The Gray House

How wonderful it would be if our home would feel as cozy as the hotel rooms we check into. But the thing is, we don’t have the funds of hotel owners. :p

We want a home. We want it custom fit for our tastes. We’re on a budget.

We could rent a place, it’s undoubtedly most budget-friendly. But for some reason it was never an option as we wanted our own place which value would appreciate over time. We could buy an affordable condominium unit or ready-made / ready-to-live-in house straight from the developers. But they’d have standard fixtures and we’d still end up having work done to customize it anyway. We could go for a parcel of land and then build a house on it, it would definitely be fully customized. But we didn’t want to bite off more than we can chew, it would surely be costly.

So we took a different route and went looking for pre-owned homes. The lot would come with an existing building so we wouldn’t have to build from scratch, thus, less costly. They’d be owned by private individuals and that means we’d have bigger room to negotiate the price as compared to those sold by corporate developers. And we figured the money we saved from the bargain could be allocated to having the house tailor fit to our preference.

We found this old house at a relatively peaceful and accessible neighborhood. It’s a corner single detached unit that the previous owners bought straight from the developer ten years ago. No one has ever lived in it. That explains why it looked so – how do I put it lightly – terrible. It was up for sale for about a year already but apparently potential buyers backed out when they saw it needed a lot of work. But like I said in Blank Slate, we may just have over fertile imaginations but it was love at first sight. It was precisely what we were looking for – a project.

Let me just put in this caveat, buying property from a corporate developer is a hundred times more convenient than buying from a private individual. The developer has an established system and enough manpower to deal with the paperwork. Sign the contract, pay, they give you the documents, easy. Buying from a private individual is more complicated. Sign the contract, pay, agree on who runs about to gather the necessary documents, pay the taxes, transfer the title, apply for clearances and permits, see to electric and water connection, and a gazillion more errands. And that’s only the paperwork, aka the not-fun part.

Once the papers are sorted begins the fun segment. We looked for good contractors who’d get the job done at our price. Also, to cut back on professional fees, we did our own research and had long arguments discussions as to layout and design. Clint and I occasionally have contrasting style and preference, and very stubborn personalities, too. So naturally, we’re relentlessly trying to convince our way through each other. It results in a mash up; and I have to say, the emergent idea ends up better than any of our individual ones. With a general concept in place, Clint created a digital version of it vis a vis the actual measurements of the property. We consulted the contractor, asked if it was doable, then commenced major overhaul.

We were annoyingly hands on. We ran around looking for materials and pieces ourselves and went to the site every so often just to take pictures so we’d be there when they needed to consult us or so we could have things done over because they weren’t quite what we wanted. It really is a lot of work. If you aren’t much up for DIYs, I wouldn’t recommend this route. But being involved gets you priceless experience and adds to the excitement.

After a two month make-over, here it is. Our starter house we’ve dubbed The Gray House. It’s especially tailored for two people, a young *clears throat* couple. The land area still leaves a lot of room for expansion for a growing family though. But as early as last year, we’ve decided that the first property we’d buy would be a starter and that we’d move, hopefully in five years’ time (to somewhere that can accommodate a tiny pool maybe? ambisiosa ra.). :p

For this time, here’s our version of those cozy hotel rooms. Well, not the five star ones, it’s nothing super fancy. It’s at a cost we could afford while we’re just starting out. It’s quite modest – but it’s home.

PS, The Gray House is in no way an innuendo of or an allusion to Grey House in the Fifty Shades Series. Friends who’ve visited ask where our “playroom” is and I never really understood the reference to Christian Grey’s red room because I’m not a fan. It wasn’t until last month when Clint and I watched the movie (slept through it, by the way) that I realized the fictional Mr. Grey had a building called Grey House.

Anyhow, we call our home The Gray House because it’s color is gray (how imaginative!). End of story. Goodbye. The end. 😎


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