This story was written by Pilar Gomez
I will tell you a little story. I was offered an excellent deal once on a cute little bungalow with high ceilings and a polished carved wooden door. It sat on the edge of a pretty village. The sizeable plot it sat in was populated with fruit trees and grapevines and the rose bushes by the door released their scent as we did the viewing. It was a very appealing property, with permission to extend the existing dwelling further.
We really liked the look of it as the seller weaved ideas for us and wooed us with his magic words. It had so many possibilities. We could give up our jobs and build a little business in the grounds. Perhaps a guesthouse. The inside had evidence of damp in the walls after being empty for a few years, but with a little work it looked manageable.
The price was fair for the promises the bungalow represented, so we had a long talk as a family and decided to buy it and we felt happy as we looked with pleasure at the windows glinting in the sunshine of a brighter future.
We did our due diligence, we hired a lawyer and ordered a survey and we went on with our lives looking forward to the day when we could make our plans for the little bungalow in the sunshine.
All was not well though. It turns out when the paperwork was examined, and the searches were done that the house had been built without any qualified person signing it off. In fact, part of the property did not even have the planning permissions it was advertised with. Nobody had ever checked to see if it had been built to the required standard. The ceiling was full of asbestos, the ground riddled with rat holes. We had no idea if it was a money pit or an accident waiting to happen. On closer inspection still, the damp was rising, we could see light through the roof and the windows rattled in the wind. The property was worth only half of the asking price.
The people who had wanted us to buy the bungalow tried to gloss over the problems. They told us everything would work out just fine. When we carried on voicing our doubts, they told us we had agreed to the purchase and there was no getting out of it. When we still looked unhappy, they threatened us with unpleasant consequences and the ire of the vendors if we tried to overturn our own decision. There was to be no re think or second chance to consider the consequences of our purchase, they said. To do so would be overturning the will of the family, they said.
We argued for months. What should we do, what was a fair compromise? Which deal was the best risk moving in as it was and take our chances with the leaky roof or borrow some extra money to do the work? Should we rent another house whilst the remedial works were completed. What if it took years? Our family was split, we even took it out on our neighbours and blamed them for making us unhappy in our current house in the first place, though actually none of us could really remember what it was about our home we disliked now we came to think of it. Of course, our friends couldn’t understand why we were being mean to them and feeling very hurt, they drifted away from our lives. The shifty people who tried to sell us the house looked on at the chaos smiling. Pretty soon they would reap the benefits to their bank balance of their lies and our bad decision.
But one day in the midst of a shouting match, we realised we couldn’t go on and that what we thought we were buying didn’t exist, it was a dream, a mirage, an impossibility. We might, after a lot of time and elbow grease and money be able to make the bungalow a habitable home for us in the end, but as we looked at our existing house with it’s comforting fireplace and beautiful bay windows, it’s interesting neighbours and its proximity to the heart of a beautiful town and all its delights, we realised the price we would have to pay was far, far too high.
We realised that with a little tweaking and renewing we could make more out of exactly where we were without having to pay any removal fees. It was so simple, we could just change our minds.
To be sure we wrote out the pros and cons and risks, our existing house versus the bungalow. Then we carefully absorbed those points and discussed them calmly, fact checked and read experts advice and then had a family vote. The will of the family had changed. We patched up our rows with the neighbours. We told the shifty salespeople we were staying put, we didn’t want the substandard bungalow anymore and we would be building a brighter better future exactly where we had belonged all along.