More Before and Afters

Since we moved in we’d been wanting to buy one of those pine workbenches they sell at places like builders warehouse and do it up for the kitchen. We decided on painting the base in white enamel and staining and varnishing the top.

As you can see, before:


I’m quite happy with the difference, it’s made the kitchen feel far more structured.


Visualising the Interest Rate

I though it might be interesting to try and graph the Reserve Bank’s prime rate data… It goes back a long way. I used Python to scrape and collate the data and PyCha to generate the graph.

UPDATE: I’ve replaced my graphs with new versions made by Russell who corrected my original code by interpolating the data correctly over the y axis.

This is the narrow version.

And this is the wide version (click to download the actual 10000px wide png)

Interestingly enough, todays rate cut *was* on that page earlier today, but now I see it’s gone… so I inserted it manually 😉

Mostly pictures of our cat (and a few of the house)

I finally got around to downloading the pictures off my camera and discovered that most of them are pictures of the cat. I think this means I am officially a cat blogger.

More pictures

In other news, I was exploring an abandoned/demolished building and fell through the floor into the crawlspace (about 1.5m). Yes, laugh it up. I’m okay. My ankle is bit busted up and I have a nice cut on my leg that is starting to get emo.

This weekend was another relatively productive one. I ran cables RF+CAT6 through the walls so we no longer have cabling running down the passage and then fitted a cupboard thing in the bathroom. We were supposed to go for another bike ride but then I did the floor falling thing. We did have tea (well, chocolate milkshakes and scones and milktart) at Rhodes Memorial too.

We also finished watching the end of Season 1 of Californication. Excellent series… Probably the best television series I’ve ever watched. Can’t wait for Season 2.

Over and out.

The Knife Rack Represents Progress

Knifey KnifeyA few months ago, before we had moved into our new house, I decided that one of the small things I couldn’t wait to do was to install a knife rack.

Needless to say I grossly under-estimated the amount of critical work (cleaning, fixing etc) we had to do before we got to the luxuries like curtain rails and knife racks.

Anyway, last night I fitted the knife rack. It definitely feels like we’re making progress.

Please excuse the shoddy mobile pic!

Rapid Fire Update

Oh how naive I was to say “I’ll be tending to dodgy doors on saturday evening”…

More accurately I think we’ve spent about 48 man-hours cleaning this weekend punctuated with bouts of repairs and miscellaneous DIY… The high point probably being when I was lying on my back with my face wedged up against the side of the toilet while we hack-sawed, hammered and generally bashed-off the toilet seat off in order to fit the new one.

But the house is starting to look like a home. I’m taking tomorrow off to tend to other issues like alarms and showerfittings.

The cat finally left the bedroom and is now investigating the entire house and returning to her normal non-leopard crawling self.

I suspect we have a few weeks of repairs and touchups ahead of us before we can safely let the general populous into our abode, but I’m soooo glad I took a bunch of photographs of the place a few weeks ago while the previous tenant still lived there. The before/after photographs are going to be amazing… I hope!

Lots of love,

Champagne, Paperwork and South East Asian Cuisine

So last night we finally signed and initialled all the bits of paper that basically say our combined asses belong to the bank until we pay off our newly incurred seven hundred and fifteen thousand rand, plus interest, debt. I’ve got to be honest, even though it’s hardly an expensive house, I did have those little voices in my head screaming something along the lines of “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?”.

I felt very happy walking out of that office though. It was like taking a big step towards being a grown up… like the first time a salary clears in your bank account, or the first time you tell your boss to shove it. Steps towards being a big person basically 😉

Then we went home and opened the bottle of champagne. Although this last step was purely an administrative process, the fact that we signed something like 100 sheets of paper made it feel champagne worthy.

Lynnae had made a South East Asian curry for a shoot that day which we promptly consumed… It was so good it had me grinning from ear to ear. I’m telling you guys, being a grown up is underrated.

Hearting life!

Buying Property Step 3 – Understanding the Price

This one should be short and sweet, it’s really just a brain dump of a conversation I had with a friend who had the all too common argument of ‘But It’s so expensive, I can’t afford R9500 payments’. It’s the same excuse I used for years, but it’s only semi true.

Housing is a commodity. All commodities are subject to supply and demand economics. There are millions of people who would love to buy a house and only a few houses.

Supply and demand says that when there is high demand and limited supply, prices go up… not everyone understands why though.

Think of an auction: The audience is made up of an accurate cross section of South African society. 90% of them earn less than R5000 a month. 5% earn around R10 000 a month. 3% earn around R20 000 a month, 1% earn around R35 000 a month and the other 1% earn more than R45 000 a month.

(I made those stats up because the StatsSA release is so racially oriented I was unable to find a non-race income breakdown. If anyone knows of better percentages I’d love to see them)

Ok, so we’re at this auction and there are 98% of the people earn less than R20 000 a month… and there’s only 3 houses for sale. That last 2% will outbid anyone in the other 98%, but they’ll stop when it starts hurting…. the housing price is therefore completely linked to the salaries of the highest income earners in the country. Now, people like my friend and I are lucky to be in or near that top 3% but we certainly aren’t that top 1%. Which means that whenever we want to buy there will be some fatcat pushing the price up… but with some belt tightening, we’ll be able to afford it.

Ask an older friend who bought property about their bond repayments… I know guys who are paying R950 every month towards their bond. The natural instinct is to say ‘Oh man, I wish I’d bought when the prices were still so low”, but the truth is, the prices were never low. My parents had to pay R120 bond payments when they first bough their house 29 years ago. They struggled. My mom says there was a time when the stopped buying cheese because it was a luxury!

It all boils down to this. Unless you are earning a salary in the top 1% of the population, it is going to hurt a little bit when you buy property. But soon enough salaries will go up and your bond payment will stay R9500 a month. I just know that one day, in the hopefully not too distant future, someone will say ‘Oh man I wish I had bought property when the payments were still under R10 000’.

(I realise that this summary completely ignores cheaper housing in cheaper areas, but I did that to keep it simple)

ps. Analysts predict that the housing price will skyrocket in 2010… but there’s a chance (Skye, block your ears) that we might be in for another percent increase in prime during August. Eek!

Buying Property Step 2 – How much to spend

Be sure to read the overly long winded “When to buy” post first if you care about this stuff.

I think it’s very important that people enter into property buying with their heads and not with their hearts. Property is much like gambling in that there is often some game theory going on… you like a place but don’t love it, should you buy it and risk not being happy, or not buy it and risk it being sold and not finding anything else?. This stuff is stressful and you’ll probably find yourself lying awake at night with your mind running through all the variables… Having said all that, there is one thing you need to do right from the very beginning and then never budge on it: Set a price and stick to it.

Getting to that price is easier said than done… Here’s the steps you should probably follow:

  1. First you need to know what the bank will give you. A place like Ooba is a good start. Be prepared for a little bit of paperwork.
  2. Next you need to know whether you can afford the repayments. A spreadsheet and budget will help you here. It’s imperative that you be realistic and conservative. Find out what you’re paying on bank charges, go through your credit card statements, include EVERYTHING… Perhaps start keeping your pick ‘n pay receipts so you know how much you really spend on groceries. You’ll want to be in a position where you can make your payments (at 2% or 3% higher interest rates) and live comfortably.
  3. If you’re like us you’ll notice that the banks are quite happy to offer you much more than you can probably afford. We qualified for about 250k more than we ended up buying for. Based on your budget figure out what payments you can make comfortably and work out what your total bond amount would be based on those monthly payments. I like this bond calculator. Ask you bond originator what interest rate you should do your calculations on. They’ll probably give you an accurate conservative figure. If we had bought on the limit we qualified for our quality of life would have decreased significantly until one of us got a raise… not something you want to bank on… and we would have been up shit creek if the interest rate went up by 2%… something that you unfortunately need to bank on. (It probably won’t happen, but you need to bank on it)
  4. Once you’ve got your final number you can start looking for a property. That’s step 3 which is coming soon.

over and out.