Thursday, 28 September 2017

5 Unforeseen Problems When Buying A House ǀ Homes & Interiors

I know...I know...another house related post.  The thing about purchasing a renovation house is that it becomes your entire world and is pretty much all I think about during both my waking and sleeping hours.  It also puts me in a pretty good position to share about unforeseen issues because we have (unfortunately) had plenty of those!

As is standard with any house purchase we had a survey done before we put in an offer and it threw up the usual problems you would expect with a house of this age.  Gutters would need replacing, pipes were a little bit worn, windows would probably need to be updated in the next 10 years...on and on the list went but nothing seemed too large to be dealt with and so we duly put in an offer and moved forward.

As you may have noticed since if you've followed my Youtube updates we have run into various problems (such as having to move out again as we have the whole house re-wired) and so I thought today I'd write a post about some of the other unforeseen issues you can sometimes run into when purchasing a house and how to look out for them:-

The electrics
I'll start with something I can 100% speak about from experience.  Our survey picked up that there was a new fuse box and that the electrics were most likely okay.  On this basis we didn't feel it was necessary to have an additional survey done but I so wish we had.  If you are purchasing an old house and there is any likelihood that the wiring has not been recently replaced then I would suggest having additional checks made, even at your own expense.  We called in an electrician to move a light switch in Eli's room which should have been a pretty simple job and found that new wires had simply been attached to old wires and that the actual wiring was over 50 years old and completely in pieces.  We have now had to come up with an extra couple of thousand pounds to have the entire house rewired and we've had to move back out to get this done as promptly as possible.  It became something of a necessity when one of the light switches gave James an electric shock!

I think this also should cover the central heating and boiler if there is no evidence that it has recently been replaced.

Asbestos
Asbestos is one of those things which, hand on heart, I thought had been over and done with, until it was flagged in our survey as possibly being in the garage roof.  I was aware that it had been in old houses and that it caused health issues but I didn't really understand the extent that it is still present until I read this post by Your Legal Friend.  Asbestos kills around 6,000 people every year which is absolutely shocking!  We know that it is not in our home but it may possibly be in the garage which we are planning on taking down at some point in the future.  Due to this we will have to arrange for additional tests to be carried out and if the asbestos is present then we will need to have specialists remove the roof rather than doing it ourselves, disturbing things and running the risk of health complications.  If you have any question marks about whether asbestos is in your home then have it tested.

Japanese Knotweed
Japanese Knotweed is an invasive plant which can cause serious structural damage if it gets into your property and is left unchecked.  If you have a survey done you should receive information about what to look out for but it is important that you check for yourself.  Your local council should also have information about whether your property is in an area which is affected by this aggressively growing nuisance.  In fact, its growth is so rapid that if you spot it and fail to treat it then you can be issued with an Antisocial Behaviour Order and fined up to £2,500.  Definitely worth having a quick check.

Damp
Damp is one of those tricky blighters which it can be impossible to spot until you start peeling back the layers of your home.  It can be papered or painted over, or covered with new flooring and unless it is a persistent problem you are very unlikely to realise it is in your home until it's too late.  That said, there are some things you can look out for: discolouration of walls and ceilings, condensation in windows or a musty odour in the property.  If you've already moved into a property and discovered damp then it is going to cost you, but it is certainly a problem worth fixing sooner rather than later and one well worth calling in the professionals for.


Future developments
There has been a huge upsurge in property development all across the UK and if you are looking to buy a house which is surrounded by open land then it is worth doing a little research to see whether that land is likely to be bought and built on in the near future.  This was something which actually affected our decision to pull out of the first house we put an offer in for; it backed onto some stunning open farmland with views for miles but shortly after we put in an offer we discovered that the farmland had been sold and hundreds of new houses were about to be built, and would end up overlooking our garden!  Future developments could affect the value of your property as well as simply spoiling the views you may have fallen in love with.  A quick check with your local council can usually help you find out whether the land is earmarked for any development.

I know this sounds a little 'doom and gloom' when buying a house should be an exciting prospect but I speak from the heart when I say that the last thing you want is to move in and discover a whole host of problems which will end up costing you more money in the long run.  We should have unpacked, redecorated and settled into our new home now but instead we are living out of suitcases in a friend's house whilst our unforeseen issues get fixed!  And that is definitely not what we would have chosen.


*This is a collaborative post

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Making Your Hallway A Welcoming Space ǀ Interiors

Regular readers will know that we have recently bought our first home and that it is something of a project with every room in the house needing to be updated and refreshed.  We had planned to take our time but one project which can't be ignored is the hallway.



Our front door opens straight into a space from which the stairs, the kitchen, the play room and the lounge lead and it has (unfortunately) been laid with a cream coloured carpet.  The carpet is in pretty good condition but with two young children and a dog it just isn't the most practical.  Think plenty of muddy footprints!

So because of our need to replace the floor, we've been thinking about how we can really uplift the space and make the most of it.  It isn't a huge space but it is the first one which people see when they come into our home and the first one we arrive in when we come home laden with all our stuff after a day out.

Predominantly we want a space which is both stylish and practical.  One which looks good but which functions well for a family.  We will be replacing the carpet with laminate or solid wood flooring which will simply work better for any wet or muddy feet as it will be easier to clean.

Ideally I'd like to invest in a slimline storage unit which can be used to hide the shoes although we don't have space for this in the hallway so we need something which could be kept in the play room without looking out of place.  We will probably invest in a shallow basket for the shoes which get worn the most, and which can live closer to the front door.

The stairs themselves are also carpeted in the same cream carpet and the mouldings will need replacing as they are fairly old-fashioned.  I am a particular fan of the Benchmark from Cheshire Mouldings and these really suit the style I am after; they are both elegant looking and practical.

Because the space is small we also need to keep the colour scheme quite bright, to bring in as much light as possible.  Finding a balance with this will be tricky because light colours show the dirt up much more easily.  Light colours can also be quite cold and the idea would be to create a space which was warm and inviting for people coming into our home.

If we had the space I would also definitely want to buy a bench of some sort as I think this makes the perfect addition.  With a brightly coloured cushion for a pop of colour and an inviting space for people to sit down when they are putting on shoes.  It would also serve as a handy space for book bags and lunch boxes first thing in the morning so nothing is forgotten!

How would you style your entrance hall?

*This is a collaborative post



Tuesday, 26 September 2017

A Bookish Adventure in Chicago ǀ Travel

Some of you may have spotted from my Instagram that I recently went on a trip to Chicago.  This was a huge deal for me; my first time in the US and a meet-up with some ladies which I met through being on Youtube.

It sounds so strange to say it out loud in that way...it certainly sounded strange at immigration when I landed at O'Hare airport as well!  But although I never quite believed that I would actually travel to America when we planned the trip well over a year ago, somehow when we were altogether it felt entirely natural.


These are women which I speak to on a regular basis, outside of just commenting on each other's content.  Women whose lives I knew about, and who I felt I have come to know fairly well so although it was odd to think we'd never actually physically all met, as soon as we were together it was just a whole lot of fun!


Of course with us all being on Booktube the obvious reason behind our meet up was to enjoy some of the more bookish delights in the city but we also did a number of touristy things as well which was ideal for me and my first trip across the pond.  I spent a couple of days in Madison with Katie before heading into Chicago to meet up with Mollie and Julie.  Although this wasn't our original plan I feel like it worked out so perfectly as I got to see some of the Mid-West as well as the HUGE city which is Chicago.



We went on an architectural boat tour in Chicago which was probably one of the highlights of my trip.  It meant that we got to see parts of the city we would probably never have discovered otherwise as well as getting some insight into the history of the city and the surrounding area.  When I say that Chicago is HUGE, I really mean it.  Everything, buildings included is on a vast scale and just looking up made you feel really, really tiny.



Shockingly I didn't take too many pictures of the trip but I did a whole lot of filming and I am currently working my way through the footage which I hope to be able to share and upload soon.  We filmed a number of collaborative videos too which will also be uploaded soon by the other ladies.




I will also be sharing separately the experiences we had of the bookstores in Chicago as we visited a good number and I feel they very much deserve their own post!


Friday, 22 September 2017

Chicago, Heatwaves and Moving Out... ǀ Little Loves

I, for one, cannot believe that September is almost at an end.  I feel as though I have neglected this little corner of the interwebs when in truth, I've been so busy that I've not had much time to think about anything let alone blogging.  With my sister's wedding next week however, we will finally have completed everything we had planned for this year and I am looking forward to a quiet two months before the festive season (yes, I went there!)

This week has been no different in that I've been here, there, and everywhere...although this one was a little more special as I spent the week in Chicago; my first time in the US.  But more of that later...

Read
You would think that 16 hours on planes would have given me plenty of time to read the 900 or so page of The Mad Ship but I am still wading my way through.  I know I've mentioned before about Robin Hobb's style of writing; it is predominantly character driven with rich fantastical elements and a story which is never predictable.  This is the second book in her Liveship Traders trilogy and I am thoroughly enjoying it, despite the length of time it has taken me to read it!


Watched
We were excited to see the return of Taskmaster this week for the fifth season.  In particular I am excited because Aisling Bea features and she is one of my current favourite comediennes.  I also watched three movies on the plane to and from Chicago: Table 19, Baywatch and Beauty & The Beast.  The latter was by far my favourite although I still can't quite reconcile Emma Watson as Belle and not Hermione Granger!

Made
Could there by any other answer for this than the trip to America?!  I met with a group of friends and it was the first time we had ever all gathered together in person.  I was the only one coming from the UK but we all travelled to meet in Chicago.  I spent a couple of days in Madison with one of the girls, to try and beat that sneaky jetlag, before coming back into Chicago for the weekend.  It was a whirlwind trip but so much fun and it was so easy and natural to be altogether.  It was a strange feeling coming home as I missed James and the kids so much but also immediately missed the girls.  Who knows when we will next take a trip like that?!  It's definitely something I will cherish.


Wore
I had planned a whole autumn wardrobe for my Chicago trip only for there to be a heatwave in the city so I had to rethink and repack.  This is probably one of my favourite outfits that I wore during the day, along with my much loved playsuit when we went out one evening.



Heard
I listened to Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them on the journey out; it is narrated by Eddie Redmayne and is probably one of the best audiobooks I've listened to in a while.

And Lastly...
Things continue to progress with the new house.  We have to move out again on Monday for a week so that we can have the house rewired and once that is done we should be able to finally get on with redecorating and making it our home.  Progress will be slower than we would have liked thanks to the need to rewire but I'm excited that there is only this one final hurdle and then we can relax and finally unpack and settle in!

Hope you all have a wonderful week.




*This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Where I've Been... ǀ An Update

Summer is always a quiet time in the blogging world; having the kids off for six weeks and trying to balance childcare with finding the time to write, not to mention working, is always tricky and something that I often struggle with.  I do tend to post during the school holidays just somewhat more erratically however this year you may have noticed that I pretty much dropped off the radar.

In part this was because I committed myself to completing VLOGUST which turned out to be far more work than I had perhaps appreciated and also because it turns out that buying a house, moving into a house and renovating said house is much more complex than we first thought!


We had everything carefully planned out, from the work we could get done before we moved in to how far our finances would allow us to go before we had to slow the pace down.  Typically it has turned out to be nothing like that.

We decided that our priorities were going to be the kitchen and the kids rooms.  The whole house desperately needs updating but it was clean and intact so we figured that we could make do and just redecorate once we were in.  So our first jobs were to pull out the old kitchen and strip the kids rooms, which we did before we moved.


That was where the fun began!  We have struggled and struggled to find a plasterer meaning Meg's room has remained an empty, dusty shell for the past six weeks.  We thought at one point that we had secured someone but when the day came he just never showed up.  So that was the end of that.  In some ways however I'm glad that we didn't get very far with her room because the bombshell that was to land later would have meant it was a total waste of our money.

In addition, we ploughed ahead and ripped out the old kitchen fully intending to have it replaced before we moved in.  But through one issue and another we ended up having to move in before the kitchen was even halfway to being ready.  I can now officially confirm that having no washing machine, oven or sink is a complete nightmare when you have young children.

Then came the icing on the cake.  We had arranged for an electrician to come in and move the light switch in Eli's room.  This was one of the few jobs that actually needed doing in his room before it could be painted and re-carpeted.  We had figured his room would be the most straightforward and had everything ready to go but on closer inspection it appeared that although the fuse box in the house had been changed (giving the illusion of recent rewiring) in fact none of the wires have been changed and they are all falling to pieces and otherwise totally unsafe.  

At this point we were living in the house, surrounded by our belongings, with no kitchen and no option but to stay put.

And that is pretty much where we are still.  There is very little point in unpacking and redecorating as we need to get the entire house rewired which means holes in walls and floorboards pulled up.  The kids have gone back to school and are still, sadly, sleeping in my study as this is one of the only clear rooms, with hardly any of their belongings.


One small blessing is that our kitchen is finally useable and when we have the house rewired we shouldn't need to disturb it too much.

So that is where I have been, muddling through, trying to keep us all above water and getting as much done as we can before we have to pack up and vacate for a week whilst we have the house rewired.  In many ways I am pleased that we discovered this issue before we had spent too much time redecorating as we'd have needed to start from scratch again but it isn't always easy to keep that in mind!

We are still trying to keep smiling, and to see this as just a short blip in what will be a wonderful family home when we finally get to settle in.  Which will hopefully not be too far from now!