8 things you learn when you buy a house

This last (almost) year of owning our own home has really flown. It’s been a lovely but busy mass of showing people round for the first time and hoping they’ll love it, learning to replace casual walks into work with out of hours running, and making repeated trips to every interiors shop in the county Ikea.

There’s also a lot to learn – things you didn’t expect or even think about while renting or living at home. What’s the biggest lesson you learnt when you moved out or bought your own place?

  • You have to be neighbourly. This is the case wherever you live, of course, but when you know you’re going to be there a while, it’s even more important to keep them happy. You will experience the nice chats, the background briefings on the previous owner, the passing hellos, the long chats, and become experienced in bringing chats that have gone on way too long to a close by backing away slowly and sighing while glancing seriously at the urgent household job you’ve just made up in your head. Also, look out for the rogue friendly neighbour who is lovely but will not hesitate to pop a parking reminder note through your letterbox every so often…

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  • Don’t touch anything. If your house is a few years old then there’s a good chance the previous owner kind of brushed little niggles under the carpet towards the end. I’ve had the oven door fall off while trying to bake an overly-complicated cake, and the upstairs loo hasn’t flushed for about three months.

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  • Things will have ‘character’. Our shower only does HOT, which we’re now used to, but the idea of a cool shower at some time in the future is heavenly.
  • There will be spiders. I’d lived in modern flats for five years before moving here, so got used to being quite spider-free. In this house, there’s a nook or cranny for every spider to stay over, so furious shaking of clothes before putting them on and waving hands in the garage door before entering (making aforementioned neighbours question your sanity) is now essential.

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  • You will prioritise things like doors and fireplaces. And become an expert in paint types, moss, the different colours of slate chips. You soon learn to sum up your weekends with “oh we spent lots of time in the garden” or “house stuff” to anyone younger. Also…
  • You’ll learn how expensive stuff is. We had a guy round to quote us for a new front and back door. We’d been thinking we’d be well away with £1000. Well.. it was more.

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  • How to be pushy. I can’t say this for every solicitor in the world, but ours was s-l-o-w and you could never get hold of them. Lay down the law, ring them regularly and tell them what you need/need to know.
  • Who’s really the cleanest. I (shamefully) am out-cleaned by Paul. We’re fine on the hygiene scale, but he definitely sees the vacuum cleaner more than me. I tend to find my skills and stick to them. Dishwasher emptying? I am the champion!

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