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Tell me it's just stress, please!

(16 Posts)
HesterShaw Fri 21-Mar-14 17:47:04

We have recently bought our first house. It's an Edwardian end terrace in a lovely village. There's a garden front and rear and a lovely side path and flowerbed. The old chap who live here before was a keen gardener so the garden is full of mature shrubs, primroses, daffs, pots and so on. All lovely. He died about a year ago and since then the house was empty. We took advantage of the Help To Buy scheme, and the plan is we will overpay during the two year term and get it as nice as possible before remortgaging. Even when interest rates go up to 3% in the interim, as I know they will, our monthly payments will still come down. We've done all the sums.

As first time buyers our options were limited. We're in Cornwall, so the price of houses vs income is ridiculous. I know that all older houses have their problems. The survey came up with nothing apart from general modernisation and "repairs" (these are to the cracks which appeared in the bedroom plaster when they shoved in the new, big UPVC windows - the lounge window underneath the bedroom is a massive bay) and a new boiler. It's a granite and brick house, with some rendering.

I don't love it though. Everyone is saying "You must be loving being in your new house" and I don't. I'm just scared of it and all the work we need to do. We keep finding problems. DH is a can-do, determined, cheerful person, and very handy and he is confident it'll all be fine, but I'm so anxious. E.g. we went away last weekend, and when we came back a big discoloured patch has appeared on the wall next to the stairs (outside wall, facing west). But it's been so dry lately. Why would it suddenly get damp? The cracks are freaking me out - I've convinced myself it's subsidence. The house is on a hill. I know it has stood for 100 years and everything, but they're still making me anxious. The boiler doesn't work - we knew that, but the whole buying and installing one is making me anxious.

I've had lots of family and personal issues lately, and added to the house, it's all been a bit much. I'm projecting all my anxiety onto the bloody cracks! I need to get a grip. Has anyone else ever bought their house and then freaked out about it? I'm just scared of and overwhelmed by the commitment and the cost. I know I'm very lucky and all that, but all I want at the moment is a nice modern box. Someone tell me it will all be fine sad

PossumPoo Fri 21-Mar-14 17:58:23

Poor you! It is just stress and you said you did your sums so you're at least ahead of most.

We moved into our house when DD was 3 days old and remember being stressed by the thought of 'owning' a house but 3 years on I actually love my house and glad we made the jump.

It will pass but just concentrate on paying it off, I felt much better when we started really attacking paying off the mortgage, made it feel doable.

Good luck and you will be fine.

HesterShaw Fri 21-Mar-14 17:59:48

I feel like such a bloody whinging twat. I know I'm lucky, I know that.

PossumPoo Fri 21-Mar-14 18:02:51

PS our house is 100 years old too

HesterShaw Fri 21-Mar-14 18:08:22

Thank you for answering, possum <grateful>

What issues have you had with yours, if any?

EagleRay Fri 21-Mar-14 18:58:45

Hi Hester - another 100 yr old house owner here (house is 100, rather than me!) and I think your anxieties sound totally normal.

I will tell you some of my horror stories in the hope that it'll make you feel better...

I bought my house nearly 10 years ago, and massively overstretched myself so had to rent out rooms even while it was being renovated. It had been a student let for years and needed a fair bit of work and is pretty big so I probably took on far more than I could cope with. It's got a basement and that was pretty damp so had to have it damp-proofed then new kitchen and bathroom installed. Unfortunately, the damp-proofing wasn't done properly and I've endured years of mouldy walls, peeling paint and huge cracks appearing!

I had all of the floors in the house stripped and stained/waxed and every time there's been building work since then, someone manages to damage them - it's really frustrating and upsetting but I think I'm getting better now at not worrying about it too much.

Oh and a year ago, while 40 weeks pregnant, there was a leaking pipe in the upstairs bathroom and the water travelled down the boxed-in pipework and collected above the basement bathroom ceiling. I can remember that awful feeling when I realised the ceiling was wet, and then saw that it was bowing! Luckily I was able to claim on insurance but it was still really stressful dealing with the repairs.

The thing is with old houses is that it is constant maintenance, but I'm still happy to live in an older house rather than a new one. It sounds like you've got a sensible plan (way more sensible than I was). I totally identify with the appearance of cracks and damp patches compounding your anxieties. I think you'll find though that over time it will get easier to deal with as your financial pressure and other problems ease.

Having a DH who is competent with DIY is a great help. I think the fact that he probably has a reasonable understanding of building work will help him keep some perspective when issues arise. I think a lot of my fears around house problems was around the lack of control I had over being able to do repairs, the expense and so on.

Good luck, and hope my long waffly post makes sense. I'm sure you will grow to love your house in time. I absolutely love my house despite everything although bracing myself for another kitchen replacement in the next couple of years smile

HesterShaw Fri 21-Mar-14 19:11:05

Thanks EagleRay, phew sounds like you had your hands full there shock. The bowing ceiling thing would have had be fleeing from the house weeping in my current state. Well done for loving it now!

When I say DH is "handy" what I really mean is overly "confident". He's not fazed by stuff like I am, but it's not like he has any actual expertise. He's just like his dad in that he is willing to turn his hand to anything. Which is all very commendable, but I have lived with him too long to believe all his entirely genuinely-meant assurance grin (e.g. he remains convinced that Dover to Swansea is a three hour journey despite every contrary bit of evidence. You know the type).

If we had tons of money, I wouldn't be worrying, but whenever I get anxiety, I generally focus on lack of money. It's my "thing". But I guess, unless we are unbelievably unlucky the house won't actually fall down around our ears and we can do it all gradually.

PossumPoo Fri 21-Mar-14 19:15:34

We've put in a new boiler, front door, soffits, painted, and about to pebble dash too. No issues really but with old houses there is a always something to do. DH isn't into DIY either so I do a lot and organise tradies etc when needed.

HesterShaw Fri 21-Mar-14 19:22:55

New boilers are a bit of a theme then?

Couldn't believe it when I found out they should be replaced every twelve to fifteen years shock

I spent today glaring at next door's guttering which has a rainforest growing in it and sends loads of water merrily pouring onto OUR render! And then paranoidly searching for cracks in the render and rolling marbles across floors like I have seen on Homes Under The Hammer. And replacing a shower switch because it was burning out and making the bathroom smell of fish. Fish FFS! But I googled it and apparently fishy bathrooms are A Thing.

Ought I get a structural engineer in just to reassure me the house isn't slipping down the hill? Who would be able to advise me about the gigantic creeping damp patch on the stairs wall? Just a builder or someone in particular?

spotty26 Fri 21-Mar-14 20:01:28

Oh poor you, that is rubbish. Can you get excited again somehow? Dreams are what get you through these patches. I have all sorts of plans which range from a windfall of £5k to £200k to our house. Buy a few magazines. Pin up some swatches, go on Pinterest and find similar done houses to yours.

Attack a small job a week and see how it looks in 6 months. I have an overgrown garden which was getting me down. I have been chipping away and suddenly starting to see how I can get on top of it. Bite size chunks.

Good luck

ShoeWhore Fri 21-Mar-14 20:13:05

OK so the survey didn't say anything bad about the cracks? Then I think you can relax a bit - it really is highly unlikely that your house is falling down wink

How wide are the cracks? Old houses do tend to have cracks ime.

Sounds to me like you have a lot on your plate and it all just feels a bit overwhelming have an unmumnetty ((()))

PossumPoo Fri 21-Mar-14 20:19:00

Spot is right, small jobs so once you see some progress it's not so daunting.

HesterShaw Fri 21-Mar-14 21:30:55

You are all lovely. Thank you smile

TealHousewife Tue 25-Mar-14 21:19:12

I feel your pain. We moved into an old house a year ago and it seems like every week there is a new problem. So at the moment there are new damp patches in three of the bedrooms, and we can't work out why. We had just painted the rooms too. Tiles keep coming off the roof, and the outside needs painting, and there are cracks by the front door, and the bathroom floor leaks because the floor boards are old ... I could go on and on. I don't have a solution really but I second what others have said about tackling things but by bit. Eat the elephant and all that. Also, I try to remember what I love about the house. And I figure it's survived this long, it will probably keep going a few more years! (The boiler won't though ... Or the roof...)

littlecrystal Wed 26-Mar-14 08:51:48

OP... I was you. I bought my house almost 5 years ago. It had past movement and sloping floors and deflected beams and several cracks but I was assured that this is normal with old houses. Potential subsidence issues have haunted me in me head ever since. Especially that we have new cracks developed. I even wanted to sell my house - actually kept selling for a year - so I could buy a new flat without any issues.

Thankfully, I now dropped the idea of selling. My house is lovely. I finally came to terms that I am going to have to borrow some extra money to do repairs (not redecorating, as initially wanted) but this is a relief if I manage to get the problems solved. Anyway, it is seams more reasonable for me to spend 20k on repairs rather than the same amount for renovating. You get to know your house. It is a bit like old sick family member which you love but you have to take care of. It has taken me 5 years but I finally love mine despite of cracks and expensive repairs.

allthatglittersisnotgold Wed 26-Mar-14 11:04:55

Feel your pain and am also in same boat, moved into our 100 year old falt 3 years ago and it's been little jobs ever since.

Just finished a loft conversion, and whole flat is covered in dust and up in the air! When we moved in we had cracks under the windows which I was convinced was subsidence and had a total panic. We then worked through room by room, including taking plasterboard down in master bedroom, putting EML up and then replastering. So far no cracks have come back.

Jsut try and do it little by little and remember to do the ugly groundowrk first plumbing, windows, electrics etc before thinking about making it pretty. As it's extra expense to go back later, as much as you jsut want to decorate!

Despite having a new roof, new window and front re rendered and painted last year, we still have a verrrry small patch of what looks liek penetrative damp under window, so frustrating! So don't worry these old houses jsut like to test us every now and then. You'll get to know it and work out what you can and can't' do. Don't try and think about the big picture! Just lots of little pictures one at a time.


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