Selling houses

Yesterday was a momentous day. After weeks of gradual clearing out, we finally emptied our house, took the keys to the estate agents and completed on our sale!

My husband already owned the house in north Leeds when I met him 13 years ago. He has lived there for 18 years, and I for 12. We are starting an adventure, setting out on a dream we’ve had for years. We are in the process of buying a house on a farm in the country. The house is derelict, and we are going to spend the next few months in a rented house while we renovate our new home.

So far it’s been a long haul selling our old house. I have been in the rented house for two months, and my hubby has only just moved in. It’s taken two months to empty our old house, and he has been sleeping there. We thought it would be an advantage to rent the house before the completion date and have a month or so to move things across. We thought it would make our lives easier. Rather than hire a removal van, we relied on friends and relatives and a mate with a van.

The first hitch was that the arrangements with our mate with the van proved very unreliable. The first weekend he was due to bring his large van to help, the arrangement was made via another mate and wires got crossed somewhere along the way like Chinese whispers. He turned up on the Saturday with his van, but he wasn’t available on the Sunday. A whole day of having a large van and an extra pair of hands gone up in smoke. Then, the next time he was due to bring the big van, he turned up with a small van instead! The vans don’t actually belong to him. He drives them for his boss, who very kindly agreed to our borrowing them. However, the big van was unavailable at the last moment. While fully appreciating the generosity of his boss (who doesn’t even know us!) and our friend for helping us, the vans were only available if not needed elsewhere, and our friend was often exhausted from long ours driving and wasn’t as fully available as we had hoped. So I learnt from this experience that when the time comes to move from rental into our dream home we will hire a van instead of scrimping!

The next hitch (or perhaps this hitch should have come first?) was that it turned out we were the most disorganised movers imaginable. When our poor mate with the van and my brother turned up to help the first time, a great deal of our stuff did get moved. However, more could have been done if more of our stuff had actually been packed. An awful lot of stuff wasn’t packed, and we didn’t have enough packing boxes. This sounds insane, I know, but there it is. Moving is horrible! Anyway, I have a very pranky brother in Derbyshire (another brother), and when he heard how disorganised we had been he sent this urban myth cycling round that we had been carrying individual items of cutlery to the van. Well, just to nip that particular rumour in the bud, our cutlery was in a cutlery wrack, and we aren’t quite that disorganised. I mean we did pack a little.

We had 18 years of his stuff and 12 years of my stuff (plus stuff from my previous existence) in that house. I had box after box in the loft containing realms and realms of paper from my PhD, which was completed eight years ago. One afternoon was spent sitting at the top of the loft ladder going through each box and flinging most of the paper down the loft ladder, creating a mountain of recyclable paper I then had to clambour over and take down to the bin in many trips. We feel we can measure progress in number of binloads filled.

Another hitch related to the fantastic extension we had built in 2006. Although we did everything right regarding building control, the builder never got around to getting the building control officer to sign off the extension. Our buyer naturally wanted to have the certificate, and we couldn’t find it. Hubby rang the Building Control office and was told that it hadn’t been signed off, and it’s very common for builders to not get around to this. Hey, they’ve been paid, who cares about the rest? So we got the officer to come round, and everything was OK to sign off apart from the small matter of the missing smoke alarm from the new upstairs bedroom. It was in the plans, and it should have been put in, but the builder hadn’t done it.

So, back to the builder. My husband rang the builder and explained the problem, and the builder told him to leave it with him. We waited, and we waited. Then my husband tried ringing again. I tried ringing again. The builder never answered his mobile. I did manage once to leave a message with his wife, but the builder never responded to any of our messages. We did formulate a plan to keep ringing his wife, so she would get sick of it and make him contact us, but in the end we thought this was a bit unfair on his wife. So one morning I jokingly said to my husband that I would try ringing the builder on my mobile as he wouldn’t recognise the number. Hey presto, he picked up! He sounded embarrassed when he realised who it was, but that got him on the ball, and the problem got sorted pretty quickly after that. Well, quick in the peculiar time zone of selling houses – a matter of weeks.

So two months after entering rented accommodation with my children and animals, the old house is finally empty, and we’re all together as a family. I drove to the estate agent yesterday and handed in the keys. My solicitor phoned to say we had completed. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but WE’VE SOLD OUR HOUSE!


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