Sometime Grand Designs

Many years ago, after the Global Financial Crisis and redundancy and all the things that that entailed, I gave up watching home renovation shows on TV.

In 2006-08 I was actively looking to buy a house of my own. I had a deposit and a good job. I spent my off hours trawling through property listings and open homes. As I’ve noted before, I put several offers in on several places. I drew up remodeled plans for houses I’d seen and liked. I watched lots of renovation shows because they gave me ideas and made me happy.

After losing my job in 2009, the house deposit gradually got eaten up (quite literally) just keeping us alive. Rob and I quietly reconciled ourselves to the fact that we’d never own a home. The property listings now just went in the bin. The estate agents stopped calling (very quickly) when they realized we no longer had money to spend. I completely stopped watching home renovation shows because they now made me sad.

Over time, we became okay with that status quo of eternal rent. We weren’t thrilled with it, but it became our lives because it had to be. We focused instead on trying to find better jobs in order to build ourselves a better future.

That was what eventually caused us to move north: work. We both got offered higher paying jobs in Auckland. My salary was back to what it once was, and Rob’s was much the same but with better hours. Things were looking up for us. But when we looked at the eye-watering price of rentals in our area we quickly realized one thing: we’d be better off buying. Our income increased about 20% with the move north, but our rent also doubled. For what we’re paying in rent, we could service a substantial mortgage.

Of course, now that we were looking at Auckland, there’s substantial mortgages and completely bonkers shit-eating insane mortgages. This article out today pointed out that around a third of Auckland houses are now valued at over a million bucks. That’s the equivalent of around 20 years salary for an average worker. So we borrowed a chunk of deposit money from my parents and went looking on the Auckland fringe. Way, way fringe. In areas that still fall under the Auckland Council but which are still probably 20 years away from being in touch with the city. It’s what we could afford. It also has the side effect of having big bits of land and being quite pretty.

Once I was back in this mode of property listings and open homes and drawing up a million house plans, I noticed that the TV was back onto renovation shows. They play in the background as I sit on the internet, and as I read and write and go about my life. I am back to quietly collecting ideas. And (so long as everything looked to be on track) they make me happy again.

Over the last few weeks, as our mortgage appeared to crumble before our eyes, I’ve noticed that I’ve started switching channels to something else.

Tonight, I watched Grand Designs. And the couple in this episode had their house burn down, and they were sad and in massive debt, and had to manage their own rebuild of the house that they loved. And then their mortgage fell through when the build had just started, and I actually cried. I cried about somebody else’s mortgage. This is probably why I can’t watch home renovation shows when I’m not feeling financially secure.

This is not to say that we have bad news about the mortgage. Not yet, anyway. We still have no news. We still sit in limbo, waiting.

Waiting…

… I wonder what’s on Comedy Central?

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