Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More work on house

I know it's a sensible time to do work on the house but I always underestimate how distracting it is and how messy. We're getting the attic space converted into a storage room. This may change our life. It will mean no longer living surrounded by piles of old company archive boxes and plastic boxes filled with materials that are rarely accessed and in fact most of the time remain mysteriously opaque like the boxes that contain them. It will mean we can store our bikes in the laundry instead of the study. It will mean we can continue to collect bits and bobs of rather useless stuff and put them somewhere and forget about them. Unlike now, where we trip over them.

It's just on 6:00pm and people are starting to arrive home from work via various forms of transport. The drivers arrive with music up loud and kill the engine mid-song, walkers purposefully stride past with professional outfits, looking a bit creased and worse for wear after the days toil. The occasional neighbour arrives and shortly departs again with dog in tow panting with excitement and sniffing the scents the footpaths offer. I've done a quick clean of the house - vacuumed and dusted to get the worst of the dust off the surfaces. Probably inhaled a few tons of lead and other assorted toxins and have tidied the house to greet my Uncle who is an architect. He's coming over to hear the options for our house and hopefully give us a realistic perspective on whether to renovate or sell. I hate to feel like I'm on an owner-occupied-house -renovate-or-upgrade treadmill but something must be done. Actually nothing really has to be done. As one neighbour across the road said to me after two years of tortorous and slow renovations to her home, "why do it? Just live..." It's a good point and if it wasn't for the fact that our bathroom floor was about to collapse because of rotten floorboards and if the kitchen cupboards didn't smell like mould and weren't crumbling, I think I'd take her advice. The thing is houses are singularities for any budget. They seem to draw into their gravitational field vast sums just to keep them working the way you want them to. Having rented since I was 17 in shared pads or my own premises, owning a house has satisfied a strong desire to tinker and adjust my own surrounds (something pretty much unfeasible in a rented property). We bought an old inner city terrace that had been a rented property. We've done quite a lot to it in the time we've been here, all discrete projects that can be done over a day or two. Now we are faced with a decision about what to do with the remaining parts of the house that involve much more serious work. Do we really have the time to renovate ourselves? Is this even something we want to do? Compared to Sweden, the very concept of owning an entire house let alone renovating it yourself just seems like an extraordinary waste of resources and individual effort. Little apartments that involve negligible upkeep and a bit of decoration seem a much better way to go right now. We'll see what Uncle says. Selling and buying can also be a right pain in the arse.

1 comment:

Mac said...

Heh--I know that renovate-or-upgrade cycle, all too well. I'm trying to decide whether to tile the basement floor, and texture the walls; or just slap a coat of paint up and call it good enough because I'm not planning to stay here forever.

Good luck, whatever you decide.