Limited potential

Saturday 14 August 2004

The house got sold on the weekend. This is the decaying, double-fronted weatherboard place I’ve been living in for nearly two years now, in the part of North Fitzroy known locally as I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Brunswick. The house itself was dubbed Miss Havisham’s Barn, on account of it being about a hundred years old and untouched for the last fifty or so: faded, mouldering wallpaper curling off the crumbling plaster walls, floral carpeting with inexplicable bald patches in random locations, wiring and plumbing dating from the time of the Chifley government. The good thing about it is that it’s huge, with enough space to keep away from the mouldy bits, keep a good distance from the housemate when necessary, and avoid contact with the neighbours.
It’s probably for the best that our sometime landlord, Mr Dum, was averse to making any repairs to the house, no matter how essential. Rather than spending money on someone marginally competent he wd attempt to do them himself, with results that wd be comical if we didn’t have to live with them. (He earned the name Mr Dum when we found him trying to fix a broken light switch by jamming an unshielded screwdriver into the wiring, with the mains power still on.)
Mr Dum paid about $400,000 for this place a few years ago and was asking for at least half a million at the auction. The house was described as having three bedrooms: it took us while to figure out that the mystery bedroom is the lean-to out the back which fills with water every time it rains, thanks to Mr Dum’s efforts to block a small leak last year. Cleverly, he picked a day it was pissing down to hold the auction. We were betting he wd hold out for more money and not sell on the day, but apparently Mr Dum needs the cash because he brought his reserve down to $470,000 when it passed in at $457,000: he settled for $463,500.
Thankfully, the new owner wants to renovate, so I can probably stay on for a bit until the housemate’s rellos come through with a spanky new townhouse in Kensington at the end of the year. It also means no bond hassles! (“Yeah, don’t worry about that blood-soaked patch of carpet in your bedroom, it’s all coming up anyway.”) The condition report originally supplied by the agent had every spare millimetre of blank paper on the first page filled with reported breakages, markings and defects; the second page had a large cross through it and an exasperated “HOUSE IS OLD” scrawled across it.
Oh yeah, and someone at the auction left their umbrella behind. Score!