The HUNT.

The Fantabulous house isn’t my first house. 5 years ago my mum saw a duplicate of her house around the corner from us and with her help I bought it. It was a 4/5 bed, relatively cheap and had 2 front doors so was perfect to split into two and rent out the bottom to a live in lodger. I was just starting out with the self employed m’larky so a steady rental income really helped out during the winter months.

It was a great house, but I bought it with my current partner in mind, and when that didn’t work out it was just me knocking around in there like a ginger bean in a 5 bed pod.

Also, as much as I try not to be a snob, as pretty as I made the inside of this house, I’d never be able to make the outside of a 1950s post war terrace look pretty.

I just love fancy things, okay?
Me with a fabergieeeee egg in Norway. I just love fancy things, okay?

SO.

The hunt began for a house.

Southampton was out of the question because anything with victorian features was 200k+, and I’ve loved old houses since I was a wee mite and visited my Aunt’s 4 story Victorian townhouse in Sunderland. 14 foot gilded library ceiling anyone?

This is my Mum and her twin sister, Meg. My mum's the colourful one.
This is my Mum and her twin sister. My mum’s the colourful one.

My Mum said when they were kids she’d always build a tiny snug lego house with one lego child for herself, and my Aunt Meg would build a massive ornate house and fill it with children. They both got what they wanted and what I want is a medium sized, ornately snug house, sans the children.

With a budget of around £100k I started looking at houses up North, between the Leeds/Sheffield area. I liked Leeds, I had friends in Sheffield, and working from home I could live wherever, within reason.

But that’s when I fell into the gaping chasm that is house hunting. Where you start reeling off more and more demands from a house, the budget starts creeping up and suddenly you’re looking at 300k houses like ‘ITS POSSIBLE IF I JUST SHARE WITH MORE PEOPLE’.

My main problem was this bed:

This bed looks normal sized, but makes you look like a hobbit on the set of lord of the rings.
This bed looks normal sized, but in real life  makes you look like a hobbit on the set of lord of the rings.

I won this bed on ebay several years ago. Unseen.

To give a clue for scale, that mattress is a 6 foot superking. When it arrived the courier whispered ‘this is the largest bed I’ve ever moved’. It took 6 hours to haul its sorry ass into my bedroom, where it DID fit, but not without a pleading call for Mum!help and the removal of a leg.

So I’d grown attached to it.

I used to covet beautiful workrooms, but then I realised I got all my energy for WORK from SLEEP, so I invested my house money into making my bedroom a place you’d *really* want to sleep in. In my naivety, my initial ‘must haves’ for a house list looked something like this:

  • Must be beautiful with original features.
  • Must be near a motorway junction for going to conventions for work.
  • Must fit my giant bed in it.
  • Must have somewhere for my car.
  • Mustn’t be in manchester because hot damn do I hate that place.

I had my first house viewing in October 2014. It’s now July 2015 and I completed on the Fantabulous house last friday. That’s because house hunting became a journey of self discovery, mainly me figuring out my fucking priorities.

The question is, what do you want in a house, and what do you actually NEED?

Here are the things I actually needed:

  • A Decent sized workroom that’s easy to get stock to and from my car.
  • Something I wouldn’t feel bad gutting and ramming my ‘eclectic’ sense of style in instead.
  • A place I could make new friends, have old ones visit me, and host my annual Feast of Friendsmas, where I cook a ridiculous meal for oodles of people that I love.
Got to love a house that you can cram 13 people round a dinner table without resorting to covering the guests with butter.
In my old house you could cram 13 people round the table without resorting to covering the guests with butter.

I looked at beautiful homes in the middle of nowhere, beautiful homes with no access for me to bring in crates of stock from comic conventions,  beautiful homes in suburban holes that gave me the creeps, beautiful homes that were tiny flats in the roofs of abandoned buildings, beautiful homes that were actually just shells held up by estate agent hopes, beautiful homes where you were paying 40 grand extra for bodged DIY, an ikea kitchen and some laminate floor.

I spent half a year of monthly trips up north, seeing 5+ houses each time. 17 houses that were HELL NOs, 11 ‘hmmm naws’, 2 that I almost went for, 1 that I started a bidding war on before dropping out when the estate agents were dicks- spent a LOT of time, and about £600 in travel and hotels.

EVENTUALLY I realised how dumb I was being and sold my giant bed on ebay to the next sucker.

I had to change my mind about Manchester- I’d not been fond of it having visited there for MCM Manchester comic con for several years, and endured the full brunt of the one way system.

The Fantabulous house was a grainy photo with an independent estate agent, no floorplan, looked pretty ugly from the photo. But it was close to a railway station that runs between manchester and leeds, was £105k (after some negotiation), had decent car access and potential to be done up to something amazing.

I knew that while it wasn’t perfect and I probably had about 30k of work to do to it, I could be happy there.

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The Fantabulous house in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester.

It might not have all I want, but it’s got what you need to be happy. Something to work on, something to dream about and Someone to share it with.

Though guess what? The damn front bedroom would have been big enough for the monster bed.

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