“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” (Robert Burns)
They say moving house is one of the most stressful times of your life. 🙂 Phil and I have been talking about relocating to the hills for years. Every holiday to the mountains, we imagine ourselves living there. High on the scenery and setting, we’ll fantasize about taking the plunge. But at some point during the dreaming, I’ll remember the whole buying and selling process, and get cold feet.
We last moved house, nearly a decade ago. Our call-centre solicitor never answered the phone, the paperwork seemed to take forever, and our landlord wouldn’t extend our rental house contract, forcing us to move into a motorway Travelodge for three weeks! Plus, we ended up living alongside unpacked boxes for years! Nothing actually went wrong, there wasn’t even a chain, but still, it felt stressful. And tiring. So the thought of going through it all again, with a house sale as well as a purchase, and alongside Pulmonary Hypertension this time, seemed incredibly daunting. Impossible even. I wouldn’t have the breathe nor the strength nor the stamina to help with the physical jobs. Stress exacerbates my symptoms. And with limited energy, and an overdue sell-by date; I didn’t want to waste my precious days on the long buying process. If only I could click my fingers and be magically transported to a new home, without the hassle! 🙂
But in January I changed my mind. Feeling healthier than at any time since developing PH; for the first time, I felt physically and mentally strong enough to go for it. If we were organised. Super organised. Thankfully, since developing an unpredictable illness, I’ve become a ridiculous over-the-top planner. Aka, a control freak! 😉 Never sure of when I’ll be poorly, all tasks are done waaaay in advance, I have lists for everything, and my brain exceeds at imagining possible problems and their solutions! 😉 I went into turbo planning mode.
The house buying and house selling were run like a military operation. Checklists were made, spreadsheets written, jobs allocated. Our house was prepared to my perfectionist standards, and preying on new abodes on Rightmove became my full time job. When both the sale and purchase were agreed, we did everything possible to make the process run smoothly. We picked a local surveyor and estate agent, so they’d be easier to contact. Signed and returned every form or email immediately. And our ‘New House’ Whatsapp group detailed every minute detail or thought about the new place. Plus we filled up a good old fashioned lever arch file too. 🙂 We got everyone in the chain to agree the completion date five weeks in advance, found friends to help be removal men, and arranged for an oxygen delivery from a new provider. My Mum had prepped my old childhood bedroom so I could escape the DIY mess, the house insurance was set up, and the phoneline arranged to be changed from the old to new abode. Plus I’d booked a handful of tradespeople to start work immediately after moving in- the house would be modernized in two weeks! And did I mention that I packed the house up three weeks before moving day! 😛
But the best laid plans… 🙂 The surveying firm went bust before we’d received our report. The removals company we wanted, went into liquidation. And our buyers asked for a reduction at the last minute! (we compromised by giving them our fridge. 😛 ).
Furthermore, ten days before completion, on the day everyone in the chain had agreed to exchange; one solicitor suddenly went silent. Not answering their phone or emails. There was a rumour about a problem with a tree, then a rumour about a redemption form delay. The days counted down towards moving day, and we still hadn’t exchanged, and they still weren’t answering the phone. Our solicitors were frantic. At 4:55pm on the Friday of moving weekend, and after zero contact, we had to accept that we wouldn’t be relocating on Monday. Something was amiss further up the chain. The upper solicitors did eventually surface, all ready to go… but nearly two weeks late!
Unfortunately, by then, the solicitors in the chain, had all returned the mortgage money. Cue annoyed banks when they asked for it back. And yet another long wait, whilst they sent faxes (!) to each other, and re-issued it. Or in the case of our bank, sent faxes, and then lost the whole mortgage application. Yep, the saga kept continuing. It was a complete muddle-fest. For a week, there was back-and-forth between our solicitor and Barclays; each blaming the other. Finally Phil intervened, and after getting a very senior banker involved… it was magically sorted overnight! 😉
As new problems arose, completion date kept changing. Friday 1st, Monday 4th, Friday 8th. Each time, I’d rearrange our van and our help and our tradespeople and my oxygen supply and my Mum; only for it to be changed again. And we spent the long wait, surrounded by boxes, and without wifi -as BT had moved over our phoneline as planned! 😛
But yesterday we exchanged contracts. Eventually. At last. 🙂 We move to the Peak District on Tuesday- six months after we first viewed our new house in the hills. And amazingly, wonderfully, thankfully, we’re both still smiling. 🙂
They say house buying is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. And if you’re a control freak, then yes it is. 😛 Initially, when problems arose or timelines were changed, my breathing worsened and my body was exhausted by the extra adrenaline and worry. I couldn’t face the reality deviating from my plans. But thankfully, at some point, I realised that with so many stakeholders and opinions in the chain, I needed to loosen the reigns. Not try and control the uncontrollable. Accept that things will go wrong, accept that it won’t run as clockwork, accept that I can’t control everyone and everything. And don’t try to. Ignore what is out of my hands. Stop chasing my idea of the perfect plan. Well I tried to anyway- you can’t completely cure a control freak overnight! 🙂
Doing a self-move midweek has made moving day logistics more complicated. Our original electrician can no longer fit us in, the joiner is only available much later, and the carpets will now need to be fitted over multiple days. We’ll be living in a mess for much longer than ideal. But… none of that actually matters. There is more than one way to do everything. We’ll still get to the same final destination. This last month has been a reminder to just breathe and accept and let go.
“The best laid plans often go awry”… but it’s all part of the story, the journey, the adventure. 🙂