Monday, May 25, 2009

What makes a house home?

Tomorrow it will be exactly five years since I bought my home and moved into it. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make this space home.

The house structure was solid, but the rest of it was just a wreck. I knew I’d have to install a new kitchen, main bathroom, bedroom cupboards etc.

I was also going to have to remove the concrete backyard, destroy some outbuildings that were not too steady and clear out truck-loads of rubble.

And that doesn’t even begin to touch on cosmetic jobs, such as grinding rust off the roof of the main house and painting it and the whole interior of the house.

Oh, did I mention the house had ugly green and maroon carpet covering the floors and hiding some seriously nice oak floors! It took hours of sanding and dust before the wooden floors ( a portion of which is showing behind Edward in the image) were cleaned up.

Most of the work is still in progress, or has yet to be done, because we’re doing most of the work ourselves, rather than hiring contractors and it all needs cash.

And despite all the problems I could foresee at the time of the sale, and the new ones that cropped up once we moved in, the house still feels like a good home for my family.

I suppose I was initially sold on the potential of what the space could be, rather than what the structure was. And slowly but surely, my vision is becoming a reality.

So why didn’t I choose something else?

I could have chosen a new-build house, or an old one that is fully renovated. In the 5 years since I have moved into this house, I have renovated and sold 2 additional houses in the area (and one of them was much bigger than this one), but somehow those houses did not feel like my home.

They felt like potential homes for someone else; and a hobby and business combined for me.

I chose this house because:

I love old houses. They have more generous proportions and the walls and roofs are solid. Add the nice architectural touches like pressed ceilings and wooden floors, and you have a good starting point for a nice home, in my view.

I loved the challenge of creating something new from my vision. The easier option would have been to buy a fully renovated house. But this way, I got to choose a kitchen and bathroom and facilities I want, as I would have in a new build house. Yet, I also got to own an old house with the accompanying benefits.

It’s cheaper to buy a wreck and fix it up yourself. You pay in terms of effort, blood and sweat. But your debt to the bank is much smaller for the amount of house you can get. And the bank becomes your very minor partner, rather than the holder of the lion’s share of your assets.

The house is based on a double stand. So I had room to build a garden cottage, which will help offset bond costs, repurpose a building as my home office, and decent enough front and back garden space left for the kids to play and the dogs to run about. And it’s right in the middle of the city.

Finally, watching the evolution of wreck into a good solid home is very rewarding.

There are many times when it’s all frustrating, like when it seems everything that is old has conspired to break down and the builders don’t do the work as previously agreed and the construction noise just about drives you batty.

But then I see some of the the results as the house takes shape, and it’s all worth it.

So five years later, this place has taken giant steps to become the home of my vision, and I’m so glad we moved here.

So tell me: what, in your view, makes a house a home? And what do you love most about your home?

P.S There is a very special reason why I blogged about our anniversary in this house today, rather than waiting for tomorrow. Stay tuned for something even more special tomorrow. Gaynor, you know what it is.


Ms Lona Lee Hart said...

What makes a house a home is the love of the people who inhabit it or visit it frequently. Ms Lona's fixer upper is still in need of a great deal of fixing up, but it welcomes Little Miss and Little Mister and all their friends, Ms Lona's friends, extended family and people who visit and become family. No matter what kind of house you live in, the soul of the house will always be the love that is housed there.

Joan said...

Sam, they say a picture paints a thousand words.

I think the picture of your baby lying flat on his back on your doorstep with his tummy exposed to the world tells a tale of love, security, belonging and homeliness...

Tamara said...

Great post. I LOVE spending time on my house, making it more of a home. The fact that I work hard on it makes it more mine, if that makes any sense?

And I guess what makes it a home is my hubby and cats and the fact that I FINALLY have my own veggie patch ;-)

Damaria Senne said...

@tamara - Ja, it makes sense. That's why I wanted a house that I could work on, where I could install features that I wanted, rather than buying into someone else's vision, so to speak.

Congrats on the veggie patch. I hope to do some planting too, for Spring.

Damaria Senne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lisa said...

I love planting on my little garden. :) Great photos too.

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Real Estate Philippines said...

I love gardening too. In my backyard I have a small garden of vegetables and fruits. I love seeing it every morning.

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