Thursday, 20 December 2012

The joy of old buildings

We have all seen it.  Those tv shows about people buying an old ruin and thinking they are going to restore it on the weekends and live in it.  Grandoise schemes float through their conversations like thistledown on a summer breeze. 

We sit there in morbid fascination watching them uncover dry (or wet - why discriminate) rot, sagging foundations, rising damp, rotten roof supports... the list goes on and on.  All the while we mutter things like "silly beggars, anyone could have seen the place needed knocking down - not renovating!"

The dream home..... that quickly turns in to a nightmare....

Whilst we are far from falling into the above category, there have been a few hiccups so far and works have not progressed as quickly as planned and wished for.

We knew the electricity board needed to be replaced.  Fine, not a problem as Wayne could handle that. We did realise (after the purchase and start of works) that some of the wiring was so old that it was tinned copper coated with a woven cotten cover!  However, we did not realise that the whole board had been mislabelled at some dim dark distant time in the past, so that when wires were reconnected they did not correspond to what they were supposed to....Hmmmm.  Something wrong here that needs to be sorted quickly!

The psychedelic, nightmare inducing wallpaper was the next suprise.  Normally there is one layer of wallpaper on a wall.  More than one layer usually indicates a complete change of decor and hence colour/pattern/style.  As time has passed between layers being added, it is normally an annoying but not difficult job to remove it all down to the plaster walls.  No such luck here.  There were two or three layers of THE EXACT SAME wallpaper on some walls!  I swear to you that it must have been adhered with some super sticking, magic never to be removed wallpaper paste.  Who, what and why are about the only comments I can repeat from those discoveries..... Luckily I had the help of our wonderful neighbours and their kidlets (and friends of kidlets) the day of that discovery.  I think I would have had a meltdown otherwise. lol  We all laugh about it now, but it was a bad day for us all.  Hours of backbreaking labour and hard slog to clear less than a metre of wall in some rooms.  I tell you, this stuff was tenacious!

Then there was the half tank of fuel for heating that was generously included in the house price.  Only to find after less than a week in the house that in fact there was no fuel left and the fuel guage for the tank was in fact broken and permanently stuck on half full.... Four freezing cold days followed until fuel could be delivered.  Why four days I hear you ask?  Yes, normally it is next day delivery on fuel..... but of course this problem arose after business hours on a friday evening.... and we had to wait till late tuesday for a delivery. Sigh.

Or the waterfall and lake that appeared in our garage after the first heavy rains.  That was impressive.  Unfortunately the loaded trailer was directly underneath the deluge, but fortunately we had been so exhausted on the last day of moving that we had not even thought of taking the tarp and straps off.  Phew, disaster averted there!  Thank goodness for exhaustion and procrastination.

Seriously though, whilst we have had setbacks, in general we have been very lucky.  Our extremely thorough inspection prior to buying paid off and we have a house that is full of character and has remarkably few problems in comparison to what others find during their renovations.  OK, we do not have a straight line in any room (in fact the bedroom and office are trapezoids!), and having to stagger downstairs for the loo in the night is annoying, but really in the big scheme it is nothing at all.  We have heating, hotwater and a(n almost) finished kitchen so hot meals are easy.

OK, it might be nice to have power in all of the house, not just the kitchen, but we are working on that and when it is done we will appreciate it. REALLY appreciate it!

The fur boys love the house.  They are so happy and content here it is wonderful.  We are also content with our decision and think we will be very comfortable here for a long long time.

So think of us this weekend when we attempt to replace the toilet.... no unpleasant suprises please!

Footnote:  Whilst everyone here seems to have horror stories of tradesmen who did not or could not do the work etc, we have been very lucky here (different story our first 2 years in Paris... but will leave that one rest).  I have constantly asked questions of the real estate agent, neighbours and anyone else I come in to contact with and have managed to find a fabulous ma├žon and plumber!   It does pay to be a bit assertive and keep asking questions till you are satisfied - not till you get a good sounding quote or the person seems nice.