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Where to start?!

1 Feb

So spreadsheet at the ready……………. the list is underway of all the jobs that need doing in the new house and OMG what a list it is. Every room in the house needs something BIG doing to it. Forget redecorating! Before we can even start on that we need to deal with things like removing the sunken bath in the ensuite that’s putting a strain on the joists. We also need to block up one of the doors in to the ensuite – ever heard of a Jack and Jill ensuite? Its accessible from TWO bedrooms, Jacks and Jills or in this case our room and the guestbed! We’ve decided our guests might not want to wander into the ensuite and find Jack/IB in there engaging in his ‘morning rituals’.  So Jack’s going to have his entrance blocked so to speak! Then there is the built in pink sink and vanity unit (all the rage in the bedrooms of the 70s gentry) that needs tearing out of what will one day be our bedroom. Oh and did I mention the plastic tiles that cover several ceilings and the wood panneling that adorns the walls of the kids bedroom – both of which mean we live in a highly inflammable house! There’s more but you get the idea.

But, before we can tackle any of this stuff, an electrical engineer friend of ours has had a look at the wiring and found lots of two pin plug sockets and dodgy networks of old cables throughout the house. One ceiling light he looked at has been connected so tightly against the ceiling it has melted some of the connecting cables and scorched the ceiling. And its in the room with the wood paneling!!! So our first big job/cost is getting the house rewired. As our friend in not a certified electrician he can’t do the work for us but in the end after lots of consultation with about twelve of his DIY buddies (men love talking DIY almost as much as football I’ve noticed), IB booked the regional electric company to come round and do the job. Their quote seemed reasonable, and they could start within a few days. It all seemed so easy BUT and this turned out to be quite an expensive BUT, what we didn’t know was that regional Electric Companys do not have their own electricians that they contract out for domestic jobs. Instead they use external contractors, you know, the sort of guys that you can find in your local telephone directory. The Electric Company pay these guys  less than 50% of the fee that you pay for the job and then they keep the rest!   I only found this out because the electrician who came to do our house was partial to tea and biscuits. After a week of sharing elevenses, we got quite friendly and he admitted that he didn’t work for the Electric Company as we thought, but was an independent electriciant contracted in for the job. He asked me how  much we were paying for the house to be rewired and when I told him, he said he would have done it for £1500 less!!!  £1500! OMG. That’s a new bathroom suite or a fridge freezer or my entire curtain budget– I used to measure everything in shoes and tops, now its DIY equipment and furniture! Anyway if you’re looking for an electrician or tradesperson in your area, you don’t even have to use the phonebook, just go to or the  Federation of Master Builders. Still as of last Friday we are completely rewired and certified! So whats next on the list……………………..


Our New ‘Old’ House

27 Jan

So what kind of house did we buy in the end? Well it wasn’t the one I fell in love with at first sight and wanted desperately and couldn’t imagine not living happily ever after in, because we got gesumped on that one! Instead it was the house that made my house-hunting fatigued husband light up when he found it on He got even more excited on our first viewing. While I saw only a dated 1970’s wreck that stank of cigars and old people, he saw a potential bargain that with a lot of love and attention could be turned into something palatial and that could maybe even make us some money. After 4 weeks of bargaining and a poker faced stand off with the seller, the house was ours. When we got the news, IB was ecstatic while I was a little more reserved in my excitement. Don’t get me wrong, in spite of the smell and the decor (more on that later) I could see it had potential, but I just hadn’t quite got over losing what I thought was my dream property.  But guess what? Now I’m in, I’ve got to give my hubby full credit (and for that reason I’m not letting him read this post!) he was right! This place has got stacks of potential and best of all we can turn it into the stuff of our dreams rather than buying someone else’s dream, however wonderful it might have seemed in the estate agent’s window. And that would be my one key piece of advice to anyone who is house hunting just now, don’t discount anything, give every property a chance and if your partner or a friend sees some potential in it, give it serious consideration and go back and see it again and again until you’re totally sure that its not the house for you. Anyway, we have many months ahead of us of stripping wall-paper – this place is a mecca to woodchip, its even on the ceilings – replacing disintegrating carpets, modernising bathrooms – 2 plus a downstairs w.c. and creating a decent kitchen-diner. IB is joking that I’ll own my own toolbelt by the end of it!  I’m going to take lots of photos so you can see for yourself just what its like and how long our DIY list is going to be!

We’re in!

26 Jan

WE’VE DONE IT !!!! Hurrah! After 18 months of trying to sell our house with 3 different estate agents no less (let’s  not talk about the one we almost went with but didn’t because I couldn’t bear to have a man who was better groomed than me sell our house, think plucked brows, lip gloss and perma-tan!) we’ve SOLD our house! And not just that, we’ve exchanged AND completed AND moved in!

The words ‘exchange’ and ‘complete’ have taken on a whole new meaning in the last few weeks. They used to be quite positive words, ‘yes I would like to exchange the size 8 Karen Millen dress for the size 6 as the eight is way too big for me’ or ‘yes, those Kurt Geiger shoes would complete my outfit nicely’. But not anymore, oh no. After endless phone conversations with estate agents and lawyers over the last few weeks, that’s all changed! Well actually ‘exchange’ still retains some of its innocence and joy, because exchanging contracts for a house sale and indeed purchase is the easy part. It doesn’t really commit you to anything.  You sign the papers, you put them in the post to your solicitor and you CAN STILL back out of selling or buying. But don’t be lulled into the same false sense of security when someone asks you when you want to complete on your sale or purchase. Once that date has been agreed there is no going back because IT’S LEGALLY BINDING! And if like us you have to commit to a completion date on your house sale TWO WEEKS before you know if you can complete on your house purchase, well let’s just say my fingernails are going to take a while to recover! I was never brave enough to ask what would happen if we didn’t complete on our purchase on time and refused to move out of our old house within minutes of completing on the sale. Has anyone ever actually completed on the sale of their property and then refused to move out? Do the police get involved? And at what point do squatters rights kick in? Anyway enough, we’re in our new ‘old  house’ and that’s all that matters for now!