We weren’t actually looking to move house. We’d been in our three-bedroom terrace for the past eight years (or rather, I’ve been there for eight years – Paul has lived there on and off since he was a baby as it was his parents’ house before ours) and while we knew it wasn’t our ‘forever’ home, we were in no rush to find somewhere else.
We always said that if the right thing came up we’d go for it, but we wouldn’t go looking – I never would have imagined that the ‘right’ house would be an absolute wreck of a project, right next door to the in-laws…
His parents’ cottage started life as a two-up, two-down former school master’s house, but has since had a huge extension and been completely remodelled to create a gorgeous home, the kind of thing I’ve always aspired to. Paul has long harboured desires on the neighbouring house, a three bedroomed detached cottage owned by an elderly couple, and has dreamed of doing to that house what his parents have done to theirs.
So when the house came onto the market he rushed round for a quick nosey and promptly fell in love.
Me, definitely not so keen. I’d only seen photos, which showed the place was in a right sorry state, and the idea of taking on such a huge project, especially with a toddler in tow, filled me with dread. Also, did I mention it’s right next door to the in-laws? It’s on the wrong side of town, further out of the catchment area for the school we want to send our boy to and just more of a trek to anywhere – the list of reasons why it was a ‘no’ was fairly compelling to me.
Anyway, the cottage sold within a few days – before I managed to have a look round – and that was that. Idea down the pan, bullet dodged. Or so I thought.
Fast-forward a month or so and the sale falls through, leaving the house available again. Paul persuaded me to book a viewing so we went round one Saturday and spent all of ten minutes inside before I’d reaffirmed it definitely wasn’t the one for us. The small rooms, virtually non-existent kitchen, overgrown garden, not to mention the seriously funky smells – nothing, absolutely nothing, was selling it to me.
But, for some strange reason, I couldn’t get that place out of my head. And that came as much of a surprise to me as it did to everyone else. I asked Paul if we could go back for another look – I’d got the feeling that I hadn’t given the place a fair crack and I needed to check I hadn’t been too hasty – and he managed to catch the owners and arrange an informal viewing straight away.
And there it was – the potential. Strip away the ugly décor, the awful bathroom and kitchen and the wild garden, and it becomes a blank canvas for us to create something special. The cottage is pretty small but there’s plenty of room for a massive extension to give us the space we need – what’s there right now is just the beginning.
We had our third viewing a week after our first, this time with my parents in tow, and – in a huge about-turn from me – put in a slightly cheeky offer. That was rejected but our second – still £10,000 under the asking price – was accepted. Now all we needed to do was to sell our house to raise the money for the deposit and initial work.
Now, if you’d have told me in the beginning that we’d have an offer accepted and then sell our house within a week I wouldn’t have believed it. But that’s exactly how it panned out.
The estate agents had only got around to doing the valuation and putting the ‘For Sale’ board up when they were contacted for a viewing. Which just happened to be a couple we’ve known for years who’ve moved back to town from London. Who were expecting baby number two and needed to find somewhere ASAP. Who’d already lost two houses they’d been interested in. Who were living with parents and had no chain. Who viewed our house before it was even properly on the market and put in a full asking price offer within 30 minutes.
Everything seemed to just fall into place – I’m a great believer in fate when it comes to this sort of thing, and something seemed to be telling us that this was meant to be.
So now we’ve found ourselves with a new house, and a huge project which will give us the opportunity to create our dream home. My mind is already a whirlwind of paint charts and home inspiration blogs. Let the fun commence!