Wednesday, 9 October 2013

House hunting - what puts me off a house

Photo taken in Hay-on-Wye

I am not meant to be viewing properties on line any more.  Not at least until after Christmas, but old habits die hard.  I have been house-hunting for at least 6 years on line, the last 4 of them seriously.

My daughters accuse me of being over-critical, but I have a gut instinct for what is "right" in my mind.  One of the principal needs is a detached house, rural or semi-rural, not on a main road, and not overlooked . . .  I prefer a wrap-around garden, and nowhere with larch-lap fencing and other people's walls and windows has appealed to me yet.  I do't want to look out of any window and see brickwork - unless it is part of our property.

Decor-wise, I want it to look its age inside.  You would not believe the number of period properties, and SO many lovely chocolate-box thatched cottages which have been gutted inside and look like New York lofts, with every vestige of character destroyed.  Surely if you want a brand-new looking home, you should buy a brand new house?  I like a house to look like a home - comfortable, lived in, with pictures on the walls and favourite bits of china and emphemera on show.

I do not care to see every room painted white, with modern furniture - my pet hate is chairs with material covers on.  Gosh how I loath those.  Are we going back to Victorian times, where anything with legs has to be covered up?  It is a CHAIR, it has LEGS.  It does not need a French-pleated SKIRT!  OK - fussy I know - as when you buy it the room will be empty, and paintable, but it certainly doesn't warm me to a property to see it in a contemporary style.

I am very picky about wood stains and polishes.  I am sorry, but that awful ginger brown really doesn't cut it with me.  Mind you, Jacobean Oak isn't much better when applied like treacle . . .  Whilst I am about it, I don't like painted beams either - be it white (to "lighten" the room), black ("authentic").  They are meant to be wood-coloured!

My husband has a loathing of islands in kitchens - that is the sort that has storage underneath and workspace beneath - rather than St Kilda or Mull!!!  As I cook, I quite like them and would fight tooth and nail to keep one which he would happily rip out.  I am picky about kitchens and so fed up with the design on our kitchen cupboards that if I see that design elsewhere it would mean new cupboard fronts if we bought it. I would rather not have a long galley kitchen, having been spoilt with our huge farmhouse kitchen here.

You would think that a barn conversion would suit us down to the ground, and we have seen some lovely ones on-line, but it is very difficult to hit the right balance between grandiose open-to-the-roof living rooms and bedrooms which you can actually fit a bed in!  We're not into barn-complexes either.  Many of them dont have the outside space we both need - my husband HAS to have a good garage-cum-workshop.

The hardest part is getting generously-sized rooms and enough of them.  We have about 6,000 square feet here, and are having to go down to a third of that.  Going under that third is very difficult.  We aren't prepared to have rooms like those in a doll's house.  Though I will admit that housework would be much easier!

Spiral staircases, whilst attractive, are totally impractical for carrying large lumps of furniture up and unless there is a straightforward wide staircase elsewhere in the house, a spiral staircase would mean no thank you.

Inglenook fireplaces full of furniture make my lip curl.  Fireplaces are for FIRES, not furniture!  Likewise, I do not care for woodburning stoves a foot above the floor.  Impractical (think icy ankles) and they look ridiculous.

 Oh and what is it with curtains - or lack of them?  How do people keep warm in winter, with no curtains up at half the windows?  Sigh.  Perhaps I am getting old : )

A view would be nice, preferably of Dartmoor near at hand.  I don't think we are quite ready to move back into even a small country town yet, village edge perhaps, and it would be nice to be able to walk for a newspaper or pint of milk, but beautiful though remote places in Shropshire and the Welsh marches are now sidelined - though we did look in rural Shropshire when we first started house-hunting, and indeed found a dream house there.  We would like to have a social life again though, but we also have a shared interest of antiques and collectables, so want to be within easy reach of the big Fleamarkets and Antiques Fairs at Malvern, Shepton Mallet etc.  We'd love to be near the sea, but of course that means less value for money and as this is meant to be our final move, we have to make every penny count.

A little paddock would be nice - just thinking ahead to the little Dartmoor pony for the grand-children, you understand!  Any stables would probably be appropriated for my husband's woodworking (unless there were a custom-built workshop or huge garage elsewhere on the property).  I still hanker for our own water supply still - we have never had to pay water rates so they would be quite a shock to the system and the budget.  A seperate annexe for holiday-letting would be perfect . . .

Garden features - well, I think any swimming pool would be at least emptied, if not filled in, because of it being a hazard to cats and grand-children in the future.  Trees - au natural please - rather than clipped.  I have just seen one clipped conifer which looks for all the world like a giant green penis.  No anatomically correct topiary thank you!!!

Here's one we viewed earlier, and love very much.  Fingers crossed it might still be on the market when we finally find a buyer . . .  This one ticks every box.


  1. Oh BB, I have a sneaking suspicion that the house you live in now might very well fulfil most of those criteria. Actually, I agree with most of them, although as I get older I find I am less picky - warmth, a nice view, nice large rooms, an Aga - that's about my lot really.

  2. You'll get there eventually I know. I'm keeping my eyes peeled but, round here, what you want costs around £800,000!

  3. Weaver - that's it, we want a scaled down version of our house, back over the English border. I no longer NEED 7 bedrooms and a granny flat!

    Em - sadly, I have already discovered that!

  4. Your 'box-ticker' is the one I viewed online--have to say my belongings would fit well in that space. A country setting is a must for us, I can't imagine living in town [or rather my imaginings aren't happy ones!]

  5. I just want to wave a magic wand MM, and we sold and moved overnight, cats 'n' all . . . If we don't get close to the improved price mentioned, we will end up in a house which barely ticks any boxes I fear, though the box-ticker is under our current budget (at the moment - I fear it won't linger long on the market). Can't be doing with towns at all - we'd be looked upon as the Beverley Hillbillies!

  6. Surely if you want a brand-new looking home, you should buy a brand new house?

    I agree entirely!!

    I found it hard downsizing and our neighbours are closer than I've been used to, but location was paramount, si I had to compomise. I christened my new sewing room today, so all is well :-D

  7. Wow that's a list !
    But it is good to have a check list to remind you what you want or don't want.

    When I was selling real estate (one of many jobs) I had to bite my tongue many time when I heard "I am looking for my dream home".... there is never a dream home. There is always something wrong. There are comprise homes.
    I used to stage homes for sale and people have to realize that the chair in blue doesn't matter as long as the bones of the home are good. Decoration can invite you in but no laundry on the second floor is maybe more important. The ugly painting to someone will be leaving after the sale.
    Comprise is always a key word !

    I put my home in Laguna Beach on the market just before Christmas, it sold very fast. I was shocked. I had a month and a half to find a new home and move.
    My home in Tucson is the area I wanted but it is not the courtyard home I wanted.
    Once I walked into this house and saw the huge windows and view it became my home. I saw it on February 2 and moved in on February 16. I moved from California to Arizona. It has good bones but I put in a lot of work in it.

    I hope you can sell your home soon and you can find the home you want.
    Much luck and sending you lots of good real estate wishes !

    cheers, parsnip

  8. parsnip - I sound pickier than I actually AM. That was a list of my likes and dislikes, really. The bare bones of what we must have are good sized rooms, as we have some large pieces of furniture and want to be able to move around them. Some we could part with, but the pieces my husband has restored he wants to keep. Cosmetics we can work with - redecorating and restoring. It MUST have a garage/workshop - not just a space for one as my OH will want his wood and woodworking stuff under cover from the go-get. I would prefer a lighter house internally than the one we have now - the kitchen in particular is the Black Hole of Calcutta without lights in winter as it faces East with a v. small window to South. However, if it has the right feel, then I would go with the gloom! Garden - must have one, rather than a courtyard. It can't be on a main road because of the cats, and my asthma. It has got to have character, but above all it has got to have that "feel" - this house leapt off the page at us, and we knew we would end up here.

    You were so lucky to sell your house so quickly and find one that suited you in Arizona. I envy you large windows and a VIEW!

  9. Oh no ! ... I meant It is good that you have a list ! you have thought about it and know what you NEED ! I loved buyers like you.
    It was the ones who came in and wanted their "dream home"... I knew no matter what I would never find it for them. Especially what they were wanted to pay in Laguna Beach. What is the saying Champagne wishes on a beer budget ?

    I was very lucky to sell my home when I did. The bubble was just about to burst and I was luck to get out. I bought my home before the divorce was final and only lived in it for 4 years before I had to sell but it was wonderful.
    But after the divorce it was keep the home I loved and be broke or sell my home and take cake of my children and gud dugs. I was very very lucky and made the right choice.

    Again good luck with selling your home.
    cheers, parsnip

  10. You've been house hunting for 6 years already? Isn't it quite long enough? Well, I can't blame you for being meticulous. It's your choice, your decision. Besides, investing on a house is no joke. Take the time you need and when you find the one you're looking for, I'm sure that everything will fall into its right place, smoothly.

    -Denise Bolds @ VancouverCanadaHomes

  11. When you set standards for your new house, you'll definitely end up with a place that you'll love and treasure. It doesn't matter if others will call you a very meticulous person -- it never hurts to be one. What's important is you're satisfied with your investment. :)

    Calvin Mordarski @