House Hunting

I’m not satisfied unless I’m planning something and renting a house that’s a “bit rough around the edges” is driving me nuts. I want to plan all the repairs and improvements I would do if it were mine but refuse to spend any money or energy on it. At first B and I had grand designs of converting a property, we spent hours scouring the web, visited a couple of churches and a school and did quite a bit of research (I still can’t help myself and wander over to Buildings at Risk about once a week). Then after one viewing we began seriously picking apart the logistics and we had a realization of what we would be putting our four-legged family through to move forward with this dream. I think we’d be OK with it if they were all a bit younger but our youngest cat is 15. Starting a conversion would take our time and energy away when they will need it the most so we’ll wait. I’m sure overall this is for the best, it gives us a chance to acclimatize ourselves to the inner workings of UK residential building maintenance before we attempt something as big as a conversion.

I’m sure winter is probably the worst time of year to look for a house to buy. There seems to be so little on the market that ticks our boxes or perhaps we are just too picky. First of all we need it to be in a decent location, the town/village has to have good internet speed so we can stay employed and can’t be too far from train stations and airports. Jedburgh is about 75 minutes from Edinburgh and a little further from the airport and I have to admit we’ve felt a little cut off from the city. There’s a lot going on in Edinburgh and the length of the drive wears on us a bit. In September a new rail line is opening running from Edinburgh down into the Borders, I’m sure this will help us feel a bit more connected. Our next requirement is space, while there are only 2 humans in our family we both work from home so we need one large room or 2 small rooms for office areas in addition to the rest of the house. And we’re American which means we have more “stuff” that we should. We also prefer to have a garden area for the pugs, for me to potter around in (read: killing flowers and shrubs) and to hopefully start a new beehive. Our last requirement is not actually a requirement, it’s me being a spoilt brat. I don’t want to live in a pebble dash box with tiny windows, we both prefer a house with character. It doesn’t have to be category B listed or even especially old, it just has to have something a bit unique about it. I realize this is pretty snobby of me, perhaps this is a luxury I have because we’re not in any particular hurry.

Except I am in a hurry because of my need to plan….shut up brain…

Anyway, we’ve found a house that ticks all of these boxes, the only catch is that it definitely puts a big red X in a box we hadn’t seriously considered, it’s location within the town. It’s in Galashiels, perfect we thought! It’s a bit closer to Edinburgh, the new station will be within walking distance and not too much further from Berwick for the train to London. Internet connection speed is more than adequate, in fact we’d be able to get a fibre optic connection. It has plenty of space and a bit of character. The big red X is in regards to the location of the house in Galashiels, it’s on a pretty busy street with a building supply store across the street and a couple of big box retailers just down the street. My heart keeps tugging at my brain though, reminding it of the beautiful staircase and all the natural light in the living room and drawing-room.

We’re leaning towards going for it but need a couple more months of saving before we’re really ready. In the mean time I’m trying to get a better understanding of the property purchase process here in Scotland and have a plethora of questions. Do we negotiate directly with the owner? At what point is the survey conducted? How do we choose a conveyancing solicitor? It feels a lot like wading through treacle.

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