Our Diamond in Richmond. She might not be a diamond just yet, but we can sure see her potential. We didn’t seek out another old character home, but she definitely stood out. Another 1910’s beauty, a flat faced villa with a central hallway, high studs, and the lean-to extensions added over her 100 year life. Another big outside area, screaming for some attention and the chance to create some great outside living spaces.
Alexandra. Known as the hottest, driest and coldest town in New Zealand. Have we been here before? We drove through it on our honeymoon 9 years ago. But we didn’t stop. Now we have moved our lives down here. Good move? We sure hope so - and about to find out.
Buying a house can be a daunting experience. As with anything, the first step is always the biggest, and when you learn the most. It’s often only through hindsight you realise how much there is to know and what you might have done differently. Our property story to date has been concentrated in one city - Auckland. This focus has helped us become experienced in this market, but we are newbies to doing it out of our hometown.
I couldn’t stand in the house a moment longer - the smell was overwhelming. We had been to long lists of open homes and Caleb had been focusing on some select suburbs trying to find the next project for us. I got to see some things I would rather have unseen - inappropriate drawings on walls, bedrooms that feel very “fifty shades of grey” (I don’t mean the wall colour), hoarding. But this was the most memorable of them all. At the open home we entered a room with a male tenant laying across a bed in the lounge, shirtless, smoking, who said we had to keep the door closed as there were four cats who weren’t allowed outside. I counted 8 litter boxes - though from the smell I could tell it wasn't the only place these cats relieved themselves. I stood outside trying not to vomit, Caleb looked at me not sure what to expect and was getting ready to start his sales pitch.
When we first started renovating we were complete rookies. While Caleb knew about property from his studies and beginning his career in project management, he had very limited understanding when it came to DIY or anything practical. And while I had a natural intuition with design and colour scheming, I had no idea about interior design techniques or where to source the products I liked. To sum it up - we had a youthful confidence which is probably best described as pure ignorance. Normally within a blog we would share details of our renovation to provide inspiration and advice - but this is more of an example of what not to do! Our first renovation project was our “boot camp” in renovating - and boy did we realise we weren’t “renovation fit”.
The story of buying our first house together is best shared as a tale of “she said, he said”. Because to say we had a difference in experiences and expectations - would be an understatement. We didn’t begin our property story as a united force, though there was a lot of forceful emotions involved! So as unconventional as our story about Caleb buying a first house is, the way we started ours “together” may be just as surprising...
Its not everyday a 16 year old boy buys a house, but this is where our property journey started back in 2003. Still in school and with no facial hair (not much has changed there) I purchased my first property. So what can a schoolboy afford to buy in 2003? I purchased a 3 bedroom fibre cement home in the kiwifruit capital of NZ - Te Puke. Purchased for $96,000 with a 10% deposit with a rental of $180 per week. The property itself wasn’t anything special, neither was it a great bargain at the time - rather just a traditional cash-flow investment property
Caleb and I have always had a different story to most when it comes to owning a family home. The concept of buying a house that caters for all our needs in an area to settle down is a normal aspiration for most house hunters but not yet been a priority for us. While most have a personalised and detailed wish list of what they are looking for in a house, our focus is on just one - a good buy. I had no idea 6 years ago when picking a colour scheme for the first time that we were on a journey to become seasoned renovators and neither was it our intention. However 6 projects later, we have learnt, grown and gained in our renovation and project experience, our property portfolio and our passion for doing this.