Monday, 21 November 2016

Letting go, Running on. Part. 2




I have to say if you are ever buying a property, there are many things to consider but the most important is to get a survey. My solicitor says that many clients do not want to bother with this additional expense. I can understand this notion, for sure our Old Lady is still standing despite the ravages of the years and the climate. It is tempting to ignore all the cracks and let your imagination furnish and indeed burnish a dull reality. A survey will certainly bring you down to earth from your giddy joy with it's impersonal conclusions. The survey is catastrophic. Rising damp, damp ingress, wonky chimneys, wet-rot, dry-rot, undefinable boundaries on conflicting maps, a septic tank on third-party land, possibly polluting and only just registered. Family members suck in their breath and subtly warn caution, of great difficulties ahead. Mr S and I initially feel sadly relieved.

I read the surveyors report over and over, I understand the extent of the undertaking. A builder friend warms of hundreds of thousands of euro. Our solicitor firmly advises us to walk away. We both agree, that survey was the best few hundred quid I ever spent.  But she irritates me when she asks, what do you even see in that house, sure you could just build a nice new house. This is absolutely not the point and my contrary side rears up. The Irish country-side is littered from Malin Head to Mizen Head with one off homes of dubious architectural value at best and an affront to logical demographic planning at worst.

Due to the deep fissures of history and the impact of poverty and emigration we retain so very little of our vernacular architecture. In rural areas such as Donegal, the majority of people would have lived in two or three roomed cottages. Houses and homes that are now barely recognisable as suitable for modern requirements. As a sop to tourism, we have kept a couple though -zoned them off into 'folk parks'. Little quaint remnants of how our Great-Grandparents lived, to visit with the kids on a rainy day and fondly remember from the serenity of our open plan bungalows, from the warmth of our wifi -ed modernist kitchens, while in damp fields other such houses fall softly back into the ground. I trawl the internet looking for a comparable house, trying to establish a value of the Old Lady once restored. I can't find one because there isn't one. Unique. I engage a damp-proof expert to estimate the cost of remedial repair.  I know I am irrational, but there is room to breathe in this house, for the children to play outside unsupervised. My running takes on a new urgency, pounding the pavements gives me an achievable goal to dwell on. To my astonishment, I easily complete the psychological barriers that was Week 5, Run 3 of Couch to 5k: I run for a continuous 20min along the river and then run all the way home.

The estate agent did say it would have been one of the finest houses in the area, a family of school teachers lived here. In response to my solicitors due diligence request for proof of planning permission, the vendors solicitors writes that his Granny built the house in the early 1920's and his mother would sign an affidavit to that effect. The garage used to hold his fathers buses. Of-course I want it more now. The professional expects that I have employed to help us in this enormous financial decision are worth every single euro, their advice is measured and sound. And yet.

The condition of the roof un-quantifiable until close of sale. The potential infestation of wood-devouring beetles.  I look again at all those optimistic photographs we took at the viewing, the house still doesn't look that bad. The two realities don't marry up, is the plaster a paper- thin veneer barely supporting an un-salvageable house, a frustration of vastly expensive conundrums? In my minds eye, I revisit the still empty rooms, my footfall firm on the floor, sketching their lines and re-drawing their beauty. I haven't yet made the fateful phone call to the agent to withdraw from the purchase, she is still mine for the moment. The sign still proudly announces 'sale agreed'. I could have her if I so choose but at what cost?

7 comments:

  1. Can you use the survey to reduce the price further to enable the necessary repairs?

    Heads should sometimes be tempered by hearts. There is magic in the hills, eh? :o) xx

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    1. Hi CT, we did initially think that would be the case-but it seems that the cost of renovation in what is a problematic site would far out-weigh the re-sale value of the property. If the house was to be my full-time home I would probably go for it but as a holiday-home venture, it seems fool-hardy to risk the kids financial future...but even as I write this that magic in those hills is still calling me. ;) xxx

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  2. I think we may be living 'almost' parallel lives m'dear. Moving to the Peak Distict last March we have been searching for an illusive old character property with space and views. At last we have found it, but like you, are daunted by the survey. Vermin in roof, damp in oldest part of the house, beetle in the stairs, dodgy wiring , bathrooms needing completely replacing, new boiler, walls removing and creating, possible new heating system throughout, kitchen re-model and to top it all a fly infestation in the master ensuite. That's before we get to the redecorating. But you know, we are going ahead with it. Sounds to me like you've lost your heart to the house but you also sound level headed about the costs. I'm sure you'll make the right decision.

    Jean

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    1. Hi Jean, I'm so glad you have found a house to call home. I think you are also making the right decision -sometimes in life you have go to say GO for it! All of those problems in your survey can be sorted out and now you are prepared for them. I think myself and the Mister will probably call an end to this part of our house-dreaming and re-try in a year or so. xxx

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  4. Houses falling softly back into the ground, you running softly above it. Lovely writing.

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    1. Thanks Chris, that is a lovely thing to say.x

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