I’ve not been able to write since my last post because I’ve cared too passionately about everything and become a bit overwhelmed. We were both so nervous waiting for our agent friend’s report and when it came it was was very positive, which ramped up the excitement. Because she was approaching the task from a personal angle, rather than as an agent per se, she gave us lots of useful information about the feel of the place and any qualms she had.
Since those qualms were mainly about the situation of the plot within the development, there was nothing for it but to go and see for ourselves. We booked into the same Airbnb in Nartberth snd set off early on Friday morning, booked in for a lunchtime meeting with our contact and a 2.30pm viewing on site.
When I say “site”, I mean it. “Our” house (we’ve been doing this a lot, I’ll try to call it by its name, Brook House) is the only completed building, by which I mean it’s possible to live in it. Which is exactly what the developer and his family are doing. Of course he’s perfectly entitled to do that but I can’t pretend I am comfortable with it; if it’s a new house I want us to be the first people to live in it. And it’s still only about 95% there, there are bits and pieces that would have to be completed in order for someone else to move in.
Another of the five houses in nearing completion, but the rest are just breeze block shells with active work happening. Right now, I’m not sure as to the projected completion date of the whole development; that’s one of the big questions we had, but unfortunately the developer wasn’t around for the viewing as planned.
Once inside the sense of being on a building site slipped away because wow, is it a wonderful house. I won’t bore you with too many details, but against a list of ideal criteria, this house was scoring a solid 9/10 wherever I looked. Our contact’s report had noted how bright and airy Brook House seemed and as soon as we walked into the hall we were impressed with the way wood and glass have been used to make the most of the natural light. It felt open and spacious.
A kitchen range was a big plus point, as was the eco-friendly specification. It’s really well insulated. The hot water and heating run off the range and wood burner whenever they are in use, the solar panels pick up where they leave off in spring, and only when there is no other source of energy does the oil-fired boiler kick in. The burner has fans to maximise efficiency and reduce the need to have the central heating on. Other important boxes this house ticks: a garage; an airing cupboard, a kitchen you can sit and eat in; a utility room; built in wardrobes. I know an airing cupboard’s a bit sad, but we had one when I was a kid and I’ve always wanted one of my own, so there. It’s a life goal.
The down points? The aspect isn’t perfect. You can see some bits of some commercial buildings I’d rather not see. But the only way we’re going to get glorious views is to be very rural, and then we’re back to transport problems. So perfection probably isn’t viable in Narberth itself. The real problem for me (and it is what our property lady has referred to as “a deal breaker” in her email to the house’s developer and agent) is the garden.
The positives? It’s huge. It’s nice to look at because it runs down to said brook. The developer has dug himself a duck pond, although so far this has been shunned by waterfowl. The negatives…OK, so the area is on clay soil – nothing to be done about that. And yes, it has been raining a lot recently, so you’d expect the huge lawn to be muddy, maybe even some puddles here and there. But this was boggy, genuinely boggy, even on the higher ground. It looked like you could probably grow rice in it if Wales were warmer. The grass was sparse and you couldn’t really walk on it. It seemed like such a shame, a big plot that’s mostly poor-quality lawn that you can’t use. Digging out borders would be even harder work than you’d expect from a clay soil and plants would very quickly be waterlogged. Given that a garden is one of the reasons we want to move out of London, having a garden with so many problems is indeed a major issue.
I have decided that I am not going to settle for being assured by the developer or his agent that the garden will somehow be all right, so we are looking at getting a surveyor to make an assessment specifically of the garden, its drainage and the brook (the Environment Agency have given the all clear for flood risk but I would like someone to look at the whole thing in the round). No matter how much I love the house I am not happy to go ahead with unless something is done to improve drainage.
We viewed a second house yesterday but really although it’s nice, it’s not nice enough to put in an offer on, and we’d be kind of kidding ourselves that we want it. It would only ever be a second choice after “our” house and we would always be comparing it. So I won’t really describe it other than to say the views were better but the airing cupboard was rubbish.
Things are now hotting up. We are coming back next weekend for a second viewing and this time the developer and the agent should both be there. Our agent friend has compiled a list of questions and concerns to be emailed over to them. We have the details of a surveyor who should be able to help as well as a reputable local solicitor.
If the money side and the timescales of selling our flat can be worked out – the new build situation makes it all much more complex – and the garden issue can be addressed… if, if, IF! We could be looking at putting in an offer.
Of course with each step further down the line, the possibility for disappointment only increases. I am in love with “our” house.
Image: “Stream” by solarisgirl. Commercial use and modifications allowed.