We picked up the keys on Friday afternoon, which meant Saturday was the day of taking stock. What had we inherited? What lay beneath that awful fake pine flooring?
Firstly the keys. The Bank of Do I Look Bothered and their solicitors Sue Grabbitt & Run, couldn’t be arsed to tell the key holders that we had completed on Friday morning. It took several hours of phone calls to get the necessary E-Mails sent through so that the Agent would release the keys. Frustrating, needless and another lesson learned – repossessions come very low down the list of the mortgage holders priorities once they have their money. To the bank, the house is history. The house represented a bad investment for the bank, so it’s not surprising they wash their hands of it at lightning speed.
A beautiful spring day in Shrewsbury saw us opening our front door for the first time unaccompanied. We opened windows, took down the auction sign and could almost sense the house beginning to breathe again.
We looked under the fake wood floor in the hall to find…a proper wood floor. Why somebody thought it was a good idea to cover it with a fake pine veneer I will never know. Perhaps the answer will materialise when we rip it out of the sitting room.
We opened the back door in the kitchen and the atmosphere changed immediately from slasher movie to something approaching optimistic as daylight flooded in.
Water was turned off and the system drained, so we spent an hour searching for the mains tap to no avail. We found the gas meter, the electric meter, but no trace of a stopcock. I remembered later that in a previous house, the mains water tap was under a floorboard in the cupboard under the stairs, so we’ll have another look tomorrow. The electricity is linked to a key – of which there is no trace, so we’ll call the Electricity people to get a conventional meter installed.
The plan was to spend the day taking stock and to identify priorities. The aim is to avoid doing anything twice so its about getting the jobs lined up in the right order.
So our first pass gives us
- Electricity – get a new key for the immediate future and book a meter installation
- Boiler – check the antiquity and decide whether to replace.
- House clearance – clothes and usable furniture to charity shops, the rest to the dump
- Stripping carpets and fake pine flooring
- Surveyor – the house has suffered subsidence, we need to establish whether that is ongoing. If it is, it needs to be sorted!
- Listed buildings consents – need to draw up a list of the structural repairs and get consents in place.
- Fireplaces – every room bar one has an original victorian fireplace. Some are missing vital pieces, one has a wooden surround which has clearly replaced an original – fire risk! We need to source the missing surround.
- Bathroom – needs stripping and rethinking – good sized room, open fire, but the modern coving and artex ceiling needs to be replaced as does the bath and shower.
- Kitchen – needs a design. The partition wall appears to be plasterboard. Can we revert to original design? Open the room out and have a large kitchen/dining area?
- Floors – the kitchen has amazing original tiles. The partitioned room has a floor half an inch higher of horrible modern tiles. Can we get back to the original? Will the original tiles be ruined?
- Ceilings – the kitchen ceiling is a full fifteen inches lower than the floor above. Why? What lies above it? Can we raise it?
- Light – how can we get more light into the kitchen? A question for the listed building people…
Our work is going to be intense in the next few months…