Cat pee and home ownership

Last updated 12:41 14/06/2014

Press journalist and first-home hunter Georgina Stylianou shares the highs and lows involved with getting a wobbly foot on the great property ladder.

We picked up the keys on a rainy Friday night and rushed to our new home to meet the builder. 

I opened the door to be greeted with the stomach-wrenching smell of tobacco and cat urine.

The next ten minutes were a blur as I listened to the builder and the plumber list off what would need doing - rot, corroded pipes, bad cylinder, spouting, roof damage and so on...

Robbie and I got back in the car and that's when it happened. I went into full blown panic mode. Once the tears started, they wouldn't stop and the more I thought about the home we had just bought, the more I started to panic. 

''What have we done? It's hideous. I don't want it Robbie. Oh my God...what were we thinking?!''

The tears continued. Robbie did his best to try and console me but it was too late - I was freaking out. 

The cat pee scent was not totally unexpected but I had underestimated it in my mind. It turns out the cat flap had been left open and a neighbour informed the estate agent after spotting more than one cat in the house.

I was dreading having my friends and family come through the house on Saturday morning but I forced myself to put on a brave face when we arrived at 8am.

Jonny, the builder and his labourer Steve wasted no time. They started ripping out the kitchen and laying a sub floor while we pulled up the delightfully smelling carpets and discarded the curtains.

By the time our troops started turning up, the smell was vastly improved and the house felt lighter. I tasked some people to start stripping wallpaper from the living room, kitchen and spare room while I armed myself with a paintbrush and heavy-duty sealer and started painting anything wooden and stained yellow by tobacco.

The music was blaring and the mood was upbeat. Sixteen hours later, the house was already unrecognisable.The next day Robbie and I and our loyal renovation gurus Abbie and Garth started tackling the living room - we glossed the door frames, the high beam, the windows and painted the ceiling. I bought 10 litres of my chosen colour - double sea fog - and that night we applied our first top coat.

Monday was about starting on the spare bedroom - we sanded, plastered and sanded again. We finished off the living room and brought our couches in. We scrubbed floors, we unpacked trailers, we moved our pets to their new home, we drank endless cups of coffee.

On Tuesday, we were back at work but I spent the day feeling like a zombie.

I had paint in my hair, my skin was dry and my eyelids had developed the annoying habit of voluntarily closing. I loaded up on coffee and we put in another six hours of painting and cleaning in after work.

It was sleep, work, renovate, repeat for the rest of the week until we had a liveable kitchen, lounge and bedroom. 

Week One of home ownership was the most exhausting experience of my life but we did it. It's ours. We love it. 

What was your first week of home ownership like?

Comment below, email georgina.stylianou@press.co.nz or tweet @gstylianoupress

- The Press

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