Thursday, November 8, 2012

Here's How It Went

We got into the house yesterday and I must say, I was surprised at the lack of chemical odours.

The carpets in the locked off rooms did smell faintly of urine, of course. What's with that in old houses?

Anyway, I've decided to move all the stuff related to this house and its renovation to a new blog. This here blog is reaching the end of its life-span. There's not much related to islands happening in my life these days.

I hope I'm not jumping the gun, starting a blog about renovating a house that's not even ours yet.

Either way, if you're interested, please head over here to have a look at the photos. The follow button up the top, under the 'Follow Along' tab (hint hint).

I'm still finalising the layout and design, so excuse it's mild un-finishedness.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Green Acres pt II

Well, I'm delighted to say we have a signed contract on our new fixer upper! I hope I'm not jinxing this one...

Here it is on Google Street View. It's both houses, as I've said previously, and 11 acres.

The white house was the post office. We've received an email from an elderly lady in the area who grew up just down the road, telling us about her recollections of visiting the place with her father to collect mail.

She said the building did originally have open verandas, with a split half staircase (starts as two, joining in a landing halfway up the house). That's exactly what Dan and I planned to restore it to, which is a good start. She has confirmed the layout of the house was essentially what we thought - split in two halves, one half serving as the home of the postmaster and one half as the post office.

She has confirmed the little yellow building was the first school in the area, although she went to the second school which was just down the road and was also restored recently.

She also says she has family who once called the property home and is now approaching them asking for any photos of it from the past.

All in all, it's VERY exciting. I'm going back out there tomorrow to try and grab some more photos. I've also asked to be let into the locked rooms.

Demanding, aren't I? Wanting to see the rooms in the house we've just bought? So pushy.

I sure hope the meth lab is gone by then.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Green Acres

We went and looked at the hoarder's house yesterday, which I've now renamed Green Acres because it's infinitely more romantic sounding, while still summing up the state of the place.

It was... cool. Seriously, cool. Rundown, but cool.


It didn't get off to a good start. We met the agent, knocked on the door of the main house and got no answer. It was open, so we assumed the owner had made herself scarce and in we went.

Scarce did not turn out to be her thing. She came running in a minute or so later and started shouting at the agent. Turns out she lives in the smaller house, hadn't heard us arrive, and thought we were in there thieving.

After further warning us that had her son been home, we would have been shot, the agent managed to calm her down and she escorted us around the property, occasionally mumbling under her breath and tempting us with her own sales pitch.

This part of the house to be the local post office. We threw out all the old wood pigeon holes and things though, so you can just use it to store things.


The main house, which did indeed used to serve as the local post office once, is HUGE and featured several rooms that were padlocked and couldn't be entered.

My son lives there. He doesn't like people in his space.

How people expect to sell a house they're not willing to let buyers explore is a rant for another day, but Dan and I had already established this house was not your run of the mill purchase, so it didn't completely surprise us. A quick scuttle under the house revealed solid floorboards, we knew the walls were VJ and that was good enough. Whatever's going on behind those doors (meth lab), we don't really care right now.

The second little house on the property used to be the local school house. Again, it had been unsympathetically renovated but the potential was there to live in it temporarily while renovating the big house, and then use it as a guest house.

So, to cut a long story a bit shorter, we're making an offer. If we're successful, we'll be moving into the little house straight away and working to get the place back under control while restoring the big house to eventually move in there.

The place needs a hell of a lot of work, YEARS worth of work, to restore to its former glory, but could one day be an amazing and very large country home.

The real estate rollercoaster continues!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Hoarder's Hovel

Last weekend, when Dan and I were driving past the beautiful colonial we fell in love with (and have now decided is just too overpriced to be excusable), we went further down the road and saw another property for sale. Same land size of 10 acres, in a nice little spot, on a nice little bend, in a nice little gully.

It had not one but two houses. Oh, and it was also clearly home to a hoarder. We wrinkled up our noses and drove on.

But, something caught Dan's curiosity around the place.  He thought the main house looked remarkably solid, despite the filth surrounding it. 'Solid' is about the biggest compliment Dan can pay a house, so I could tell he was interested in seeing more.

After we decided the other one was too much money, we booked an inspection on this one for this Saturday.The online listing only has a few photos of the outside of the homes, so we are really flying blind.

We asked the agent to send us some photos of the inside of the two houses on the property.

She was reluctant, but today did so. And, if you can look past the filth here (really, try) you might notice a few things if you are a lover of old Queenslanders (or just old houses in general).

Here, in the main house, we have pressed metal ceilings, VJs and an original veranda that has been hidden behind an ugly facade.

The price is 200k cheaper than the one we'd wanted further down the road. Same land size, same era house, MUCH more legwork. But, let me just say that again for effect:


So, we're keeping open minds, packing protective clothing, bringing Grandma along to hold the baby outside and we're venturing in on Saturday.

Disinfectant ready, fingers crossed. Again.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


What a rollercoaster moving house is. Not that we're even at the actual 'moving' part yet, just the buying and selling part. That's enough, though. 

'Our farm' has completely fallen through, removed from market, gone. 

Plan B was beautiful, but ultimately had too many problems to be a contender. The house was tiny (the photo is deceptive), the block was very steep and the dams were bone dry. Oh, and it faced right into the Western sun. Not a great move in an area where the summer temperature regular climbs towards 40 degrees.

Yesterday, we drove around and around looking at listings we'd picked out, and almost without fail they were awful. Real estate agents have an uncanny ability to photograph houses without showing the rundown hovel right next door, or the fact that great portions of the home are falling down. 

We actually walked out of one place with flea bites.

Today, again, we drove out west of Brisbane and looked at still more areas. Beautiful, but no cigar.

Maybe not this one. #househunting

Then we drove back to the area we'd originally looked, and met an agent here. And fell in love:

Maybe this one.

It ticks all our boxes. The listing price is a bit too expensive, but it's overpriced for the market and after two months for sale and no offers, we hope the agent can talk them down to where we need them to be.

In the meantime, we just signed off on an offer on our place. One open home and we're done. We're pretty happy with that. I would crack a champagne but frankly, after three days of driving around looking at potential homes and all the emotion that goes with that, I'm exhausted and going to bed.

Happy Sunday, people.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Plan B?

So, we still don't know where we're at with 'our farm'. The owner is expected to give a yes or no by 5pm tonight.

Meanwhile, we've unearthed more information about the property - the granny flat is not council approved, meaning it's difficult to insure it sufficiently. As that would have been my in-laws home (eventually) and the whole area is very fire-prone, this is a pretty big issue.

We could try and go through the process of getting it approved but who knows how long that will take?

Anyway, I'm almost over it. (Almost). We're driving out this afternoon to look at this place (photo pinched from real estate agent):

I can think of worse plan Bs - I do love myself an old Queenslander home and it's fully renovated, set in 10 acres of fruit and nut trees and surrounded by established gardens.  It's also the closest home to Brisbane we've seen so far, has various outbuildings and sheds and seems to have a view. I really like how it's nestled into the hill there, too.

So that's where we're at. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode in 'Edwina and family go through mass trauma trying to relocate to country'...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Infinite Process

Thanks everyone for your little pearls of wisdom over the last week or so, they are much appreciated. You are such a wise bunch.

It is an uncertain time, but we're pretty confident we'll get there in the end. (I'm trying to think positive) The owner is still mulling over his options and is expected to tell the agent what's what tomorrow.

Or maybe, never. This just seems like the most infinite process in my life. Perhaps I'll still be here when I'm 68, going back and forth and back and forth in these negotiations, dragging myself into the office with increasing resentment and dreaming of a life outside the city limits.

We've been talking so much about what we'll do once we get there. Pulling dinner from the dam that's stocked with barramundi and red claw to cook on the fire. Getting the veggie patch happening, fixing up the old hut to make it my home office.

Meanwhile, the first open home at our place in Brisbane is this Saturday and we've been in overdrive preparing. The photographer was here today taking photos for the listing. If there's anything more ridiculously futile than  trying to clean a house occupied by a toddler, then I'd like to hear about it.

Actually - I really, really wouldn't.

At home

That said, our place looks good now and we're confident we've done enough work and priced it well to to secure a quick sale.

Fingers crossed we hear some good news tomorrow about this whole proposition. Even if it means a few months of homelessness over Christmas ( the owner wants a three month settlement now, if he even wants to sell at all), it'll mean we're on our way.

My fingers are more crossed than they've ever been.