You’re so Lucky!

As I unpacked our food shopping this morning, something that the delivery lady said stuck in my mind, she said ‘you’re so lucky’…and you guessed it, her words inspired me to jump on here and get writing. Now, said delivery lady is lovely, she’s been here a few times now and has seen some of our progress, so today I invited her in to take a look at our kitchen – which I think is about the time she said how lucky we were.

Now the word ‘lucky’ has been said to me a few times…and it got me thinking. Fortunate yes…lucky…I’d disagree and here is why.

The very definition of lucky suggests that something was by chance, and not by way of preparation or planning – and so this is why, my friends, we’re not so much lucky, as fortunate (which I do have to remind myself of somethings when living on our building site).

Let me take you back to the very beginning of our property journey – Rich and I decided, back in 2010, having been renting together since 2007, that we were ready to try and get on to the property market. We had both secured full-time, permanent jobs, and felt confident that we could repay a mortgage…but alas, like many others in similar situations, renting had meant we had little opportunity to save for a deposit…we’d saved some, but not enough to put down a healthy deposit. 

We were fortunate enough, that my parents had settled on one child (yours truly), and that they had both worked extremely hard throughout their careers, making sound judgements and decisions along the way (and at times, yes, they were in the right place at the right time when it came to making decisions on their own property journey). We approached my parents about borrowing some money from them in order to help us get on the property ladder (thankfully they had seen this coming, maybe 20 years earlier…and had been squirrelling away some money for this very day!). We had long conversation around a wedding vs a house, and that the money was only there once to be spent…and we all moved forward with a solid loan agreement in place. I think it’s important to mention here that from the very outset we planned to pay every penny back (which we did).

So off we went, hunting for our first house…I’ll admit, I set out with unrealistic ideas around a ‘character’ property, a cottage maybe…and then the reality hit of what we could actually afford, both to buy, and do up. We finally settled on a 2 bed semi-detached house (no garage) which was in need of total modernisation (new central heating system, new double glazing throughout, new kitchen, new bathroom) – we paid £141,000 for it and were truly excited to have a house to call our own! Some before and after photos below.

After 6 happy years of slowing bringing the house up to spec (we did all the work ourselves) we got itchy feet, and felt we had outgrown the house. Long story short, and after viewing a real variety of houses, we fell, head over heels, in love with this unloved bungalow. It was not an obvious choice…but it’s setting, location and square footage had our hearts pounding. It was over budget AND a lot more work than we’d been looking to take on…but undeterred we began negotiations…! 

Some real talk – MONEY

For anyone reading this, at various stages of their property journey, or who spends time on reno accounts on Instagram wondering how people are buying larger properties and funding their renovations, it’s worth mentioning a few things here.

  1. We hit the property market at a good time, and sold our first house for £215,000 
  2. We were both working extremely hard in our jobs, and building careers for ourselves – I for one was working long hours and out of hours in a target/bonus based job to maximise my earning potential
  3. We knew that taking on a renovation of this nature meant we faced a few years of REALLY hard graft before having our dream home
  4. We were very open to location/property type and set really loose parameters to find the right property (although we knew we didn’t want a listed property)
  5. We had previous experience on a smaller scale of the work involved in a renovation
  6. We don’t live expensive lifestyles and we rarely buy things that are ‘non-essential’, we’re pretty low maintenance!

So…after 8 painful months, the arduous conveyancing journey ended (I can do a separate post on this if anyone is interested) and in May 2017 we had the keys to ‘The Money Pit’.

Despite agreeing we would ‘live in it for a while’ before doing any work, it didn’t take long before we started ripping the house apart, and by September 2017 we had already demolished the living room to enable us to install a log burner.

Work on the lounge also involved pulling up the floorboards to insulate, new ceiling and full re-plaster (again we did all the work ourselves – and completed it, but the skin of our teeth on 24th December 2017! 

Meanwhile, we’d been working on plans for the rest of the house, and by February 2018 we had planning permission granted to get going…by April 2018 we had builders onsite to carry out some basic structural work – they left the site in June 2018 and then it was over to us! From new floors, walls and ceilings, to plumbing, electrics and plastering, to tiling, kitchen fitting, underfloor heating installation we’ve done it all, mostly just the two of us.

Fast forward to August 2019, and we’ve spent the last 15 months living onsite (it truly resembles a building site), we’ve been through 2 winters with no central heating (log burner and plug in heaters), we’ve spent nearly every evening and weekend around our full time jobs either physically grafting or mentally planning. We’ve been surrounded by dirt, dust, mouse poo (yup!), dead mice, alive spiders and hornets, we’ve showered in rooms around 7 degrees, and slept in rooms of not much warmer. We’ve cried, we’ve bled and we’ve sweated. We’ve made mistakes (sometimes costly…both time and money), and we’ve argued (only a little). We’ve cooked in a temporary kitchen for 10 months, and we’ve missed out on social occasions and ‘life’ stuff. We’ve soldiered on but our mental and physical health has at times really suffered. 

The truth is, we’ve still got probably another 6-8 months (if not more) of graft left too – just to get the inside functioning (not pretty just functioning), let alone the time needed to make the outside look presentable…

Too often in life, people look at other people and use their situation as a ‘bench mark’ for their own lives. Social media, is just a modern take on ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. Don’t try and compete or copy others, find your own path and your own rhythm and be content with that, and next time you look at someone else’s situation, be that in real life or on social media, and you think ‘they are so lucky’, think about the reality and the story behind what you see. Is it really ‘luck’? 

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