One thing you should know about me is that I have an addiction to rightmove. For some strange reason I just love looking at houses for sale and imagining what my stuff would look like in there. I don’t know why, I just enjoy it. Anyway, two days ago one of the houses that I originally fell in love with when looking to buy a few years ago came back on the market! No, don’t worry we’re not moving, aside from the fact it’s too far away for Jamie to commute, they’ve also increased the asking price by £100,000, just to well and truly ensure I can never live there.
It did get me thinking though about when we bought ours, and how all those “little” jobs actually turned into much bigger jobs. Because when you look round a property to buy, you don’t really SEE the house properly, if you know what I mean. You see the house, you see the blue walls in the bedroom that need painting, you see the tiling that needs doing in the kitchen and the overgrown patch that needs cutting back in the garden, but you don’t really SEE the property, this takes time.
Well, Liskeard was one of those that took time to be seen properly, and oh boy, was there a lot more to be seen. Let’s start, well from the start. The first thing that I did when we moved in – bar popping a bottle of champagne – was to unload the crockery into the dishwasher. I’d already bought dishwasher tablets (yes I was and am still obsessed with the dishwasher, but life is too damn short to wash dishes) so I threw them in, flicked the switch, shut the door and, nothing. The bloody thing was broken! Mrs “oh yes there is a working integrated dishwasher, but it’s only me and my daughter so I just wash them myself” blatantly lied to me. Gutted. Some other broken/ half-finished things included the loft hatch – which didn’t have a hatch, just a scary large hole straight above our bed, perfect for spiders to abseil down at night time. One side of the oven not being able to be used as the whole thing was sat below the flooring. The absence of tiles in the kitchen and instead the presence of deep holes in the wall where the cabinets met the wall. One of the windows in the bedroom, didn’t and still doesn’t open. The display lights under the kitchen counter, didn’t work. One of the radiators didn’t heat up. The list went on and on and the botch jobs continued into the garden.
Starting with the weird ornate cream painted decking, whilst it wasn’t the prettiest we thought it was reasonably sturdy, until one of Jamie’s family pointed out it was actually all rotten. Considering the back door is four foot from the actual ground, the decking wasn’t really something that we could just leave to fester and then change later. But this wasn’t the first thing we noticed outside actually. The first weekend we moved in we decided to pull down the 4 (yes 4) sheds that were in the garden and burn them. The fire literally did not stop for over 48 hours. Pulling the sheds down was no easy feat, aside from the fact that one of them was bloody huge, the previous owner had kindly left the things she didn’t want inside of the sheds and hidden behind them. We were so very pleased to have to pay for a skip to get rid of all her unwanted junk…… I’m not going to lie though, we did get a sadistic kick out of telling her we’d burnt a chair from the shed that she wanted to come back and collect. Mwah ha haa.
Several weeks later though we found the biggie. The big unseen item that no-one even thinks to look for when viewing a property. Worse than all the rubbish dumped under the decking, worse than all the rubbish hidden under the kitchen cabinets and even worse than the rat living in our kitchen cupboards and the mice living in our loft. Let me paint the picture for you, so you can experience it just like we did.
There was one section of the garden which was really wild and overgrown. When I say wild I don’t mean simply that the lawn hadn’t been mown there, it was more that vine weed, brambles, weeds and anything else that you don’t want growing in your garden was growing there. They must have been about 5 – 6ft tall, over 8tft deep and god knows how long. Anyway we chopped this all down and of course what did we find but a layer of asbestos sheets hidden underneath – this was not the biggie. Getting rid of these took some time, because no one wants to come and move asbestos, but eventually it was all gone and we were just left with a big muddy patch in the garden. Where we live is clay soil so it was really thick heavy ground under those sheets. Anyway, as it does in the UK it rained. The muddy patch got muddier and muddier, but it also got quite smelly.
At this point we’d only lived in the house for a few weeks and hadn’t really met any of the neighbours so when I bumped into one of them and mentioned that the clay soil was really quite smelly I was not prepared for what she was about to say. She basically told me that she had wanted to come and see us as soon as we moved in, but didn’t know how to tell us what the previous owners had done. We’re not connected to mains sewerage here, we all have either septic tanks or cesspits. For those who don’t know the difference between a septic tank and cesspit and without going into too much detail, septic tanks clean the slurry and water before draining into the environment while cesspits are essentially a big tank of raw sewage which must be pumped away and disposed of appropriately by law.
Now comes the biggie. What those lovely previous owners had done was create a direct overflow from the cesspit (raw sewage tank) into the garden! Yes that’s right, that muddy patch in the garden was actually raw sewage. I know. What. The. ****?! Was our neighbour right? Sadly she was as Jamie found the outflow pipe. Here’s a lovely photo depicting this beautiful moment.
3 years later and we’re finally putting the finishing touches on the house. We’ve replaced the decking, filled the holes, bought a new dishwasher, we haven’t managed to fix that window though and now more are jammed shut in the conservatory, but we have invested in a brand new septic tank system. Hoorah!
We’re getting there, slowly but surely, we‘re getting there. Its actually really nice to look back at some of the photos from the beginning and remind ourselves how much we’ve actually done to improve this place. Particularly as the garden
feels like has got worse in the past few months! I guess my word of advice though to people looking to buy would be to look carefully and make sure you get the entire property surveyed!