Our Stressful House Move

Emma and I both owned our own flats when we met. Neither flat, however, was big enough for us to move in to. We ended up selling both flats and rented a place together. We were becoming experts in the House Move.

Three or four years later, we were all living in a three bedroom rented flat. It was late 2013, so Jenny was just one and a bit, Eve was a couple of months old. Then we got a massive shock.

Emma was looking over some properties on various estate agent websites and saw that the flat we were renting was up for sale. We were floored. Nobody had told us that the landlord was selling. We had instantly been transported from the relative security of a lease agreement to finding out that we had to move house.

After a little house-hunting, Emma spotted a modern, mid-terraced three bedroom house for sale. From the pictures, I wasn’t sure. Nevertheless, I agreed to see it.


We arrived. The front gate was missing and the garden was full of horrible red chip stones with weeds pointing through. The front door was filthy. I knocked on the dirty door.

When the door opened, the smell of dog was overpowering. I mean, horrendously so. A strong waft of old dog smell. In the hall, you could see that the carpet on the stairs was thick with dog hair.

Now, I’ve had a dog before. I know that a house with a dog can have a slightly different aroma. This was not the same. This was a house that had obviously not been properly cleaned in a long, long time. The walls were a bizarre pink and brown combination. As first impressions go, it was dreadful.

Now, it’s unfair to form an opinion on a property based on the décor and fittings. They are, after all, not what you’re really buying. They are easily changed. In this case, though, the massive amount of mess, horrible metal shelves, the garish colour scheme and the mess on the floors was overwhelming. I couldn’t see past it.

Fortunately, Emma could. She could see the potential much clearer than I. Once away from the house, I began to imagine what it could be like. The living room was large, the bedrooms were a decent size and the kitchen / dining room was also spacious.

We went back again with Emma’s parents for a fresh perspective. They too could see the potential. The house was being sold at a reduced price due to being on the market for a while, plus the owners had separated. I think they just wanted rid of it.


We put in a cheeky offer which was accepted, albeit with a 10 week entry date. Everything went at a snail’s pace because the sellers had two sets of lawyers to run everything by. It was painstakingly slow.

Two days before we were due to get the keys, the lawyer phoned to say there was a problem. It turned out that the seller had made structural changes to the house that hadn’t been picked up by our lawyer. The sale might not go ahead as planned. He’d knocked down the wall between the kitchen and dining rooms and installed French windows but hadn’t applied for planning permission from the Council.

They made a proposal. We keep back £2000 of the money for the house, reserved by the lawyer. The seller has two months after we buy the house to arrange the council to come out, do the survey, and he fixes up anything that needs done. We reluctantly agreed and, two days later, got the keys to the house.


When we went in, the house was a dire mess. The living room had a bin bags full of rubbish in it. Every cupboard was full – and I mean brimming – with junk. Furniture had been abandoned. It took me hours to get it all to the tip. Amongst the mess were loads of scrap paper, old school jotters and condoms. I had to work my tush off to get the place cleared.

New House Mess

New House Mess

New House Mess
All the crap left by the previous owners

I ripped out the carpets which were caked in dog hair. We scrubbed and scrubbed the house – the floors, the walls, the doors. Then we painted and painted everything. It didn’t matter that it was an icy November, the windows were always open to get the smell out. Soon, there were new carpets put in. I was at work during the day and painting at night. Emma painted almost all the kitchen in one evening. My father in law glossed like a colossus. Back-breaking stuff.

Emma had picked the colours. The choice was warm, cosy and welcoming. Everything you’d want in a home. Perfect. Eventually, it looked like a different house. The dog stench had almost all gone.


We moved in. The council came around. The removal of the wall between the kitchen and the dining room wasn’t a problem. There were two small issues. No ventilation in the kitchen, and the back step was too short. The previous owner was given his timescales to fix the problems. The time came and went and he did nothing. The lawyer duly released the £2000 to us. We also got £50 compensation for the state he left the house in.

We’ve been in the house for over two years now. It’s our home. We still encounter horrendous bits of DIY that the previous owner botched up (bad shower wiring, a dodgy repair on a bathroom floor, an awful homemade cupboard). We’ll probably still find some more nonsense in the future but we’ll deal with it.

It feels like we rescued this house. It’s our house now. It’s our home.

And it no longer smells of dog.


  1. 15 February 2016

    We had to change the carpets before we had a clean home. Our dog probably stinks the place out now though!

  2. 16 February 2016

    It sounds like a lot of hard work but so worthwhile as you have a new home. I hope you have many happy years there x

  3. Chris
    16 February 2016

    What a nightmare. I am so pleased your wife had the vision to see the positives. You have worked hard and it is paying off. Well done . I have moved house a couple of times and it was horrendous so I feel great sympathy for you.
    Good thinking in taking all those photos. I think £50 compensation was way too low. Should have been £500.
    ‘Essence of dog’ is not the greatest is it? Good job you have a sense of humour and lots of material for a great anecdote.
    Keep smiling!

  4. 16 February 2016

    It’s a shame the state people allow their properties to get into, but I agree – you have definitely rescued this one. Not sure I agree with the £50 compensation considering the state it was in. Hope you have many more lovely years in your home 🙂

  5. 16 February 2016

    Gosh I think moving is one of the most stressful things ever .. we moved almost a 4 years ago and still have things we haven’t managed to unpack yet lol x

  6. 16 February 2016

    That sounds horrendous. We just moved house not long ago so I know how stressful it can be, but the previous owners to our house left it in a lovely state – not with loads of junk! Well done on making the house yours.

  7. 16 February 2016

    omg those pictures would have had me running the other way

  8. 16 February 2016

    Omg sounds like such a nightmare, sorry you had to go through all that but £2000 back was not too bad and the £50 is just not enough. Hope you manage to DIY it all up

  9. 16 February 2016

    Thank god you rescued the place because honestly it looked like something out of how Clean Is Your House lol!

  10. 16 February 2016

    I can’t believe the state they left their house in for you! that is horrendous! I am glad that you made it your own, but what a bad start!

  11. 16 February 2016

    How exciting though! We’ve also just brought a probate and now not sure we have the money to do it up! Hey ho such is life! Hope you have many happy years and memories made in your new house!

  12. 16 February 2016

    Omg, I actually can’t believe how much rubbish they left in the house, that’s totally disgraceful! I love the ending though and how you made it your own, that’s so nice 🙂

  13. 17 February 2016

    We had a nightmare when we moved into ours too and ten years on we are still fixing botched wiring etc- when we bought it no-one told us how much a house actually costs to maintain

  14. 17 February 2016

    Oh my goodness what a state. It can be hard to see past the initial appearance but I bet your glad that you did.

  15. 18 February 2016

    It sounds like an absolute nightmare, I am glad it is now sorted, but what a palava!

  16. 19 February 2016

    oh no this sounds awful – but you are in your new place now and hopefully have many happy years

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