My Adventures in House Hunting

I have now been to see 10-15 houses in the last 6 months and I’ve still not found one we want to buy.  House buying/selling is incredibly expensive now, so as a buyer I’m thinking twice but third and forth times too!  I’m not saying a house has to be perfect, that would be dull but there are certain things that trigger warnings in my head.

So here’s what I’ve learnt in my 6 months of house hunting….

1. Let the estate agents show it, don’t do it yourself.  

A) you’re paying them a LOT of money, make them do some work.

B) It’s beyond awkward walking around a house with the owner trying to be enthusiastic about anything you can see. And then trying to think of an appropriate goodbye, when you know you are never, ever setting foot in that house again.  Maybe this is an #Englishproblem?

2. Clean your house, and then clean it again.

Then call round your most picky friend or relative to pass muster. Having a dog I know I could be ‘nose blind’ to smells, so having someone to check my house doesn’t smell of wet dog is essential.  And I know it’s not easy to keep it clean (especially living with kids and animals) but do a deep clean to start with and then clean as appropriate going forwards.

Today I went to visit what looked on paper like a lovely house.  Was confronted with three bathrooms FULL of black mould and loos that hadn’t been cleaned in the last…2 years? Delightful! The estate agent suggested I could always replace the bathrooms (they were THAT BAD!) not for the price they were asking!

3. De-clutter…but not too much.

I quite like family pictures around the house, books and of course children have toys in their rooms. It’s normal and makes me like your house, also I get to see how you use/need storage.  Houses without ‘stuff’ are cold and clinical and frankly a bit weird.  I can think of three houses, that have put me off as there were only beds in the bedrooms, what’s up with that?

4. Insane Colours

Now I know not everyone’s taste is the same and hopefully most people can look past a room layout or room colour, but there are a lot of people who really, really can’t.  So tone down super bright colours and if in doubt white paint will make any room look better. Dull but sellable!

5. Finish up DIY jobs.

I found a house that I LOVED, double fronted Victorian, right sized garden, it even had a back porch but…so so so many DIY jobs that needed doing. Peeling paint in bathrooms – ‘why?’ of course sprang to mind – looked up and all the vents were blocked, easy in a normal house to sort but not one with 17ft ceilings and a shower underneath! Wouldn’t have even noticed them if they’d been clear. Plug sockets were off, ceiling roses missing/bare wires, all the garage windows smashed. Lots of little jobs which became quite hefty, once you started adding them up.

6. Get certification

The Victorian House of dreams had a pretty big nightmare lurking. Had a chat with the owner, a builder and he had done a beautiful jobs installing reclaimed fireplaces and floorboards etc. Now as you know from my electrical nightmares with this house, I am maybe a little paranoid when it comes to electrics now.  So I asked who’d done the work on the electrical re-furbish of the Victorian House and I got this answer ‘Well I did them all, I’ve got no certification but I know what I’m doing’. WTH??

That was a MASSIVE red flag and that’s that house was out of the running. I know how much it cost to just re-do the lighting circuit of this house and the Victorian House was three times the size, so re-doing all of it would be about 10k.  If he’d said, ‘I did it but I’ve had it certified and it’s safe, here’s the paperwork’. I might have been slightly more accepting.

7. Stuff you can’t change and does affect the price of your house whether you like it or not.

We went to see a 10 year old estate house. It was super clean and tidy, perfect amount of bedrooms and downstairs was a good size. The nice lady owner showed us round and then we went into the garden…oh my word…. the road noise was awful. I hadn’t appreciated from the map that the road which was a fair distance away was so loud. This is a super busy 24/7 road,  living with it would be horrendous.  We aren’t even that picky we live on a main road now, but not being able to hear anything in the garden other than traffic is not good.  I think the road must be higher than the garden or something?

However she wanted the same price as other houses on the same estate, which were much much further away from the road and quieter. Just nuts!. Funnily enough I’ve just seen it re-list this week with a new estate agents, so I don’t think maybe anyone is being honest with her or she’s just desperate to hit that amount?

8. Internet

It’s like having mains gas (not as common as you’d think in the country) or electricity it should be on house details what your average speed is. If you have a good speed show it off!! Here’s a good little site to test your speed. Tell your estate agent and make a massive deal of it if it’s good and be upfront if it’s a bit rubbish.

If people work from home on the internet and you have a good speed then that is a massive selling point. My parents get 1.2mbps on a good day if the wind is blowing in the right direction. That practically means no Neflix, video chat, uploading files or photos to the internet and surfing is pretty painful. So working from home would be next to impossible…or living in the 21st Century, to be honest!  Which is fine AS LONG AS YOU KNOW!   If we lived there we’d be stuffed.

9. Big up your local facilities

We’re about to get a new school behind us and a cinema down the hill, the estate agent will be making a lot of this when we go to sell. Look around in your local neighbourhood and see what could attract people.

What’s your best selling tip??  I’m off to look at Rightmove again, wish me luck!

 

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Operation Get Rid of Hayfever

As most of you know hay fever is the bane of my life, every April to September without fail my life becomes a snotty, eye itching misery.  It came to a head three years ago where bog standard hay fever started to morph into food allergies, hives and seasonal asthma – fun times!.

I made some radical changes to my garden, I can’t get rid of all the grass and trees but I could alter what I planted close to the house.

Then last winter I was flicking through my phone and I came across a picture of my patch testing and I remembered that apparently I’m as allergic to milk as I am to trees, shrubs and weeds….but I’ve never had a reaction to milk, ever! Whereas all the others I most certainly have!

photo (10)

Then I was reading about the new treatments for peanut allergy which involve being exposed to tiny amounts of peanut.  I’ve never stopped drinking milk or eating dairy and I wondered if that’s why I’ve never had a reaction to milk?  The very first summer I had hayfever I was 17 and it was also the first summer I didn’t spend every single moment outside, because I was a too cool teen. So could that be it?

Obviously this is very very not scientific and is me guessing, but I thought why not try something with pollen? So all the flowers that had been banned from the house, I brought back in to the lounge and all the living areas, house plants were brought back too. And then I’ve attempted to spend at least an hour outside in the garden every day since December mostly in 20 minute chunks with the dog and a little teaspoon of local honey. And you know what….this last weekend beginning of JUNE is the first time I’ve needed either eye drops or an antihistamine! And I’ve only needed one tablet so far which is a miracle because normally I’m on every antihistamine drug there is by now!

I don’t think it’s cured by any means, but it’s a lot better and I’ve had two less months of misery, which has been worth all the times I’ve stood in the cold in the garden all winter and spring!

But in the meantime if you are miserable and sneezing here are some top tips from Boots:

Angela Chalmers, Boots UK Pharmacist explains: “Many people with hay fever wait until their symptoms strike before they take action, but the earlier you prepare, the better.  Here are some things you can do ahead of time:

1)      Speak to your pharmacist now so they can determine the right treatment for your personal symptoms so you can put an effective routine in place before the pollen count rises

2)      Nasal sprays should be used throughout the season for them to work effectively, not just when your nose starts twitching!

3)      Some eye drops can be used ahead of time to help reduce symptoms, so it is never too early to start a protection routine

4)      Remember that your sunglasses can help too so include them in your prevention plans – they act as physical guard against pollen exposure around the sensitive eye area and are an easy way to stay protected on the school run or commute

And here are my top tips

1. I’d also add don’t hang your washing out on the line collecting pollen, for you to then wear or lie in more pollen inside.

2. Wash your hair/have a shower as soon as you come in from outside on high pollen days, it really helps

3. Nice cold flannel over your itchy eyes does help a lot.

4. Get a sensitive eye cream to put around the skin on your eyes at night, helps them not be so red and sore.

Have a good non itchy Summer!

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Day Out at Harry Potter Warner Bros Tour

My parent’s very kindly bought Miss L (and us!) tickets for the Harry Potter Tour for doing well in her school exams.  To be honest none of us knew what to expect, everyone I knew who’s been said it was ‘good’ but no more that that really.

We headed down to Leavesden where Harry Potter was filmed, and it was horrible! Driving rain, freezing cold your average British Summer, ick!   From what I could tell, you need to book in advance. We had to show our booking confirmation to the parking lady, and then she told us to park right next to the main building which was a god send as we then didn’t get utterly drowned running to the building.

You have to get there about 20 mins before your allotted time but once you’re through you can spend as much time as you like at the exhibits until it closes, they suggest 3 hours for the tour but I’d say you could comfortably do it in 2 hours.

Bigsets

Miss L was somewhat overwhelmed, she was ever so quiet walking into the Hogwarts Main Hall and I was slightly concerned that we’d come and she was too old for it now. But that wasn’t the case she was just amazed to see it all in person, and that was the same all the way round. She hasn’t stopped talking about it since we got home and is dying to go again!

GreatHall

It was wonderful seeing the Weasley’s house, complete with magical moving furniture.

weasleys

It’s basically a giant Harry Potter movie museum, and wow what a museum. The depth of craftwork on all the exhibits is amazing. Even if something had three seconds of screen time, it’s immaculate. I loved the detail on the Remembrall and Golden Snitch, it must have been very helpful for the young actors to be immersed in the world of Harry Potter to have such ‘real’ props.

Details

As you can see you can take as many pictures as you like, and the staff are more than happy to use your phone or camera to snap a family picture for you. In fact I’d say this is the closest I’ve come to ‘Disney World’ levels of customer service in the UK. The staff in the shops we went to were very knowledgeable about the films and were really helpful, offering up information and chatting to Miss L about everything Potter.

Hogwarts Express

The gift shop as you can imagine is amazing, and yes I did get a Gryffindor T-Shirt….for me!! Miss L had saved up and chose a Ravenclaw T-Shirt, Ravenclaw Book (yes she is Ravenclaw!) and Snape’s wand.  There are a good selection of wands from all the character’s except ‘He who shall not be named’ you can’t get his!  But there are items for every budget and you could go utterly nuts in there if you are a Potter Household, Paul sensibly dragged us out after 10 minutes!.

Talking of clothes, let’s not forgetting the costumes they are beautiful. I especially loved Hermione’s ball gown from the ‘Goblet of Fire’ I think L will want something similar for her Year 8 Prom next year – better start looking now!

Costumes

 

It’s a great day out and thanks Mum and Dad for the tickets xx

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Competition from abodent.com {UK Only}

I have a competition for you all today. abodent.com would like to give one lucky reader £30 voucher to spend on their website!  All you have to do is a leave a comment below *saying what you’d buy and I’ll run a lucky number generator to pick the winner.

Abodent.com have a wonderful collection of drawer knobs, coat hooks and home accessories on their site.  I’ve picked out a few of my favourites below.  I really need to find somewhere to use those bunny knobs!

abodent comp

You can see more of their collections on their Facebook Page , Twitter and on their Instagram pages.

Looking forward to your comments and announcing a winner!

Rules:

1. Competition runs from 2nd June 2015 – 9th June 2015. Winner will be selected on the 10th June 2015 and notified via email and my Violet Posy social media pages

2. One comment per entry/email address

3. Open to residents of the UK aged 18 and over.  All entries will be checked and verified.

4. First Comment made will be number 1 for purposes of running random.org generator

4. The winner will have 72 hours to respond with their details, otherwise a new winner will be picked, following the same procedure.

5.  The winner will be sent out the voucher, direct from Abodent.

* edit 3/6/2015 forgot to specify yesterday. Entries from yesterday are still valid.

 

*****Competition Now Closed*********

 

And the winner is…….

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 08.53.28

Congrats Helen Merrick!!!!

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