Just don’t. No matter how much you love the coloured plastered wall or skylight illuminating the entrance nook. Or the ornamental multilevel garden complete with hundred year old trees and sprinkler system. No matter how much you love the fact that they added on bathrooms to every bedroom with showroom styles and pressed ceilings. No matter how they decorated the place with beautiful art and amazing throws and rugs. Just do not do it. Trust me on this one. We did.
In my defence I did not want the house – everyone has the right to a little hindsight but I never liked it at the start – scouts honour. It was love at first sight for my wife and in the interests of our mental health and the fact we had already sold our previous house and needed somewhere to move to, I went with it.
That was about seven years ago and I am waiting for a wall to fall down. No wait, that’s already happened. We should have known when, after just a week in the house, my three year old daughter came through to the lounge and asked me why it was raining in the passage. Geyser burst. Sure, happens to everyone at some time. Water running through the tin pressed ceilings, down the walls, unpainted, coloured plaster walls. I’ll let you figure out what happens to coloured plaster when it gets wet. Hey, can’t complain can I, that’s life when you buy a new house? Then the plumber informs me that the geyser was not properly installed and had no drip catchment tray – if it had, then the bulk of the water would simply have been directed outside and scalded a lemon tree. Splotchy coloured plaster walls – maybe it will be a new style one day. I should have heard the warning bells.
Over the years the things have that have crawled out of the woodwork have not done much to endear the house to me. Serious things like hidden damp and odd mouldy smells you can’t find behind a sparkling plaster technique , faulty sprinkler systems leaking away, water damaged wooden floors because roofs were not installed with enough overhang, no isolator taps for water pipes so it’s a mission to replace a washer, drains blocked by new trees installed over them, kitchen and bathroom counters not sealed properly and backboards are rotting away, rusting water pipes and wall cracks almost everywhere they did renovations, no ventilation means the stove overheats in the middle of a roast. Alarm system installed so badly that getting through the roof space is like dodging laser beams in a black leotard. Amazingly well paved driveway that directs enough storm water to flood the garage knee deep in muck every time it drizzles. Electrical work done by a distracted camel and light fittings that leave burn marks on the walls because they installed incorrect bulbs. And my favourite… installing doors with the weather seals on the inside to make sure puddles form in the house. Then there are the minor things that you should just ignore but cannot… like the fact that you can’t move paintings because you can’t hide the picture holes in coloured plaster and plumbing that means you can’t fill the sink without stealing water from someones shower. The list is endless but what annoys me most is the simple things that were not done properly at the start. Would a few extra inches of roofing really have been that difficult to install. A $10 drip tray under the geyser? A little silicone sealer on the kitchen counter? Taking the switch cover off the wall before you plaster? Swapping the hinges on the doors so that they open the right way rather than put them in back-to-front? Are these really things that were so difficult to do?
As my father-in-law puts it, “They did all the cosmetics but skimped on the fundamentals.”
Do not buy a house from interior designers. I have nothing against interior designers as a profession – we have spent good money getting decorating ideas from them – just don’t buy a house owned by one. Sure, the show house probably had them in to maximise the profit for the seller by Photoshopping the place, but if they are the owners, run and buy the fixer upper down the street – at least that way you really KNOW what you are getting.
Having had my little bitch and moan, this little house with all its faults and quirks, has sheltered the family through all the happiness and scrapes and tears over the years, and my son has known no other place, but a true home is anywhere we are together, it’s not the house. We love it here because it’s our home and it’s just like a part of the family. (maybe the black sheep?). If I won the lottery, the first thing I would do is build a new one.
I’m off to buy some paint to cover the last plastered wall. How about cerulean blue anyone? The interior designer recommended it.