So what was onsite?

I have to admit the place was a mess. Almost every room of every building was filled with ‘junk. So much so that we really couldn’t get a fair view of what was where. I could see damp patches on the ceilings of a few rooms,  and lots of small issues such as leaking taps, non-functioning motors for the spa bath etc… and that was just in the main house.

There was far more to the property of course other than ‘the main house’. There was a ‘barn’, a huge ‘shed’, an ‘office building’, a ‘granny flat’… and an entire second house!! There was also an empty swimming pool. Let’s discuss one by one, it might make it easier to understand both why we wanted the place and what we were up against when we bought it.

The ‘barn’ (we decided later) was actually an old ‘chicken shed’. The roof had all bar collapsed and the sides were clearly also on their way. The agent told us the best bet was to demolish it and rebuild.

The ‘shed’ was leaning at a crazy 30º angle and seemed in danger of falling at any minute. It was also filled with an assortment of odd boxes, pieces of wood and unidentifiable materials. Again the agent told us the best bet was to demolish it and rebuild.

The office building was also crammed with junk, but clearly had potential. It has a reception area, a fair sized office room and a ‘workspace’ large enough to hold several staff in comfort. It had built in cupboards and a ‘kitchen area’. The externals left a lot to be desired so required a lot of work to bring up to a good standard, tho nowhere near as much as the other two outbuildings.

The ‘granny flat’ was a surprise. It was occupied by the son of the family so was in good repair but it was it’s size that we didn’t expect. It had a kitchen/diner/study area, a double bedroom and a large lounge room with a toilet/bathroom/laundry room. More surprises were in store, but they came much later.

We were told the swimming pool was in good working order but needed a coat of paint to make it ‘pretty’ again. We were told the reason it was empty was because council regulations regarding the fencing meant it couldn’t be used and until the fencing was repaired the pool had to remain empty. We’ve had dealings with that part of the council before so it seemed authentic. Later we discovered they’d been a little economical with the truth but that’s for a later post.

The additional house was the *original* house and the ‘new’ one was added after the property had been sold a couple of times, but nobody wanted to remove it because, let’s face it, it was useful where it was and would cost a lot to remove.

That pretty much covers the buildings.

The ‘garden’? Well pretty much most was unkempt grass, with an area at the bottom (it slopes away from the house) that is a ‘bush area’… about a quarter of an acre. Some of the ground has trees on it which makes it all bar unusable because the local council refuses to allow felling for any trees other than those deemed dangerous. This bush area was filled with Lantana, a noxious weed plant covered in vicious thorns but which burns beautifully when chopped down. However it’s hell to eradicate.

Oh yes – there’s also a dam. When we arrived it was surrounded by a fence which had become overgrown with weeds and the whole are stunk to high heaven… more on that later as well.

So that’s pretty much what we saw when we arrived, and yet with all the quite clear and obvious problems it presented I fell in love with it at first sight. When I tell people we found it online at 8:00 a.m., visited it at 10:00 a.m. and signed the contracts the same day at 11:50 a.m. they think we were insane. It’s not perfect by any means but I feel that good about the place I think it’s where I was *meant* to live and despite a year dealing with the problems it’s thrown at us, I still can’t believe we were lucky enough to find it, let alone move in and call it home.

The search.

So I looked… and looked… and looked realising very quickly that ‘Google is Your Friend’ wasn’t just a slogan. Armed with the blurbs from Real Estate Agents and Google Maps I was able to work my way through a myriad of possible con tenders, none of which were ‘quite right’. We visited a few ‘potentials’ in person but even when my wife and kids were enthusing I held back because, again, nothing felt quite right.

One weekend we were preparing to visit yet another couple of properties and whilst everyone was getting ready I found myself chatting to my father in the UK via Skype. As we chatted I carried on browsing and found myself looking at a ‘new listing’ on the site of Rance Blamey a local Real Estate Agent. The specifications looked reasonable so we added it to the list. In fact it went to the top of the list because their ‘Open House’ was starting at 10:00 a.m.

We arrived, looked up the driveway. It was a corner block so we walked around the property to look from the side then went in to check out the house etc.

I walked in through the front door, looked at the dining room and lounge room and as I walked up the stairs I turned to the Andrew Blamey, the agent, and told him I wanted it. He seemed a bit shocked and told me to at least wait until I’d seen the rest of the place before making any decisions. Sorry but my mind was made up even before we viewed the rest of what was on offer.

The requirements of the ‘new’ house.

With permission to look for a new home finally granted (as the breadwinner the wife holds the purse strings) I started making lists of features the new place should have. To begin with the new place had to be within fairly easy reach of public transport. The wife works in Sydney so needed to be able to catch a train or bus into the centre and park her car nearby. We still have two children in school so not disrupting their education was another important consideration. Then we needed to add in the practicalities of what I really wanted.

To begin with I wanted acreage… 5 acres minimum. I’ve always wanted ‘space’ around me. I love gardening and like animals so the space needed to be usable but not necessarily to the point of being prime agricultural land. The new place needed to be near ‘bush’ to make sure we had some wildlife around us, but not to the extent that the block was covered in trees. The other requirement was that the new house had outbuildings. I’ve collected a *lot* of junk through the years and it takes up a lot of space. In fact, our double garage in the old house was filled floor to ceiling with books, tools, etc so this was a ‘must have’. If those features were met, there was little else important. Even the style, age and size of the house we were looking for was highly flexible. As long as it had 4 bedrooms it would do.

The self imposed restrictions meant our search was carried out in a 10 – 15 kilometre circle centered around the small town of Dural, which was close to the children’s school.

Where to start.

Where to start writing about the farm is a task in itself. Do I ramble a little about the old house? Do I witter on about why we wanted to move? Or do I just dive in and write up whatever comes to mind as I go?

On balance I think a mix will have to do or I’ll spend hours just trying to work out the ‘best’ way forward and never move on aw all.