{onr. home} Introducing the brand new ONR HQ! & some more home buying advice too...

Hey all,

Ok so it's technically not brand new in any sense of the word. We've been living in our beautiful *very old* new home for nearly 3 months now, having finally moved in in October, and I'm in love.

Some of you might remember this post I shared back in September about the terrible time we were having with the *dream house* that just didn't seem like it was meant to be, following 'that' dreadful survey.

Well...it might then come as a bit of a shock to hear that the house we are now in fact happily living in, is that house. The dream nightmare home!! 

The purchase process was horrific and stressful and all kinds of emotional as I just knew this was the house for us the moment I walked through the door the first time we viewed it. You know when you just get that feeling? 

There were many points at which we thought it was the end of the road. We looked at SO many more houses having initially pulled out of our purchase, but not one of them even came close to this one. 

Lots of them were nice houses. They had plenty of potential, some of them had bigger gardens than this one, some of them were in a slightly more convenient location, none of them seemed to have as many issues as this silly house. One of them we even put an offer on & had it accepted! I think we were starting to become a little bit desperate.

But my heart was set on this one. 

So here's what happened after I wrote that last blog post.

- The structural engineers report came back to confirm many of the issues the surveyor had originally flagged. Yes there had been movement, yes there is a little bit of roof spread, yes the garden walls are leaning...and yep that drain is definitely cracked and has been for some time.

The good news was that none of these things appear to be recent, or in fact issues that would cause impending doom. Our house is well over 100 years old and, almost all of the issues are incredibly common in properties of this age.

- We then arranged for a plumber to give us a quote to repair the main drain, and replace the lead pipes in the house.

- We had builder come and quote us for the repairs to the pointing and the brickwork, including the chimney. He also quoted us to remedy the 'damp' that had been noted.

- We got a quote from a tree surgeon to remove the big old silver birch tree in the front garden too.

Following all that we made a little spreadsheet and added up all of the predicted costs {nearly £20K} and we decided to go back to the seller with a revised offer. 

He was unimpressed to say the least - and refused to accept an offer any lower than 3k below what we had originally agreed. Much backwards and forwardsing ensued, because ultimately, we didn't want to end up paying over the odds for a property that we'd already maxed out our budget for, that was going to need tens of thousands pumped into it that we didn't have!

- It was at this point that we actually had a 'friend of a friend' who's a very reputable tradesman come and look at the house. He read the two reports and joined me at the property to do a walk round and give me an honest opinion on what really needed doing. 

This little chat sealed the deal for me. Mark said "This house isn't a money pit, but you could quite easily make it one". "It's over a hundred years old and it has quirks about it that any property of this age has". "Yes it needs repointing, but does it need it right now?" "No", "is it going to change in the next 10 or 20 years?" "Probably not". He basically walked me through ever point on the survey and told me that none of the red flags were things we needed to be concerned about or fix immediately. The house stopped moving a long time ago, the damp isn't a problem - it's not rising damp, it isn't causing mould to appear internally - it's simply a case of old bricks losing their glaze and absorbing more water than they should. 

His advice, was to shred the survey...to continue with our purchase of what he called "a cracking family home bursting with character" that he'd be proud to call his own, and to move in and enjoy it. Spend a year living in it...deciding what we want to do as a priority, and working our way through those things as and when money and time allows.

He did say that the electrics and gas needed to be made safe as a priority before we moved in, as there wasn't a modern fuse board, and no smoke alarms at all or carbon monoxide monitors.

So that's what we did. We managed to get the seller to take £7.5K off the originally agreed price, to give us a bit of wiggle room to get the necessary bits fixed...and, after the MOST stressful last few weeks tying up the sale of our flat and the purchase of this beauty we finally got the keys!

So what's my advice to you if you're thinking about taking on an older property?

1 | Don't necessarily be scared off by a seemingly horrendous survey report. Now I'm 100% giving this advice with caution. Surveyors do an incredibly important job identifying potential pit falls and safety concerns with properties. Everything that they flag up should be taken seriously. However, their job is to tell you EVERY LITTLE THING they discover, and to give you a worst case scenario so that you have a crystal clear understanding of what you're potentially getting yourself into AND to cover their backs from a legal perspective.

This means that sometimes they can be a little over-zealous in their observations, and things can seem more terrifying than they may need to be. Therefore I'd advise you seek the guidance of some 'trusted' tradespeople who you know will give you an honest opinion as to what needs to be done as a matter of urgency, and what can in fact wait.

2 | Consider opening a savings account for unexpected repairs. We were able to negotiate some money off the purchase price having had the survey. This helped us a lot - as it allowed us to pay for electrical updates, plumbing updates, and some re-plastering and other repair work. We've also set up a separate bank account to our current account that we pay a monthly amount into that acts as a buffer. We call it our emergency fund - and it's there to *hopefully* help us out with any totally unexpected costs our old home throws at us. {2am emergency plumber call out for burst radiator pipe being one such occasion already...!!}

3 | Make a list of all the things you need to "fix" and all the dream plans you want to do to your new home. Then prioritise them. How much are they going to cost; how long will they take; how much will they add to your enjoyment of living there; and will they increase the value of your home?

Don't forget the "boring" but important things...like re-wiring. Yes it's expensive, yes it's messy and involves carving unsightly channels into all the walls of your lovely new home...but you don't want to be dealing with faulty old electrics causing a serious house fire. Fix the important things first and then decorate and do the fun stuff once you've got the boring but necessary things squared off!

We have A TON of plans for this beautiful home. I can't wait to share all of our progress with you.

First up will be the bedroom - which we've been working hard on - and which is *so nearly* finished...we're just waiting on the last of the furniture, and we need to sort the floorboards but we're nearly there! I've been sharing some updates over on Instagram...spoiler alert - theres a lot of pink!!

Next month we are having a wood burning stove fitted in the lounge which means smashing the old fireplace back in...and some major work - all of which I promise I'll share. But for now I'll leave you with some of the first pictures I saw of our home taken from the estate agent's listing so that you can see the 'before'!