House Progress

Step by step, this house is starting to shape up. Today, Tracy and I spent some time organizing the wardrobe. We still can’t find the screws to my wardrobe, so we’ll be sharing hers for the time being. In the long run, we want to replace these broken-down second-hand things, but we’ll have plenty of expenses to go before then. So, today, we’ve spent a lot of time unpacking more boxes, clearing out suitcases, folding, stacking, and generally playing clothing-Tetris. The great outcome is that I no longer have to scrounge through boxes to find things to wear! I ended the whole ordeal by clearing some things from the office and the bedroom, carrying some suitcases and cat carriers to the attic.

I do have to say it’s been a pretty tough set of weeks moving. Every day has been filled with getting some work done, including gettings things done around the house after my job. I’ve been really beat in the evenings, though at the same time it’s really rewarding to settle into the house and making it ours more and more by inches. Still, I’m looking forward to when I can finally get some sleep again tonight, as the tank is pretty empty.

Settling In

Things are finally starting to get settled in the new house. What with the Billy landing on my foot unexpectedly, we’ve set up my office space upstairs and I’ve worked from there the past week. Day by day, Tracy and I are unpacking this or that, and taking care of putting things more in place.

An interesting thing I hadn’t thought of much is how items settle into their final place just by virtue of being used. I get sugar from the sugar pot, put it back on the kitchen counter, and that’s where it ends up being: a place where I naturally end up looking for it and end up putting it. Little by little, the house is getting more use and as a result feels more homely.

Today, we got a hedgehog house in, in the hopes of moving the hedgehog mother and two children that have been camping out in a vase in the garden. The vase is right in the middle of our backyard, and we hope by offering them a much nicer place to stay that they’ll be motivated to move there. While we can’t plant anything right now, we are looking forward to preparing the space for spring, so that we can plant prepared.

All in all, things are looking up for the house.

Internet Access Once More

Yesterday, the ISP’s network engineer dropped by to work on the lines to the house. Last year, when we went through the same when we moved into our old apartment, the whole process took about a month. Somebody came by to check out the line, discovered that parts were missing, another appointment had to be made, the sidewalk dug up, new lines laid, first guy came back, and so on, and so forth. This time, fortunately, it was done in about an hour. A simple matter of threading a line through a pre-existing hole, hooking up an adapter for ethernet, and then connecting the modem.

So, once more, we finally have Internet access. Sadly, it’s only DSL, though. Apparently, there are fibreoptic lines in Franeker, but only for the new construction in the south of the town. We’ll need to find out if there’s any petition we can sign on to to try and get fibreoptic over where we live. Either way, beggars can’t be choosers, and we’re here with Internet access. The next step for this project is to measure up the house and work out where we’ll be laying the ethernet cabling, but that’s also somewhat dependent on where we’ll end up finally putting all the PCs. For now, though, we can try to work out general access for each floor.

At least right now, we’ve hooked our Raspberry Pi back up so we can have our self-hosted cloud solutions back. Our larger server will come later (with the added project of moving all our cloud services from the Pi to the server box). There’s so much still to do, but every day is a step closer to what we want our house to be.

More unpacking

Even though we moved last only a year ago, I’d forgotten how much work moving is. This weekend, we cleared more things from the living room, and cleared a bunch of boxes. We’ve set up Tracy’s working space, so she can start again next week. My working space will be more temporary for the week, as I will have to stick to moving my laptops around. The office, sadly, is still a large collection of boxes right now, as we’ve set Tracy up in the living room.

It was more urgent to set up Tracy’s workspace, as she needs a solid computer setup to do her revisions. Sure, you can do that with only a laptop if needed, but the laptop we have for her is quite bad, and working with only one screen is quite tricky (she has to reference a lot to properly revise texts). I, on the other hand, have an office at work for me and the Secretary of my committee, so I can work from there just fine. It’s only my recreation at home that would suffer from not having a full set-up, as I’d be limited in the types of PC games I can play, and drawing, designing, and so on is just easier on my desktop setup.

Tomorrow, I’ll be working from home for the first time in this house, as we’ll be waiting for the installer to drop by. We’ve already had some issues with them (our ISP assured us that they did this type of installation, whereas they denied that and cancelled our appointment on Friday), so I want to be on-hand to deal with whatever issues we run into. It’ll certainly be a challenge, because the mobile connection we have hasn’t been good enough for full audio/video streming so far. Potentially, I’ll try to host a hotspot from my work phone to see if having parallel connections will do us better. Fortunately, my employer is pretty darned good about all these types of benefits, and don’t particularly complain unless people really go crazy on these systems.

Being without a lot of this type of recreational activity has made me appreciate it more, though. While it’s been great cycling around, taking quiet time in the garden, enjoying exploring our new town, I have certainly missed some other forms of entertainment as well. One thing I wasn’t expecting is how enthusiastic I’ve been getting for playing some TTRPGs; it’s been quite a long while since I’ve been excited about playing and particularly running something. For a while, the feeling of social obligation overshadowed the enjoyment I got from playing RPGs, but it’s starting to come back to me, and that’s really nice.


Last week, Tracy and I moved to our new house in Franeker, a little place in the north of the Netherlands. We’re still surrounded by boxes, tired, achy, but happy that we’re now actual homeowners. That has, however, had quite some consequences on our life right now beyond us feeling exhausted and achy.

We have, at the moment, no Internet access, sadly. Well, that’s not quite accurate; it’s better to say we have no fast internet access. Apparently, the previous owner never had much truck with fancy modern advances like telecommunication. The only thing we have here is some coax-cabling, which I haven’t seen outside of radio communication purposes since the late ’90s. So, we’re having to get our ISP out here to install an access point for the modem to connect to. We’re also going to be dropping from 1gig up/down fibreoptic cabling to a 100 up/30 down DSL line. Yikes. In the meantime, our ISP has given us one free mobile access weekly pass, as our mobile subscription is with them as well. It’s a fairly decent connection with which we can browse the web reasonably. We can even stream some video, though I’ve noticed that telecommunication is really spotty to the point of it being completely impractical (the usual constant gaps and breaks in communication, freezes, and so on).

As a result, both RPG sessions that were to happen in this week were unable to work out. I was to play in the first session of Nobilis yesterday, but had to bow out; the group started without me, which makes perfect sense—delaying sessions often lead to a swift end of an RPG campaign. It’s a pity to have to miss that first session, as so much crucial group building happens right there, but there was no feasible way to properly join in at this moment. Even if we did have the internet, I have no real space to put down my laptop right now to join in without also bothering Tracy immensely.

The second RPG that was preventing from starting up was my Burning Wheel game. We were to have had the first session two weeks ago, as I figured to make a start before the move. Sadly, one of the players had a death in the family, so naturally we pushed it all forward until they felt ready to play again. They expect to be ready for it in a few weeks, so we’ll hold off until then. Particularly since they also had trouble participating in Session 0 (they’re visually impaired, so the table referencing that is needed for character creation in Burning Wheel wasn’t practical for them), I do want to make sure they’re there for the first session.

Mortgage Offer Signed

Yesterday, Tracy and I got some more paperwork from the financier. Fortunately, we hired a mortgage advisor to take care of everything, so all we get now is just some paperwork to sign with most of everything worked out already. Yesterday’s paperwork was the official offer for the mortgage from the bank, which means that, practically speaking, we are now fully set. Once these steps are done, we’re waiting for the actual signing on August 24th, and the house will belong to us—hooray!

Next up will be working out the actual move itself. Time to start packing, working out lists of what to take care of (forwarding mail, throwing out an old sofa, and so on).

Another Step Closer to Owning a House

Today we got the word from the house valuation—a crucial step in getting the mortgage approved. The maximum mortgage you can get in the Netherlands is not just determined by your own finances but also by the value of the house you’re intending to buy. If you bid over the market value of a house, you have to pay for that difference out of pocket. Alternatively, if you’ve underbid and the valuation shows the house was worth more, you can still only get a mortgage up to the actual bid. Apparently, the regulations are both to protect buyers, sellers, and the market in general as well as to combat money laundering through real estate.

So, today, we got the house valuation report which confirmed that our bid matched the value of the house; i.e. we should be able to get a mortgage that covers the buy. Another hurdle passed! The only thing left is to get the actual financing, and the rest is paperwork!

Mortgage Broker

Yesterday, we passed another milestone in the process of buying a house: we formally hired a mortgage broker to deal with the process from hereon out. We had signed the bill of sale last Friday, and earlier that week we had an engineer inspection done on the house, just to be sure. So, with all that done, it was time to formally hire our mortgage advisor and get into the final stages of buying this house.

The engineering inspection, fortunately, showed that the house was in pretty good state. Of course it had some wear and tear, as all older houses will, but overall it was in good stead. Basically, there were only three real points of concerned: firstly, the fuse box was one of those older ’50s models that has the individual fuses; secondly, a board on one of the windows in the back (the side that gets most of the weather) was rotten; and, lastly, there was some damage on the chimney stack that needed repairing before it could cause damage. All in all, pretty decent. There were some other minor things, such as some mortar that needed replacing, and some potential asbestos in the tiling inderneath the hallway floor, but that’s nothing too surprising or worrying.

Signing the bill of sale was nerve-wracking but banal at the same time. It was a nervous moment, because at that time you’re really solidly committing to seeing the process through. Technically, under Dutch law, we still have until the end of tomorrow to make use of a buyer’s remorse clause – an opportunity to cancel everything without any consequences. However, of course we want this house, and everything looks fine, so why would be? As nervous as the moment of signing was, it was also incredibly bureaucratic: we both had to initial every single page of the contract and sign at the end, doing everything in duplicate.

Both of those things allowed us to take the next step, and yesterday we spoke with our mortgage broker to start the financial part of the process. We really like the one we have – of all the people we called and mailed to ask about this, he was the only one that invited us over to the office, and spent as much time as we needed to explain everything in an orientation meeting (i.e. before we even committed to anything or paid him!). His indication is that, as long as the valuation of the house comes out to what they put it on the market for, everything looks good. It may be a little expensive, but what’s great about this office is that they will now take care of everything. Any mail, question, or thing that happens from hereon out, we forward to them to deal with.

Given how procedural, administrative, and legalized the process of buying a house is, I’m very happy we went with a mortgage broker. It feels like every little bit takes quite specialized knowledge so as not to be tripped up by anything problematic. It’s such a relief to know that now it’s pretty much out of our hands. We’ll sign some documents that are all prepared by other people, and at the end we’ll have a house.

There’s one last hurdle to overcome, though. As I mentioned, the mortgage broker is now sending somebody over to value the house. Our maximum mortgage is determined by that valuation – if it ends up as less than the asking price of the house, everything falls flat. Fortunately, we have a provision in the bill of sale that means if we cannot get a mortgage for the price, everything is off without consequences. So, sometime next week, by virtue of that valuation, we’ll essentially hear whether we’re getting the house or not. Fingers crossed!