All Systems Go

Awwww HI, dear reader!!!

It’s been a little while since my last post hasn’t it?!

I’ve been taking a break from all the house drama and have had a busy few weeks getting ready for the move, as well as a lovely holiday with my family in Spain and about 50,000 gigs in the meantime!

I’ve had a few messages asking whether that’s it for my house blog series now that we’ve exchanged, but you’ll be THRILLED to know, dear reader, that it isn’t. It wouldn’t be a very good moving house series if I actually write about the moving house part would it?! Alas no, you are stuck with me for a little longer (I mean, you’re here reading this out of choice so it’s hardly like I’m keeping you prisoner!)

So where on Earth are we up to now?!

It is very much all systems go. We are now well and truly 6 feet deep in the process of getting ready for the big move. After 50,000 dates were thrown around on exchange day, we finally settled on a completion date of Thursday July 28th 2022,. So all being well with our new home and no delays in finishing it (though I have been trying to get in touch with the developer for the last WEEK with no response so this could be looking doubtful!!!), 28th July will be when we officially move out of our home and into our new one.

AAAAAAH! It’s nearly happening!

So what’s been happening in the last 4 weeks since we exchanged and I spoke to you last? Well, this is where things get a bit tedious, I can’t lie! But I promised to always be straight with you, didn’t I? Warts and all. This is probably going to be pretty dull for most of you, but I have had messages from a fair few people that they are buying a home and interested in the entire experience, so here’s a few boring practicalities you may want to consider now that shit’s got REAL.

Less Dramz, More Practicalities

So far, this blog series has been a bunch of posts with me ranting and moaning and crying hysterically about the latest frustration, but now we’re at a real-life, real-time account of what’s happening, as it’s happening, boring shit and all. So here is a little update of the last 4 weeks to bring you up to speed.

Post-Exchange Week 1

In week 1 post-exchange we ticked off:

  • the sofa

The very DAY we exchanged, we practically sprinted out to Sofology FINALLY put the order in for the sofa we had seen and loved weeks before. This part was EXCITING, and I can honestly say we have never been so happy to drop a shit ton of £ on a single purchase, I probably won’t ever be again. But it felt great to finally be proceeding with our very first home purchase!

There was a loooooong lead time on some – most were 19 weeks – but the one we chose was slightly less at 12 weeks, so as it stands we’ll have a sofa as of the last week in August. Good job we have camping chairs isn’t it?! The long lead time doesn’t really matter to be fair, given that we won’t have a floor either for a while (build-a-home comes with just concrete!)

  • a snagger to come in and tell us everything that’s wrong with the house

Some people may see this as a waste of money. We see it as we’re spending an eyewatering amount of money on a house and, let’s face it, we have all heard the horror stories about new builds. Might as well find out what’s wrong now so we can plough through even more money than we’re currently spending!

  • the lawn to be laid

You might be thinking, LAWN?! You have no floor in your house but you’re prioritizing the OUTDOOR FLOOR?! Yes, dear reader, we are.

We plan on doing the garden properly next year, but we have a very active Border Collie who spends most of the day outside. As build-a-home comes, the garden is just a mud pit, no grass, no paving, no NOTHING, just MUD. And any later this year (basically anytime after August) is the WRONG time to lay grass apparently because it needs time and the right conditions to set. I can barely survive Winter as it is due to how muddy my house gets when the dog somehow makes her way in to torture me, and that is with a garden full of grass! With the dog in and out CONSTANTLY, there is absolutely zero chance I will mentally survive until next year living on a mudpit, so grass was indeed the first priority.

  • make contact with wardrobe companies

If you recall, fitted wardrobes were the first thing to be ditched when we had to dramatically lower the cost for the upfront payment to the developer when there was a chance the sale on ours would fall through and we would lose all the money we had put in. It would have been a LOT easier to get them built at the time of building the house (seriously – A LOT easier!) but we have since found out that you can actually find out the company the developers use, contact them directly, and the wardrobes are actually cheaper for the exact same thing. WOOHOO! So there’s my first tip, if you want to save money, don’t go with your new build and the package they offer. If you want ease and less hassle, do it.

At this point I’d probably have chosen the ease – I’m already tiring of ringing 50,000 people for all sorts of different quotes, but at least it’s money saved. And even a fiver saved right now is helpful with the rate we’re spending!

MY TIPS FOR YOU: Choose what you want appliance-wise in advance of your exchange date and then get a sofa or whatever other big purchase you can on order ASAP once you’ve exchanged. Also consider 0% finance. You will be dropping ridiculous amounts of money on the smaller things as well as deposits for all the contractors, and money will barely make it into your bank before shooting straight back out. Buying big purchases like sofas on 0% finance can be a huge help and free up your cash for much-needed deposits and important furnishings like books and wall art. We took the sofa on 0% and made sure that we could repay at any time without additional cost, but to be honest, split between two of us over the next four years, we’ll probably just leave it as it is!

Post-Exchange Week 2

For half of post-exchange week 2, we were still in sunny España and did pretty much sweet FA for the next week. But the weekend we returned from Spain we realized that we have very little (OK – basically NO furniture) to go in the new house. We are not taking much with us because most of what we have is old, tired, and low quality, as we did everything on the cheap when we moved here. So we decided that we needed to at least try to get a dining table so we would have somewhere to eat.

We will NOT be eating in the living room in this next house like we do here, as we will have a designated area in the kitchen/diner. We are POSH now remember! There will be no eating off coffee tables and getting food everywhere like banshees. Operation dining table A GO!

In week 2 post-exchange, we ticked off:

  • Hunt for a dining table

I thought we’d just go and pick a dining table and chairs and that would be that, but nooooo… SO MANY THINGS to consider. Will it go with the floor that we are yet to choose? Will it go with the kitchen we’ve already chosen? Will it fit in the room? Apparently, we don’t like any tables that come with chairs so we have to get separate chairs, will they look OK together? Will we get cheaper elsewhere?! Do we REALLY need to see it in person when this one online is only £200?

I have to say, dear reader, this part isn’t really for me. Fluffy cushions for the sofas and fancy Flamingo lamps, as well as designing my beautiful, perfect, uniquely-built-for-me dream writing desk, YES. This is what I’m here for. Not all these things to consider about dining tables.

  • Hired a skip

Practical, useful, effective. As it stands, we have two full weekends before we move. TWO. The rest of them are tied up with plans. It’s been useful having a skip on the path for the last 2 weeks to lash 10 years’ worth of contents that we’ve hoarded in the house, garden and shed onto. Very therapeutic.

MY TIPS FOR YOU: most of the dining tables we looked at online were VERY different in real life. If you are bothered about this sort of thing, traipse around shops like a real adult until you find one you love. Don’t just get one off the internet because it’s cheaper, no matter how tempting it might be, because it’s a lot of money to waste on something you really don’t like in person.

Post-Exchange Week 3

Ooooooooh a lot happened this week. T minus 4 weeks until moving day!

  • finally chose a dining table and a TV unit thrown in

On our 800th trip to a homeware shop looking for a dining table, we found a beautiful dining table and TV unit for the living room. OK, a TV unit wasn’t exactly a priority right now, but we loved it, and we need one, so it came home with us.

We also discovered that we could get the exact same dining chairs we had seen in various shops (where they were on average £150 FOR ONE CHAIR) on eBay, where they were £139 for TWO CHAIRS. We ordered two as a tester to see what they were like, and they were AMAZING, so we ordered 4 more plus 2 barstools because when you’re saving money why not go the whole hog and end up spending the same anyway on all the extra shit you want.

  • sorting flooring/carpet

It is really, really fun having to contact loads of people about things you don’t understand (like explaining the square feet of each room, what you want where, trying to answer questions when they throw all different names of flooring at you) and subsequently being quoted to spend an extortionate amount of money, knowing you have no option but to pay it or live on concrete forever in the build-a-home.

Said no-one ever.

If I never hear the words karndean, herringbone, and parquet ever again it will be too soon. Apparently even when you choose a floor, they have different types of that floor (glue vs click design), so even when you think you’ve chosen a floor design, you haven’t. Oh and NEVER assume that what you see on a photo is straightforward to order.

I know some people find this fun but let me say, I really don’t. My approach is this:

Hello dear floorlayer, here’s a picture off Instagram, please give me a quote and just copy exactly that. Just buy that floor whatever it is, I don’t understand all the extras so just account for them too, fit it and let me pay you for the trouble.

Yes, I know I’m probably a nightmare client. I just don’t understand these things AT ALL and find them REALLY overwhelming.

MY TIPS FOR YOU: You can get stylish-but-generic velvet chairs on eBay, often in a broader range of colours than what you see in the shops, and they are honestly the same. Try eBay before splurging in shops.

Before you start getting flooring/carpet quotes, know EXACTLY what you’re asking for. Herringbone isn’t a type of floor, it’s a pattern (I think, I’m still not grasping it all to be honest). Know the dimensions of the room, know what colour you want, know what type of flooring you want, or just find a really good floor person who doesn’t lose their patience with your lack of ANY IDEA about it all, who will help you through it. We’ve finally found somebody now and he has been VERY helpful in helping me navigate all this.

If you are lucky enough to be moving in with a partner or another person, split the load. And take the things you think you understand (or at least could get your head around with a bit of studying). I took on the floor over the wardrobes, and wish I’d just given both to James to be honest and stuck with the surface design of the entire house. I’ve already seen all the cushions and art I want, yet here I am negotiating bloody click or glue-down tiles.

Post-Exchange Week 4 (that’s THIS WEEK!)

Where are all my spreadsheet lovers at?! (Rach if you’re still reading I’m looking at YOU, you’d LOVE this one!)

We have FINALLY set up a VERY much-needed spreadsheet. We have had a list on the go since pretty much the beginning of everything we would eventually need, but at this point it was really beginning to stress me out that I wasn’t taking the time to sit down and get a full grip on all of the bookings we were now making and all the money going out, so we now have a spreadsheet.

It’s great; would wholly recommend. The only problem is we now see just how much money is leaving us whereas previously we could pretend it wasn’t happening, but you know, needs must.

MY TIPS FOR YOU: create a spreadsheet FROM WEEK 1 so you know what money is going out, where it’s going, and when you’ve got people coming in to do the work. Spreadsheets make life 10000x easier, and juggling a build-a-home with full-time work and life can prove a bit overwhelming at times.

SUMMARY

The whole build-a-home has felt VERY real this last month.

With all the stress leading up to exchange, I hadn’t actually given a second thought to everything that needed doing. Basically everything you need to book in or purchase is always dependent on something else (can’t do floor until you have wardrobes, can’t choose furniture until you have chosen floors, can’t choose THIS until you’ve checked THAT, and so on)

There are endless contractors to call and get quotes from, but to do that you need to know every measurement of everything, and when you don’t understand any of it it can be quite difficult. Then there’s like a million weeks lead time on lots of stuff and contractors may not be able to get in as quickly as you would like. And then when the developer starts ghosting you, you just have to hope that all these bookings you’re making are worth it and that you will actually be IN THE HOUSE on these dates, LOL.

I have resigned myself this week to accepting that we will be living in limbo for a good few months, if not until Christmas, once we’ve moved in.

HOWEVER, did I ever think we’d get here?! No, I did not. And for that reason, I will take it ALL!!!

And thus concludes this long and quite dull post about the practicalities. Things are starting to feel real, and with three weeks to go until the move, let’s just say I’m becoming slightly emotional (not like me is it?!)

Next up – packing up our beloved home…

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