Unless you’re new around here, you might have noticed that a couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and I finally got on the property ladder and bought our first home together.
Although it feels like it was an eternity since we viewed the house and finally walked through the door, our experience was actually quite seamless – I’ve heard horror stories in the past!
Here are 20 things I’ve learnt from it all…
1. You’ll need about £5k more than your deposit
It depends on the cost of your house, but solicitors fees, surveys, stamp duty and all the other wonderful crap that comes with buying a house isn’t cheap. Make sure you bear this in mind when you’re putting your offer in – and be warned, estate agents will most likely ask for proof of funds or just a laughable screenshot of how much debt you’re going to be in…
2. Everything takes longer than expected
Whatever time-frame you are given by your solicitor, mortgage advisor or estate agent, add a week on for good measure. Who knew receiving a letter from the seller’s solicitor could take up to a fortnight – oh that’s right, everyone but you…
3. Solicitors are notoriously hard to get hold of
So you’ve tried to ring your solicitor, and they’re on lunch… no problem. Ring an hour later and they’re in a meeting… ok I can deal with that. Ring back at the end of the day… they’ve finished and will answer your query in the morning. Except no they don’t. Just keep pestering; they’re used to it.
4. Paying your deposit will feel like you’re cutting off a limb
Once you click confirm transaction (after triple checking the bank details) your heart will slowly sink into your stomach as you realise you no longer have any life savings.
5. Everything looks different in natural light
Chances are, if you’re like us and work all day, you’ll be viewing the property in the evening when it’ll most likely be a bit darker. Unless you take a torch into every room and get on your hands and knees to check out the carpet, paintwork and skirting boards, chances are, you’re going to miss something.
6. House stuff can be very pricey
Once you have the keys, have paid your monies (and done a little cry) you’ll realise how expensive furniture, plates, glasses etc. all are. There are ways to keep the cost down – accept things from your family and friends, shop smartly and don’t eat for the first month.
7. Whatever you think something will cost, double it
I’ve never had anyone do any work to my home before – painting, joining, fixing etc. – so I wasn’t sure how much any of it would cost. There was a bit of painting that we needed doing when we got the keys and I stupidly thought that it wouldn’t cost too much to do. Wrong… We had quotes from 3 people, of which there was £500 difference across them. Make sure you do your shopping when it comes to decisions like that and ask for recommendations.
8. You’ll never know the right time to introduce yourself to your neighbours
They’ll see you move in, but as soon as they want to come over, you’re in the door unpacking boxes. We met our first neighbour when he had to help us get a chest of drawers out of the car. Slightly embarrassing, yes, but at least it broke the ice!
9. You’re the one in charge
When we first got the keys, we didn’t have any hot water for the first few days, and the person we had bought the house off was on holiday. Unfortunately, this meant that we were delayed moving in, and we had to ask a family friend to come and have a look at the boiler. That’s the thing about being a homeowner – you’re the landlord now.
10. If you can, visit the property at night
Not something I’ve learnt, but a piece of advice that was given to me before we put an offer in and one I would recommend doing if you are new to an area.
11. DIY takes agesss
Got a wardrobe to put up? Can’t take more than a couple of hours surely? You’ll be in the pub in no time! Think again… Once you have deciphered which nail is which and which hole said nail goes in over and over again, that time will have passed long ago…
12. You’ll notice stuff that you didn’t when you first viewed it
Was the carpet always that colour? Did the dining room always have this light fitting? Was the shower always that small? Who knows, but it’s your responsibility now!
13. Everyone in IKEA is out to get you
A bit of an exaggeration, but it’s what it will feel like when you visit 5 times in a fortnight. My advice – go on a Monday evening and make sure you reward yourself with a pick ‘n’ mix at the end.
14. Ebay is great alternative for furniture
It might not be the most logical option if you’re trying to move in straight away, but I found that eBay has some great offers on bedside tables, corner units and general housey stuff. And most of the time it’s cheaper than getting it in store.
15. Painting is therapeutic
Well, painting flat, rectangular walls is (I can’t vouch for anything different). But if you have any rooms that you feel comfortable doing yourself, just whack your music on, get into some baggy clothes and go for it!
16. You have to have insurance for everything
When we were at the final stages of our journey, our mortgage advisor asked if we had written a will and whether we had life insurance in place, to which, I nervously laughed – but it turns out, you can’t actually get the keys to your new house unless you have property and contents insurance in place. Oh and get a decent life insurance policy, as morbid as it is.
17. You’ll want to impulse buy everything
A vintage cocktail dispenser? A wine rack that looks like a saxophone? A 3m tall plant? Of course our budget will stretch *eye roll*. Now you’ve bought your own house, you become strangly drawn to the home section of shops. Make a list of everything you need to be able to move in, and see if you have enough left to splurge a little bit.
18. You’ll lose sight of whether you bought a house or a cardboard factory
Once you start buying furniture, unpacking your boxes and throwing them into the spare room, you’ll realise how much cardboard you have to recycle. Always a loborious task.
19. Your elbows will start to ache
You’ll realise how old you’re getting when you start getting elbow pain from using a screwdriver and painting. My advice – buy a drill!
20. An iron is important
21. There’s no better feeling coming home to your own space
I’ve only really felt like this since we have been living in the house – at first, it felt as though we were helping friends paint, or staying in a B&B – but once you’ve spent all day in an office, it really does make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside to be sitting on the sofa that you paid for (well, financed…) in the house that you own.