We moved into our new home just over a month ago, and boy, have we been busy!
The house we’ve bought is an absolutely lovely old villa, right in the middle of Mornington, which is one of Dunedin’s oldest and most central suburbs. It’s a great place to live.
The home is on a double block – rare so close to town – with a lovely flat garden.
We have five bedrooms, one for each of our four kids. Also rare, in a town that is about 90% three bedroom homes.
It’s exactly what we wanted, and we’re very happy, but when I say it’s an “old villa” I mean OLD!!!
The home had been owned by the same family for about 80 years, and although basic maintenance had been done, little else had, for a long long time.
There was no heating at all, apart from old fireplaces that don’t work very well, and we live in a COLD climate. From what we can tell, the people who lived here either froze each winter or just used lots of little electric heaters they plugged into the wall and put up with a huge heating bill.
As for the bathroom, well! It’s original, in every sense, and the plumbing is antiquated.
The kitchen is not much better.
We knew all this, and it was reflected in the sale price, but what it all means is we’ll be doing a lot of renovations over the coming few years, and I’ll be blogging all about it here, as I think (hope!) it will interest you.
We intend to bring this beautiful old home kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Our first step was putting in two kick-ass heat pumps – one in the living room, and the other in the hallway. We also changed all the locks, as a standard measure moving into a new home.
The heat pumps we bought are a wonder, and over the first few weeks we could literally feel the home drying out and becoming warm and inviting. It was an amazing thing to feel. The old musty smells have disappeared, and the home feels comfortable, warm and dry.
The second step was to check our insulation. I called upon the Warm Up NZ initiative, a government scheme to get homes across the country properly insulated, and they did a check on our home.
We’re fully insulated, top and bottom, and on all accessible side walls.
While here, the Warm Up NZ guy recommended our next step should be thermal curtains on all windows, starting with the top storey.
This week, I ordered new thermal curtains for all windows on the top storey. These were easy, as I could just buy ready-made curtains, then I’ll re-hem them over next week. Two sets had to be ordered online, and should come in the post in the next few days or so.
This will make our house look better and stay warmer.
My partner’s daughter chose ivory curtains, his son chose plain black, and my son chose black with a pattern. For the landing, I chose grey with a vine pattern.
I’ll take “before and after” photos when these are all fitted.
Replacing light bulbs
We’re going through the house and replacing all standard light globes with ultra-efficient LED bulbs. This is not cheap, as the bulbs retail between $7 and $13 apiece, and we have about 20 bulbs to replace!
We started with the living areas and hallway, and are gradually working our way around the house. This will cut our power bills significantly.
New smoke detectors, and a fire blanket in the kitchen
The house had old-style smoke detectors, and not enough of them! We’ve replaced these with modern fire detectors that only need replacing every 10 years.
We also bought a fire blanket to keep near the very old stove, in case of emergency.
Within a week we had a fibre connection to the internet installed. The kids were very happy about this!
Where to next?
Our next steps will be replacing the hot water system with gas, and getting started on the bathroom renovation, as it’s more necessary than the kitchen. We’ll be completely gutting both, so this is not small tasks.
In the meantime We’ll also be working on the garden, clearing away overgrown plants, and putting some new fruit trees in.