31 August 2017


We had a plan. The plan was for us to drive back to the UK on Monday 28th August, having put Daisy in the cattery, and spend a week packing the house in a calm, orderly and organised fashion. Then we had planned to drive back to France on 6th September in good time to get the bedrooms ready, house cleaned up and fridge stocked in time for my brother Colin and his daughter Jo to arrive for a holiday on the 9th. Then we would be free and ready to actually move towards the end of September. Good plan.

A week last Monday (21st August) we received an email from our solicitor to say could we complete and move on the Friday (25th). This was nonsense as we had not yet exchanged contracts and our buyer's surveyor had not yet done the survey on the house. Our contact at our estate agent is brilliant and she got to the bottom of it and established that our buyer was ready, apart from the survey, and keen to move asap. The surveyor collected a key that day and it appeared that there was indeed the chance that we could move quickly, not last Friday but soon after. Nick phoned our removers who said they could move us Friday 25th at a push but other than that they could only do Weds 30th as they were booked up until 7th September. (Which was not very convenient as our guests would be arriving two days later.)

So Nick dashed back to the UK on the earliest flight he could get (Thursday24th) to start packing, while I remained in France cat sitting...........because the cattery was fully booked until 28th and the idea of taking Daisy with us and keeping her indoors and out of the way while we packed and moved house seemed just too problematic. I would follow on 28th as planned.

It was stop, go, all week until 4.30pm last Friday, 25th, bearing in mind it was a bank holiday weekend, when an email arrived from our solicitor to say that our buyer would not exchange contracts until we had had the boiler serviced and had a certificate to prove it!

Nick then spent a frantic hour ringing round every Corgi registered plumber on the Trusted Trader website and finally found one who wasn't booked up for a month who promised to come and service the boiler straight after the bank holiday.

The tunnel crossing we had on 28th was very late in the evening and I didn't relish making the twelve hour drive all by myself when I might be very tired, so I moved it to a more sensible time the next day. That gave me extra time to organise the bedrooms for our visitors, clean up and so on, which was handy. Then, during the very hot weather, the car developed a fault. An orange light was showing in
the display suggesting an engine fault. Just what I didn't need! The fault light seemed intermittent and
the car was running perfectly well so we decided that I would risk the journey but move it again to the next day when the
weather was forecast to be much cooler. That was yesterday.

Yesterday (30th August) the boiler man came and Nick whisked the certificate round to the solicitor who said it was still possible to exchange that day and move Friday or Monday. I left the house in France at 5am for the twelve hour drive back to the UK.  While I was on the road Nick found another removal company to come and give us an estimate and offer us more dates, which was a relief.

My journey back was awful. No problem at all on the French side but, as always, chaos on the UK side. Within thirty minutes of being on UK tarmac I was at a standstill on the M20 for an hour due to a crash. The journey from Folkestone to Derbyshire took seven hours whereas it usually takes four at the most. This was due to crashes, road works, foul weather and heavy spray causing bad visibilty and last but not least, sheer volume of traffic. How I loathe driving in the UK. I arrived home an exhausted, nervous wreck. To find that contracts had not geen exchanged because.............the solicitor for the people whose house we are buying is on holiday.

So here we are, surrounded by boxes, just waiting. Daisy is deposited in the cattery in France wearing her best "we are not amused" expression and we're hoping that some time today our sellers will find someone else in their solicitor's office who will get their arse into gear and do something about the contract. FFS they are not even buying another house, no searches or surveys to be done, all they had to do was get the contract drawn up and collect the money. And what was their agent doing for her money, she should have been making sure it was all teed up.

And you may wonder why moving house in the UK is so stressful.


  1. Moving house everywhere is very stressful. Sorry to hear that you are having such a lousy time.

    1. Ken, knowing that the deal is not binding until contracts are exchanged and the buyer can simply walk away at any time doesn't help.

  2. I had a buyer walk away on the day of signing as my solicitor failed. I took them to the professional body who declared they had done nothing wrong... NO they just had not done what they were supposed to do. It cost me a lot of money at the time. C

    1. Colin, I have come to the conclusion that it's not the process of house buying in the UK that's wrong, but the people doing the work. Our solicitor, or rather her colleague who took over while she was on holiday, should never have taken the "can we complete on Friday" suggestion from our buyer's solicitor seriously. Had she looked at it more thoroughly before she sent us the email she would have seen that in fact neither our buyer nor our seller were ready.
      Both solicitors were obviously not up to speed - the buyers had yet to have the survey done and the survey threw up the question about the boiler service. Our sellers were not ready for some unknown reason but nobody in their solicitor's office was doing anything about it, nor was their agent.
      The lack of accountability on the part of both the solicitors and the buyers (or sellers) when the deal falls through is not just annoying, it's costly and massively stressful. What do we do if it all falls through - unpack all the boxes to restore the house to its former condition for sale again!
      We have spent a lot of time and money getting this far and there is still no guarantee it will actually happen.