Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Moving House – Part 2 – Viewing

Time for part 2 in the moving house series (you can find part 1 here), again I'm not an expert or a letting agent, I'm just someone who has rented a lot of different places and has some experiences to share. If you have any questions or tips of your own leave them in the comments!

You’ve found a place you can afford, accepts whatever you need accepting (pets, smokers, children etc) and you like the look of, time to go and see it! What should you bear in mind when looking around?
  • It’s a good idea to take someone with you even if you’ll be living there alone, as it’s good to get a second opinion, Tom often asks questions I wouldn’t think of and vice versa. Definitely don’t go alone if you’re meeting someone from the paper etc (i.e. not a reputable letting agent) as you do not know that this person is genuine so meeting them alone in a strange house is not a sensible idea.
  • Don't be afraid to take your camera or to ask to take photos on your phone, if you are viewing a lot of places it helps to compare them if you have some pictures (real ones not the agent ones that sometimes make rooms appear larger or miss out not so nice parts).
    Pictures from our viewing, trying to capture the size and shape of the rooms

  • Ask for measurements or take a tape measure with you, also measure your larger furniture (if you’ll be taking it with you) before you go on any viewings and take those measurements with you. If you are really set on taking a certain piece of big furniture (for example our sofa is quite huge so if we moved now we’d need a good size living room) see if there is a place it would fit.
    Me measuring the bedroom at our second viewing
  • If you find somewhere you like, ask when the next viewing is before making any snap decisions. For example we often view places quite late in the evening so are likely to be the last viewing they have that day – giving us the opportunity to go away and think it over and call first thing if we want to take it.
  • If they have another viewing straight after you or have someone else interested you might have to think a little quicker, if you really love the place and are sure you want it then it’s your decision to go for it if you want to. I’d recommend at least going away and thinking about it for a little while though, even if it’s just an hour!
  • Walk around the local area after or before the viewing, to see what’s near to the property like shops, bus stops etc. It also helps to get a feel for the area and how safe it is and what the neighbourhood is like. You could use this as your time to think it over, just an hour wandering around to make up your mind.
  • Don’t feel rushed on the viewing, I have experienced this in some places where you get a 2 minute walk through of the property then you feel like the agent or landlord is waiting for you to get out! It might be that they have another viewing booked or just don’t allow enough time, but make sure you have a good look around and ask any questions. Book a second viewing if needs be.
  • Some agents might ask for an ‘administration fee’ or some other name for a non refundable deposit which stops them showing anyone else the property and pretty much just holds it until you sign the contract. I paid this on my first rental and have never done it again. It’s better to have the deposit ready and be able to confidently say ‘I’ll take it, cancel your other viewings’. I have been asked for this fee again and said no, I’d rather just get the deposit paid and the contract signed rather than pay them £200 to not show it to anyone else when I’ve already said I’ll have it! You do hear stories as well about unscrupulous agents taking this payment then still showing the property. Really if you have said you want the property, you have the deposit ready and are ready to sign the contract then there is no reason to pay this
  • Ask questions, it seems like loads of questions to ask when you’re there but it’s better to know everything before deciding on taking a place rather than moving in and finding something you really need isn't there, think about things like:
  1. Look at the heating and cooling systems and energy efficiency, where is the boiler? Is it pretty new? Are the radiators new or do they look old? When were they last replaced and serviced? Does it have night storage heating (I hate night storage heating)? Is there air con? Are the windows double glazed or single? Are there any draughts around the doors or windows? You don’t want to move into a nice affordable place just to find it costs a fortune to heat or cool!
  2. Think about amenities and services - can you change utility provider (this should be a yes by law in the UK)? Who is the current provider? Is there a phone line and internet? If so where are the plugs for them? Is there cable/satellite/freeview? If not could you get it installed if you wanted to.
  3. Think about questions other than the physical aspects of the property, like when would they want the rent (monthly usually) and how do they want you to pay (usually direct debit)? How often do they do inspections? What is their policy on repairs (timeframe, amount etc)?

Next in the series will be signing on the dotted line, some tips on signing the contract. I also am working on finishing the bedroom up so I can show you some after photos, and we might be finally getting our damp solution fitted next week!

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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Weekend Inspiration

I have had a wonderful weekend, a training walk yesterday around local hill enjoying the views and sunshine...then a day at the local outside pool today with my sisters and niece. Also had a personal training session Friday and another booked for tomorrow so feeling good. Just over 2 months until Kilimanjaro now and starting to feel ready!

A photo from the top of the hill, the path is steep but not very long (not many mountains locally that I can practice on unfortunately!) so I went up and down a few times to really work my legs out, this was taken while I was quietly dying after the last go!
Still been pinning of course, although I actually tend to do most of my pinning and other web browsing in the week, like on the bus to work so most of these aren't actually from this weekend but I'm sure most of them have been on the web for months or years anyway!

Like this pin which has been around in various guises for years...but I like it and I love a good map (last week we had maps in weekend inspiration too!) plus me and Tom love to travel and have lots of plans for places to go. I like that you could add to this over the years, either by adding more frames or extending it to a larger one.
This started as a wedding pin, but doesn't really fit in to what we're going with (I went a bit inspiration crazy at the start and just pinned everything I liked but now trying to narrow it down!) and it would be nice in a home. Especially if you are the kind of person who changes d├ęcor for the season, it would be a nice autumn/winter item for a mantel or table layout. So cheap too, just some glasses and some twigs!
I don't actually know where this is because the pin leads to a warren of Tumblr reblogs...and the source is not quoted on half of them...but just look at these houses! I'd have a little greenhouse/sunroom going on in those glass windows!
Have a lovely Sunday evening all, I'm off to shower and put some leave in conditioner in my hair and apply some aftersun...I love the feeling after a weekend of being outside in the sunshine but my skin and hair disagree!

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

This year's garden

This year I decided to keep our garden a bit more simple. It was nice last year but needed a lot of watering and up keeping...this year I have neither the time or the money (or to be honest the inclination) to replant it all.

So I decided to just tidy it up and replant some things and call it be honest anything was better than the before.

Dead plants and empty pots. Stylish.

It felt a little crowded before to be honest so I wanted to keep it at 'less is more' this year. We had a few pots that were here when we moved in, and when they had their garden redone the landlords said that we could give them back any pots that we didn't want as it looked like they were getting in our way (and to be honest some of them were). So some of their pots went up onto their garden, and ours got emptied, we had this many left!
Plus Minty who will not let me take a garden photo without her (evidenced here, here and here). They are now next to the barbecue, I didn't throw them out as they were expensive to buy and when we get a bigger garden might be handy.

I re-potted some of the larger plants into bigger pots, and then moved them all up onto the nieghbours/landlords garden (they were on holiday so I took the opportunity to steal some space) and I cleaned the concrete. I bought the cleaner back with the stuff from this post, but I never got round to using it. You can see in that post and the pics above that the concrete was pretty stained and dark, I wanted to clean it up a bit for this year. I just brushed this solution on (I forgot to take a pic/note of the stuff but it was from the 99p store and called 'Path Brite' or something similar) and left it for a while (the bottle was really not specific on how long!)
Then rinsed it off and brought all the pots back down, it looks a bit better now, the concrete is definitely cleaner. I could do with a pressure washer for some of the marks, but as a quick fix it has worked well!
The large plants are all that I've kept, and I like that they will keep coming back year after year.
I have some mixed lettuce to plant in the long planters as we do miss having salad stuff to hand, we have just not gotten round to it and it’s too late for much else now. Other than that this is it for this year. I like the more minimal feel, with the lighter concrete and fewer but larger plants I think it looks more airy and bright. Last year we had a lot of plants and it got a bit crowded.
The plant on the right was given to us by Tom's Nanna, it had sat in the plastic pot we got it in until now but just in the couple of weeks since being re-planted it has grown well. I have no idea what it is but I'm told it will do well anywhere, so that's good!
It is also a lot less to water, and although my black thumb only seems to apply to indoor plants and I manage to keep outdoor ones reasonably healthy it is still a bonus to only have 6 plants to water rather than 20! I’m still using the watering globes, but some of them now have 2 as I had spares, which means even less watering. This is the one downside to potted gardens that they need more watering than a normal planted garden as they don’t have any groundwater to use…don’t get carried away and plant loads of pots then curse it for the rest of the summer when you have to water them all every night! Upsides are no weeding, no lawn mowing and no digging borders though so on balance I don’t mind a few extra refills of the watering can.

This is the best shot to show just how little room we have to work with, and how much space we have gained by thinning out the plants a little.
Next year I might add in a couple more flowering plants to bring in some colour, and some more edible things, but I like that the plants we have now should last us and they have all come back well this year, again I didn’t get a photo of the clematis flowers but it flowered well again this spring.
We have also decided to get rid of our bikes as we never use them, so that will free up a bit of space. I realised when I was tidying that I’d kind of forgotten they were even there so we obviously don’t have much need for them!
Now we just need to get the gas on the BBQ refilled and we are ready for some summer evenings outside with a BBQ and a cold glass of something!
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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Weekend Inspiration

Pretty standard week around here, work, gym, climbing...we're out for a meal tonight with friends then going to walk to Tom's mum's tomorrow for a training walk, about 10 miles I think so wish us luck! We'll be getting dinner at the end of it so I'm sure we'll manage :)

I had planned to go out all day to the local lido to sunbathe and swim as we have had glorious weather all week...then it rained all day. So I've been cleaning, post writing and doing yoga, sometimes it's nice just to have a day at home. Just time for a quick inspiration post today then before I go and get dressed (which I better hurry up and do, can't go out in my flat cleaning/yoga clothes now can I).

This pretty collection of plates is worth displaying
I love using maps in decor, and these would sit well on a mantel or hung above a desk. You could also use pins to mark where you've travelled to.
This house...oh my. Click through on the picture for bigger images these seem to all be coming out really small, it's worth the look!
Have a wonderful rest of the weekend all, may your plans not be washed out by thunderstorms!

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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Weekend Inspiration

Ah the weekend has arrived, and I am so glad it has! I have an ever growing to do list, and am checking things off today like empty the hallway of the junk that has accumulated in there since my fete...and pay for Kilimanjaro and my wedding dress! So big things going on today...and I WILL take photos of the garden and our new bed to share on here.

In the meantime it's time for weekend inspiration, I've fallen off the bandwagon with these lately but I like them so trying to get back on it!

This industrial feeling, high ceilinged kitchen with the open stairs above is dramatic enough, but those windows!
This bohemian feel kitchen is so different to the one above, but I love the rug on the painted floor...and the white cabinets with open shelving...and the colourful back splash...and the shelf along the wall at eye height, perfect for displaying photos or recipes!
This appears to be kitchen week...another different style, but another one I like (I seem to be a bit of a kitchen magpie, just taking bits I like from different styles). This one looks sleek and elegant, and the island with a sink in it is my ultimate dream kitchen item. I love the light fixtures, and the pantry through on the right. I'd have a different tile here, maybe a plain white or a penny tile in a silver colour...something cleaner looking anyway.
OK, I'm off to eat then for a productive few hours! Have a great Saturday whatever you're up to xx

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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Excuses Excuses

Ok so I didn't say the radio silence would get any better, but I promise I do have projects brewing! I need to  tidy up and take after photos of the garden then I can post our quick (and free) upgrade for this summer... but it's meant to rain all weekend so that's probably not going to happen until next week. We also have a semi constructed bed, it just needs finishing off then I am so looking forward to not having to sleep on a mattress on the floor taking last photos and sharing it.

So, I thought I would talk about what has been keeping me so busy!

The Wedding:
At the moment we are having a wedding week. We tend to sway between wedding focus, and Kilimanjaro focus.

I've been dress shopping! I'm going back to order it tomorrow! And I am trying to contain my excitement! Seriously I had the most girly bridal moment ever complete with crying mother. I'm not a girly girl at all but it actually made me feel like a princess.
I went to a new shop and a vintage shop, and I will write up my experiences of both...but I went with new in the end. I really didn't have any preference but 'the one' found me in the end.

We sent of a load of enquiries to bands on Sunday, as we want live music. Tom is kind of dealing with that at the moment as he knows more about bands than me, and he may have better taste in music.

We also went to the court to declare our intention to marry, which basically involves establishing that neither of us are illegal immigrants, and we aren't related to each other or already married to someone else. This also means we have confirmed our booking with the registrar and can start planning the actual ceremony which is cool.

Now I have picked the dress I have started looking at bridesmaid dresses, hair and makeup and my accessories. Not that I will buy any of it soon but it's good to be able to start looking.

After this I will probably scale back on the wedding things until we are back from Kili, Tom has a few things he might start looking at but we have a lot of the things booked that we want to for now. It's starting to take shape and it's quite exciting to see it all coming together.

Back in this post I told you about our jam packed week of training, I then came back and went straight into my usual training routine...then I got ill. I should have given myself a rest when we got back, but I felt really strong and wanted to keep the momentum and good energy up. I had a course of antibiotics and good rest last week (no exercise at all until Friday!), and now I'm back on it.

I am loving my new fitness level, and the side effect of losing weight and so much more body confidence, but it is a commitment. I have something on most nights after work. I am feeling strong though, my climbing has also come on in leaps and bounds as I'm generally fitter (and lighter). I also just feel better, when I'm not hurting from some self inflicted bruise or ache.

We have now decided to go self funding for the trip, as we failed miserably to raise the cash in time. Although I am STILL trying to give out raffle prizes (people, if I ring you, ring me back!) and finishing off fundraising things, we are now just raising money through sponsorship and 100% goes to the charity.

We are nearly there on kit, but we still have a few expensive trips to go outdoors ahead of us...we have boots (if I can get mine to stop making my toes go numb...weird), bags and some clothes but we need lots more like sleeping bags, puffa jackets, waterproof jackets, thermarest sleeping mats and just lots and lots of little things like more thermals, more socks, better sunglasses, better hats and gloves, better holdalls...

We also need to get our visas and jabs, and booking my jabs at the GP seems to involve some kind of quest in which I need to fill out a form with my life history and travel itinerary and wait a WEEK for someone to ring me back, to not be able to tell me even what jabs they think I need or how much it will cost. I have to make an appointment to come in to discuss that (WTF was the point of the form then the week long wait?) which they couldn't do, so I have to ring back. So basically they rang me to say they don't know what I need, they can't make me an appointment and they don't know how much it will be. OK cheers then, could I not have just made this appointment a week ago? Then I will have ANOTHER appointment for the jabs if they have to order them in. Hey here's an idea, why not sort out what I need from the form YOU made me fill out, then order them in...I think I'm going to go private. Then change GP practice. It's things like this that give the NHS a bad rap, my department is not run anything like that FYI.

I had to send my passport off too as I realised it expires in Feb, and I need 6 months on it when I go to Kili in October...then once that's back I need to apply for the visa so fingers crossed the delays at the passport office don't mess this up for me or I might be taking a trip to London in September to get the visa in person!

All in all pretty busy, add in a relative in hospital this week and it's been a manic one! I'll be glad when the weekend arrives and I can tidy up my messy flat and hopefully take some after photos and get some actual projects on here...stranger things have happened.

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