On the 12th of January 2017, my fiancé and I got the keys to our first house. It’s a nice, semi-detached, 3 bed house, built over 100 years ago. (I think.) It was sold to us a ‘just move in house’. 1 damp course, 2 ring mains, 5 months and countless arguments later we have a barely functioning house. We don’t have a real kitchen, we have a storage unit on wheels from Ikea, a portable stove top, a toaster on a shelf and a microwave on a table. I count myself lucky we now have walls everywhere there should be walls, floors (even if they’re dodgy), and functioning exterior doors. We’re over 8 grand lighter and all my savings for the kitchen of my dreams is all gone. I can’t tell you how happy I was to have saved up so much money and how bad it felt handing it all over for repairs that shouldn’t have been needed.
Needless to say, if I ever see the people who sold us this house, I will hit them.
With just reason of course. I’ve lost count of the sleepless nights I spent horrified that someone would brake into the house because the backdoor was falling out of the wall. I’ve lost count of the tradespeople because all their names begin with ‘d’. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve fallen through the floor. Lost count of the injuries, the times I cried on the stairs, how many times I’ve staggered around fueled by adrenaline. Wardrobes have fallen on me and crushed limbs. I’ve fallen off 6 foot ladders and injured my back and arms. I’ve pushed myself until I collapsed. And on top of that I’ve been trying to get better, been going to new doctors and I’ve had referrals left, right and centre. I tried to apply for PIP and got rejected. I’ve become paranoid and less confident, yet I’ve held a 12 hour long party as a house warming and didn’t start screaming. Also thanks to all my friends who turned up, you were the life of the party. (Sarcastic jokes aside, it was an alright do.) I especially loved all the meat eaters noses wrinkling up when they realised it was 90 % vegetarian. We called our first BBQ / buffet feast “A vegetarian’s revenge.”
So I thought I’d share with you some tips for buying a house.
- Never go with just a home buyers survey. They’re bull sh*t. We had to question the company who did ours, if they had surveyed the right house.
- Save, save, save for not just the house but what you want to do to it. Search the market for your essential purchases (like kitchens and bathrooms,) and double or triple the figure. Then you might have enough money for essential maintenance.
- Have a survey done before agreeing a price for a house. Our mortgage provider made us take a survey with one of their partners. They cost so much and were terrible. If we could have had a decent survey done we could have negotiated a cheaper price. But we were pushed into a corner by our mortgage provider.
- Don’t get pulled in by warranties or guarantees from places like ‘Safestyle’ unless you have read the warranty/guarantee document.
- Inform the council of your plans to make the house better. We saved a large chunk of our council tax by doing this.
- Buy paint that is actually real paint. We got given a load of paint made by Johnstones. I would recommend you avoid them at all cost. Mostly because I had to restart a whole room after their paint turned into gorey viscera and formed clumps up the walls.
- Check whether you actually need a T.V licence. We didn’t and it’s saved us alot of money. All we have is a t.v and Netflix.
- Get your friends or family to recommend you to certain services like Virgin Media or Safestyle.
- Learn from the old couple that used to own this house and hire a P.O Box or use the Post Office’s redirect service. I’m not joking when I say I have accidentally opened their P60s and tore up their life insurance documents thinking they were spam.
- If at first you don’t get a mortgage, go to Halifax. (Plus they were very trans friendly and very friendly in general. Hats off to the customer service tutors.)
- Invest in a good set of ladders and keep them to yourself. You never know when you might need a sturdy platform to leap from as you fall through the floor. It might just save your life.
- Remove suspicious tape. When we did this in the front room we discovered a patch job to a floor board made of an ice cream lid.
- Consider what light bulb you want as well as what light fitting you want before having work done. Thankfully Ikea sell adaptors so we could use the very large, vintage style E27 LED bulbs we wanted.
So take my few little tips with a pinch of salt if you must but honestly, I wish I knew some of these before starting this venture.
Oh and thank the bountiful Swedish God Ikea for making our house actually look like a home.