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Would you buy a house...

(29 Posts)
Aiying Sun 07-Apr-13 21:02:59

...that has a small garden (c.20 feet) backing onto a very large (two-storey-high, c.20-feet wide) brick wall? Garden is north-east facing (wall is south-facing). Offer accepted, mortgage sorted, surveyor/architect fees paid - but panicking now that the wall could make selling the house difficult a couple of years down the line. It dominates all views from the back of the house, can't demolish as it's another property's wall. On the +ve side, it does make the garden extremely private! Might painting it white and growing creeper plants on it help? House itself is a 2-bed Victorian terrace (potential for extension) with large driveway in a 'nice' area. While it isn't my dream home, my budget is c.£850k which doesn't get much in zone 2 London, and keen to buy somewhere before prices go up even more. Other houses on the road are in the £1-2+m range, so this is definitely 'the worst house on the best street'. Help - WWYD?

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Sun 07-Apr-13 21:08:14

I wouldn't buy a house that had a garden with zero sun, never mind about the wall.

AgentProvocateur Sun 07-Apr-13 21:11:43

The wall wouldn't bother me, but I wouldn't buy a garden that didn't get the sun.

tootiredtothink Sun 07-Apr-13 21:20:33

Interested to hear thoughts on this. Our garden is north facing with a neighbour's wall in it. Tbh it didn't cross my mind when buying house that it'd be a problem.

However, I wouldn't buy a north facing garden again....I want a bit of sun for the 2 minutes of the year we get it grin.

And the wall is just ugly! But I wasn't sure if I had any rights to paint it/grow things on it? Would be eternally grateful if anyone has any suggestions.

MarshaBrady Sun 07-Apr-13 21:24:51

No I wouldn't. I did a viewing at a pretty house the other day and it had a wall like this which would cast a big shadow nearly all day.

I'd feel too annoyed about not getting any sun.

Aiying Sun 07-Apr-13 21:25:35

Thanks. So 2 'No's so far. Agent, that's interesting that the wall wouldn't bother you but the lack of sun would ! I'm from a tropical part of the world where people hide from the sun, but I understand from various Google searches that a south-facing garden seems to be a particular obsession in the UK! I've been property-hunting for a few months now and quite a few of the houses I've seen have been north-facing, yet have come under offer very quickly (i.e. weeks)...when I ask estate agents about this, they've told me that in London often even south-facing gardens don't get sun as they are overshadowed by surrounding trees/other houses/buildings anyway. This may be just the typical sales-pitch though! Hmm...

MarshaBrady Sun 07-Apr-13 21:30:19

I'd keep looking. The first thing I check is where the N /S is on the floor plan. I really need a sunny garden.

Am zone 2 London as well (although you may be SW or N which is more expensive, I'm SE).

Aiying Sun 07-Apr-13 21:31:01

Thanks. 3 'No''s now. tootired, have you ever asked neighbour whether they'd mind if you painted it etc? are you happy overall that you bought the house, even with the north-facing garden? It's so tricky trying to balance up everything. For me location is important too (close to good schools, parks etc). I'm afraid that if I let this one go I'm going to be waiting a long time to find another similar 'not perfect' house in a good location. envious of the houses on the other side of the road with nice sunny gardens now ;-)

Aiying Sun 07-Apr-13 21:36:12

Marsha, I'm currently SE too! (but in a flat) You are right, house is NW hence the price. Have lived in 'up and coming' areas in zone 1/2 SE London for 14 yrs - I love the convenience, but just hankering for somewhere more family-friendly now but yet still central...(due to job, can't really move out into suburbs)..

MarshaBrady Sun 07-Apr-13 21:40:31

Yes your budget would be fine here grin. I think not having sun would be a shame. Even if it's in morning, and day, for a morning coffee outside.

formicaqueen Sun 07-Apr-13 21:49:46

I have a north facing garden but would prefer a south facing one. I'm not keen on the sun even in the UK.

You could make the garden very attractive. Lots of planting to soften the wall - paint the walls antique white and add climbing plants etc. Could be like a secret garden if designed well.

I think style could easily outweigh darkness in my mind.

OneHundredSecondsofSolitude Sun 07-Apr-13 21:53:27

Where would you be extending? Into the garden?

lalalonglegs Sun 07-Apr-13 21:56:57

Loads of houses around here (south west London) only have c.20ft or less gardens so it wouldn't put me off it that was the neighbourhood norm. You can plant for shade loving plants and make it very lush and jungly. A large looming wall might feel a bit overwhelming though.

tiredteddy Sun 07-Apr-13 22:00:48

It all depend on budget and reasons for moving. In an ideal world I would prioritise the amount of sun a garden gets but that is not high on many people's lists. It's easy to say no I'd never choose a garden with a wall and shadows however there are many people who would compromise and not mind at all. If moving to a new area your might find the right location, number of bedroom, then consider the garden.

When we moved south to our desired town we had to buy within a certain timeframe. There were about 4 houses available in our small budget. We had to compromise. I could have chosen 2 bed semi with a flat but small lawn or 3 bed terraced with tiered (1storey high) garden. The bedrooms won and we have a garden that is by no means perfect. People that want to move have to compromise. Someone out there will not mind a shady garden. I read another thread a while ago about downstairs bathrooms. Many posters were horrified at the thought. That's what we have and what I grew up with. I don't mind at all. I think if you like the house go ahead as someone else will like it too.

Aiying Sun 07-Apr-13 22:02:33

Formica: thanks, you've given me some hope that this might still be do-able, possibly ! That's what I was thinking I could do if I went ahead and bought the house. No experience of gardening though - have enquired with a few landscape gardeners - they cost a fortune. Anyone have any ideas on cost-effective ways to pretty up a massive garden wall?

OneHundred: I'd be extending into the loft and also into the garden, so a little bit closer to the wall. But garden currently has very large shed which would be demolished to make way for extension, so its useable size would stay the same.

Aiying Sun 07-Apr-13 22:19:01

Lala, yes have actually been looking in SW London too, and you're right, the gardens can be really tiny! Often nothing more than patios really (although none had a looming wall..) Teddy, I agree, in an ideal world I'd want to have every single item checked off the list too. But that isn't looking realistic so far, with a limited budget and wanting to move within a certain timeframe (and basically there's not much choice out there within my budget). If I bought this house, I'd be looking to spend a lot more $$ into renovating/extending, so it's a big investment - which would not be justified if it turned out to be really difficult to sell in future. Thanks for all your thoughts so far!

MoonlightandRoses Sun 07-Apr-13 22:38:16

Certainly wouldn't put me off - DH's aunt used mirrors to great effect to angle sun into their 'totally enclosed by other people's walls' London town garden so that might be worth a bit of research too.

In terms of the wall, do paint it (although a warm tinged cream/coffee/ivory rather than white to improve the 'warm' feel) and then grow things up it. It's not easy, but there are flowering/scented climbers out there suitable for north-facing walls - maybe ask on the Gardening topic on here for suggestions. Make it 'dominate' in a good way.

I wouldn't bother with a landscape gardener for a space that size - with a bit of research to decide on design, it should be relatively easy to do yourself, or with the help of a handyman on a day rate.

CointreauVersial Sun 07-Apr-13 22:40:50

The lack of sun would totally put me off. It's the only reason I have a garden.

steppemum Sun 07-Apr-13 22:50:34

You can do what you like to your side of a wall, paint it, write grafitti on it, grow plants up it etc etc.

You just have to be careful not to do anything that would effect the structural integrity.

But you will be hard put to grow anything up a north wall!

No sun would make the garden chilly and damp and uninviting. But you can be clever to dispel that.

Do make sure wall is checked in a survey, and make sure who is responsible to fix it.

GreenEggsAndNichts Sun 07-Apr-13 23:36:25

Have you been living in the UK for long? I am also not from here, and am originally from a very sunny climate. I would have never thought I'd be as obsessed with having a sunny garden as I am now that I've been living here 6+ years. Especially with children, but even just for a BBQ or lounging about. I don't need to tan; it's simply the fact that there are so many days out of the year where it's not actually warm outside unless you're sitting in the sun.

Our last house had a poky back garden and the sun always seemed to miss every window, except in the middle of summer. It was dreary, but I didn't appreciate just how dreary until we moved into our new lovely sunny house. Now I have no idea why I put up with the old one for so long!

Anyway. Yes, people take it into consideration when purchasing here, so it'll be something to consider when you want to sell it on.

ArbitraryUsername Sun 07-Apr-13 23:43:50

The wall is south facing though, so you might be able to grow all manner of stuff up it.

hippoCritt Sun 07-Apr-13 23:52:30

Is the wall the actual house? If so I'm not convinced you could paint it.

ogredownstairs Mon 08-Apr-13 08:33:48

Wouldn't put me off, esp if it was therefore affordable in a premium location. Small gardens are a fact of life in London - and imo a wall is way better than overlooking windows, which are a common feature at the end of 20 foot gardens round here!

ogredownstairs Mon 08-Apr-13 08:41:56

As for which way it faces I don't think it's a deal breaker. My garden's a SW facing 'sun trap' which sounds lovely but means it frankly gets unbearably hot at the back of the house on the rare occasions when we do get some sun in the afternoons. My friend on the opposite side of the road gets lovely sunny mornings in her kitchen but obvs her garden faces NE - seems to make no difference to house prices or saleability on her side of the street.

pinkdelight Mon 08-Apr-13 10:25:59

In zone 2 on a nice road, it'll find a buyer, don't worry. In other locations people are way more particular about size/direction of gardens, but people don't have those expectations in central London or if they do, they're looking in the wrong place (or need to spend more!). It sounds a bit like a property my friend had in Wandsworth Town and buyers were all about the location and prepared to compromise massively on dimensions.

As long as you're not paying over the odds and you like it, I wouldn't have any concerns about finding a buyer in future. Just keep in mind who your market would be (if you're extending it to 3-beds, loft conversion etc, is the rest of the house sufficient to make a it a proper family home?

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