Things I have learned: About Moving

With only 2 days to go, the moving countdown is really on for us. I thought I’d write a few notes down about how the move has been but between me starting this post and coming back to edit it later, we had a major upset and rethink, so this post ended up being a bit of a story too. I’d love to hear if any of the things that happened or feelings you had about moving at any point took you by surprise.

It doesn’t have to be a stressful as people make it out to be. We have had a lucky run of it, by my own admission, (until last week… see later!) We didn’t have to negotiate on the price we accepted for our house, then our first offer was accepted on the house we’re buying, so it was low stress and we have been incredibly lucky with the other people involved in the chain. Everybody has been keen, prompt and understanding, right down to the sale of furniture too!

Packing is sad. The day we started packing I felt so emotionally displaced, the way the house was so out of kilter and my life was being packed up around me. As Mum and I packed the kitchen, Pete started on the DVD’s and things in the lounge. When I came into the room the pictures were gone from the walls, even the cushions from the couch and it felt like all our hard work was being taken apart piece by piece. It’s also inevitable that you start looking through old things like photo albums and finding cards – Pete and I have had many a reminiscent moment over ticket stubs and love letters. ;)

It’s emotional. I expected to be sad when we leave – The 7 years we have been in this house have been pivotal for us. We both chose our career paths in GP, graduated and joined practices. We got engaged and married, and have had lots of parties and gatherings of friends and family around our dining table. Everything we pack though seems to bring that into acute relief, the end of an era and like we are saying goodbye to that phase of our life.


Francesca reading on the kitchen worktops as there was nowhere else to sit!

It’s really hard to know when to pack. We started with some aspects of the kitchen equipment that we use infrequently and were foiled by Francesca wanting to bake. I’m purposefully leaving the bedroom until last so I have a place that feels normal for as long as possible. As soon as the packing started, everything that was neatly hidden in the cupboards is taking up floor space in large boxes.

You shouldn’t sell all your furniture to the people who are buying your house! We have sold a few items from around the house that we didn’t think would fit in the new house (decoratively) or that we would be replacing anyway. Amongst those items are our wardrobes as we didn’t want them for the new house. The downside to that is that we need somewhere/thing to put our clothes on at the other end… hello ebay garment rails.

Organisation is key. Having a system for the boxes helps me feel a lot more organised than we actually are. Having a husband who doesn’t necessarily follow it does not.

You can’t clear out too much. We had already had a few clearing out sessions in anticipation of Francesca moving in, as we had to clear the whole spare room out and other areas to make more room for the things we evacuated. Now I’m determined not to take old paperwork with me so have embarked on a massive filing exercise. More paper has been recycled and shredded than I realised was hidden in there. Whole shelves of filed paperwork have been reduced to single box files. Magazines have been culled, charity donations made. I have at times thought, had I done this earlier, we may not have needed to move!

It’s not over until the fat lady sings (or you exchange contracts…)
We always planned to move on the 27th and exchange contracts (the payment of a ‘deposit’ and contractual agreement that commits you to the move,) a week or two before. We have had a bit of trouble with our solicitor being, shall we say, less efficient than I would expect, so having found out from our vendor that a condition of their onward purchase was them exchanging on the 20th, allowing a week before we completed, we had a rather tense conversation with our solicitor last Monday to ensure everything was in place.

We were assured everything was, with just one hitch – the mortgage paperwork hadn’t come through. We knew it was approved, but he had nothing to prove that. Cue two days of us scrabbling around to get electronic copies for him, only to find on Thursday that we needed to get documents signed and back to him ready for the exchange on Friday. This would have been easier, if not ideal, had Pete been in Manchester, but murphy’s law prevailed and he was actually in the South Lakes on a course. That meant I had to leave work at lunch and drive to to him to get things signed and back into the post that afternoon, before getting back to work – about a 140 mile round trip. I pretty much collapsed into bed that night, thinking how stressful the day had been but at least we had done everything that we could to be ready to exchange the next day. Little did I know.

On Friday morning, I awaited a call from our solicitor to say that he had received the signed paperwork he needed and that we were good to go. I received an email detailing a couple of issues, one of which was that one of the searches had revealed a sewer pipe passing through the back of our property – the vendors couldn’t offer any more info and he trusted we were happy to proceed on that basis. I texted Pete who had patchy service and confirmed he was happy to exchange and he replied ‘go go go!’ I just needed to ask about that sewer.


My view last Sunday – my last Sunday lie in and one of my favourite things to do in the house

Once I spoke to our solicitor it became apparent he didn’t have a lot of information about the pipe, other than it’s location right across the back of the house. As I asked him more questions about what kind of pipe it was etc, I eventually asked, ‘what does this mean to us?’ and he said, ‘nothing, unless you wanted to build over it.’

At that moment, my heart sank. You know that feeling when you realise you have made a terrible mistake and feel cold and sick. That’s how I felt, because Pete and I had been planning to extend the back of the house to create a large kitchen diner. It was 1 o’clock on exchange day and I knew I needed to find out more and said I would call him back and for him to hold off exchanging for now. I hoped with a few phone calls I could get some information and clear up what must be a misunderstanding. Surely there was some way around this?

What followed was 3 hours of fraught phonecalls, whilst the clock ticked and Pete being unavailable to discuss it with. I called a local builder, a surveyor, the planning office, buildings regulations office, United Utilites, an architect… everyone I could think of. Pete asked friends of friends, as did my mum and everyone came back with different advice. Eventually the planning office were able to tell me the pipe was huge. 1m wide, 4m underground and still in service. Only United Utilities could tell me if we could build on it. The only problem was that the department that dealt with such enquiries operated on an email applications only basis – there was no phone number. In desperation I rang their usual number and begged to speak to someone. It transpired there was no way we could build on it, or in fact within 6 metres either side of it. Due to the location of the pipe and shape of our houses footprint, it completely ruled out any kind of extension.

To put this into context, I realise it might have sounded silly, to be so fixated on something that doesn’t yet exist, we had decided to buy the house as it was after all? The thing is, I can’t remember when we first decided that we wanted to extend, but it was before we even put an offer in. In the weeks since I had already met an architect. I had spent hours imagining what it would look like and our life in it and now I couldn’t see past the lack of it. All of sudden the money we were spending, the mortgage, the pressure and enormity of the choice I was making was in sharp focus and I panicked. Unable to make a decision it was only my solicitor backing me up that made me feel I could postpone the exchange, to buy some thinking time.

That night Pete and I were devastated. The proposed extension was such an integral part of our plans for the new house that we could only see the whole thing falling through. I felt trapped. Trapped by the thought of letting down the other people in our chain who I knew were as excited about their respective moves as we were, and trapped at the thought of going through with the purchase and realising we had really needed that extra space. I knew I loved the house, but I wanted a big space for us to have a family area where we could cook, eat, keep an eye on any kids we were lucky enough to have and the existing layout didn’t allow for that. We decide we would have to go back again and see if we could make it work as it is.

After a sleepless night,  we did go back and we spent 2 and a half hours by ourselves and with the architect, looking at the space available and what we could do to improve it. After brainstorming with my Mum, Pete and Jess, we had decided there were options. I’ll tell you all about them when I take you around the house but for now, I’ll just say, we decided to go ahead and we think we can make it work for us. It felt like a huge weight lifted and we exchanged on Monday without any worries or doubts.


The new house!

So that’s it. we’re really moving, on Friday in fact and I can’t wait. I’m over packing, living in a tip and waiting. I’m ready. So lets go!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

27 thoughts on “Things I have learned: About Moving

  1. That does sound stressful! It’s very impressive you managed to stay on schedule. I’m glad it all worked out. Can’t wait to hear all about the new place!

    We had 2 problems pop up when purchasing our place:

    1) On completion day, the movers didn’t turn up to move the vendor’s stuff. Cue a very awkward conversation where they asked for another day and we had to remind them that we’d completed so we now owned the property and they had to vacate. Miraculously, the movers appeared!

    2) Our solicitors missed an outstanding charge – a charge of £10,000 that became our responsibility when we bought the place. After months of us being harassed by bailiff letters and chasing the vendors, we finally had to take legal action against the solicitor – they ended up paying it and are probably still chasing the vendor.

    As you can tell from these two stories, the vendor was something of a nightmare!

  2. Wow – I was gripped reading this post! God, how stressful. Great that you’ve found a way to make it work – and if your last picture is anything to go by, I absolutely cannot wait to see more pictures of the inside. (My Australian colleague calls it ‘real estate porn’)

    Good luck for Friday!
    X

  3. We’re not in our forever house and now in our late 30′s I know we need to start making plans. From all the horror stories I hear, I keep putting it off, not to mention the cost of moving,
    Im looking forward to see around your new home, congratulations x

  4. Yowzers that sounds traumatic! Impressed at the determination you showed though and can’t wait to hear more about the house! X

  5. Arrrrrrrgh how stressful! I’m so happy you managed to work it out, but I can’t imagine how you must have been feeling. Good luck with the move, and I can’t wait to see the new pad!

  6. I can completely sympathise, we had the exact same problem. A sewer pipe had an impact on our kitchen extension – fortunately after finding a fantastic builder who offered us some solutions, we’ve managed to work around it. We weren’t able to extend quite as far back as we’d have liked but we’re still really happy with it, the extension has made an enormous difference to the house. We also discovered that our sewage pipe needed to be accessible (the only one on our rd that needs to be!) Again, our builder managed to work around this and now the access to the sewer drain is in our patio but you wouldn’t even know, he made it look like the rest of the patio and concealed it with beautiful floor tiles. I hope yours works out for you and you can work around it. Good luck with the move x

  7. Why does a move never go smoothly?!?! We also had issues right at the end when we started to chill, it all blew up again but thankfully all worked out well in the end!

    Glad to hear you also got your happy ending and look forward to seeing more of your new house! You make me so tempted to move now but we are keen to hold off another 2-3 years!

    Sx

  8. I completely eat my words about your move being so quick and easy. Quick, I stand by but easy? That sounds like a whole lot of stress. It’s amazing how it never IS actually easy.

    Still, box-fatigue aside, hopefully the worst is over and now you just have the excitement of moving into your new home! And unpacking obviously…

  9. As I said in twitter change is hard. Far harder than we ever imagine. Not only change of going to a new house, but also that the extension etc won’t be as you imagined. But you will find a way to make the space work for you – and I would guess that you liked the house as it was as well as for the potential you saw. It takes some time, but it will feel like home surprisingly quickly.

    Half of the horror of moving is the pulling apart of your home and living amongst boxes. We were fortunate that we were moved by Bren’s work so they came and packed for us, so we avoided that. The move before this one I do remember the horrible, unsettled feeling of packing up and being in a bare house. It’s emotionally draining, but you just have to remember why you’re doing it – if you can!

    If it makes you feel any better we are in house selling hell too. We inherited half a house and have been trying to sell it for a year – 4 sales have fallen through and we’re now in a longish chain where the other end are a nightmare. They’ve had two buyers pull out and haven’t though to tell the rest of the chain!!! It is stressful, but we will get there in the end. Thankfully we are renting so aren’t relying in selling to buy our dream home – I think I would have had a breakdown if we were in that situation!

    In short: buying and selling houses sucks, but is worth it in the end.

  10. Wow that does sound stressful. It has made me sit up and think that I am actually very lucky. My partner bought a house just as we were met and is currently renovating it. We are both moving in later in the year. The house is beautiful and exactly the kind of property I would have imagined buying in the future. He is involving me in every single decision too which although overwhelming, is just brilliant. I am however in complete denial about renting my house out and actually making the move even though it will be happening in approximately 8 weeks. I think it’s time to get over myself and actually start planning argh!

  11. Reading this on the train this morning my heart went out to you both. How enormously stressful to find something like that at the very last minute!

    When we bought just over two years ago the survey found signs of woodworm in the house. The estate agent selling the house suggested someone who could do a free survey in more depth on it, who suggested we take up all the carpets, remove all the furniture and spray it all. We weren’t convinced (we had a difficult/slippery agent to deal with), so after moving in paid for our own survey. The results? No woodworm in the house and spraying unnecessarily would be very much against the regulations on using the chemicals involved…

    Aside from the woodworm incident, we had a lot of negotiating over the price, but a fairly smooth move and have spent the last couple of years undoing the large number of pluming, wiring, fixing bodges that have been done to the house and injecting love into it. It is getting there, but we also have a kitchen/diner and replacement conservatory to sort out in the next 5-10 years, so will be interested to read more about the work you do on your house!

  12. Rebecca, I really sympathise with you. We had last minute nightmares with our house purchase, not helped by the speed (lack of) of our solicitor. Just keep focuused on the first sip of prosecco in your gorgeous new home, can’t wait to see more pics xxxx

  13. Just wanted to say thanks everyone for your thoughts and advice/reassurance. I ummed and ahhed about posting this, as this close to the move I didn’t want to raise my anxiety levels anymore with niggling doubts. It’s hard right now (as I said on twitter earlier) as we visited the house last night and it was as empty and unloved as ours is right now, so it was hard to see a past or future in either house – Very weird and unsettling. Plus there’s nothing like standing in cellars in the dark with 3 more floors above you to remind you of the enormity of what you’re doing!

    We also then had a further issue on Monday/last night as the house has been partially underpinned and when we were trying to get buildings insurance our usual one, then a string of others turned us down for that reason. Thankfully, we did a bit of googling and apparently Legal and General will insure the building if the underpinning was more than 15 years ago – which ours was, as it’s likely any recurrence would have happened in that time. Phew. Another heart stopping moment over.

    Thanks everyone, the comments keep me going so keep them coming! x

    • On the first night in our (3 storey plus cellars) Victorian house, I sat on the sofa shivering under multiple blankets in our freezing living room, convinced we’d bought a haunted house and wondering if we’d made a horrible mistake… it wasn’t, and we hadn’t :-) Your new place looks gorgeous, what lovely stained glass. Just picture where your Christmas tree’s going to be, then it’ll feel like home! x

    • We moved just over 4 weeks ago over a 12/13 week period. I’m just, emotionally, getting through to the “other side”. Having been the first time I’ve sold and purchased together I can totally sympathise.

      We missed 3 potential exchange of contract days due to various complications and eventually exchanged 2 days before we completed. Panic to organise home insurance ensued and my current supplier was being awkward because the property’s cellar had previously had a leak years ago, with no damage or subsequent insurance claim. They were asking for information I (nor the vendor) could provide but I was acutely aware that we had no protection on our new property being 2 days away from moving. We ended up with a different supplier but thought I would comment because my experience on that score is similar.

      Thankfully, the actual physical move was one of the easiest parts and I hope yours is too. X

  14. What a mare! Like others have said previously, all the drama will begin to fade once the move is done and the new house begins to feel like home. We’re also completing on Friday and have spent the past fortnight or longer dismantling our home and boxing it all up (with a severe clear out in between!) ready for storage whilst we wait for the sale to go through on our new place. It really did surprise me when I began to feel emotional about it all! Good luck on Friday and I can’t wait to see some posts on the new place!

  15. What a complete nightmare to have all that at the last minute. Hope the move goes smoothly for you and you settle in quickly. The new house looks gorgeous, what a lovely front door with that stained glass, can’t wait for the tour of the inside.

  16. Moving house was a very emotional/moving thing for me. We were desperate to move, me in particular, the house was way too small and not in the right area etc etc. But moving out, it was really sad – that house had a soul, and was full of memories and we both found it quite an emotional challenge when it finally came to leaving.

    I felt tense reading your last couple of paragraphs! So pleased to read the bit about you exchanging *without* any worries or doubts. Hope this new house of yours brings you many years of you and beautiful memories Rebecca.

    Love Annabel xXx

  17. Really interested to hear what options you’ve come up with – we are moving in 2 weeks time and had a similar dilemma with pipes and we also want to extend (probably in around 5 years or so, but still!) – the searches were unable to confirm whether there were sewer pipes at the back of the property or not, so we have decided to take the gamble and go ahead anyway.

    Funnily enough we also had last minute problems with insurance due to finding out at very short notice that the garden (not the house!) had flooded in the past – cue mad scramble to find a new supplier when everyone I had quotes from flat out refused cover!

    We are just starting the boxing up at the moment – hoping to make some progress at the weekend. Not looking forward to seeing the house all bare…

    Can’t wait to see pics of your new place!

  18. I loved reading this post. My husband and I moved to a lovely new build (built in a 1930s style with a great big bay window) to a new village at the end of June. It is such a wonderful family home (even though the family currently consists of just the 2 of us) yet I mourned my old house (where we had lived for 5 years) for many months. I thought I was being silly but reading these comments has made me feel a lot better. We part exchanged with a developer so for at least a month after we sold the pictures of my old house were on right move and I would check it almost every day. When it sold I was actually gutted and I felt even worse when it then appeared up for rent as my ‘worst fears’ had been realised- i.e. that it was bought to let (so potentially could have lots of people in and out without being loved by one family on a long term basis).

    So I have now thrown myself into making my new house home. And it is so much fun! But I am glad that I am not the only one who mourns their old house!!! :-)

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