Thursday, 26 November 2015


I'm doing what every writer who has a metric sh*t-ton of work to do, does. I'm writing a blog post completely unrelated to what I'm meant to be doing. 

Maybe not completely unrelated - my story is that the traffic on our road, still pumping after 9pm, is what's distracting me from the work I'm trying to do. 

It's what inspired this post, actually: HouseBuying101, or, lessons we've learned since buying our nearly 100 year old house. 

  • If the house of your dreams is on a road that has traffic circles or speed bumps, or a combination of those, change your dreams. These devices are there to calm the extensive traffic on the road, traffic that is unlikely to slow down just because it is night-time, or a Sunday. 
  • Similarly, if the house of your dreams is on the same road as a shopping mall, you are also likely to encounter the traffic nightmare - especially if your shopping mall is open late one night a week, or if it home to a Sunday market. 
  • If you've ever wondered when supermarkets receive their stock - it's at 4am. Trust me, I've lost count of the Pick n Pay trucks zooming down our road at that time of the morning.
  • It's not just the traffic that makes the noise - it's the people walking the street on their way to and from work that add to the 'vibe' too. 
  • Johannesburg's older suburbs are home to many houses with oregon pine floors, which are exquisite in their welcoming warmth. When you view your potential dream home, make sure to lift any strategically placed Persian carpets to examine the condition of the wood underneath them. Move the furniture too, and consider getting an expert in to evaluate them before it's too late to toss your toys at the previous owners, who, we established too late, were aware of the problem. We did none of these, and had to re-floor the entire house after two years of living here, because the floors had been over-sanded and the groove parts of the tongue-and-grooves were splintering off. Not ideal when your firstborn is learning to crawl. Or when you don't have R50k lying around to complete the job. 
  • View the house in the day time, in the early morning, in the evening, on a weekday, and over a weekend, before you put that offer in. We were under a lot of pressure to buy due to some pretty kak circumstances (some of it self-imposed, I will admit) and looked at our house twice. At night time. 
  • Look beyond the seller's styling. The previous owners of our property are in the interior decor business, and dressed things up really well, shall we say. Refer back to the point about Persian carpets, etc. 
  • If the house you're looking at has a pool, check to see if there are any pin oak trees within a 50 mile radius. These charming beauties, owned by the council because they're on the pavement, spit off leaves all year round that clog up just about every pool cleaner on the market. And if it's not leaves that are clogging the cleaner, it's the round seed pods. And yes, I've Council several times to cut them back… to no avail. 
  • Still on the pool … if it's deep, and made of concrete, and in the shade of those bastard pin-oaks all day, it will be cold. Very cold. 
  • Still on the pool… if you can see a crack that's been repaired, walk away from the pool, and then walk away from the house. Ours has a crack that was repaired before we bought, and it opens up for a repairing every four years or so. Like now, right in the middle of the drought, when we can't empty the pool completely to fix it, because water restrictions prevent us from refilling it when repairs are done. 
  • Pressed steel ceilings are indeed works of art, with the last ones being made before WW2 (when they stopped production to use the steel for guns rather). But they do mean that you develop a completely unreasonable conscience when it comes to lighting. I would dearly love downlighting in our house, but can't bear the thought of ripping out or covering the steel ceilings with gypsum board to do that. 
  • They also mean that you can't get away with changing the configuration of your house, without it being glaringly obvious. I love that my kitchen is four rooms big. I know that my kitchen is four rooms big because I have four different ceilings in it.
  • Make sure that your living areas face north (if you live in the southern hemisphere). The only rooms that get the magnificent winter sun in our house, are the kitchen, the main bathroom and the second bedroom. 
Don't get me wrong, there are things I really do love about our home. We moved in here newly married, our boys have only ever known this property as their home, and we have made many wonderful memories here with treasured friends and family. 

But when the time comes for us to move on to something different, I'll be looking at properties through very different eyes to the ones I used over 11 years ago. 


Jenty said...

Awesome list!!
I can add a few to the list
- don't buy a house on the same road as a school, you'll struggle to leave your house in the morning.
- open cupboards in the kitchen and take whiff to see if there's damp! That set us back tons of money when we moved in.

I did giggle at the pool issues :)

Kerry said...

And it does occur to me that I shall be unpublishing this post when it comes time to sell our house!

MeeA said...

Thanks for this. I'll save a copy now to refer to when we finally get to buying a house!
Your kitchen sounds amazing! Mine is 1.5m x 3m. I dream of being able to open my fridge AND stand in front of it! 😉

Tam said...

Superb advice.