Paperwork

I’ve for the most tried to keep the blog posts light and amusing to both encourage others to read them and remind us of what we have achieved to date. In the last week I have also tried to publicize the blog to a wider audience through my Facebook account, something I hadn’t done before and, in tandem, set up an Instagram account – ‘theoldmansegigha’.

What I also learnt from a friend that was that he would be reading the blog as he wanted to do similar in the future. This made me think that every now and then I should write a post for those who wanted to know the pitfalls as well as the highs of this renovation project. So if you aren’t one of those folk maybe just skip the rest of this particular page and wait for the next installment of pictures and progress.

Anyone who looks back at the dates on this account will realise that the journey to buy a property started more than 2 years ago. We suffered a protracted negotiation for the house after finding it in February 2019, first being outbid under the Scottish system for house purchase only to re-enter the sale when the first buyer pulled-out. We had our offer accepted in January 2020 with caveats, and with COVID this took a significant time to navigate and negotiate. Even in February 2021 there were still concerns to boundary lines and access that almost caused the deal to fail.

So the uncertainty of when we would be in a position to call the house our own coupled with a world effected by COVID has not allowed us to plan and have workers lined up and ready to go. We had attempted to assume start dates throughout but have, if anything, turned trades off by moving dates again and again. It is fortunate that the trade I need to make wind and watertight has stuck with me and provisioned time at the start of the project.

Then comes the logistics of the location and island life. There always needed to be a premium attached to moving materials and skills to the island that we accounted for, but perhaps failed to account to the right value. Our first experience of this is a higher cost for scaffolding than we anticipated, perhaps understandable in having to transport several tons of metal across on the ferry. I didn’t necessarily account for the availability of trades and hence a higher charge associated with demand that has happened, again, because of COVID.

My next frustration comes in the form of transfer of utilities and council tax. We are already paying a full council tax contribution at our rental (which is also in Argyll & Bute) and had anticipated a holiday of 6 months whilst the new home underwent renovation. Sadly, that’s not the case, although my council do grant a 50% discount, the decision is based on how long the property lay empty before we finally purchased and I had wrongly assumed there would be more incentive for us as new owners. Utilities on the other hand, which should be seamless, has itself been a tale of poor customer service by the provider and I shall now be finding a new supplier.

Out of respect to the Church of Scotland we also believe we should change the address from ‘The Manse’ to ‘The Old Manse’. There is some administrative work to do this and that carries a fee of close to £100. So whilst it seems correct to do this, in a time when every pound is a prisoner, it is harder to justify.

So this weekend whilst we cannot travel to do physical works on the property we will work through paperwork and try to arrange forward. Budgets need to be reviewed. Trades need to be coordinated. We need to work our way through planning and applications to the conservation officer. Along with an attempt to minimize outgoings that occur in regular life. Plenty to do.

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