Sunday, 25 September 2011

House Viewing: Boat House and The Dinghy

This is why it is called Boat House.
So, we went to see Boat House again. A week ago. I suck.

We also went to see the house opposite. It's for sale by the same vendor, and would address the fact that Boat House isn't big enough for us. We would need to expand the co-op, which is a whole can o' worms, but we're generally open to the idea. Hence our nosing at this intriguing property.

Aren't they all intriguing?
The Dinghy is technically down as a 3 bedroom house, with 3 reception rooms. I don't know how estate agents decide this stuff, it's fascinating. It's been previously let as a 5 bedroom HMO, with the large basement reception room as a lounge, presumably. This takes up the whole lower ground/basement floor, and has a small bathroom and garden off of it, as you do. The garden was so overgrown we have no idea how bit it is, but the answer is likely to be "not very".

There's another garden which is totally paved (see left) which is at lower ground level but inaccessible from the lower ground floor. Why of course! This makes perfect sense! So to get from the living room to the main (for which read, bigger) garden, you have to get up the stairs and then down the outside stairs again. Hm. The paved garden was nice though, if seriously overlooked. No naked sunbathing here, then. (With a co-op like ours we need to consider these things.)

The bedrooms were suitably non-descript, the kitchen was pretty tiny, and there's a garage. There's not a lot more to be said really, although that is coming from me as the least keen member of the co-op. I do see the benefits of having two houses, and this house is OK, but I like Boat House much, much better.

After looking around The Dinghy, we had another quick peruse around Boat House. Bless the estate agent, he didn't seem to mind our epic nosiness. It did help consolidate the layout in our minds, and also allowed us to answer a few questions we couldn't resolve from memory. I still like it, and everyone else seems keen too.

There are obviously things which wouldn't be ideal with a two-house setup: one house would have a bigger kitchen, dining room and living room, and would be better suited to communal eating. It also has ALL the garden. Does this matter? I don't know, but we need to think about these things. Having the two houses would create a wider range of possibilities, but also a lot more roof to maintain.

We need to cogitate.

To aid both myself, and anyone else who might need it, with their cogitations, I leave you with this picture of Mattie looking uncomfortable sexay.

 - Hannah

Saturday, 3 September 2011

House Viewing: Boat House

 Finally, another house viewing! It's been quiet over the summer with no new sitings of potential houses, but this one has been sitting on the market for a while. We actually got the particulars the same day as those for Labyrinth and The Tardis, but the excitement of those two meant this one got lost, quite literally, down the side of a chair. A massive toddler-proofing clearout of the living room at Golem HQ led to it being rediscovered, and we trundled along for a look this morning.

Boat House resides at the top of a rather steep and well-known hill, and has epic views to prove it.  It also has possibly the nicest garden we've seen on a house yet - terraced but sizeable to both front and back. You can see the sea from just about everywhere. J'approve.  Incidentally, it's called Boat House because the terraces at the back have awesome rope hand rails. My bad that I forgot to take a picture, but take my word for it that it feels sufficiently deck-like to warrant the name.

 The awesome garden-ness was a lovely surprise, and provided an interesting contrast with the outside space at The Tardis. It's funny how seeing one house really makes you re-evaluate others, and for me it was interesting to realise how unhappy I am with the the outside space at The Tardis, and how important it feels for Finn to have a lovely garden to grow up in, even if it does have ALL THE STEPS. Our fitness levels would greatly benefit from living here, though, it must be said. Either that or we'd soon be installing a stairlift. Joking aside, we were hoping to have an accessible property to those with mobility issues, and this will never be that. We're doomed to constantly be trading one thing off against another; such is househunting.

We knew from the particulars that this house does not have enough rooms, no matter how we rejig things internally. Without extending, there is no way to fit in all of our basic list of requirements, but we went to look because the whole thing is within budget.  That potentially gives us the option to extend/modify a house to suit a little better, so it seemed worth a look. 

The interior was a total surprise. This house has another huge hallway, and a big sweeping staircase which I am dying to swoosh down. Much to everyone's astonishment, few of the rooms matched the sizes on the particulars, and the interior space is generally lovely. It helps that it's light, with a tonne of south-facing windows. Win all round. Everyone liked the bedrooms, which is a pretty rare moment in our house-viewing history. Cause for celebration there, methinks. There is space for a co-op office in the hallway, and a lean-to utility room/pantry in the generous side-return, if only to reduce the amount of stuff that would have to live in the kitchen.

Because unfortunately, the communal rooms are another story. To be fair, there are two great sized bathrooms, so no problem there. But the kitchen is small and surprisingly triangular - less than ideal for mass-cooking, storage and dining. There are three rooms on the ground floor, two of which would have to be bedrooms, which leaves only one communal/spare room. Although technically this could work, discussions following viewings of similarly under-endowed houses have led us to believe that it would be anything but ideal to only have one communal room. Some of us felt that this was possibly mitigated slightly by the large garden, but that feels slightly tenuous and I'm not sure any of us were totally convinced. As always, pros and cons.

 There is some extension potential (the house is already extended quite radically on one side) but at the moment we can't quite see a way to make ourselves fit. Also, it has some interesting smells/cracks which might account for it's intriguingly affordable price. Still, we all have a good feeling about it, and it has led to some interesting re-evaluation about The Tardis (more on that below). We've decided to let this house sit on the backburner for now, and to re-visit it at a later date if it still doesn't seem like a write-off. Sven has a slightly bonkers plan regarding how we could make this house work, but I am saving it for a later blog-post as we need to get more information. Mysterious!

In related news, we tried to book another viewing for The Tardis, but were heartily put off by the estate agent. It looks like it is not going to be on the market for a while, and so he is reluctant to show us around. Doom biscuits all round. We're still considering it though, and at the very least, it does provide a good contrast property for anything else we look at.

Secondary Rules Progress

We've been working on these for quite some time. I don't know how long, it feels like forever. We are making progress though, yes indeedy. It's just the slow, consensual type of progress which we are becoming accustomed to on our journey as a co-op. I meant to type up a list of all the things we are aiming to have secondary rules for, but Finn has just woken up, so I shall instead give you some quick examples: income, children, bills, visitors, joining/leaving and grievance procedures, rents, bills, decorating, pets - the list goes on. We even have Rule 7 (disappointingly our particular Rule 7 is only the third definition on Urban Dictionary) to cover pretty much all eventualities that we don't manage to cover in the myriad of other rules.

This might seem like dramatic overkill, but we think it's an important way to shape the culture of the co-op. Radical Routes thinks that they are important too, and having a set of secondary rules, however simple or complex, is a requirement of membership. Respect and common sense come from peoples' behaviour, but it doesn't hurt to have something to point at when something doesn't quite feel right to the rest of the co-op. Agreeing these things while we are all on great terms with each other is also better than trying to thrash them out when there's a emotive issue on the table.

The secondary rules also serve as a good way of outlining what living in our co-op will be like, both for ourselves and for future potential members. When they're done, we will also post them on the blog so that you can have a nosey at them in all their verbose glory. For now, have a gander at these from Mary Ann Johnson Housing Co-op and Rhizome Housing Co-op to get an idea of what we're up to.

- Hannah