You may have noticed I’ve been very quiet recently. Well, there’s a reason for that. I bought a house (technically half a house, I guess – joint mortgage), and it’s taken up a lot of my time. Between packing, moving, buying furniture, making furniture, unpacking, fixing problems, working and a few other things, I’ve been rather short on time. But it’s been interesting – perhaps more for me writing than you reading, but since you’re here, I’ll share it anyway.
The first thing is, everyone else seems to find mortgages a lot more stressful than I do. Perhaps I’ve just spent longer thinking about them than other people. Maybe it’s because I’m borrowing what I can afford to pay back rather than breaking the bank just because the bank would let me.
Maybe it’s because small things have always stressed me out far more than big things. One good friend once said I’d be the perfect person to have around in a dire emergency because I’d basically be unmoved whilst everyone else freaked out. To be fair, that might be true. I was once on an Underground train where there was a bomb scare. Everyone else ran for their lives. I just let them all run off, because I figured if there really was a bomb, it was most likely to be in the big crowd…
Or maybe it’s because, in the warped world of the UK housing market – yes, even in the cheaper reaches of the country – it’s significantly cheaper to pay off a mortgage than to rent at market rate. If I had to pay rent at market rate, that would stress me out!
The second thing: solicitors. It’s amazing what being paid does to them. Before you pay them, they’re helpful. Afterwards, not so much. I’m sure I can hear a cynical voice telling me I should have expected that.
The third thing: it’s amazing the things you discover when you move in, that you’d think might have been mentioned to you, like the bathroom sink that leaks down into the kitchen whenever you run it, or the boiler pipes that leak (and only needed screwing tight), or the external doors that don’t lock – and then you wonder, how did they live with that? We had quite a few things we needed to get seen to or fixed in all:
- Two leaks
- The phone line into the house didn’t work
- The property had no bins
- The external TV aerial cable was shorn in two
- Some of the light sockets didn’t work, and some of the power sockets only worked sometimes
- There were plants growing in some of the guttering
- Oh yes, and those locks that didn’t lock
The hardest thing was trying to work out what we really needed to get looked at first, and what could wait. I decided making the doors lock was probably the most important thing, but not flooding the house, and making sure it wasn’t about to burn down, were fairly important too. No phone line means no internet, so that couldn’t stay that way for long either. So, the guttering and the TV aerial will have to wait.
The good thing is, in amongst all those things that needed looked at, so far none of them have been terribly expensive or difficult to fix. The electrical work took two days and we needed new sockets, but the wiring itself was fine and we got a shiny new fuse box too. The leaks were simple to fix too, and hadn’t (as far as we can see) caused much damage.
Of course, once you’ve looked at all that, then there’s all the things you want to do to the property outside what you need to do. The list basically consists of redoing every room in the house and building a whole new garden, but obviously you can’t do all those at once. We decided we should probably redecorate one of our bedrooms – in hindsight it would have been good to think about that before we got halfway through building a bed in there. Also, your Ikea Family Card comes in really useful when someone accidentally screws right through a board they’re not meant to.
So, that’s why I’ve been a little under the radar, and probably will be for a bit longer. Now, if you excuse me, I need to go and finish sticking up some new blinds in the front room…