The renovation precursor

I still remember the day we left Australia for New Zealand. We woke up at Ken and Maureen's house ready for the airport with all of our belongings in a 40' shipping container somewhere.

We landed in New Zealand knowing the area we would be living. We found that renting was going to be difficult because we had no rental history however getting a home loan was a breeze. This could only occur in an area of the world where rent is higher than the loan repayments for the same property.

We had a niggling problem - due to the things associated with moving country, it was becoming obvious that we were going to be cutting things close. The shipping container was only five or so weeks away and we had not found a house and did not have the means to put a 40 foot container into storage.

When buying a house people generally spend a lot of time looking for something that tick the boxes. Lots of yard, modern kitchen, ensuite, low maintenance, two lounges, rumpus room, big shed etc. For us, the boxes that needed ticking were;

  1. Affordable
  2. Available
  3. Enough rooms
  4. Good school catchment
  5. Not a prior meth lab

As one does, we looked at a lot of places. Most failed to meet either point two or three. One failed point four. Most houses in the school catchment we sought were built between 1930 and 1950. The houses were either two or three bed, one bath, no garage. One house I've seen since our time here still has plumbing in the walls for gas lighting. Remembering that we were running out of time to put in an offer and go through the whole contract process, our options became quickly limited.

We narrowed things down to two possibilities. One house was marketed as a four bedroom house that had a fresh lick of paint. Further inspection it turned out to be a two bedroom house with the small veranda built in (physically too small for a single bed and a wardrobe) and a separate room out the back. The house, as far as I knew, was watertight and free of damp and mold.

The other house, which we ended up buying, required a lot of work. I can not stress how much work. The work needed was vast. Most of what needed doing, I could do and had the tools to do. Some work required building consents and licensed trades but these tasks were either too big for me to do or outside of my practical capability.

The advantages were, well, advantageous. The original house was built in 1945 and had a gable constructed roof which was built into a full length room with dorma windows in the mid 80's. It had two places to light a fire. One was a coal potbelly with a wetback in the kitchen and the other was an old brick fireplace in the lounge. The brick fire had an in-built fire installed at some point. There was a laundry with toilet and shower attached to the back of the house and a small bathroom with bath and toilet in the house. Downstairs had three bedrooms, kitchen with dining, lounge with heat pump (Air Con) and a conservatory. There is a tool shed measuring about 3 x 5 meters, and the old chicken coop had been built into a garden shed. There is an 8 meter long single garage and a concrete pad and wall from an old greenhouse.

Sounds lovely but did I mention it needed work? Before moving in, we knew the following list needed to be done before 'next winter'.

  • Timber windows replaced because the timber was rotten and leaked into the walls
  • Relining the three downstairs bedrooms to remove mold from leaking windows
  • Replace Coal potbelly fire and flue with new wood fire due to regulations preventing coal from being burned
  • Brick fire demolished due to deteriorated lime mortar and rusted firebox
  • Full rewire to remove rubber and cotton insulated cable
  • Replace undersized (and generally bad) hot water unit with gas instantaneous hot water
  • Insulate ceilings
  • Paint and repair gable weatherboards
  • Vermin proof
  • Address stank smell in back bedroom

I'll post about each of these in due course but for now, each of these items have been ticked off the list. As I have been updating RussellndSusan.com, the temperatures outside dropped to six below zero. We now have a dry, mold free house and when the fire is burning away slowly and the heat transfer system is running, the house sits somewhere between 22 and 27 degrees depending on which room you are in.

I think, for today, this can be put down to tick in the win column.

I'm waiting on some photos from the estate agent who sold us the place and when I get these, I'll do a couple of post that have the before and afters of the work we have done in just 11 months.

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