The Sweet Smell of Debt

Piggy Exciting but terrifying news: Dr G and I have purchased a house. Bloody hell. The happy dance of home ownership is somewhat restricted by the little financial shackles clamped round our ankles. I remember the days when a grown-up purchase was just a vibrator or a litre of very cheapest vodka.

It’s a great place; the same age as Dr G (36). I had to surrender my naive Great Australian Dream of a laundry room but it’s in our favourite part of town and there’s space to grow tomatoes and shelter Antipodean visitors.

The only problem is that part of the house stinks. In the literal sense. It smells. It whiffs. It honks.

I don’t know we missed this at the time of viewing. I did have a really bad cold. Or maybe I was too busy mentally allocating rooms to notice, “One for me, one for Gareth, one for the budgie…

How can I describe it? Stale and smothering… Eau de Elderly meets Something Dying Under The Floorboards. Like a mangy cat moved in during the intervening weeks between us viewing and collecting the keys. Or like a real estate agent was so suprised at selling a house in a time of deep recession that his bladder burst from excitement. We may never know the true answer.

Turns out the smell was living in the carpets. We figured this out by snuffling around on the floors like truffle pigs. The hallway was the worst offender. I actually reeled backwards when I inhaled, gagging and coughing.

“Gareth, you have GOT to smell this floor.”

“No way man! I don’t need to smell it, I saw your your reaction.”

“But you have to experience it for yourself! Otherwise you’ll always wonder if it was just me doing bad slapstick.”



He reluctantly kneeled, then promptly keeled over.

Just to be 100% sure the problem couldn’t be solved by bicarb soda or Febreeze, we called in Mother-In-Law Mary to verify. She just walked about the house; we didn’t make her get down on the floor.

“Yes, yes!” she was her verdict, eyes watering, “You need new carpet!”

So we have spent the past three nights attacking the floors with Stanley knives. I am quite enjoying the destruction. Sure there’s the unfortunate bit when you peel back a layer and get a big lungful of Stink but the ripping up part is very theraputic. Beneath the carpets and underlay lurks 30 years of grime, so every time you take a step or cry, “HA HA look at this mess!”, a long trail of dust flies up like a Mexican wave. There will be some long nights of scrubbing before we move in December.

Fortunately removing the carpets seems to be removing the scent, so already it’s starting to feel like Our Place and not That Pongy Financial Burden.

About Shauna Reid

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32 thoughts on “The Sweet Smell of Debt

  1. Congrats on the exciting new purchase! Home ownership is super fun (and occasionally stinky), and only once a month do I really remember the financial shackles.

  2. Congratulations! I thought you might be up to something.

    Glad to hear that the smell is leaving with the carpets. Moving into a house is a lot of work and money, but then it’s YOURS.

  3. Woohoo! Congrats, and welcome to the financial black hole that is home ownership.

    You know, you could have just dug a hole in the ground and tossed all your money in every pay day…. but at least this is more fun.

  4. Congrats! I remember moving into a rental and… while fixing it up, a few days into the duty we got sick… REALLY bad. But, we needed to get the place ready to move into… then one day, i sat down on the dingy livingroom carpet…and it was WET.

    I’m like, what the fuck? Turns out, the evil tennants previously there PISSED all over the carpet. my landlord was like, Are you sure it’s not dog pee?” I said, there’s NO way. Martin (who was in Bosnia and had a lot of experience with urine at this orphanage they found abandoned) said, “I’m quite certain it’s human. Trust me!”

    Carpet promptly torn out, replaced and our health returned. It was the grossest thing EVER. That… or… the 10 000 maggots I found crawling outside this past summer. They are a tie…

  5. Congratulations on your new home! It does sound exciting … yet utterly terrifying! We’re slowly getting out heads around the notion, and while the place we rent at the mo has a lot of problems, I can’t bear the thought of moving out of the awesome area we live in.

  6. What a nice birthday gift! (ok ok it isn’t really a gift but…). That is very exciting and we will hopefully be seeing lovely tomato pics in the future!

  7. Congrats! It might be smelly but at least it is yours, well yours and the banks, but you don’t have to ask anyone for permission to rip up carpets or paint walls in fluro colours (if you so desire). Currently also ripping up geriatric carpet and yuk, coulnd’t believe the dirt underneath, replacing it with floating timber flooring. On the bright side Scotland still has low interest rates doesn’t it? Here in Oz they have started rising again, sneaky bank bastards put them up yesterday, Melb. cup day, maybe they thought we wouldn’t notice.

  8. How exciting Shauna! What great news-especially about having space to grow-your-own-greens.

    I wonder if the real estate agent did the ‘eau de fresh baking baking’ thing to hide the bad smell from would-be buyers at the time of showing…I’m a sucker for that fresh baking smell…

    So good to hear you’ve been to able to say goodbye to ‘eau de whiff’-imagine if their was a dead body under the floor boards…knowing you you’d turn it into a best-seller:)

    You’re definitely making the house yours with your hard work. Just think if the carpets didn’t stink you’d have all that detritus under them for evermore-ugh.

    Good on you.


    By the way, does your house have a name? I used to live at ‘Fingle Bridge’ in England.

  9. I was JUST NOW looking at a house that is for sale down the street…it’s calling to me. We made an appointment with a bank so see where we stand. I’m so excited for you guys!! and so glad the stink can be removed along with the carpet ๐Ÿ™‚ Congratulations!!!

  10. hey thanks folks ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Kirsten – good luck at the bank!

    @Sharon – that sucks about the rates, Boooooo! the base rate is low here but not available for new borrowers unless you have a bloody 80% deposit or so ๐Ÿ˜›

    @Tamakikat – It doesn’t have a name that i know of… would be hard to top Fingle Bridge!

  11. Congratulations to you both, that is great news. It’s your’s all your’s! Well….once the mortgage is paid off that is, yep those 20 years will just fly by..
    It’s just a pity that it doesn’t have a separate laundry. I have never understood why houses in the UK seem to have the clothes washing machine in the kitchen. Where the hell do you put all the dirty clothes waiting to be washed and the stuff you are soaking and the stuff you have washed but can’t put out on the clothes line because its raining / you can’t be bothered? It seems unhygenic to me to mix cooking and clothes washing in the same room but maybe that’s because I have always had a laundry.

    Anyway best of luck with the stinking carpet – you’ll laugh about it one day when you are telling the grandkids / grand-budgies about it!

    Tracey from Melbourne.

  12. alas, there’s just not enough space over here for laundries for most folk (not in our price range anyway!) it’s only a little island!

    cheers fifi and tracey ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Oooh congrats – after a couple of years it gets less painful, and don’t forget that every one of you who buys a house at the moment is restoring confidence in the British house market.

  14. Oh, I am so envious of anyone who owns a house. I mean, I know, it’s supposed to be one of these mysterious things where you only realise how much of a massive burden it is once you actually get into the mystical club but I don’t care, I just want to join!

    Meanwhile, just to feel like I fit in a little bit, I’ve just moved house in Plymouth and the new place (rented) has cockroaches. You’ll like this, I’ve been almost completely unfazed (well, yes pest control is coming out but otherwise) because the ones in Perth, Australia were about 10 times the size, full of white goo and so prevalent that calling pest control would have been like getting out the fire brigade for burnt toast.

  15. Add my congratulations to the pile. In a few months you’ll forget about overall cost and just enjoy your home. Please post pics!

  16. Woohoo! Congratulations!

    A laundry room, yeah that’s pretty much a pipe dream over here too. We don’t even have room for one of those little portable washing machines in our apartment.

    Hope the stinkerrificness goes away asap!

  17. Congratulations! Regretfully I have experience in urine cleaning matters. So I will share: if there is slightest whiff of urine in the floorboards under the stinky carpet, attack with a white vinegar solution.

    May it be a happy home for the two of you + bird. And free of urine on all floor surfaces.

  18. Congrats! We had similar problems after our cats got freaked by animals outside – our carpets never recovered. You guys could have been re-enacting our floor investigating, complete with “SMELL IT!”

  19. Wow, congratulations! Its great and a burden, but still great. You may have room for tomatoes but what I’m wondering is will there be enough sun?

  20. Congrats! I bought a house last year and love it. I needs a lot of fixing up but I am having fun!! Pics we want pics!!!

  21. May I still refer to it as That Pongy Financial Burden? May I? Pleeeaaaase? It’s just such a catchy phrase!

    No, seriously, congratulations, you.. you… you GROWN-UPS! ๐Ÿ˜€

  22. Congratulations. And I say you’re better off without the carpet anyway, nasty stuff. I spend at least one day a week with my mini carpet cleaner trying to degerm my floors. I long for my old house with the saltillo tiles. I’m sure you’re both going to love you’re new home.

  23. Oh, wow, somehow I missed this post! Congrats! Good luck with ridding the house of the stink. Do they have a Yankee Candle Company in the UK? Perhaps you can invest in a lot of potpourri.

  24. Congrats! When we moved into our house there was a weird smell we could not figure out. So, we just kept cleaning and moving things in. Finally figured out what it was. The previous owner had thrown a bag of broccoli into the trash bag in the Kitchen (which we eventually found). For some reason rotting broccoli smells a lot like dead animals! Ugh, so bad. Ha ha ha!

  25. Welcome…welcome to the home-owners club!

    We bought a “character” home 9 years ago but I prefer to call it “the money pit!” lol! You have to laugh or you will cry… it is an investement that will serve you well in the long run and it is a place to call home where you are free to do what you want, when you want…money providing.

    Our carpets also stunk so we ripped them out, vacuumed, and every body got slippers so we could live on the plywood without getting slivers until we could afford flooring and miraculously we all survived!

    You will always have a list of “to-do’s” that will never go away unless you win the lotto but don’t sweat it. There are many inexpensive ways to make your house a home without spending a zillion dollars!

    The challenge we’ve faced is that we go to do a project like replacing windows only to find out there is no insulation in the walls…well, you can’t do one without the other so the whole deal cost us wayyy more than we expected but the banks love and the project is done and has been well worth it! (our hydro bill is so cheap now)

    My advice…save the cash for all the reno’s and try hard NOT to get loans. It may take longer to complete your projects but you won’t sink in to the big black hole of house debt, being house poor, and eventually regretting the decision to purchase.

    Good luck & congrats
    Nikki from cold, cold, Canada

  26. VINEGAR…the highest strength you can find…spray or pour over stinky areas and apparently the smell will be gone and…its cheap!

    Good luck!!

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