by Pierre Le Roux
It is official, the purchase of our new home have been finalized. After literally months of searching we finally found our perfect little retreat nestled away in a beautifully treed and quiet neighborhood. The house or rather, as the real estate agent described it, “The Villa” initially had some not so pleasing elements that we decided should go as I just can’t live with pink walls, 1970’s porno ceiling beams and chandeliers straight from Dracula’s dungeon. This was just some of the cosmetic changes we had envisaged. However, after the old lady cleared out all the stuff she had accumulated during her 74 years on this planet, the canvas changed horrifically and I was left asking: What have we let ourselves in for?
For some bizarre reason I decided to be a Good Samaritan last week and help the old lady move out of our newly purchased home. You see she’s old and only had her daughter to help her with the mammoth task of clearing out the house that ended up filling 2 truckloads to the rim with over 400 boxes and furniture that could fill a museum. Luckily, the movers were efficient and my role was only a supervisory one but it took 9 hours that I will never get back. Once only the skeleton remained it was time for her to say farewell. We had to arm the alarm and leave. Sounds simple, but it wasn’t. We had to go through the motion 4 times, as we only had 60 seconds to get out. The 1st attempt we made it to the lounge where she broke down in tears, with the alarm screaming I consoled her, disarmed the alarm and tried again. The 2nd attempt we made to the kitchen, the 3rd attempt we almost cleared the pool area. Only on the 4th attempt did we succeed. After just over 20 years living in that house she had a deep emotional investment in every brick, stone and plant which made parting with 2 decade’s worth of memories understandably difficult and for this I did had empathy for her.
The next day hubby and I went to inspect our new property. It’s amazing how furniture can disguise ugly flaws. With the home now bare and the naked truth revealed, hubby and I were standing in the lounge trying not to hyperventilate and with the pink room spinning the realization sank in – the house is going to need a lot of work and it wasn’t going be cheap! I didn’t know whether to cry or throw up, I think I did a little of both. After the initial shock wore off we devised a plan of action. We needed to paint and get new light fixtures. Pink would be replaced with a tranquil and pale grayish blue and the beams from hell would be painted white, hopefully this would make them less obtrusive to my now very frail psyche. The same day we interviewed a contractor to do the painting. He smelled of alcohol and had a very smooth mouth but the selling point was he was cheap and thorough when he’s sober. So he was hired.
Early the following morning I received a call from my father-in-law saying that we were going shopping for paint and equipment. Arriving at the DIY store, hubby gave me the code for the paint we decided on over the phone. We searched every paint sample in the whole store but could not find a match. Later, after a short fight over the phone, I realized I wrote down the wrong code and the paint was found. Father-in-law was extremely patient and helpful and the fact that I was highly strung and behaving like hot-wired bitch did not faze him. All the equipment and paint was selected and hubby and I went back later that afternoon to purchase everything. By this time we already had about 3 miniature fall outs over stupid things.
The contractors started painting and as the pink started disappearing and the ugly beams became camouflaged the house was slowly transforming into something livable. Shopping for light fixtures was next on the list. We decided on brushed steel as the theme. Going from shop to shop and short momentarily fits of madness and some bickering we thought we would end up living with candles – we could not find anything we both liked. Had we been on a reality show the ratings would have shot through the roof as some of our public squabbles, insisting staff brings us step ladders in order to measure things and two blond gay guys inspecting lights as if it was the most important historical artifact in the history of mankind must have been hilarious. Eventually, to the great relief of many shop assistants I am sure, we came to a compromise on 6 out of the 7 items, not bad considering both hubby and I are stubborn and customers from hell.
With our bank balances taking strain and our bank manager happily rubbing his little greedy hands together while smiling we are not even close to what we want to have done. Being quite responsible, I do realize that only truly rich people can do a full renovation of a property all at once. For us normal folk we have to settle with doing what you can when you can afford it. Our big move is scheduled for next week, which is a whole other nightmare as no moving company has provided us with a quote yet and the clock is ticking! Worst case scenario – we will have to do it ourselves. Oh the horror of carrying heavy appliances down a flight of stairs… From my experience thus far I have reached an epiphany regarding relationships and real estate: A couple that can renovate together and still stay together in all probability will remain together forever.
Till next time.