Tuesday, May 14, 2013

So for Mother's Day I got a .... HOUSE!

On Saturday, it was a year to the day (day before Mother's Day!) that we moved back to the coast from Sydney. The day before, we exchanged contracts on our new house. The house? The very first house we considered buying when we decided to move back. In a nice tidy roundabout, we spent a year searching for a home and ended up buying the first one we (kind of) looked at. Sounds like a nice waste of year, really, doesn't it? Not quite...

Our new (oldish) kitchen. It will eventually be replaced, but until then, I'll probably look to paint the cabinets a dark colour and maybe do something with the benchtop... The house has three bedrooms, one bath with a loo in the laundry (ugh), a weird little corridor room that leads out to the back patio (through that glass door, above), awful fluro lights, bad aluminium windows, highish ceilings, a water view and a large cabin with living room, bedroom, kitchenette, bathroom and laundry. So whatever we do to the main house, we'll have a "spare" utility in the backyard. Yay!

When we decided we wanted to move back, we were pretty determined to buy a waterfront property. They were so darn affordable compared to Sydney prices. In the area we were living in North Sydney, we might have got a not-so-great two-bedroom unit. For around the same price, we could have got a not-so-great two-bedroom waterfront shack. I know what I'd have preferred... So I moved into realestate.com.au (not even kidding - I should have shares in that site. I could account for a large percentage of daily hits all by myself) and searched. There wasn't much - just one house that we'd seen on the market a while back, but it seemed to have disappeared. Then I found our house - a three bedroom fibro shack a street back from the water. It had a bit of a view from the living room and access to the waterways a couple of houses along. It was way under our budget and we decided that our lifestyle would be no different if we lived there than if we lived in a waterfront property - except we'd have a much smaller mortgage and less stress of the "what ifs". A few weeks later we headed up to look at some other properties and it had disappeared from the market. We ended up renting and when the time came to start looking properly again, I called the agent to find out what happened to the house - I never found any sale data and she said the owners decided to wait and sell in a better market (which, mind you, is NOW. Houses are being snapped up around here within days of being on the market). She said they were still keen to sell but wanted a particular price. Having not seen it - and with tenants in the house making a quick inspection out of the question - we decided we couldn't agree to a price beforehand and so just let it be. A few months later, it was back on the market. In the meantime we were in talks with a former neighbour about buying their house, but when he said he was going to wait a while longer, we went to the inspection. Afterwards, Steve made an offer a little under the "offers over" price and a week worth of major stress later, we're just awaiting settlement in a few weeks. So our plans to stretch ourselves and mortgage to the hilt were replaced with a much better plan - tiny mortgage, great reno, awesome lifestyle, hopefully mortgage-free in a single-digit years and another happy home. 

It has been 10 years since we bought a house and while this is the third time we've been through it, I pretty much had no idea what I was doing again. A big bundle of nerves comparing, applying and waiting for final finance approval, negotiating contract stuff and dealing with various real estate agents about a million other different things... I have managed to lose about 5 kilos this past week. I also had 42 phone conversations in one day - I counted! How is something that happens every single day so friggin' stressful and painful? That said, I can happily recommend Bankwest - we ended up going with them after doing a lot of comparing and from the very first phone call, the guy I randomly got paired up with was brilliant. He organised everything so quickly and effectively - we were unconditionally approved in three days (would have been two but I had to resend something) and managed to set up our mortgage beyond the first "deal". 

And now just when I should be breathing again, we have more stresses. The house we're renting sold (in two days!) and we were given our 30 day notice on Wednesday. Today, the tenants in our house were given their notice. That is a week later. If they can't find something in the next few weeks and move out, letting us settle early and move in before the new owners of the house we're renting settle and move into their house, then we'll be homeless for a few weeks. YAY! How's that for confusing?! Anyway, I'm going to give myself a few more days before I go back to panicking about that kind of thing. 

And I'm going to spend those few days daydreaming about how we'll transform our fibro worst-house-in-the-best-street into something fab. It'll never be the best house in the best street when the houses across the road are million-dollar properties. But that's fine - it's just got to be the best we can make it for us. To quote Dana from House*Tweaking - "it's not the house of our dreams, but it's the house in which we'll pursue our dreams." I loved that line the first time I read it and can relate so much. And heck, if we pursue our dreams to the letter, then it might just end up being the house of our dreams as well!

I'm looking forward to getting into it - apparently I like living in rubble! But it's going to be fun - I'll share some more pics and ideas later and you will be SICK of hearing about renovations, I'm sure, but I plan to document it all right here. You have been warned :)


  1. I am so excited to watch your journey unfold. I commented a while back about my husband and I renovating my grandmothers home, an whilst its a slow journey I am loving it, I would love to document it, but had a few people say - why would I want to see photos of you sanding windows.... I will keep watching this space as I love it. :) Meg

  2. I have been following your blog for years and I find it quite humbling that someone else is doing what were doing.... Fixing up an old house to make it our home... It's no mansion but affordable and lovely and means we can actually have a life! I am documenting my renos on my blog and while sometimes it doesn't seem worth it (lack of followers) but I do it for myself and hopefully one day it will be great to look back on too! Don't worry I will thoroughly enjoy reading and seeing your renos and maybe pinching some great ideas of yours. Have fun! Can't wait to see more pics.

  3. Congrats!! Best Mother's Day gift ever! Looks like it has some great bones to me.

    This still isn't the house of our dreams but I can't wait until we can say "we're debt free!!" That is going to feel sooooo good.

  4. Congratulations! That's great news and an awesome Mother's Day present! I can't speak for everyone else but I can't wait to hear and see all about your renos! So spam away haha


  5. Congratulations.. Looking forward to lots of reno posts :) Funny how things like this just work out sometimes.


  6. No way! I LOVE reading about renovations! Bring it on, Belinda!
    Congrats on gettin' a New House!

    Tanya, QLD.

  7. Hello Belinda,

    could you please send me your email? I couldn't find it on your blog.



    1. Hey Maria
      My email is belinda@thehappyhomeblog.com xxx

  8. I'm sure it will be amazing when you're finished and I can definitely see potential in this kitchen! Can't wait to see when you move in xx

    Anna (My Design Ethos)

  9. Bring on the renovations! I look forward to a house tour :)
    I have my loo in the laundry. Its such a pain but Im going to try to squeeze in a small basin when I renovate it so people dont have to walk to the other side of the house to wash their hands!

  10. Love that quote! I often get itchy to move somewhere larger but then I realise I should be thankful for our little pad and the freedom it gives us to pursue goals other than simply paying off a big mortgage.