and bake on a regular basis.
- Preferably had a spare room that could be Jack’s office / home studio for now, but that could eventually be turned into a nursery for future kiddos.
We began looking for houses in August 2012, and saw some that were the right size, but in the wrong area, and others that were in the right area, but waaaay out of our price range. We did put an offer in on a beautiful larege Victorian terraced doer-upper in the next village over, but the owner decided not to move after all (looking back, we would have had an awful lot of work to do, as the house didn’t have any central heating, quite likely would have had issues with damp, and we would have had to gut several rooms before even beginning to decorate them. It would have been a long, hard slog, and wouldn’t have been rightly timed, months before our wedding).
We hit a bit of a slump around January / February, as the market quietened down for the Winter. We were both disappointed that we couldn’t find a house that we both liked, and were getting increasingly more glum about the prospect of not having a new house to move into after we’d gotten married. The other reason we were getting frustrated about house-hunting was that the good houses in our area were moving like hot cakes. They’d be put up on Rightmove, and within a day there would be back-to-back viewings booked, and within two days, there would be an offer accepted, an the house off the market.
With this in mind, we knew that if we wanted our
dream perfect-for-now house, we would have to move fast. In March 2013, we went to view a house about 20 minutes walk away from my flat… It wasn’t decorated to our tastes (um, dark purpley-grey walls and a brown bedroom anyone?), but it was a combination of all of our needs: Perfect size, location, office space in the extension, good transport links, and beautiful old features. We have a stained glass door y’all. It can’t get better than that. We umm-ed and ahh-ed about it over the weekend, and decided to put an offer in a little lower than the asking price first thing on Monday morning. After a bit of back-and-forth, it was accepted, and we were on our way to owning our first real space of our own.
After the excitement, we started the mortgage process, and it became somewhat of a nightmare. After the first helpful meeting, the mortgage in principal was confirmed, so the house could move forward. However, after that it all went downhill. The bank we were getting our mortgage with lost our supporting documents, not once, but three times, and we – along with our families, who were helping us financially – got run round in circles. We even got contacted by the bank on our honeymoon, hassling for the documents that they had lost, after we had told them not to contact us for two weeks as we were abroad. /rant over
Lesson learnt: The quickest way to get a mortgage sorted is to complain until someone listens. I spent four hours on the phone with the bank the week after we returned from Croatia, and suddenly, within a week of us lodging a formal complaint and demanding compensation, we got our mortgage letter confirming everything.
After that, it was a matter of weeks before we picked up the keys in early July, and started our new adventure. We still giggle excitedly about the fact we have a house… It’s beginning to feel more real now as we make more changes to it, but for months it would feel like we were kids playing at house and being grown-up!
Whilst the house was in a great condition to begin with (no rot / dodgy stuff going on… oh, apart from some pesky woodworm in the loft space that we got sorted out immediately!), we have a LOT of work do to on it to make it our home. I’d say, even six months in, we’re only about 5% done. We’ll give you more details of what we hope to achieve in each room soon, with some ‘before’ and ‘in progress’ photos!
But for now, after all these words, let’s just marvel at the beautiful stained glass front door, shall we?
(The surroundings look dark, but I wanted to capture the beautiful glass, so ignore my bad photography skills in this particular photo!)
We’ll be back soon with some photos of the house and how it looked when we moved in…