It’s been a hot minute since I’ve had a chance to post anything here. And for once, I’ve had a good excuse to be a little lazy with writing – my partner and I have moved house. And while we did that, we did not take any time off. This would not be an issue if I was my 20-something self moving from a studio flat into my first owned home. But I’m not a 20-something anymore, I am in my 30s, with another adult and two cats, and in an established household. Moving in such position is a logistical and financial challenge. A like to talk about the financial more than the logistical, and that’s what I’ll attempt to focus on now.
Our previous home was pleasant, but we wanted to change to a more leafy, village-y neighbourhood. Not only because of the lifestyle the area we chose offers, but also because we wanted to get away from the previous lifestyle we lived. In short, we’re growing up and want to live through grown-up things.
And we wanted a garden and more privacy.
And we wanted to move into a Victorian semi that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. And in London and the neighbouring areas, that’s pretty hard to find.
While I won’t be disclosing his dealings with the mortgage companies, I can share the public information – we bought a house listed at £495k for £470k. There was a lot of negotiation and finger biting involved, as well as offers on two different properties, because the area was more important than the house itself. We settled on a fixer-upper which came back on the market after the previous buyer pulled out. The reason they apparently pulled out is that they were afraid of the volume of work the house needed. I don’t blame them, I thank them – their hesitation and fears made the seller less comfortable and opened the door to lower offers. We were that lower offer.
There was of course a negotiation involved – £470k was our best and final and we did start at £435k. If you are buying in London now or at any other time, just remember that the asking price is not the final price and can be negotiated shamelessly. More, it’s not just a ‘can’, it’s a ‘should’ approach.
Once the offer had been accepted and the house finally purchased, we’ve had the task of making it liveable. The property used to be carpeted (my pet peeve) and had signs of woodworm in most rooms. It cost just over £3,000 to have it treated for woodworm, get floors sanded (excluding stairs, kitchen and bathroom) and cleaned up just enough for us to be able to move in. The cost of moving service was just short of £400 – we ended up having to make two rounds with the movers.
We’ve now been in for just short of a month and have done the following:
- back garden partial landscaping (the tools and plants were just short of £250, the muscle power was yours truly)
- front of the house pebbledash removal and bay window pillars restoration (£2700 – finding a builder who knew what he was doing was challenging, most were quoting stupid amounts of money and suggesting re-rendering instead of spinning and repointing the bricks)
- front door and gate restoration (£60 or so in materials and paint for both)
- refinishing of all baseboards (£30 in materials, a lot of elbow grease)
There is still quite a lot of work to do on this house before we are done, but it has been transformed quickly. Given that the only thing we needed to do to make it comfortable to live in were the floors and that took a week, £3k and no sweat on our side, I can safely say that it was worth it and I still find it hard to believe that the previous buyers pulled out because they were worried about the amount of work it needed. But really…here’s what we are planning to do, with approximate costs over the next few months/years:
- removal of pebbledash from the back of the house (£2500)
- build of front garden wall in brick (£1400)
- resurfacing of the car port and replacement of the garden fencing (£2500)
- kitchen extension and loft conversion (£40k & £25k respectively)
- reconfiguration of the 1st floor layout including moving the bathroom and upgrading it (£12k)
It’s at this point probably safe to say that we will be living on ramen noodles for the next 3 years. However, I’d rather that and a dream home than anything else.
Ps. If you have any architect recommendations, please DM me on instagram, pretty please.
And the flat?
I have not sold my flat. Instead, I have rented it out, through FB marketplace. I am still in awe that it works so well as a marketing reach platform.
Renting in London is not a straightforward process and not always profitable, but for now the numbers are working out. If you would like to know the numbers, I cover them in this article. The flat went to a young couple with a small kid who seem like the sort of people who will take good care of the place they live in. It helps that the man is in the building trade and knows how to actually fix things.
I have no plans to sell it in the next few years – quite the opposite. The flat, when I purchased it came with a plan in my mind – I wanted to stay there for up to 5 years and then move on. 5 years would have clocked in 10 months from now, so I might be a little early, but it’s not a bad thing.
And now you know why I’ve been quiet. Things have happened within less than a month, with me literally taking one day off to deal with some repairs in the flat before the tenants move in. Both my partner and I have full tine jobs, and both are quite busy, so the only thing left which could give in my life was the blog. And now that the madness is subsiding just a little, I finally have time and headspace to write again.