Is this the house for us

Still trawling Rightmove…… I think I genuinely am OCD over searching on the website, I look probably 3 times a day just in case something new gets added and I miss it 😂

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< ure this is The One. It's got nearly 1/2 acre✅ It's already had an extension to make a large kitchen ✅ The old garage has been demolished and a modern one built ✅ The garden is a blank canvas ready to go ✅ Ok the kitchen needs remodelling, and an en-suite needs adding but otherwise it's got all the basics. Unfortunately it's a bit out of our price range whilst we still own our Oxford house but..... I need to be resourceful! I've booked a viewing for Saturday, in case someone comes along to buy it under our noses (again) Let's see how that goes. We viewed the house and loved it, trouble is 2 other people have viewed it and one person has had a 2nd viewing already! Hmmm I find the whole thing so stressful, now we’ve got to see if we can raise the extra finance and get an offer in ASAP if we want it.

To be honest if someone does put in a full asking price offer, I’m not going to get into a bidding war with them, the asking price is really what it’s worth so I wouldn’t be prepared to go any higher anyway.

So we’ve had our offer accepted 🎉🎉🎉 now to pay for a valuation to finalise our mortgage offer. That’s the nerve wracking bit …..what if another seller pulls out!

Back to the drawing board

Sunday – We’ve picked ourselves up after the last disappointment and have got back onto Rightmove with gusto, the only trouble is I don’t think there is anything there in our price range in the area we want. It doesn’t matter how many times a day I go on to look, no new houses that match our criteria are being added! Are we really that picky or do houses with good size (I really big BIG) gardens not exist?

Monday – Ooh wait, I just spotted a possibility, hmmm I’m rather put off by the artex ceilings and the property seems to be surrounded on all sides by well manicured but clearly hard work to maintain, conifer hedging! That would be two expensive items we’d have to get rid of before we start.
But on the plus side the garden, without the encroaching conifer hedge, is massive and already contains 2 very large greenhouse and a poly tunnel, they get big ticks from me, you can see where my priorities lie!

It would need a big extension and completing remodelling with a new kitchen and bathroom but that’s fine.

Definitely worth a view, just a question of when. The evenings are too dark now for an evening viewing and travelling next Saturday would be a long way from Oxford.

Tuesday – I rang the estate agent to arrange a viewing, the property has already sold within hours of it going on the market apparently! I’m starting to get the distinct impression things are not going our way, oh well good luck with the artex whoever has bought it, not that I’m bitter.

Another super one came on the market today, so as soon as I saw it, I thought I’ll ring the agent and arrange a viewing clearly this area is popular and things are selling fast, only to be told after placing her house on the market for 2 hours the seller has got cold feet over the timings and has withdrawn her property for sale.

This is definitely not my week, but what is it with sellers getting cold feet, this property buying and selling is turning out to be the most impossible job! I would just leave trying to buy all together for a while but we continue to pay ‘dead money’ for rent on the weekday flat which I’d rather not, so I’ll continue looking, let’s see what gets added tomorrow.

A house move is planned….

First job when looking for a new house, once you’ve set a budget, and fixed on an area, is to get on to Rightmove. The bible of all houses for sale everywhere.

Our budget was fixed +/- £20,000 and our area was decided on within a 10 mile radius or so of our jobs. We also took into account where our family is located and areas we were already familiar with. We had our list of requirements; location, proximity to shops, big garden, potential to extend, at least 3 beds, decent amount of off-road parking. Pretty much everything else would be addressed once we had extended and made it our own.

Perfect, we narrowed down potential properties to …………one! The only one which ticked all the boxes.

A viewing and 2nd viewing confirmed it was just right with potential, it even had planning permission for an extension, albeit not quite as we would want it but at least it was there.

A search on the internet revealed the sellers had tried to sell a number of times before (Zoopla historic data) so clearly were keen to move out. They were buying a property with no upward chain so we fixed an ideal completion date of the end of our school term in December which meant we could all aim to a common point which everyone was happy with.

Solicitors were appointed, the mortgages, both buy to let and porting on the existing mortgage were agreed, all we needed to do was to pay for a valuation/ home buyers report to get the mortgage finalised. But suddenly everything went very quiet, the sellers had changed their solicitor and would need to restart the process.

With their new solicitors in place, my solicitor wanted money upfront to conduct the searches, ‘just as soon as their paperwork comes through’ We started to get nagging doubts, why was everything quiet, where was their paperwork? So I asked the solicitor to let me know as soon as the paperwork arrived and I’d send the money over for the searches, my nagging doubt meant I didn’t want to spend money if anything fell through. She understood.

Pressed by our mortgage provider though, we paid for the valuation just to get the process underway. That came back satisfactory and our mortgage company rang to say everything was in place and the paperwork would be sent to our solicitor. It was all systems go…… or so we thought!

The following day, the dreaded phone call arrived, the seller had decided not to sell after all, apparently they were having some problems with buying, I fully suspect they couldn’t get a new mortgage. He was self-employed, she was part-time it was never going to be straightforward. However we think they had known this from day one, but were ever hopeful! I wish we had known about the ever hopeful optimist before we had even got started on the process and not only paid out money, but had invested heart and soul in the property.

How deflated do we feel right now, and cheated of the opportunity we had planned for. Back to the drawing board seems a hard task to contemplate now.

Creating a home gym on a budget

We have been very fortunate to have had a free corporate membership of a gym for the last 8 years, sometimes we used it 3 or 4 times a week and other times we could go for 3 months without going. That is the nature of gym membership, some 70% of memberships are rarely used.

download So now that I’ve left the job and no longer have the free membership we were in a dilemma last year when we decided we really needed to get back our fitness and get into shape. We weighed up the options of re-joining our old gym. This gym in Oxford is currently £82 a month plus £30 joining fee per person. For a 12 month package that would amount to £2012 for the two of us. I know for that fee you would get the full facilities including classes and swimming etc but we also knew from our previous use that the only things we really use were the fitness machines and weights machines. In fact my preferred machine was the treadmill and occasionally used the bikes.

IMG_5726It was at this point we looked into the option of a home gym. We were very lucky that the year before we added a summerhouse to the garden the intention of which was to be a quiet sitting area at the end of the garden. The summerhouse measures 10ft x 8ft and cost approx £1000

IMG_5732 We decided however that perhaps this could house a gym, a perfect solution to our dilemma, it would be a few seconds away, so no excuses you couldn’t be bothered to go to the gym and the machines would always be available.

Our next quest was to find suitable equipment that would be professional enough to feel you were getting a decent workout but wouldn’t be too expensive. Ebay was the perfect answer and we found a 2nd hand professional treadmill only 10 or so miles away and only £150. It was a bit of a mission getting it in the car and home, but we did it.


We also wanted a weights machine which we found in Argos in the sale, £120 and it would have sufficient weights for the workouts we were intending. Again the assembly was somewhat stressful but several hours later it was up and running.


Over the following few months as we were using the home gym on a regular basis we had 3 or 4 trips to decathlon who do a fantastic range of exercise equipment and added hand weights, kettle bells, an inflatable ball and exercise bench to our set up.


The total cost of equipping the gym came to approx £350 and since creating our home gym I use the treadmill every evening for 1/2 hour when I get in from work and in the morning on a weekend except during the winter months when the evenings were too dark and I used it on a Saturday and Sunday morning only. A real saving on even one years gym membership and we’ve now had our gym for nearly 2 years. Now we are heading towards the spring again, my evening routine is about to recommence…..