We completed on our house on the 28th of June 2019 which makes today our one year homeownership anniversary! I can't believe that we've gone from hoping and dreaming for our very own little slice of property heaven to having owned our home for an entire year!
It feels like it was just yesterday that we saw the house and instantly knew that we wanted it. I remember the frantic calls to our bank in the McDonald's car park trying to get a new Mortgage In Principal because this house we'd just fallen head over heels for was slightly above the top end of our budget but we wanted to make sure we could put in the best offer and hopefully secure it.
Secure it we did and now after a rollercoaster of a year which included moving in and making our house a home, planning and then postponing our wedding and being in lockdown for 97 days; I thought I'd share some of the things I've learnt during my first year of being a homeowner.
I was perfectly aware before buying a house that owning a home was more than a mortgage but even with knowing that I'd have to pay Council Tax, utility bills, home insurance and the rest, it still makes me take a sharp deep breath whenever I see those bills fly out of my account every month.
It can be really expensive and time-consuming trying to find pieces that are functional and aesthetically pleasing so take your time curating pieces that you absolutely love. Your house does not have to be a show home with all the best Zara Home and Maison du Monde that your money can buy.
Fill your home with meaningful and classic pieces that you'll love for years. Take your time with each room and stop when inspiration or funds die down. Each room in our house is not quite complete but we've moved at quite a slow pace with the decorating process to make sure that we pick things that we love rather than what's trendy or available at the time.
Our house was a magnolia dream (or nightmare in my case) when we bought it and I just knew I couldn't stare at yellow walls for the forseeable future so we called around and asked for quotes but quickly realised we couldn't afford to call in a professional and would have to do it ourselves.
We watched YouTube videos, bought some supplies, did some research and got to work. We roped in the help of our friends and family where we could and currently the only areas that need the magnolia disappearing are the staircase, landing and the under-stairs cupboard.
Make sure you DIY, up-cycle and phone in the troops where you can BUT know your limits. Can I make built-in shelves? Absolutely not. Is Marcus secretly a plumber? Hell to the no! Can we put a Tele up on the wall? Not since the last time I checked. So when jobs like these arise in our home, we know to call in a pro and get the jobs done properly. The last thing I need is the TV falling to the floor half-way through my 8th Lord Of The Rings marathon of the year.
It's standard procedure in the UK to buy a home "as is" which means that that the previous owner isn't going to fix anything before you've moved in. We lucked out because our previous owner was keen to fix little niggly things we found when we saw the house like the huge crack in the bathroom door and the postbox that was missing a key but if only we knew about the things we couldn't see that were lying underneath the perfectly staged surface.
Note to anyone buying a property: check everything! Turn on the hob, turn on the lights, turn on the shower and test the radiator during your final walkthrough! Within a week of moving in, we discovered our shower didn't work and our hob wouldn't ignite and the cherry on top was a bolt on the bathroom radiator popping off and flooding the bathroom leaving us with a lovely yellow stain on our living room ceiling.
Luckily for us, these were all minor issues (even though they caused massive nervous breakdowns at the time) and were easily fixed with little to no expense but what this taught us was that it was always a good idea to have some money set aside for any repairs that may arise big and small. It also taught us to make use of our warranties so we always pay attention to our appliances, register them and save any paperwork that they may come with, you know, just in case.
If you're lucky, you'll be blessed with lovely neighbours who can't do enough to help you, who invite you to their gatherings and even sign for your parcels. On the other hand, you could be cursed with weirdo neighbours who don't say hi to you and scowl at you as you walk to the grocery store and huff every time they drop off a parcel they had to sign for in your absence.
We have both - we get on with some of our neighbours but one neighbour in particular, we just can't stand. That being said, we still try to be as neighbourly and as pleasant as we can be because we have to live in the same neighbourhood and it's much less stressful when you can at least be cordial.
There will always be something that needs to be done around the house but we've quickly learnt the difference between needs and wants.
I want our back garden to be an aesthetically pleasing utopia where we can host barbecues for our friends and families and lay out in the sunshine on our gorgeous garden furniture but I need more storage in the kitchen and a desk/office space in the spare bedroom.
We've learnt to figure out what's the best use for our money in our any given circumstance and have exercised prioritising an immediate need over things that we just want.
The journey continues and the lessons keep coming but what an amazing year it's been.