Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Building Inspection

I'm beginning to feel that building inspectors have it pretty good. They spend an hour taking a look around and charge $390 for the pleasure. So yes, I know they are qualified, and they may spot something that I could walk straight pass, but I am glad that we are done with them!

Frank from Acumen, inspected the property this morning and gave us the all clear, the roof is good for another 50 years as is the rest of the guts. There are a couple of things to be fixed like the toilet needs screwed down properly and some of the doors don't close easily, but everything is pretty much in order. There's a window missing, but that's underneath the house and some of the window latches are hard to operate. Overall, it's a good house and Frank is a good inspector, at these last two properties, he's been honest and realistic, I'd recommend him and Acumen (I have not received any discounts or advantages in any for this recommendation).

While I was at the property this morning the estate agent reminded me about getting a cover note. Quick call to AAMI and RACQ will get that sorted. Lots of fees between now and settlement. Hmm....

Had another look at the yard, and yep, it's still a go for front yard garden, don't really know where to put the chooks though. I'll have to really get the dimensions of the place correct and see just where our Northern property line is. I'd like to fit in a three bin composter as well, but there's a couple of really well established shrubs in the way that I don't want to loose. This is how I see it standing on the street and looking from North to South; fence, thorny climbing vegetation on fence, chook and compost coop, border plants, pathway to front door, rose bed, raised garden beds, hedge, driveway, shrubbery, fence. Looking at the width of the land I'm estimating it at 18 meters or 59 feet, but to be safe it's probably 16m/52ft, lots to fit in a little space, but I think we can make it work.

I discovered a beautiful camilla on the property today, it's a gorgeous dark pink/purple. It's right next to a very nice apricot/orange rose. With lots of weeding and mulching and some pruning the established plants would really be breathtaking.

Monday, 28 April 2008

We found a place

So here it is, our very own little workers cottage, we signed the contract on Friday with settlement in 30 days. Ok, ok so technically most people wouldn't call it a "workers cottage" but, if you think about it, that is exactly what it is. It was built in the 1970's for a working family. Every decade since the 1900's the "cottage" has grown. By the 60's the four room house had become a three bedroom abode, complete with kitchen, bathroom and laundry.

So now that we have moved on from semantics, let me tell you a little bit about the place.
Well, it has three bedrooms, two very good sized and one a bit smaller, a medium sized kitchen, seperate bathroom and toilet and a laundry. It's perched on 607 sqm of land in the suburb of North Carina. The ample front yard has several established shrubs and a few georgeous roses, while the spacious backyard comes complete with a hills hoist (not being removed because of nostalgia and Mick wants to swing on it), some paw paws and a couple mature shade trees. Oh yeah, a partly enclosed tin shed on a concrete slab toped with a weight bench comes with it.

That's the boring stuff out of the way, now, you walk into the wallpapered lounge room, do a jig around the wallpapered privacy wall into the wallpapered kitchen and view the wallpapered dinning area, take a couple steps and your back in the wallpapered lounge. Did I say wallpaper? There is a bit of it, but the variety that adornes each wall in the house is really the winner. My favorite so far is the first bedroom, imagine a cloudy day looking out onto the Brighton beach with the dark sea beyond, and riding on this sea of grey is a floatailla of ships! Not just any ships either, Captain Cook rigs at full sail. I believe the wallpaper was a sign, Mick's dad is a merchant marine and my dad is one of those people who can never be without at least one water vessel to his name: the wallpaper is staying, at least in this room!

The place is perfect for us. We'll tear down the wall paper, give it a fresh coat of paint, then tear up the shag wall to wall and clean up the floorboards. Everything else can wait. We want to make sure that we know exactly what we want to do where and what materials to use. We don't want to go wasting any of our labour and money!

Except the garden! That's top of my list. Front fence, chook pen and chooks, worm farm and compost heap followed by a no dig veggie garden.

Eventually we'll raise the place or dig underneath to add another bedroom or two, we'll tear down the wall seperating the kitchen from the lounge room and put a new kitchen in. We'll also put in a new bathroom and maybe add an ensuite while making the lounge room bigger. The part i'm looking forward to is a big wrap around verandah that will go in. The verandah would help with parking as there is no garage now, and create living space in the front, the North side and back of house to watch the sun slowly decend over a horizon of trees.

As soon as I get more picture of the place I'll post them, but until then you'll just have to drool over this small selection.

Monday, 21 April 2008

The start of a new search

Today is a new day and a new search has begun.

On Saturday me and my two friends attended the auction and there's nothing to say except we lost. There was great effort and control expecially because of supportive friends, and even after going $6,500 over our agreed limit we finally said no, no more. I had Mick on the phone with me the entire time, his silence was vast compared to the auctioners babling.

The auction started and all I could feel was my heart beating. I didn't get into the fray until the auctioner made the second call, but everyone seemed to have that strategy too, so we continued like this until the end. The property sold for $327,000. A shake of the hand from the auctioner and a call from the real estate agent later on saying he was, "disappointed" didn't help the devestated feelings that I was having. The dream of our own home, the closest I feel we will come to just building a home from scratch was fading. But all is not lost, Sunday was the day for renewed searching and it looks like maybe we've found something better already!

The new property is a 1920's cottage. The lot is much smaller, 356 sqm, but it's clean and it's easily livable. It's not the most quiet of locations but neither was the last one. We've got an inspection today during peak trafic hour and we'll be able to hear just how loud it is.

There is also another property we'd like to take a look at: a small (very small) cottage in a location that is second on our list. The lot is perfectly sized, but they want to get offers around 500K. Mick just laughed when I told him the price listed on the agents brochure. "They've got to be kidding themselves," it really is a demo and build job. Maybe they could have gotten that price late last year, but not now. We might still look at it though, if they are willing to come WAY down in price.

Mick also has an appointment with his endrocrinologist today. Hopefully the doctor will be able to put him on some hormone drugs to calm his growth down a bit and will tell us exactly how much time off work he'll need after surgery. Mick has a 1 cm growth on his pituratury gland, it's effecting his growth hormones. Normal levels should be 40 and his are 140 so his jaw and other facial features are growing. If we know how much time he needs of work after the surgery we can determine if we should even buy a property now. Fingers crossed.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Auction tomorrow

Well, tomorrow is the day it all begins the AUCTION.

I guess it doesn't begin tomorrow, it began two Fridays ago when I was combing through the local SouthEast Advertiser, the local community paper. I carefully cut out about nine advertisements for flats and houses all with in our set out monetary range $0.00 to $350,000. Saturday after attending markets with my mother-in-law, I set out on my little red scooter and the refidex neatly tucked away in the back box.

The first property at 9:30 am was "the house." Tucked away off a little used street, right beside the M1 and busway was a perfect little home for two modern day workers. The agent kindly took my details and proceeded to tell me this was a circa 1910 workers cottage. The advertisement had said that it was badly in need of repair, and it is! I fell in love and although I dutifully looked at the eight other properties, nothing could get the cottage off my mind.

Saturday turned into Sunday and I draged my partner Mick around to have a look at the place. He liked what he saw, and I took this from him as, "ok, let's buy!"

Monday came and the building inspection appointment was made. Wednesday morning it would be done by Frank from Acumen Inspections. I could hardly contain myself.

Suddenly I was drafting the layout and figuring out what to do when. First clean up the yard, then paint the walls, put on a new roof, new floor, new wiring, then plumbing, the kitchen and at last the bathroom. In a couple of years we can raise the house, add another bedroom upstairs and an ensuite to the main bedroom, and then build a rumpus room, lock up garage and granny flat downstairs. All the while tending to the yard with indigenous landscaping and permaculture techniques. I had my mom on the phone and 10 minutes later my Dad was ready to hop on a 14 hour flight to give us his carpentry expertise. Were set! Then the waiting began.

The auction was still 12 days away. How would I survive, how much could I torture myself with thoughts of wall colours and lighting fixtures and flooring options?

Luckily I could see the house again and get some more information about exactly what it needs. The building inspector, Frank had a lot of negative things to say about the house, but he also said that it's ok and that we should buy it if were up to the work. Sure it had borers that have eaten the floor and the roof is the aluminium the original builders brought over from England a hundred years ago, but the bones are good. The wiring will probably short out if you plug a computer in and the plumbing is anything but up to grade, but we have tradie friends. The yard has two aluminium sheds, an old rusty chook house and a burnt out caravan, but two sets of hands and a large rubbish bin should take care of all of that.

So now it's the Friday before the auction and somehow I've made it with out turning into a complete wreck. Mick and I have ironed out exactly what plan of attack would be for us to create a home (includes me getting a puppy and chooks, since we would have a yard), how were going to pay for it all, and just how crazy I am. I must admit that last one is a common topic in our place. I continually tell him he's just as crazy for putting up with me, but the juries still out on that one.

Less than 24 hours to go and all I can do is sit here and wait, well, work a bit and wait. Mick's picking up the bank cheque in readiness of our winning bid. I have two great friends coming with me to the auction tomorrow to drag me away just incase the bidding goes out of our range and I can't stop. We might be house owners tomorrow!! ok, ok, I know there's the whole settlement thing to go through, but we'll make it though that come hell or high water, just have to get through the AUCTION.