Friday, 4 March 2011

House Viewings: Hippy Haven/Mould Mansion Revisited

We had two house viewings today, topping off a busy week of co-op activity. What with three house viewings, a meeting, our usual co-op meals, a referendum and Bi-Fest Wales tomorrow, it's a wonder we've managed to keep so on top of the blog. Go us.

So, first up was Hippy Haven, a new house to us, and one which we already had a good idea wasn't suitable from dissecting the particulars. It was, however, considerably under our budget, and so we went to see it with a view to assessing the potential for extension.

This house is vendor-occupied, so I didn't take pictures, but we did get to meet the fabulous lady who lives there currently. Essentially she's Mattie in 35 years time, which means she's awesome:-D The occupant prior to her was an Italian called Monty, who sounds like a future version of Sven, having planted in the garden, amongst other things, some grapevines, a brick pizza oven and a still.

You can tell the vendor was amazing because we know all this.

Anyway, the long, short and medium-length of it is, the house is too small for us and an extension would be possible but logistically a nightmare. I was sad that we couldn't offer to love this house, if only because the owner is so sweet and so enthusiastic about co-ops. It will be a fantastic home for someone's family, but sadly not mine.

Somewhat later in the day a small party of us revisited Mould Mansion. Sven and Lloyd had not been able to attend the first time, but the enthusiasm shown by the rest of us made a return visit inescapable. Me and Finn went along for the walk, and to have a proper nosey in the garden, and because, essentially, I couldn't resist.

Can you tell I like it?

The strange thing is that the mould downstairs was not as bad as I remembered, though I stand by my replaster-the-whole-kitchen-or-I'll-never-eat-a-thing-cooked-in-it stance. Lloyd made it clear that he approved, in his quiet way. Sven took lots of notes, in his building geeky way, and pronounced it to be not as bad as I'd made out. Some blocked gutters may be causing some of the problems, and a lot of things that need to be done could feasibly be done by us, apparently. To get a second opinion on this, we have a third visit booked on monday and are taking a builder friend along.

Can you tell we like it?

We fit into this house, and it feels like this house fits us, and we are fit to make it fit for us (!). All of which wordplay leads us to believe that we might be drumming up loanstock pledges again some time soon. Watch this space!



  1. Aw I'm so excited for you all, it really sounds like it's perfect (mould-aside...). Fingers crossed! x

  2. "it's a wonder we've managed to keep so on top of the blog. Go us."

    I believe you mean "Go Hannah", you are the Awesome Blogger of Win right now! :D Nice work! Tweeting the link, hurrah.

    Also, I am super-hopeful about this house. *holds breath*

  3. Give me a Bovis terrace starter home anytime: less complications. Seriously, it's only a structure you choose to inhabit for an indefinite period, a risky investment if you buy it, a slightly more expensive one if you rent it: but a house doesn't define the people who choose to use it, it merely provides a useful roof and shelter, for an undefinable period of future time. Look at it as a pile of mouldy bricks, thats all: don't get all sentimental.

  4. An interesting point, and I can see where you're coming from, but there are many reasons why a Bovis Box won't be on our shopping list anytime soon.

    The first is that the huse may not define us, but our community does, and where we live there are hundreds - nay, thousands - of mouldy piles of bricks left behind by the Victorians. If we were simply to move out to where the lesss mouldy brick piles were, we'd be leaving our community behind. If everyone did this for the sake of less challenging maintenance, our communities would be dismantled.

    Oh wait! I think they're called the suburbs. The inner city has a lot to offer, and we're sticking with it.

    The second big reason is that retro-fitting an existing house is virtually always more energy and resource efficient than building a new one. One of the reasons we're forming a co-op is that we see shared housing as a better use of space and resources than us all living individually. If we all live in a big house and bring it up to modern standards we're making much better use of existing housing stock, materials, energy and the rest.

    Regarding sentimentality, I am hugely sentimental about everything. That's just how I roll.

    By the way, these are most definitely my opinions and not those of the co-op in any official sense. I'd be interested to hear what others think.

  5. Go Hannah and co!

    I totally disagree with Balterboy. A house doesn't define you but the style, size, age, location, vibe, community around certainly have an affect, unless you're a blinking robot.

    Sentiment aside, I totally agree with the political, financial and social points made by Hannah.

    I'm so excited for you all. Good luck and keep posting about the journey. x

  6. I have lived in a few "heritage buildings" in my time, even owned a couple. It's the "cant sleep at night because the beetles/wet rot/dry rot have been discovered" nightmare that I try to avoid. Old buildings soak up huge resources and time: much like old cars: sooner or later they need to be scrapped. There is no such thing as a bargain in housing, only a first-time buyer who thinks they have found one.

  7. Have done a quick search, nearest Bovis homes to us are only 3 bed, and the most they do is 5. If they did 7-9 bedroom starter homes, with large kitchens for communal cooking and eating, large shared rooms (i.e. front rooms, studies), space for a cold pantry and large gardens that cound among other things include chickens, fruit trees and vines then we'd probably look at that too. However, haven't seen one yet. In the area we live in the largest houses also happen to be Victorian terraces (and "heritage buildings" most of them are not, unless at some point the Victorians were well into pebble dash and just didn't tell anyone.)an therefore they are the ones that fit our remit the best

    We aren't looking for a bargain, we're looking for a home. Fact.


    PS. I used to live in an epically mouldy caravan, so at the moment, leveling up to a mouldy house seems like LIVING THE DREAM.

  8. Speaking as somebody within the construction industry, I wouldn't be inclined to go near new build with a barge pole. New UK homes are among the smallest in Europe, and our building regs could learn a lot from Germany or the Scandinavian countries. I could probably come up with over 9000 other reasons.

  9. As someone who bought a newbuild when I Didn't Know Better... it's cheaply built and therefore does require maintenance, we've had massive problems with mould, bits are falling off all over the place, it's small, with boring boxy rooms and a tiny garden. There's very little community to speak of, and there's absolutely nothing here that reflects who we are or what we want.

    And the neighbours would have a fit if we had chickens :(

    Mould Mansion ftw ;)

  10. As someone who grew up in new builds, I second the fabulous Beth. MM is still standing after 100 or so years, and I'd rather have something with a bit of history, anyday.