It's great to be home

Above: The day we settled and the house was ours. 06.12.17
You’re excited and on the lookout for your first home, or soon to be - congratulations! Isn’t it thrilling to add a house to your Trade Me watchlist and think it could be yours one day? It is. Buying our first home did go smoothly, but it was also stressful, and emotionally (not to mention financially) draining. I will be doing a seperate blog on how we refinished the floors and chose furniture, as well as our bathroom and kitchen renovations (when they eventually get done). This is just a general overview of buying a property, and how we went about initial renovations and moving in - if I’ve left anything out comment below!
The first thing we did, was figure out our budget. Our budget comprised of the deposit, taking into account any KiwiSaver contributions, what the bank would loan us and how affordable a loan would be for us to pay back. A lot of banks were quite ‘iffy’ with the fact that my income (as a contractor) was ‘unreliable’ and many refused to count it and would only base fees and the loan based off Adams income. This is one of the main reasons we went with ANZ, they were the only bank who acknowledged I was a contractor - yet had a steady, reliable income. Can I get a #independantwoman AMEN?
The second thing we did, was make a list. You guys know how I kill... for a good list.
DISCLAIMER: *We knew enough at this point to know we had to ask about plumbing, insulation, earthquakes, asbestos, rates, melamine and other potential risks before buying, if you’re unsure about what to ask for, ask a landlord or your parents or a builder or google or literally SOMEONE who has bought a house in the last 15 years - and definitely get the building report.
Our House Check List Must Haves
- A least one bedroom with built in wardrobe space - Space for both Stace and Adam’s desk set ups - Outdoor area - Easy access - Light living area - Bikeable distance to work (Adam) - Close to bus route (Stacy)
Nice to Have
- Second Bedroom - Grass outdoor area - Insulation and/or heating - Bath
- Gas stove - Seperate toilet to bathroom - Light kitchen area - Built in closet
- Garage/off street parking - Deck
The reason we did this, was because we’d been to 5-10 open homes, and every house had something the others didn’t (now I'm thinking DUH you're not in a convent). One house, for example had; four bedrooms, one bathroom, great living space, a fantastic al fresco (not the same as al dente, don't fall into that trap) dining area and a fence. It was only slightly over our budget - but it was in Petone. And BOY, we debated all the factors. From every. House. We. Visited. It went like this:
“But if I’m working from home all day it needs to be big enough for me to work in…”
“…But I can’t commute an hour a day back and forth even if we get a car...”
“I can’t catch a 1.5 hour bus for client meetings, what if I’m doing it twice a day; in the morning, then evening?”
Which is why we decided to sit down and write a list of mandatories, and then secondary factors that could sway us on one house over the other, this was our ‘Nice to have’s’. Writing out the mandatories also refined our search; Adam - who works at Weta Workshop - had to be able to bike to work (isn’t he so fit?) therefore we knew the distance from Weta to our home had to be roughly no more than 7-10km away. This severely narrowed our search and put us out no further than Karori, Mount Cook (ish) areas.
SO we knew our budget, we knew our suburbs.
Miraculously, we found a house. We’d seen a few we’d liked, however none of them had potential. What does potential look like? When we found our house, this is what looked like.
Certainly not my cup of tea, but I could see past the carpet, the landline telephone box in the wall, the carpet, the wall colour, bathroom, stove, furniture and curtains (did I say carpet twice? Yes, I did). When I saw the house, I immediately asked if there were wooden floorboards underneath, it was a ‘maybe’ - and we didn’t even find out until the settlement date. Assuming there was, this is what I imagined when looking around the house:
Luckily, Adam and I know our way around photoshop and were able to roughly colour the inside of the house and add floorboards, this is what we did deciding the wooden stain as well… did we go black stain or white wash? Would our house look sterile with white floors? Would black floors be a trend and we’d be stuck with it forever?
If you think the price of your home that you have your eye on is seriously reaching (we initially thought the asking price was way too high) so we got a private valuer for $600 ensuring we knew our offer would hit the mark; the asking price was bang on the valuation. We were shook. We only found out once we’d settled, that our cute nieghbour (who’d owned the house before we did) received higher offers than ours (up to 25,000 more - or so the realtor told us!) and chose our offer because she had SEEN us at the viewings wait for it - WITH OUR PARENTS. She knew we wanted to settle down and turn it into a love nest, not rent it out to any Tom, Dick or Jane who could be loud partiers or own a business like #breakingbad. We weren’t dressed any specific way - she (like most people) liked the idea of a young, quiet couple next door who she could ask for a cup of sugar or a couple eggs now and then. Which is 100% what we are!
EDIT 31 Jan: Another point (I totally should've mentioned earlier but forgot about until Adams family reminded me) is that we did a LOT of upfront work to make our offer - which was through tender - unconditional. This means that if our offer was accepted, we had to follow through. It didn't matter if the bank pulled out or we suddenly were randomly robbed... a lot of people put offers on homes but they have conditions; their finances are still being processed or their offer is dependant on a bank valuation, or subject to a builders report, etc. My hottest tip would be do the work upfront, cross your t's and dot your i's and go unconditional - especially in this market.
LET THE WORK BEGIN When it came to the renovations, we knew we’d have to lay down some moola, but we also didn’t want to over-invest in a house if we couldn’t inflate and reflect those investments in the resell value. I was of the strong mindset we had to renovate the floors and paint the walls before we moved in, whereas Adam was vehemently against it, he wanted to AND I QUOTE “…Live in the house for a while and get a feel for what needs doing…” *insert female eyeroll* I said, basically:
a) I would not be happy living in the house as it stood KNOWING we had so much to do, especially since we knew what we wanted already - plus I hate carpet because I’m really allergic to dust.
b) Why would I ever unpack and make everything ‘homely’ if we just had to repack and recover everything for the floor sanders and painters? Note: they do get dust everywhere and it takes a couple months for all the dust to eventually stop coming out of nowhere.
What’d we do? Make another list. There were certain things we needed to do before moving in, and white-ware we needed, but we had to see what we could afford. Because at the end of the day, a washing machine vetoed new paint and (maybe even) the floors. Here’s what we racked our brains for and came up with:
Cost Estimates (brand new) - Fridge ($500 - $1500) - Dishwasher ($600 - $1200) - Washing machine ($500 - $900) - Dryer ($400 - $800) - Wash/Dry Combo ($1700 - $2400) - Heat-pump ($1100 - $3100) - Cost to paint int. ($5-8k approx. a room) - Cost to paint ext. ($15-25K)
- Cost to stain floors ($1500-5000)
To minimise costs, we decided all we needed at first was a washer/dryer combo (as we had no space for both), plus my insistence of the floors and walls. Flash forward: Adam completely agrees it was the right move and couldn’t imagine repacking everything into boxes (that we’d have to buy) or living for a week with sheets and dust and everything going on. Thank-youuuuuu! :)
*NOTE TO MEN: Women are planners, we know what the regret will look like, we plan to avoid chaos in our lives, and we are not ‘laidback’ when it comes to interior decor… I see you all at Kmart with your cheeseboards and rose gold cutlery and I’m lovin’ it.
When it came to quotes, it was all over the show. The floors were quoted roughly $1200 to sand and stain them, but because we did all the prep work ourselves (blog to come) we saved another $3000-$4000 thanks to YOURS TRULY who was a slave for three days basically in a hot yoga studio environment except I was in full head-to-toe gear.
*NOTE TO MEN: If we have a good idea, we will get it done the quickest and cheapest way even if we have to do it ourselves, #independentwomen CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH!
We had quotes to paint the interior from $1200 up to $12,000. We went with Villa Services who did a great job and were able to do it the week before Christmas, when we would be in Auckland visiting family, the day after we’d moved all the boxes into our house. (If you call them tell you we sent you).
Villa services removed the landline telephone box for us, had their builders fill it, and painted all the doors, ceiling, walls and skirting boards for us in the two hallways, lounge and bedroom. You may have noticed we have sliding doors, to modernise the doors (which originally were wooden with ‘pelmets’) we decided to remove the pelmets and expose the industrial sliders. SEE BELOW!
Adams mum, kindly painted the ENTIRE kitchen for us while we were jaunting around Auckland (don’t worry we bought her a professional massage as a thank-you), and we’re going to leave the bathroom until we decide if we’re fully renovating it or not. We do however have a vanity being made by CLASH FURNITURE @clashfurniture as we have no storage whatsoever and an obnoxiously low sink - so keep an eye out! Ross the owner is great guy, he did my brothers bathroom vanities (which are on Clash's Instagram with hexagon tiles *squeal* and has tried to cut costs for us where he can, but isn't forgoing the aesthetics bc we are all about aesthetic in 2018 aren't we gang!
We spent roughly $8,000-$8,500 to take our home from this…
…to this. Do you think we’ve added more than $8,000 worth of value? I do. And that’s INCLUDING furniture costs. GRANTED we should've tided the house and not had our *happy hour* drinks in the pic but que sera sera.
We totally are not finished, but this transformation happened from December 6-December 26. So I'd say a good effort.
If you found this helpful or want something more specific, sing out! I’m here to help you guys with our successes (and failures should that ever happen).
Chat soon,
S x