And the worst thing? They weren’t wrong!
When I was student at University I used to have a fair bit of time off. One program I used to spend a lot of time watching was Homes Under The Hammer. You must have seen it. However, if you haven’t it’s not a program about houses that get smashed to pieces under a massive Thor-esq hammer. It’s much less interesting than that but a good watch if you have an interest in the big bricked, roomed variety of dwellings or as we like to call them, houses. It’s about people who go to an auction, buy a house and then do it up and you get to see the before and after shots. It’s a little like doing it yourself except you don’t do anything and you get to see the results in 10 minutes as opposed to the agonising and back breaking 6 months sweat and blood that goes into it. Here the problem begins and I have wrote a list of why Homes Under the Hammer tricks fadosaurs like me into thinking its all a bloody wonderful idea.
1. They make it look easy.
This is done by simply not showing them doing any work on it whatsoever. You see the pig running around in the kitchen downstairs, the toilet upstairs with a palm tree growing out of it, a family of bats living in the attic but a diagonal screen wipe later, the mess is gone, and whats left if is a beautiful, perfectly finished home. Wow! That was easy! I can do that too!
2. Money is just numbers
“Yeah we bought the house for 80,000. Spent 40,000 on renovating it and now we are selling it for 150,00 making us a 30,000 profit” Holy Smokes! 30,000 profit for 6 months work! Sign me up! All I need 10,000 in the bank and I can get started!
3. Excitable presenters
They make you think it is an exciting, fun thing to do. While they walk around the house drooling over period features and pointing out which walls they’d bash in with Thor-esq hammer you think “Hell, this will be fun and exciting and it all sounds so easy.”
So then, why does it all fall down?
1. IT ISN’T EASY
It just isn’t. Unless you are a builder or a plumber or an electrician or just have a natural aptitude for such things you might find it a breeze, but to the naive idiots amongst us who think “It can’t be that bad can it?” it can and it is. Never forget that decorating is manual labour but there has to be some skill there too. For those of us who sit at computers all day and getting up to go to the toilet is about as laborious as it gets, stripping the wallpaper with nothing but a scraper and some steam can be a tiresome task, although if you have ever used a steamer to remove wallpaper, how good are they? Amazing!
2. Money is actually MONEY.
You’ve been a good egg, you’ve scrimped and saved and borrowed a bit too and you’ve managed to get your deposit together. You head onto the Rightmove and you start looking for the cheapest, dirtiest house you can find. You then start going to see these houses and you realise that they are a bit more than you can handle so you pick a middle-of-the-road house that’s in an OK area and is on for a good price. You move in and then you start picking the bits that you want to improve and then you go to the bank and you find THAT ALL YOUR MONEY HAS GONE ON BUYING THE HOUSE and that £10,000 you were going to use for improvements simply doesn’t exist. You then find out that this is the long game and you have to play it whether you want to or not. Improvements will have to be done monthly and minimally and that dream of becoming a property developer has to be put on hold while you work your usual job. Life just got a bit tougher when you were meant to be buying your condo in Bermuda.
3, IT ISN’T EXCITING
Maybe if you were paying someone to do it, it might be. But as you’ve spent your last penny on the house, you have to do all the stuff yourself. That horrible mouldy wallpaper has to be removed with your bare hands. The crusty carpet in the bathroom that stinks of urine has to be removed by your bare hands. Whatever you remove smells, it’s dusty, it’s crummy and what you replace it with is just about liveable. The worst part of it all is that what you then come to realise in time is that its actually cheaper to get someone to do it for you. Doing it yourself is a better way of spreading the cost but the actual job is worse and a right pain to get to a high standard,
Does this sound familiar? As this is exactly what happened to me. I now have a house, no money to do it up and no knowledge of how do anything whatsoever. Yes University taught me how to neck a pint and not throw up but it didn’t teach me how to drill a hole, remove a radiator, fix a toilet, paint a wall or even what tools to use for each of these jobs. I will admit that it was pathetic I didn’t know but when would I learn? I am starting to change all that and there’s nothing like having your own first home to ruin before your second home benefits from your hard learned lessons.
So this is where I am. My room is my first step to greatness and a step I want to share. I want this house to be awesome so when I come to sell it I can show them around and say, “Yes, this room is finished to a high standard, that’s because I finished it!”, “Yes, the room is a nice colour, a colour I picked!”.
But first I need to set the scene. It was November, it was cold, I had some holidays left at work and a couple of hundred quid. My room was a baby blue colour and was wood chipped like it was 1975. There was a small piece that had started to come away from the wall, so I simply and effortless pulled it off, “this isn’t going to be so bad” I thought, “this isn’t going to be so bad at all”.
Next time: If wallpaper comes off easily there’s usually a very horrible reason.