Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Wet Day

It has been wet all day here. Not great for biking, not great for hanging laundry, but oh so perfect for naps in the afternoon with the cat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Home at last

[The door to the sunroom/office/craft room]

Last Friday we finally got the keys to our new house - our first house. We were so thrilled that the drizzling rain didn't dampen our spirits (only the bed and couches) as we moved furniture and stuff the five blocks from our rental place to our house. We spent the weekend settling in and on Monday, as probably most of you know, we were struck with another jarring earthquake. In fact, it was a series of relatively sizable ones. And frankly, the second thing to cross my mind (after my husband) was the house. I must say, owning a house adds a whole new dimension to these earth shakes. We're certainly not regretting buying, but it's just another thing to think about in these interesting times.

[The dining table, front door and deck]

But onto the fun stuff. The "quake day" we had today (Tuesday - while engineers check buildings and city and service workers tirelessly ensure we have water and power) allowed me to do the final settling in. This does not, of course, include putting art on the walls as that would make no sense here in Christchurch, since it only ever lasts a few hours or days before it's knocked down again. Fabric art is making a resurgence. Despite the ongoing shaking here, Stephen and I managed to get quite a bit down to make this place our own - putting books in shelves, hanging clothes in closets and raking leaves from the lawn. I'm learning all about the little things my parents did around the house that I never paid attention to, like caulking the windows, and all the things I used to hate doing, somehow have a certain glamor to them as they have new meaning to me.

[Master bedroom - unfortuntaly, we can't take the wallpaper down until our EQC inspection and that probably won't happen until at least the summer - oh well]

Ever since arriving on that blustery Friday afternoon, the house has felt warm and inviting (especially with the fire going in the lounge). At one point when I was putting things away in the hall closet it felt almost like I was just coming home from a trip and was putting things away in their places. I think both Stephen and I have had a hard time not smiling lately and we are thrilled with this new adventure of home ownership. I definitely recommend it to anyone interested!

[Cooking dinner in our new, lovely, large kitchen]

We have lots of dreams for this home and we can't wait to get started. Unfortunately, we can't get started until our Earthquake Commission (EQC) assessment. Though I suppose this will keep us from rushing into doing anything without thinking first. From the sounds of it, we will have lots and LOTS of time to dream and plan and plan and dream and wait. I'm still working on developing my patience.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


For the past two weeks or so, we have been running past and visiting our house. Our friends dog, whom we take with us, has become so used to it she automatically turns up the driveway when we go by. It was an absolutely fabulous feeling when running by this weekend, we came round the corner and there was a big orange SOLD sticker on the sign. My heart just about jumped out my throat I was so excited.

Looking from the street up the driveway

Stairways in the backyard going up to the 'front' door

Our lovely deck and our front door

Not long now and we'll have some inside shots too!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Yesterday, we officially bought a house.


In Christchurch.

We weren't really looking. The idea of purchasing a property had been floating around in our heads for a while, but we figured since we weren't residents we wouldn't be able to get a mortgage. So we never really looked. But we did keep our eyes open, because once we were ready to buy we wanted to have a pretty good understanding of where the market was at. And that's how we found our house.

Early in May, we decided to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon biking around between open homes in the area we wanted to eventually buy in. We went to one well over our price range and wandered about, looking for earthquake damage and talking about how the owners had finished the rooms. It was a cute house, nicely finished, but too much for a first house and too finished for our desires.

Then we stumbled across the second house. Following open home signs down roads to a treed-in drive up a wee slope. We parked our bikes beside the retaining wall and walked around back to the door. It was a 1930's wooden villa on a little hill surrounded by trees and shrubs and a little pond. Up some stone steps we came to the deck and french doors into a spacious dinning room and kitchen. The Realtor was there to answer questions and gather our info. We wandered through the kitchen and into the rest of the house. Not a huge house, but lovely with all it's period features (like lead windows and beautiful wooden detailing). A large master bedroom, a sunny sun room, huge living area, nice second bedroom and a well maintained bathroom. Outside, tucked into the back corner under a rose covered arbor was a stainless steel bathtub, ready to be filled and enjoyed. We stayed the full hour asking the Realtor about the house and how exactly one would go about buying one. He passed on the name of his mortgage broker and we were off. My head filled with images of where I would put what and when we could get everything in.

The next day, we called the mortgage broker and were surprised to hear that despite our non-residency status it was possible to get a mortgage, it was just a wee bit more difficult. The wheels were set in motion and soon things were happening. Things I wasn't even aware of, but a week later we were promised a mortgage. I called the Realtor that night and told him we wanted to make an offer.

The next two days were stressful as we put in our offer, almost lost to another bidder (who pulled out last minute) and in the end, were accepted.

Then the real fun began. Lots and lots of contracts, paperwork and forms. Over the last few weeks, we have organized insurance (a bit difficult here these days, what with our earthquakes and all), contacted the lawyer, got a building inspection done and even chosen the mortgage. It has been rather crazy. And now, all we need to do to finish up is find someone to take over our rental flat (we have no desire to be paying both a mortgage and rent).

Overall, I have been thoroughly amazed at how easy the whole process has been. I know it is their respective jobs to know what they're doing and help us through, but the efficiency and openness all our respective 'people' (realtor, mortgage broker and lawyer) have provided us has been eye opening. With my only previous experience in real estate being through the television screen, I have learned a great deal from this. Mostly, that it is a lot easier than I thought to buy a house (though I fully admit, the wonderful house almost falling into our laps did take a lot of the stress of looking out of it).

Now, we must patiently wait and pack. Soon, I will be able to sit curled up in front of my very own fireplace in my very own living room and knit (or sew or read or whatever I want to do, heck, I could even paint the walls a funny colour, or take them down. . . . .

PS I'l have pictures soon!