We forked out about £350 for a Home Buyers Survey with our mortgage lender. One of the positives about buying /living in a terraced house is that you can have confidence that whatever condition it’s in, it’s probably not going to go anywhere. While this was true with our house, we were expecting the survey to be pretty dire so when it turned out to be a veritable ‘to do’ list of various Amber and Red classed issues, it wasn’t too much of a surprise. Luckily, Husband used to work in the building trade and still ‘knew people’ so we managed to strike a deal with a building firm to sort out all of the major problems for one fixed fee (allowing a 15% contingency) in an optimistic 5-6 week period. We decided to keep our rented flat on for an extra month, so we wouldn’t have to live in the house while all the really dirty/noisy/scary stuff was going on…
The stuff that needed doing;
- Ground floor needed rising damp treatment throughout
- Rear elevation render to be removed and replaced – right
- Rear chimney stack to be taken down and roofed over
- Partial roof repairs including flashing and tiles
- Guttering, down pipes and fascias replacing
- Front chimney stack repairs including flashing
- Utility room to be re-roofed
- Soil pipe from original outside toilet to be dug out and re-routed to new downstairs loo
Stuff we also wanted doing;
- Wall between original dining room and hallway to be knocked down (the red dashed line in the plan below) to create a more open plan kitchen/dining area
However much we promised ourselves we weren’t going to be like those silly people on Grand Designs, whose timescale is completely unrealistic, thanks to the great British weather, the builders only started a week before we had to move in, and the work took a total of 9 weeks, with the scaffold being removed the day before my Birthday in mid July.
Lesson #1 – using tradespeople you know (in a friend-y type of way) makes it super awkward to address the issue when things aren’t going to plan!
In a very grownup move, we bought a cooker, fridge and washing machine to be delivered the day we moved in; these stayed in their packaging, under the stairs, for the first 6 weeks while it was too much like a building site downstairs to unpack anything! We lived off microwave meals eaten in the spare bedroom (along with the majority of our possessions), and weekly trips to the launderette down the road.
I remember the day after we moved in. It was my Monday off, but Husband was up and out by 7.30 and the builders arrived at 8.00. After an hour of being holed up in the bedroom, listening to the most awful racket of them knocking down the rear chimney stack, I escaped, notebook and paint chart in hand, to the local Coffee #1, where I stayed for 3 hours while I contemplated why on Earth we had decided to do this.