Moving Tales: Part 2

In my last post about our recent house move I expressed frustration about a series of relatively minor but annoying problems that we’d had so far. The two main issues were the lack of hot water, and a mystery leak.

Shortly after posting I started pulling out wood cladding in the downstairs bathroom (part of the garage conversion) and found that the reason we had a water leak was because the pipe that took waste water from the sink and downstairs shower was not actually attached to the piping that should have routed it out of the bathroom and through to what’s left of the garage. Water was literally pouring onto the floor every time the shower or sink was used. Annoyingly, this had obviously been a problem for some time, as there were clear water marks and residue of damp that had been painted over. I called a local plumber in and had it sorted for £50, job done.

The hot water issue was slightly more complicated. Gaz and I fiddled with the boiler, we replaced fuses in mystery switches in the garage, we tried the thermostat on the wall but all to no avail. In the end I called in my regular trusty gas engineer (Telford Gas & Heating, highly recommend) to take a look assuming — hoping — it’d be something as simple as the boiler needing a service.

Unfortunately, life is never that simple. I knew that the problem was a little more complicated when, during the initial consult & having opened the airing cupboard to see the pipework to and from the hot water tank, my engineer uttered the fatal words “what on earth is that”. We were quoted circa £850 to fix the massive piping cock-ups that had been made previously, which we managed to scrape together, and the work was scheduled for this morning (9th July)

In the mean time, to keep us on our toes, the house decided to throw a little electrics issue at us. One evening after school, Izzy turned her bedroom light on and the upstairs electrics & downstairs bathroom lights went out. At first I panicked and thought the leak had reoccurred and was seeping into a light socket or something, but couldn’t find any evidence of that. Attempts to reset the RCD on the fuseboard wouldn’t work, and it’d immediately trip again. After 3 days of ignoring the issue like the nice responsible homeowners that we are, Gaz suggested it might be related to a switch in the loft that appeared to not do anything that he’d fiddled with when he was hiding some of our junk. Lo and behold, after climbing back up there and switching it off, the electrics came back on. Tada!

Anyway, back to the hot water. The gas engineer and his colleague turned up this morning and immediately started trying to make sense of the pipes while I cracked on with work. Just before 10am I emailed Gaz to tell him I was hearing a lot of perplexed “jesus, this is a mess” type noises coming from upstairs which didn’t sound great. 20 minutes later and I was called upstairs to the landing, where the floorboards had been removed to expose further pipework that I can only describe as akin to a game of Snake.

I’m not an expert on central heating installation or plumbing etc but it definitely didn’t require expert skills to see that there were Big Issues afoot. With that, on top of the work that was scheduled to be done this morning, and the reality of the state of the system, our best option (short of bumbling along with what we have for the foreseeable) is to replace the whole central heating system: pipework, hot water cylinder, radiators, possibly even the boiler at an estimated cost £5,000-£6,000. This is before we factor in the problems likely to be caused by lifting floorboards (i.e. removal of the laminate in the bedroom for access).

To say I’m furious is an understatement. That someone would knowingly misrepresent their house to get an artificially inflated sale price fully in the knowledge that we have two young children for whom hot water, reasonable plumbing and working electrics are, y’know, somewhat important; to look those kids in the eye and reel off the story of her husband’s sudden death to engender sympathy; to lie to the solicitors about “not being able to find the boiler certificate” knowing full well there isn’t one because the system was installed by an unqualified fucknugget; and, finally, leaving a “new home” card behind wishing “happy memories” when you know you’ve screwed over your buyer to the tune of several thousand pounds? Fuck, furious doesn’t even come close to how I feel.

Still, life lesson learned. Don’t be a dick and skimp to move faster (like we did), get the most in depth survey even if it costs you a small fortune in the short term. Ultimately, it may save you you a fuck ton more later on.

Lead photo by Joel Barwick.

My Ideal Home

With at least two of my friends in the process of buying a house at the minute, and my place full to bursting with accumulated STUFF since Gaz moved in, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking lately about what I’d like out of a home.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not moving any time soon. For starters I’ve only had my mortgage about 6-7 months, and securing that was hard enough. Secondly, now that the bulk of my income is from self-employment I’d need to seriously beef up my accounts before any mortgage company would come near me (although hopefully by the time moving is an actual possibility, I’ll have paid off a significant chunk of my mortgage) Still, a girl can dream!

So here goes…
In an ideal world I would have a big kitchen. I do a lot of cooking and food prep, so want a huge cooker and a ton of surface space. I’m also a big believer in the kitchen being the hub of a home, so there needs to be room for a dining table and a small sofa. Something like the traditional kitchen in this local property (left) or the more modern open plan kitchen from Real Homes mag:

big-kitchens

I would love a playroom for the kids. I dream of being able to shove all the kid’s toys away in a room and forgetting they exist (the toys, not the kids). It’d also mean I could bring some of the toys back out of their bedroom, which would give them a dedicated uncluttered sleeping space.

playrooms

1: Hugo’s Retreat (very slow to load)
2: Our Land of Nod Playroom
3: 35 Awesome Kids Playrooms

Once the kids have got their own playroom, and the dining table is tucked away in the kitchen (or a dedicated dining room if I wanted to be really posh), my living room can go back to being a grown up space. I don’t actually use my living room all that much but when I do it’s normally for entertaining guests or relaxing. It would need to be cosy, comfortable and have space for all my books (present and as-yet unbought). It would have to be clutter-free and ‘unfussy’, because too much stuff stresses me out. I like:

living-room

1: Another local home
2: 5 home feng shui tips to create positive energy
3: Err…

Although I have a thing about red in living rooms, so would need to decorate all of those!

I’d also need a dedicated office space. A room with a lot of natural light, space for my whiteboard on the wall, big enough to take two desks:

home-office

1: Studio Makeover: Before & After
2: 33 Crazy Cool Home Office Inspirations
3: 45 Awesome Workspaces & Offices

Obviously I’d also need a garden with extensive lawns for the kids (and inevitable horde of bunnies and guinea pigs), a master bedroom with en suite, space for at least 2 cars, garage for storage/conversion into a home gym, at least one guest bedroom so that cakefest-ers don’t have to sleep on my kid’s bedroom floor…

I guess I need to hurry up and get that mortgage-free thing sorted.

The House, The Move, The DIY

I’ll break this down a bit for those not interested in the minutiae of the past few days; you can skip to which bits interest you the most…

Friday: Exchange and Complete

The contracts were officially exchanged on the house Friday morning, we completed at the same time and had the keys for 11am. A thorough check of the house uncovered:

  • The previous owners had an unhealthy obsession with a nail gun
  • Someone had been in the garden and nicked the rotary line left by the owners!
  • Part of the central heating had died, which means every time you turn it on it blows a fuse
  • A broken window lock, a useless dimmer switch and a crack in the loo

But otherwise, no dramas.

Saturday: Moving Day

We had planned to drop Isabel off at my mum’s, getting back to the cottage (old place) in plenty of time for the men from Simply Removals to arrive with the van between 12 and 3pm. In reality, we ended up stacking task after task and we ended up dashing to the new place for 10am so that A.S.T. Floorcoverings could come measure up, on to my mum’s for 10:40 to drop Isabel off, a dash to Homebase (DIY/furniture store) to pick up a few bits (and ended up spending over £100!!!) and then a speedy drive back to the cottage to wait for my mates from work who were helping.

With the help of my work colleagues, we moved everything downstairs ready for 12, and waited. And waited. And waited. 2:45pm comes around and I phone Simply Removals to make sure they were definitely coming: “Oh, the guys were held up a little at a previous job, they’ll be there in half an hour“. So I wait 30 minutes, and nothing. At 3:30pm I rang again, and enquired as to the whereabouts of the men; “oh, they’re stuck in traffic, give it 15-30 minutes“. We waited some more. 4pm rolls around, by which point the removal company are an hour late, and so I rang again. I asked where they were, and was told they were stuck in traffic (again?) and they were 6-8 minutes away. I also asked as to how customers are compensated for lateness, and was told we get nothing until the guys are 2 hours late and then we’d get a 10% refund. The guys finally arrived at 4:10.

What pissed me off the most about the whole thing was not the fact that the Simply Removals guys were late; shit happens, people get held up. It’s the fact that I was lied to on all 3 occasions. It wasn’t until the new guys got here and said that they weren’t the ones supposed to be doing it that I realised what had happened. From what I made out, the original guys were held up for a lot longer than expected and instead of the company letting us know, we were fobbed off with bullshit about traffic while they got 2 other guys out to us. It’s a shame, because the men moved bloody fast and had the whole move complete in less than 2 hours in the end.

Unfortunately their delay had a knock on effect for the rest of the day, though. Food shopping that was to be delivered between 4 and 5 had to be fielded by Karl while I dealt with the move, and Isabel ended up spending more time at my mum’s. Boxes could not be sorted into rooms until later, we didn’t have time to put the bed up properly and we all ended up with a very late bedtime (and a very cranky toddler).

After That…

It’s all been a bit of a blur since then. A combination of crazy unpacking, getting the various rooms set up, and then on Monday we had to take everything out of the living room again ready for the flooring on Tuesday (which is done, and looks fab; see below).

We’re waiting for the gas people to get back to us re: heating, but the house is holding a nice steady 18+ degrees C, which makes a nice change (to put that into perspective … the cottage temperature dropped to 15 degrees within 24 hours of us moving out and it’s only held there now because that’s what we’ve left the heating on!) I am looking forward to lower bills :)

We’ve already started demolishing things. We removed a tall cupboard frame from the kitchen which had been used previously to hold the fridgefreezer. It had no door on and looked a mess so Karl and I ripped it out. We just have to touch up the paint behind where it was sat but it already looks loads better. We (well, my brother) also ripped out a mock hearth thing in the front room which had been constructed out of timber blocks and tongue n groove stuff. Yuk. Now to decide on paint colours…

Pictures

Original estate agent pics:

Front room before we ripped the carpet out (they were taken in the dark, hence the shit quality):

Front room with the new flooring in:

So there you go.