The Howe family live in a very small flat (86m2) in a small suburb in Jo’burg called Buccleuch.  We bought the flat more than three years ago, just before we got married, as an investment with a view to live there for a little while and then buy a bigger place and rent the flat out.  Three years later and lots of “DIY work”, we’re STILL living in our humble abode. 

From the time we bought the place, we had an issue with the wall by our front door.  The estate agent told us that the previous owner had a burst pipe in the wall (I think that was just her “cover up” for the REAL problem!!) and that they had knocked out a portion of the wall and replaced the broken pipe and that the “mould” on the wall was due to the water leakage from before…surely nothing that a bit of paint couldn’t cover up?!  Of course, we were getting the flat at such a good price and it came at just the right timing, that we decided that we could overlook this small issue and get it done in time.  So we ploughed all our extra cash into the flat, and slowly but surely did it up to our liking – it took weekend after weekend, but we eventually got to a stage where we were happy with things as is and only had a few “big things” that we needed to get done. 

That being said, our “problem wall” just started getting worse and worse.  The mould got more and more and the paint even started bubbling!  It became such an eye sore, I wanted to cry each and every time I walked into the house.  To make things worse, we noticed that the tiles on the floor in line with our kitchen wall started cracking, the outside wall was starting to crack A LOT to the extent that the arch above our front security gate started cracking down the middle (the centre brick even fell out!!) and the outside stairs leading up to the flat above us were literally pulling away from the wall.  After months of complaining to the body corp and trying to figure out what was going on, we were finally asked to come to a meeting for an update – the meeting included our neighbour and the two occupants above the both of us (our complexes are built in units of four)!  So off I schlepped to the meeting with baby Ethan only to be told that we needed to move out in a week and that we’d have to relocate for about twelve to sixteen weeks.  At the time, this all worked out perfectly as not only was my sister supposed to be going away for a while (much easier to move to her place than move to another flat and have to move EVERYTHING down to the forks and salt and pepper shakers) but the entire repair would be paid for via a special levy charged to all 182units in the complex – what would have cost us about R200,000 if we had to do it on our own only ended up costing us an extra levy of R3,000 🙂 

So off we moved and surprisingly, the project is actually now finished – it only took about 11weeks but as we are currently still at my sister’s, we decided to get our tiles redone as this was one of the “big projects” that we left for a “rainy day”.  So in comes tiler this week Wednesday – he tells me that he’ll take approximately 2/3days to complete…3days later, he’s not even half way through removing the existing tiles let alone half way to complete!!!!  Anyway, that’s another story.  I called the body corporate member who’s been co-ordinating the entire project last night to find out when we can move in and what’s holding the move up as we’re pretty keen to get moving back into our own space only to be told that there’s some electricity problem, and that unless we got an electrician in to sort the problem out, they can’t give us a compliance certificate and as a result of this, we can’t move back in.  Roll out some MORE money to get the electrician in!! 

So I shoot off home in lunch today to check on the progress of the tiler and to pay the electrician.  I casually bring up the fact to the electrician that we’ve always had a problem with our stove and ask whether it’s got anything to do with the fix that he’s done today as I was specifically told that the problem related to our stove to which he replied no, it had nothing to do with that and that our “issue” was related to the physical stove and we’d either have to get new knobs on the stove or buy a new stove all together.  Of course, my reaction was okay, makes sense, we’ll sort it out at a later time (procrastination is the thief of time!).  Then he suggested that he check by switching the stove on and off again and guess what…after three years of controlling the stove from the switch on the wall, the stove is now tripping the electricity completely and can’t even be switched on AT ALL so there goes another expense…WE NOW NEED A NEW STOVE!!!!!!

My dad was right (as he is most times!) when he said that owning a house is a big expense and that the costs would never end.  Yup…having a house is no child’s play!

* As a side, thanks a MILLION to my wonderful sister for having us in her house for so long.

** And as another additional off the topic comment…”dude” who I referred to here – Out of the “IN CROWD” – has FINALLY gotten out of his foul mood a whole week later, and I am now back in the “in crowd”.  No, I am not imagining it…I’ve been given a whole new nickname today…aaahhh, some people, REALLY!!!!!!

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