Friday 10 December 2004

Polystyrene ceiling tiles.

Over a year ago, I had a plan. The plan was quite simple: move to Northern Ireland with Vic; get a job; get a house. It has proven trickier than I would have liked.

We sold my flat and left Glasgow on the fifteenth of December last. We came to Northern Ireland, put most of our stuff in storage, and moved in with Vic's mother and sister and Vic's sister's boyfriend and daughter for "a couple of months". So far, so easy. And, after that, it really all went tits-up.

The idea was to live rent-free for a little while, thus making lots of money and getting rid of most of our debt. However, I remained unemployed for nearly six months. I am highly skilled at all sorts of things, including a specialist area that virtually no-one else is skilled in, but that got me precisely nowhere. I finally got a job about two weeks before the government stopped paying me dole money — a near thing. Vic got a job more quickly, but it was very badly paid. So we remained in a very small bedroom in someone else's house for a year, building up extra debt for most of that time and paying to keep our beloved possessions in a big box where we couldn't ever see them.

As if that wasn't enough, God decided to make it a thoroughly shit year for us in all sorts of other ways, into which I shall not go, as I have better things to do than beg for pity. It's been bad. And the plan was so good.

Today, we got our new house. Finally. I will eventually write about the hassle we had with bad lawyers (not ours — he's brilliant) and a bad bank, which resulted in one house purchase falling through in spectacularly stupid fashion and this one very nearly being scuppered. But we prevailed, and we've got a house. It's got both rising and penetrating damp, the rendering and the roof need work, we'll have to knock down a wall and move two radiators to fit our sofa in, the central heating doesn't extend to the top floor, the hot water tank is leaking, and we're already skint: the place is probably going to bankrupt us. But it is worth it. It's ours.

I spent this evening adjusting the toilet's flushing mechanism and ripping big polystyrene tiles off the ceiling and bad paper off the walls of the room that will one day be our bedroom. These are crappy tasks, as eny fule kno, but I haven't been so happy in a long, long time.

The front room is currently painted mauve and a shade of green that I can't even think of a name for, other than "vile".


andy said...

Sorry to hear about your property problems, Jo. I know how evil property law can be from time to time. In fact, by odd coincidence, I'm up at 3 in the morning working on a property law assignment.

Ach well, maybe one day I can be a bad lawyer, mess people around, and get slagged in the Scots Law Times...

Squander Two said...

But, Andy, you're dealing with Scots property law. Scots property law is a wonderful utopian paradise of joy. Come to think of it, it's the single best thing about Scotland. I loved buying my flat in Glasgow. It was so preposterously easy and hassle-free. My dad kept asking me "When do you exchange contracts?" and I had to explain to him again and again that it didn't work that way in Scotland; that the buyers could not pull out. He was amazed and, I think, a bit envious. And there's that standard part of the contract in Scotland which says that major flaws with the property remain your responsibility for a couple of weeks after you sell the place -- so much more civilised than the English (and Northern Irish) system of "Oh, you didn't see the dry rot? Well, it's yours now. Ha!"

Why no political party has thought of putting it in their manifesto that they'll roll Scots property law out nationwide, I have no idea. It's a vote-winner.

David said...

The english house buying system is one of my two major worries about buying a house down here. The other issue is a complete lack of money.

Anonymous said...

I would hurry up and get all your DYI done soon, before Blair makes it all illegal.

Well done anyway and I am glad you're finally on the way up again.

btw make sure no scamming "Contractor" sells you injected damp-proofing or any other such rubbish. If you're really got rising damp (which I doubt) make sure the ground level outside is not too high (a common problem with old buildings) and get the underfloor ventilation working properly - frequently it's been blocked up "to stop draughts".

Happy building!

Andrew Duffin

Squander Two said...

How would I go about lowering the ground level outside, then?

I see Blair's already making electrical work illegal. Luckily, the brother of my sister-in-law's friend's husband is an electrician.