Tuesday, 7 October 2008

How The Other Half Live

My house-hunt is urgent and I’ve seen my dream home. It’s perfect, but even with falling prices is frustratingly just out my league (I think the owners/developers have yet to accept the changing property market.)

Slighter more upmarket flats are bigger: not monumental caverns, but a judicious extra ten feet here or there makes all the difference. I’d like enough room for a coffee table in between two sofas in the lounge, nightstands next to the bed, a dining table and chairs (all in the same room, without falling over). Dovecot Towers was obviously planned by misers, as most ‘extras’ don’t cost that much to build. It says everything that a properly locking door and safe entrance hall is a luxury, and not for oiks like me.

While viewing my ideal flat, I opened a door. To my delight, it was a cupboard. Not just any old cupboard, but a utility cupboard with room for a washer, mops, brooms, and even a bin. Heaven lives in that cupboard, and all the other cupboards are outposts of paradise. There is an inbuilt wardrobe, another random cupboard (joy!) and even an enormous mirrored bathroom cabinet, which covered the wall. It was love. I must have sounded like a hick: ‘Yeeh-haw Ma-am! Those high-fallutin’ cupboards y’all have sure are fancy!”

The main appeal though is the balcony. You can stand on it. In Dovecot Towers, visitors must duck the door which swings across the outdoor space. My dream home has sliding doors, so the terrace can be used as another room. And the door tilts (yes, tilts!) so you can open it like a window.

The post room was disappointing, however. It locks (I know!) with a glass door (all good to see) but crucially, even here you can easily dip your hand in the post boxes. The sales-woman (let’s call her Zelda) made it plain that my suspicions and questions were a fatuous affront to the sheer unbridled fantabulousness of the building she was peddling. I explained that even neighbours nick your post: she humoured me, explaining that parcels are accepted by the twenty-four hour concierge.

A concierge? Now I have a new fetish alongside cupboards, utility rooms, space and proper balconies: concierges. I can’t stop saying concierge. Please, sir, may I have a concierge?

But here’s the terrible irony defeating my quest: I wish to avoid developments dominated by tenants with few resident owners, despite being a tenant myself. I quizzed the odious Zelda, who persistently insisted that most residents were owner-occupiers.

Was she absolutely sure?
(“Yes!” she swore, as her wooden nose grew.)
No really: can you assure me that this development is not specifically marketed at the buy to let market?
(“It’s not!” she promised faithfully as fire-fighters doused her pants, which were on fire.)

She chucked me a brochure and when I got home, out fell the ‘Ideal For Buy-to-let’ blurb, along with a flyer advertising a company furnishing flats for landlords. She also claimed that all the flats are sold. Zelda will be a wooden puppet forever more.

(NB: Yesterday, there was a strong smell of burning in my corridor. Someone had set fire to some newspapers, and the charred traces were left outside of a few front doors (thankfully not mine) as if they’d been trying to set the doors on fire. No smoke alarms went off. Unusually, the main door has being locked for days, which that means the putative pyromaniac probably lives here. Seriously: what is it with this place?)


toru okada said...

Sounds promising. I searched, to no avail, for a city centre flat in Manchester earlier this year that would have avoided the pitfalls of Dovecot Towers. Reading this blog has made me glad I went with my instincts and chose one slightly further out, in Hulme.

I love it, it's walking distance from Oxford Road and the near 24hr bus service but there's a parking space for my flatmate, and I see some of the same people around the neighbourhood. A little thing, I know, and I'm unlikely to ever have a real conversation with them, but one of those little re-assuring things that make me think I'm not actually living a dystopian nightmare. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to be close to the city but not live in a better-furnished version of a 1970s Soviet state prison camp.

When you have moved, are you going to reveal the identity of Dovecot? I think I have a pretty good guess, and I'd be intrigued to see if I'm right!

RenterGirl said...

Thanks for the tip toru okada. I'mnot looking for aone of those slap bang in themiddle flats: slightly outside would be okay. But - they are all the same. I don't plan to reveal the ID of Dovecot Towers. It's bad enough in there, and I don't want it to be publicised as the block of disrepute. Also - people have to live there, and the management company plan to improve things (but I don't believe them). To be fair, touch wood, the main door has mended for a week now. And seeing neighbours is welcome, even if you only nod hello. Also: most of the flats are just the same. Thanks for reading!