Like many people across the world, our lives are centred around our home. It’s where we laugh and love together as a family. Our safe haven, where we can relax and be truly ourselves.
And yet contrary to this, buying a house is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life. Just the words stamp duty, conveyancing fees and searches are sure to bring a wave of dread to the most hardened house buyer.
Mid thirties, I currently have a handful of friends that are house hunting for their dream family home. The list of requirements is normally long and finding a house that actually ticks all the boxes for both partners is pretty much like finding a needle in a haystack. The house has to work for the entire family, pleasing everyone and ultimately most people end up compromising on a few points. House hunting can take months, even years sometimes.
I thought I’d share with you the story of when we bought our dream house, what we were looking for and where we, ultimately had to compromise.
Buying our house
Rewinding the clock 2 years, we lived in my partners modern 4 bedroom house. It was a lovely house but personally I never quite felt at home there. I didn’t like the lack of character and feeling of space. On paper, we had enough space, everyone had a place to sleep, but the house proportions felt small, and the estate crammed. We started talking about moving to a house that was closer to our idea of our dream home. I don’t think at that point we actually thought we would find our dream house but rather “a stepping stone house”, on the way to “the one”.
I had a fixed list of wants, things that were non negotiable for me. The house needed 4 bedrooms, a big garden for the children to play in and enough space for us as a family. As a lover of architecture and design, it needed to work with my idea of an aesthetically pleasing house. I’d always loved period homes so ideally it would be an older house with some lovely period features. My other half had a different list of necessities he needed fulfilling. He needed a location that was practical for work and also the children’s schools as they grew. Preferring modern houses to period, he wanted minimal work and upkeep. He also required a garage to store his motorbike. (You can see our personalities right here can’t you, I’m all about the pretty and he’s about the practical).
We viewed a few houses, one the garden was too small and one didn’t have a garage. Both points were non negotiable on our lists, so we continued looking.
One day my partner sent me the details through of a house. It was old, beautiful but in a state of disrepair. I text him back confused “Babe, it’s old? And needs a ton of work? That sounds like your idea of hell surely?” He suggested we go and take a look anyway. I agreed, super excited to take a look at the property but fully prepared there was no way he would sign up for a renovation project.
As we were viewing the property I kept very quiet, as did my partner. Neither of us knew what the other one was thinking. Gazing around at the proportions of the house, there was a fabulous feeling of space both inside and outside. A tick. It had all the lovely period features I adored, high ceilings, fireplaces, old doors, stained glass, even a hidden tiled floor which we later discovered. Again a tick…
In fact the house ended up ticking all the boxes, it was spacious, had a large garden, 4 bedrooms, a garage. It was conveniently located for school and future high schools, for access to town and the journey to my partner’s work.
But, and it was a big but, there was no denying that the house was in a pretty bad state. It hadn’t been touched for more than 50 years. The garden was terribly overgrown, the house was dirty and the decor was extremely dated. Yet somehow we could see past all of that at the shining gem of a house. It just needed bringing back to life.
Renovating a large period house was a big job, one we perhaps, looking back now, even underestimated. Were we willing to compromise and take on the work required to make it our dream home?
Having kept quiet the whole viewing neither of us knew how the other one felt. Turning towards him as we pulled away from the house I said “So, what do you think?”. He threw it back to me ,”Well, what do you think?”. A huge smile crept across my face. I think it’s my dream home… and he smiled and said, I know, lovingly.
That was it. We had fallen in love with a house.
Luckily for us, the negotiations went pretty smoothly as a sale had just fallen through, so they sellers were keen to proceed quickly. Our offer of £20,000 less than the asking price was accepted immediately and we started the process of making the house our own.
Fast forward 2 years. We started with cleaning, lots of cleaning. Then there was stripping of carpets and curtains to reveal the bare carcass of the house which we could call our home. Since then we’ve rewired, re-rendered, replastered, ripped out, sanded floors, painted. We aren’t finished but we are well on our way.
I remember the first couple of mornings, waking up in the new house and being filled with joy and an indescribable feeling of being home. I can still conjure up that feeling, as I admire the blossom trees in our garden or get captivated by the light streaming through the stain glass on our front door. I’m home and it’s perfect. Tick.
This post is in collaboration with Slater Gordon, thank you for supporting Lish Concepts.