Wednesday, May 23, 2007

House Hunter

I went to see house number two from the previous post - the cute cream stucco one. It is not a houseshare.

Most large houses in London have been split into flats but you may not see that from the outside. Sometimes there is an addition with an entrance to a part of it, like that on house 2. Sometimes instead of one large original door, there are two doors, one to the ground floor flat, and the second has stairs to the first floor. And most houses now have had the basements and lofts converted into flats too. London houses have always had steps down to the lower ground floor (basement) entrance from the days when that's where the kitchen and scullery were, and where grocery deliveries were made - tradesman's entrance I guess. When a LGF flat is called a "garden flat" it means the tenants in the basement have sole use of the back garden.

In addition, in grander neighbourhoods, there are mews conversions. Mews are the old stables and workshops from the days when wealthy families living in the houses fronting the street owned a horse and carriage and kept household staff. Mews are cobbled alley ways behind the residential streets. I find them much cuter and desirable than the overly high-ceilinged homes they once served. Mews houses feel more cottagey, or they are sometimes completely refurbished into great contemporary open spaces. You still need to put down a million to own one, though.

So, who wants to hear about the cute house on Byron Hill Road (cute name eh?)

When I walked in I said "wow". The entrance is tiled with slate, and off to the left is a cloakroom (half bathroom). To the right is a pair of steps - one going up, and one going down. Here's the worst bit. The part that goes down is partly subterranean, a half basement, and there is damp in the wall. The estate agents are waiting for money to come through from the landlord to have it "cured" and repaired, and it will be a big job as they will need to tear out the downstairs bathroom too. (Funny enough, the landlord is moving to Houston, but lived in that house for 10 years.) So the second bedroom is downstairs and a very good sized one for an English house. The bathroom is ok and has a mixer tap.

Taking the second steps up you enter the wow space. The ceilings are so high you couldn't reach with a ladder. There's a lounge with two couches, dining area with table and six chairs, and open kitchen. Big American fridge. Very big living areas for over here, and hence the practical side of me says it will be difficult to heat in our bone-chilling winters, which are colder on the hills, mind you. All the warmth will rise to the heavenly ceiling and we will pay for it.

Off the lounge area there is a spacious master bedroom with double bed. What amazed me was the opposite wall covered with doors of all shapes and sizes, behind which are shelves and closets for storage, and then one narrow door at the end houses a ladder to reach it all! Another wow.

Were it not for the damp and the high ceilings, I would take it. Also, the long walk to the station. Yesterday, my mother said she will start driving over here and get a car, and drop me off...Oh my. I said we'd cross that bridge when we get to it. She hasn't driven here in nearly 20 years, but fortunately, Harrow on the Hill is not as manic or relentless as the rest of London. Some streets up there don't see a car in motion for 5 minutes at a time, maybe even more!

Tomorrow I am going back to Platinum House to see some larger apartments. I was comforted by the fact that water, gas and heating are included (and use of all those great facilities) in rental price except for electricity, phone, and council tax. Hopefully the slight hike in price of the places I am seeing will mean the kitchen comes out of the closet into an open plan, and gets us more floor space for the boxes we have...

I'll keep you "post"ed.



amillionpieces said...

It does sound like a nice house, barring that damp! Also you mention mews houses, I love them so much. You'll have me searching foxtons in no time at this rate, Arty! x

Anonymous said...

good luck with all of it chicky


AmitL said...

Hi,Olivia...oh,gosh...I guess house hunting is as much a chore out there,as it is here in Dubai (Where it's more to rent than to buy)or in India. (In India,I remember we looked at around 80 flats before buying one,some years back). I'd defi avoid the damp zone flats.:)I quite like high ceilings,though.

Guyana-Gyal said...

House hunting sounds like a lot of work...but exciting.

I hope you and your mum find a nice place to live in. I think the concept of 'independence' is misunderstood. People think that sharing space with parent means you lose your independence. I don't even think people understand the true meaning of independence.

There is something called Inter-dependence. Where you care for each other, share spaces, lives...but learn to be individuals at the same time.

Living as an adult with my mum has taught me TONS about compromise, tolerance, patience. Boyfriend will benefit from this, hahaha.

Um Naief said...

this place sounds nice... and i'm assuming the damp is some type of mold or such... or is it that water has gotten into the walls and it won't dry? how long will it take to repair it?

i like house hunting. it can be tiring and sometimes aggravating, but worth it in the end.

good luck w/ the new properties. hope you find something that you and your mom will adore. and... i hope they all have big american fridges!!

lunaliar said...

You say damp, but is there a problem with mold? Sometimes mold persists even though the dampness is "cured" if you go for it, make sure you clear that up.

Olivia said...

Pete - stay away from Foxtons, I hear nothing good about them...!


Jia Li - thanks, how's your move going?


Amit - my goodness, 80 flats??? How did you even remember the front runners?


G-G - Yes, practise living with someone you love, and have to get along with, plus people who love each other hurt each other a lot. All great practice.


Um Naief - yes, the rainwater at ground level has gotten into the walls. They are going to run vented drains all the way round the house, where they are currently only partway.


Luna - wish we could go for it, but in the end I didn't. I will have to blog the news :)

AmitL said...

Hi,Olivia...that's what I wonder,now,when I think of those was like 'return from work,go off for The Search'...but,you know what,we kept returning to the same building,every few days..different flats,in the same,deep down,we knew...the Future is Here.:)You too,keep your 'instincts' eye'll know when the right one is staring at you,smiling.

Olivia said...

Amit - yes, the one I ended up choosing I went to see twice in one week...

Nabeel said...

hmm good luck with the house hunting .. and well am sure the prices are sky high too in London. Did you hear about this block or garden that they covered in green recently?