on finding a home.

A little while ago, in October 2012, John and I started actively looking to buy our first house. We had talked about it for a little while, and done some casual internet browsing, but October was when we got serious about it. We spent a week in Abergavenny, and many hours of that week were spent in Café Nero, enjoying their caramel machiatos while we poured over property websites and booked our first viewings of houses.
{one of the many machiatos I drank during our time in Abergavenny}

For readers who are unfamiliar with the British system of buying a house, the process involves registering with many different estate agents in order to view the properties advertised with them, then making individual bookings for each property you would like to see. Most estate agents have multiple branches throughout the city, so if you want to look at properties in more than one area, you have to go through the rigmarole of giving each branch of the Estate Agents all of your details and requirements. Needless to say, over the last five months, I have made and received hundreds of phone calls from numerous agents, and I have completely lost track of how many houses I have viewed. John and I have spent many evenings and weekends browsing online and going for walks in different areas of the city that we thought we might like to live.
{sharing coffee in St. Werburgh's following a house viewing}

Back in January, I saw a house that I loved, but John was unable to see it for a few weeks, due to work commitments in Japan. Our experience of buying a house in this city, in the current economic climate, is that it is a seller’s market. I have lost track of the number of houses that have come onto the market, we’ve viewed them within 48 hours, and they have been sold to another buyer less than 48 hours later. There are far more buyers than there are houses for sale, it seems. So, having seen this house in January, before it had even come onto the market, I did not hold out hope that John would have the opportunity to view it when he returned home from Japan. Sure enough, the house was sold before it came onto the market.

Fast forward to last week, when I locked myself out of our house on my way to a Pilates Class. One of John’s suggestions for what to do with my time before he was due home to let me in was to go and view the house that I had loved but he had never seen, because it was back on the market! I rang the Estate Agent and booked a viewing for 20 minutes later. 24 hours later, John had viewed the property, agreed with me that it was just what we were looking for, placed an offer, and BAM! It was ours. I couldn’t quite believe the speed of it all.
                       {the lovely latte I enjoyed after viewing the house for the second time}

Which brings us up to the present. We are back in Wales again, just like in November, staying in another lovely cottage in a different part of Wales, and our conversations have still very much been about houses. Except this time, we are no longer looking for a house. We have found the house that will become our home. As I write this, the legalities of purchasing our house are in process, and suddenly a whole new world of websites and home décor ideas have opened up to us. I wanted to document some useful ideas and places that we have come across, as we have dreamed and schemed this week.

+ Gumtree I know this is widely known to be a brilliant resource, but I am ever so excited about the prospect of finding some furniture bargains on good old Gumtree

+ Reclamation Yard Another great resource for sourcing unique, reasonably priced furniture that supports a local business

+ Bristol Wood Recycling Project - hoping to find some great wood here to build some bookshelves with

+ RePaint - Who knew you could get second hand paint? To save on spending a fortune decorating a room, you can buy paint at a low cost, donated by people who have purchased too much paint for their decorating. What a brilliant idea!

+ The Curtain Exchange - pristine curtains sold at lower costs, previously used in showrooms, or donated by people who purchased the wrong item. We have lots of windows to dress in our new home, and this seems like a great option to consider.

Do any of you lovely people have advice on moving home or creative solutions for furnishing a house at a reasonable cost? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments section!