Thursday, February 17, 2011

OK, so no prizes for guessing - Yesterday we completed the contract Hanko requirements (Japanese Signature stamp) & paid a deposit, then took the documents straight to the bank!

House is sold on the realtor's site!

We have our new home at last and I spent much of last night sleeplessly excited, so I wrote my thoughts to post here..

First off thanks to those of you who have been praying for our success in making this happen, a lot of signs along the way have pointed at this place as right decision.

Below is a sharing of our basic plans. We’re under no illusion all of this will take a lot of time & considerable expense well into the next 5-10 years. Wanting to have a healthy family life too, We’ll need to do it slowly & as we can afford – the house is livable in as it is, albeit old and deserving of love & attention.

I plan to do most of the work myself on buildings and heavy stuff. Yuko & I will both do permaculture and plan everything together. Arina too, as she grows older in years to come of course & we have some strong young friends who may be willing to help sometimes too.

We’re very excited about creating our own permaculture & eco home project, something I’ve been studying for the last few months.

Here’s a short video to show what is Permaculture!
The house needs some cosmetic works inside & out (Not structural). Our plans include erection of a workshop (Most of the land is zoned for building), making deep ponds (with water collected from the huge roof and grey waste water – filtered through wetland area) for plant irrigation through swales We’ll be carefully choosing trees and shrubs to co-exist after learning to design a properly working permaculture system including honey bees (Great for pollination), chickens for selective weeding and ducks (In the fish farm pond)… a goat for milk and grass cutting, etc.

This house is a rarity not just for it’s age but also the large relatively flat land (Most country homes of this nature in Chiba we’ve seen seem to have mountain land, which isn’t always useful). Without any doubt in my mind this was definitely a better investment for us than a new build, which neither of us were keen on. We prefer the charms of old homes – unrestored, so it’s cheaper of course, but also gives us the freedom to make it just as we want whilst allowing us to take time to find the best solutions.

According to Yoko San (the owner of the estate agency we went with), this sort of project & DIY doesn’t appeal to Japanese as much as to foreigners. There are some Gaijins in Chiba who have had similar ideas. I’m also told there are people in Chiba doing permaculture, so so we hope to meet new friends and share & learn along the way. For certain, this is a far more depreciation proof investment in Japan and whilst houses in Japan aren’t known for appreciating (One reason I hadn’t bought in Japan since moving here..), there’s a growing interest in homes like these for good reasons and restored properties go for roughly double what we’ve paid. We’re not in this for the purpose of making money though, this is going to be an investment for our health & future and our daughter’s too – but it’s nice to know that if we should decide to sell someday, it’s a desirable property. There was another buyer wanting to purchase, but fortunately we got there first and Yoko San was as good as his word, when we asked him to take it off the market.

Our Ideas aren’t set in stone yet, we’ll probably come up with better possibilities as we spend more time thinking & learning before doing – but I’m not daunted or afraid of the many challenges ahead. I’m relishing them!
Yuko’s a bit unsure as she doesn’t have experience, but she has faith in me as she saw the house in the UK I restored before moving to Japan, which we sold just before UK property prices began to drop 3 years ago, so...

In many ways I see parallels with restoring buildings & building my own cars in that way. We’ll need to properly think through & plan every aspect of improving the home before we get stuck in. For the land well be using maps to carefully choose locations of zones and changes after making records of weather patterns, temperatures, shade, etc.
For the 1st year we won’t change the landscape much as we also want to learn just what fruit & flowering trees are growing in the garden. The house will get most work first, naturally.

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