Sunday, 19 October 2014

Yardwork and hardwork.

Not much cycling to report from me recently :-(
Across the Summer, while I was enjoying myself riding, the jobs at home were backing up (isn't that always the way!), and we are due to refinance our home loan just after Christmas.
So I'm still cycling to work every day, but not much else.

I have a minor job for a large company (FTSE 100 aka "blue chip"), and there has been a lot of work recently, and since I get paid for overtime hours, I have been piling up a bit of money for the future.
As some of you will know, houses in the South-East of England are frighteningly expensive, and we still have a home loan for about £100K (about $160K, 120K Euros), for a modest two-bedroom house. When we bought it just over nine years ago (our first house!) we agreed a price of more than a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS! Very cheap compared to London standards, but then again, we live about 40 miles from the centre of London! But it's a nice place to live: "Quality of life in Aylesbury Vale ranks as one of the highest in the country. And if you ask the people who live and work here what’s great about the area, they’re likely to mention the balance it offers between town and country, its sense of community, schools and low crime rate."Anyway, it is certainly NOT a big house with a big garden - it is a late-1980's "rabbit hutch" with "cardboard" walls and a "compact" rear garden,
Those of you familiar with the advert that ran of British TV featuring Fry and Laurie, where a flat is described as "compact and bijoux" will know what I am taking about :-)
It is a nice little house, but like all houses, things need a bit of work now and then.

Our (small!) rear garden had an area of wooden decking, and it was rotten in places, and too far gone to make a repair economic, so we ripped it out, with the plan of replacing it.
For a pair of amateurs like me and Anna, even ripping out the old decking was a major job in itself!
While some parts were so rotten, they fell apart when kicked, other parts were pretty solid (and heavy!).

Then there was the actual rebuilding job.
The owner of the house two before us has built the decking himself and had made a couple of fundamental errors, including screwing it to the conservatory wall ABOVE THE DAMP-PROOF COURSE.
So we vowed to "do it right".
What did we (me and Anna) know about construction?
Not much!
So a lot of research went on before we even started.
We decided to use concrete pillars to mount the deck on to avoid screwing it to the consevatory wall.
But neither of us had ever worked with concrete before.
the main foundations and wooded structure for our decking

So more research, then finally, just give it a go, and see how it turns out!

Anyway, the whole project has been going on like that -

But we are getting there, and although our work has been painfully slow, we are getting pretty good results.
We have also managed to fund the entire project from my overtime at work, so we have taken no debt on at all to pay for it, so that's got to be good.

That's the main part of the job done - just the edges and the flower bed to sort out!
Just think of all that sawing etc. as "cross-training" :-)

On the refinancing front, we think we have that sorted out as well.
We were expecting the usual long (as in 90 minutes) financial interview from the bank, and me having to collate and bring sheaves of payslips etc, with me.
Lo and behold, the bank seems to have introduced a "quick and easy" refinancing option for existing customers who just want a straight refinance (no changes, no increases etc. etc.).
Just a quick internet form, click a button, and they send out a paper contract to sign and return.
Done that, and now I am just awaiting final confirmation.
Seems a bit brief for a loan of $160,000 !!!
So I checked with their helpline number, and was told that they were not altering their risk, instead they are essentially just altering the details of my existing loan.
Hey, ho.
The long and the short of it is that the new deal will save me about £3000 ($4800) in interest payments over the next two years.
A bit of financial planning is always handy. The blue line is the amount remaining if we had kept our original 2005 mortgage to term.
By the Autumn of 2012, we had got slightly in front of schedule, and the red line is the predicted amount remaining from our re-financing of that period. The mortgage term is longer, which is why the line is flatter, but the payments are also smaller, which allowed us to get to ...
Our most recent re-financing deal, which is the green line. The gap above the start of the green line and the red line above it is a measure of how much we have overpaid in the last two years.
We have a number of small financial investments maturing in the next five years, or so, too, and that gives us the purple line, which is hopefully what we will achieve.
When dealing with banks and loans, one might say that "a penny saved is tuppence less in interest!"
So what has all that got to do with bikes?
Well, "all that" is why I have not been doing much mileage recently and not spending much time on cycling forums ("communities").

Don't worry though, I haven't "gone off" cycling!
And some of that money we will be saving on the home loan finance package will be used for a substantial upgrade to Mermaid next Summer!

No comments:

Post a Comment