Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Essence de mildew

You'd think after working on and renting out the last victorian apartment up in Southport we'd be done with old properties for a lifetime. Not so though it would appear, that would be far too smart...(rolls eyes) 

Oh contraire...heaven forbid we were to buy a fairly modern place we could simply roll up and move into. 

Fact is one can only spend so much of ones retirement progressing up the duolingo league tables, playing old classic Grieg tunes on the piano or swinging a golf club so many times before one gets another hankering to once again fill ones lungs with that now familiar heady concoction of dust and mold. 

Walking through the door to the retch-inducing toxic essence of eau de musty...how could we not miss all that?

So, once more into the breach we go..

Our muse this time is a 130 year old, 2 bed townhome/terrace here in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

Buying a property in the covid environment is now, it has to be said, incredibly tricky. The market here on the Isle of Wight generally has gone seven shades of insane in the membrane (hahaha you see what I did there? I got a damp-proofing membrane joke in. That's old house renovation comedy right there)

It seems a bunch of folks from London have been given the green light under covid to work from home and have decided to take the opportunity to cash out of there and move here. En masse. The Bentley convertible count has literally gone through the roof. It's madness.

...and boy can these folks throw money around. Yeesh. Talk about making it rain. Pretty much every house you go look at get's bid up into the stratosphere way beyond any shade of actual valuation. Leaking roof? Woodworm chewed floorboards? Zero modernization? Doesn't matter, the asking price still get's bid up insane here in our new little part of the world. Fk. You can find yourself renting forever in this environment.

So we kinda dropped lucky, our place has no central heating, old windows as well as the as-stated old familiar eau de rancid musty mildew. It's the only way you actually can get a chance of a decent buy here. It's pretty much a combination of luck and buying something nobody in their right mind would want to live in. 

Ok I exaggerate a little here...ours is maybe not so bad. Hopefully(nervous laugh)

So far we have woodworm evidence, no airbricks (leading to decades of moisture with nowhere to go) corroded wall ties, rotted floor joists and maybe some roof leaks we need to fix. That's us just getting started, already makes the Southport pad look like a walk in the park. Facepalm.

Still up for the challenge? 

It'll be right, let's get stuck in. We'll discover more issues with Chez White Elephant as we go along no doubt but for now it's the usual whack-a-mole issue solving.

This week we tore the inside of the bay window area off and started with the re-pointing of all the brickwork, at the same time we discovered some rotten joists and floorboards but on the positive we also found gold. Some original 130 year old victorian paneling that we can re-use. We can bring the house back to it's original style again, similar to our path in Southport. Check out this pic, the panels most likely got painted in the 70's judging by the color scheme:-

As for the remainder we've chosen to start re-adding refurbished period features back in to the property:-


So you can maybe see how this is now beginning to hot up into an exciting new project for this re-retirement era. The most important lesson is definitely to pace it though, not like last time where we got through it as fast as we could in order to start getting our UK passive income stream going before heading back to the USA.

On that same subject Southport has been rented out since march this year and all seems so far so good, the tenants appear happy enough with the place and we are now at least able to use that income in UK pounds to pay our UK gas, electricity, water, council tax overheads and free up the USA income for our groceries and savings. 

But pace this one we will, taking our time and making the project work on the house just one part of our busy retirement weeks. So yeah the French lessons on duolingo will continue, as will the golf lessons, the piano dabbling, cycling, running, hiking and the gouache artwork. Eventually progressing towards volunteer work for any local charity organizations. Point is we have no plans to get burnt out on house DIY work once more destroying all the fun so we'll be taking days off a lot more than ever. A lot less tiring this way.

This time we can do that though, we have the luxury of a 6 month apartment rental in East Cowes we can retreat to in order to regularly clear our lungs of the dust and must. The plan right now is to be in the Cowes place by Christmas and drop the East Cowes place, maybe even sooner if a covid lockdown happens again for some reason.

The plan is also that this time around the property is for us to live in. Not a rental for a change like the Southport and Savannah properties. A nice small place with low overheads in the sailing community of Cowes for the long term.

Within easy reach we have the beautiful turquoise waters of Freshwater Bay:-

Or even the Needles among a great many other attractions all on one little island.

The strange irony is that if we'd stayed a moment longer in Oklahoma we'd never have got this property, in fact any extra money earned beyond our June au revoir date would have been negated by having to pay more for a property here. Perhaps a ridiculous amount more. Sometimes we really understand the idea that everything happens for a reason and each moment has it's time.

So in conclusion that's it for this update, we'll keep you updated on the progress of our Chez White Elephant as and when we can slot it in between all the other retirement activities we've been slowly accruing. This time around life has definitely gotten a lot more hectic and our plates are now most definitely full compared to last time.

This is what retirement is now all about, being busy if you choose to be but also having the flexibility to do none of the above also if you so choose. Nice to have finally figured that out this time around.

Until next time..

Love to all,


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