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Post-holiday thoughts – guest post by Fiona Fullerton

Happy New Year everyone.

Cream-crackered?? I am. Why are the Christmas holidays so exhausting? Do you, like me, always feel a sense of relief when all the decorations are down and the booze is firmly locked away in a cupboard?

Fiona December 2012

So now it’s back to business and what a year this is going to be – expense-wise. Our gas and electricity bills have doubled to something ridiculous like £780 a month (gulp!) and the incessant rain caused a dry-stone wall to collapse in our garden. The first quote came in at £6,200 and that’s for starters. I think I’m going to cry. (Or take up dry stone walling.)

The trouble with living in an old house in the Cotswolds is that there will always be unforeseen expense on maintenance. We knew that when we bought it, but we weren’t expecting monsoon-like weather more readily associated with the tropics, and a slew of greedy price-hikes by the energy suppliers.

Try telling this to my friends who have just bought a big, old house not far from us, on the posh side of Lechlade. Not one, but TWO sets of friends have recently decided to quit the big smoke and buy in the Cotswolds. (Is this a coincidence or am I suddenly extremely popular?) One set of friends spent squillions on a mansion that has been developed to within an inch of its life (complete with pool, parterre and chandeliers!) and the other friends have bought a Georgian wreck from one of the Oxford colleges, which eventually will be an absolute gem. Guess which couple got the better deal? Ha!

I warned them about the hidden costs, the maintenance, the insurance, the flight path (bit too close to Brize Norton), the heating bills, the chimney sweep and all manner of deterrents, but oh no, they determinedly ploughed on and paid their stamp duty. Ouch.

One lot has already moved in (just before Christmas, would you believe), while the others are still talking to architects, surveyors and land agents.

The saving grace in all of this is Rated People of course. Thank goodness. I’ve offered to help on the Georgian gem wherever I can, but need to be careful not to be too bossy. However, my friend is getting quotes in left, right and centre so tradesmen in their area will be extremely busy, methinks.

Meanwhile, Mr Wonderful and I have been having long, meaningful discussions about down-sizing, due to the rising costs. Do you think my friends will mind if we move?

Fiona Fullerton

Property expert, writer, TV presenter and former actress – Fiona Fullerton’s career is as varied as it is impressive. She has a portfolio of flats, houses and offices in London and Oxford, which she also manages. She shares her extensive knowledge of the property world in your blog posts.

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