Wednesday, 22 June 2011

House Viewing: The Tardis and Labyrinth

Since Mould Mansion we have not had a house to view which in any way fitted our size/price criteria. We've been to look at some nonetheless, but always with the knowledge of their inappropriateness in the backs of our minds. Sad times, indeed.

The other day Finn and I had a borrowed baby sling to try out, and so we went on a trawl of the estate agents to see if there was anything interesting about. We drew a blank, but a few hours later one of the agents rang saying he had a house that had just come on that would suit, and that the owners lived in the same street and were thinking of selling their house too, and did we want the particulars?

Er, yes!

When they came through they were incomplete, but very intriguing. Both houses are within our price range, and have enough rooms and random bits of space for communal good times as well. In fact, there seemed to be far too many rooms for what look, from the front, like quite narrow terraced houses. Oh yes, and one of them has a first floor conservatory, too. Random.

And so, today we embarked on a very exciting house viewing of these two properties; the Tardis, and Labyrinth.

First, The Tardis*.  This house looks a little different to others on the street, both inside and out. The owner has had great fun moving walls about inside, creating an awesomely wide and light hallway. There are 7 bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen, 3 bathrooms and an awesome basement with two windows. It also has a small garden, conservatory, a sun terrace on the second floor, and a large study area on the landing. The basement is enormous, and gets extra points for being the only one I've ever been in that doesn't stink of damp. In fact, it didn't smell at all - and neither did the rest of the house. A house in Swansea with no visible/smellable damp? You can imagine how impressed we were.

This house is different to others we've looked at on many levels. For one, it appears to have been reasonably well-loved and looked after. The owner seemed quite proud of it, and he didn't seem like a blagger, which made a nice change. The house felt; well, it felt like a home, and that is something I know our house will feel like. It was hard not to like it. It doesn't have any massive bedrooms or any teeny tiny ones. We'd all get an OK-ish amount of personal space, and lots and lots of varied communal space. Whether this suits everyone is still up for discussion.

We next went down the road to Labyrinth. Despite their similar size and location, the two houses couldn't have felt more different. Labyrinth has been HMOdified**, which is to say that every door is a fire door and thus shut all the time, that there are numerous extra internal walls making even large spaces feel small and boxy, and that the kitchen smelt weird. Such is the way of the HMO. 

It's currently split into two flats, with the bottom flat having a huge living room, small kitchen and bathroom in the basement, and then 3 bedrooms on the ground floor. The top flat has 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom, and a living room. The room sizes are more varied here, but there weren't any absurdly small rooms, just some a little smaller than we'd like. There was a bigger garden here, but no other extraneous areas.

Were we to live here, we'd have the whole ground floor as communal space, which would be awesome. In The Tardis the space is more split up into different areas, but there's also more of it. It's so hard to work out which is more important sometimes, but such is the way of buying houses. We are always trying to think of what will work best for the long-term of the co-op, and that does mean making tricky judgements.

After the viewing we went back to Cassian's for a debrief/squeebrief***. This involved, amongst other things, deciding the houses' names (for bloggity purposes) and determining that choosing between them was somewhat akin to a fight between David Tennant and David Bowie. Cue rubbish artwork.

Less importantly, rough floor plans were drawn and pros and cons debated, and it turns out that we see merit in them both. We're going to go for second viewings, and try to get more detailed measurements for The Tardis, which had some hilariously inaccurate ones in the particulars. We're going to do some investigating of market values, and re-work the business plan to see how it goes with both houses. We're going to have a meeting; the first of many, if we decide to go for one or the other.

As Joe so pointedly said, here we go again.


* It's not only named for the TARDIS because it's bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside, but also that if you painted it blue, it would have a slight similarity. Honest.
** I made this word up today, and had to use it :)
*** Another word I made up today. Clearly I'm on a roll.


  1. It is the nature of communes that when they start off full of bright new ideas and enthusisasm, they desire lots of communal space, but as they evolve, the communal space becomes more tokenistic and of less value.
    This view is based on conversations carried out in New Zealand with members of a Quaker rural farm commune established by Pacifist Objectors in Golden Bay in the 1940s. The commune still exists, but has largely become individual homes. I think there are similar observations of the Kibbutzim history. If you go down a road, it pays to have a map: others have travelled this road before.

  2. Baiterboy: It occurs to me that you have clearly been following us for some time and with some enthusiasm, but seem to take any given opportunity to give us clearly rather heartfelt advice against what we're doing.

    We have spent a long time deciding if this is what we want to do, and how long term a plan it is. We've discussed alternatives in many forms, and being part of a larger network of co-ops doing the same things as us, we've seen a lot of different groups making it work in different ways. Some recently started up, some who have existed in some form for decades.

    Please be assured that we're not stepping into this blindly. Please also realise that while your advice is valid, it is all things we have been asked many times by other people, and that we have taken it on board and decided to do things how we are doing them.

    Sometimes its best to let people get on with things. If you think it'll all end in tears then that is your perogative, and you are welcome to join those queueing to say I told you so. But for now, we're way past the point at which the guidance you're offering is relevant.


  3. I'm with Sven, I'm afraid. We've got to make decisions based on what we think is best right now, and we've thought of a lot of different roads we could go down, and we do take all advice into consideration. But at the end of the day, we're not going to follow a path that someone else says worked for them just because it worked for them; no two co-ops are the same, and we've got to do what we think is best for us.

    So yes, we're happy with what we've chosen right now, and if it turns out we wished we'd done things differently... well, we'll find a way to make it work. :)

  4. Also, planning for the future has its merits, but as Hannah found out when she asked about the heart/head thing on FB the heart has to come higher up the list. Isn't that why you're choosing to live together in the first place? Go with the gut feelings. If things change in 5, 10, 20 years, you'll adapt and change houses or move around in the one you have. All sorts of things can and will happen, but you can't even guess at them, so just go with what feels right for now. I know you're doing that anyway, but just wanted to validate your choices. x