“The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home.”
– President Harold B. Lee
In 2015, 2 years today, Hubert and I moved into our first home together. I was at work all day, and he had spent the whole day with his parents moving our stuff into the house. So it wasn’t really until the evening that we got a chance to step into our first home together and really take in that we were now living within the 4 walls of our very own palace.
2014 – 2015 was very stressful, we spent countless hours searching on the Internet looking for a house that we connected with, that we felt we could call home. There were so many things to consider that never did we have to think about. Was the neighbourhood nice? Were our neighbours friendly? Was the quality of the house in good condition? Was it in our budget? I mean things that you don’t even think about thinking about plagued our heads. It wasn’t like renting where, worst case scenario, we could just figure a way out of our tenancy agreement or even tough it out until our contracts were out and get the heck out of there. This home would be where we lived, grew, dreamed for many years and it was just about the most adult responsibility we ever had.
We saw some truly awful houses, ones I can’t even believe people have been living in. There were mould-infested houses, leaking roofs that looked like it could fall down on you in your sleep. The neighbourhoods were creepy; the area was loud and dangerous. There was one house where my foot actually fell through the floorboard because the bathroom had such bad damp problems. For those months, we would go to bed feeling completed defeated and upset, thinking that we would have to live with Hubert’s parents forever. Don’t get me wrong, we were so grateful that they offered their home to us, but we just badly wanted our own space, we’ve always had a different schedule to everyone around us and we were beginning to feel like a burden. We hoped something would come along soon, it’s just we didn’t understand how the housing market worked and it felt like the nice houses were out of our price range and the ones we could afford had bad problems with it.
By some miracle, Hubert’s parent’s found a little yellow house, that resembled a Mediterranean villa than anything you’d find in London. We weren’t so keen on the location but we thought it was worth visiting, it couldn’t honestly be worse than any of the monstrosity of houses we’d seen before.
So we did, we arranged a visit with the owner, a lovely little old man who was a house-proud owner. He welcomed us in, showed us around and we even sat down for a cup of coffee with him. In that hour we felt this strong connection with the house, like we could picture us coming home every evening after a long hard day at work and having dinner in the little dining room, feeling complete and at home. The house was completely old fashioned, but you could tell it had a lot of love in it, what we saw was the potential the house had. Despite being small it did have a large garden, the neighbours all seemed friendly, the transport links for both Hubert and I were perfect, there was a lot of work that needed to be done but we knew in that moment that we were standing in the place we wanted to call home.
I won’t bore you with all the legalities and paperwork, mainly because I don’t really understand any of it. But after several months of negotiations, we got the keys to the house!
So this brings me back to that night on the 10th February 2015, the day we had been anticipating for many long months finally came. Hubert picked me up from the station, we drove home in silence, both so excited, and when we finally walked through the front door it hit us. We had found our home, no more waiting.
That very first night, sleeping on a mattress on the floor, surrounded by boxes and boxes of our worldly belongings, we felt so blessed and happy to be able to share that special moment together.
Unpacking was surprisingly the easy part; it was what we needed to do to the house once we had settled. As I mentioned the house was out-dated, aside from the superficial stuff, the loft needed to be done, the fence in the garden needed to be fixed, there were plumbing and electrical problems that were thankfully sorted out fairly quickly.
2 years on we’ve done little to no decorating, but what we have made it into our home. We’ve got a lot of plans for the decorating but hopefully that will come in time. I just wanted to share with you a little bit about our first home experience, and here are 10 things I learned from being a first time homeowner.
- You have to own every problem in the house.
Renting is great don’t get me wrong. Whenever there’s a problem, you just ring your landlord and they will have the answers and often it’s not going to come out of your own pocket. When you’re a homeowner, you are your own landlord and so any problems with the plumbing, electricity or just any household annoyances that need fixing is your job to do.
- Don’t put a problem on your to do list tomorrow, do it today.
Similarly to the point above, any problem your house faces, is your problem to face. There’s no use waiting around to see if anyone’s going to help you because you’re essentially the captain of the ship. You have to find your own plumber or electrician. Often with household problems that are more than superficial, a problem that occurs should be dealt with in the beginning because the longer you leave it the worse it will become but also the more expensive it will be to fix. Homeowners will always have a long list of jobs to do around the house, so there’s no use saving that task for another day, do it as soon as you can to avoid that list piling up.
- Be house-proud.
This is a big one that not only affects you but also your neighbours. Being house-proud is incredibly important because it helps motivate you to look after your home. Having a nice house inside and out will help bring up community spirits. Nobody wants to be living next to the house with massive piles of rubbish in its driveway or the house with dirty windows. It sets precedence to what the neighbourhood is like. Being house-proud means you care about your home and your neighbours.
- It’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
When redecorating your home it truly is the little things that make the difference. Maybe you can’t afford to buy a new sofa straight away, you can easily buy a nice throw to put over the old sofa to make it match the room but also add comfort to your space. It’s amazing what little trinkets and pictures can do to a room, but also in a more subtle decorating tip, the colour of the walls can make all the difference. Having a new house is very exciting and I can imagine it can cost a great deal getting the house in the first place. Try to save the money you’re going to spend on all the luxurious stuff that you want to buy to compliment a room your not 100% happy with and instead save for the time when you can really decorate it properly. Family pictures, nice artwork, sofa covers or even a lick of paint can turn any room from just a room into your own space.
- De-cluttering is the best way to ‘re-decorate’.
If you’re anything like me then you love to collect things, but as a self confessed hoarder I know that all those collections together can often make rooms look cluttered. It can also make you feel claustrophobic, or in some cases make you feel like your room needs to be redecorated. Let me give you a wake up call. You don’t need all of that stuff, if you’re feeling cluttered, it’s time to do some spring cleaning and get rid of the rubbish that doesn’t make a positive addition to your life and household. Having that time to de-clutter will help you take a second look at your room, you’ll be able to clear up valuable space and you’ll be surprised the difference it will make to the look of the room.
- Insurance is your secret weapon.
Insurance is one of those boring things that most of us either zone out off thinking about or avoid thinking about altogether. When you’re renting, insurance, whilst still something you should have, isn’t too much of a priority for many of us. A lot of the time we’re covered building wise by our landlords insurance, but when you have your own home, the stuff that’s important, like the foundation of your home, the building itself and all the contents needs to be insured, you just never know what could happen and that is why insurance is so important to have and it’s worth taking the time to find the right company for you, the kinds of offers they have, the services they provided. When there is fine print with insurance, make sure you read it because the last thing you want is to come home to your roof collapsing and not being able to repair it because your insurance company doesn’t cover leaks.
- Living like a student is not acceptable when you’re an adult.
I don’t mean to sound negatively or to put us all under one title, but having been a student myself I am fully aware of how students live, like a slob. When you have your own house, you are responsible for everything, washing up, doing the laundry, tidying. Whilst to some it comes as second nature, to other’s it does not. Remember that your space is your own, and clutter, mess and dirt can affect how you feel and behave. Having a tidy house is so important and whilst sometimes it’s more convenient to save your dishes for later so you can relax, remember to actually do them as soon as rather than when you need them because you will feel a lot more happy in your home.
- Having your house number where it’s clear for people to see will solve you a lot of problems.
This is more of a personal problem we’ve had since living here. Our house number is not clearly labelled and even though you think its common sense what number we are, it would appear it’s not that simple. There are a lot of different layouts to neighbourhoods and numbers are not often easy to follow unless you have one clearly stating what number you are. So as a general rule of thumb, making sure your house name and number is clearly displayed will save you a lot of trouble with post and deliveries, and your post man (who will become a very important part of your day to day life) will not hate you so much.
- Your home should reflect the good side of you.
I think this is the nicer side of home owning. You get your very own house to decorate as you please, but something that took us a while to realise is, whilst it’s nice to have those funky lampshades, it really was not convenient for how we use our lights (FYI for those interested, we use our lights the normal way people use them). Your home should not only reflect your style and preference, but also it should make life as convenient for you as possible. We use a lot of power sockets, so one of the first things we did when our electrician was fixing our electrics was to have him put extra power outlets in our bedroom. Think about the things you do on a daily basis, or how you like to spend your leisure time and try to decorate accordingly, whilst it is nice to have your house looking like those in magazines, an uncomfortable chair is not inviting and your guests, and also you won’t be thanking yourself for it.
- You’re not going to be able to turn your house into your dream home straight away, and that’s okay.
This is a difficult one, but most of us on the housing market probably don’t have a lot of extra cash lying about to turn our house into the house of our dreams. I mean aesthetically speaking, our house isn’t 100%, it’s safe, it’s clean, and everything is in functioning working order, but looks wise, it needs a lot of work. Hubert and I were so hard on ourselves that as we watched the months go by and we hadn’t managed to redecorate even 1 room in our house like we had planned, we blamed ourselves for not being good homeowners but that’s just not the case. We’re great at upkeep but home improvements can be expensive. When you move into your first home, it’s such an exciting time, don’t lessen that milestone by getting yourself down for not having everything perfect, it takes time, a lot of hard work and patience. In the case of redecorating your own home, it’s slow and steady that wins the race. One day you’ll be able to look at your home and see all of your hard work but don’t be in a rush to do all of it in one go, take the time to appreciate your 4 walls and enjoy the endless possibilities it brings with it.
I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post, thinking about where Hubert and I were 2 years ago has really ignited my decorating bug again, I’ve got all sorts of plans on how I can turn our home into a better reflection of us, and now that I have had the time to think about what works and doesn’t work for us in this house, I can really get started on planning the things I can add and get rid off. Have you moved into your first home recently? Or done a spot of redecorating? I’d love to see the kinds of things you’ve done to turn your house, into your very own home.
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday but most importantly, you proud every day!
Peace and Love