Referendum with a view

We held a referendum in my house earlier this year, on the subject of “Should this house have a conservatory added to it?”

My wife led the ‘Yes’ campaign and I was swayed by her promise that the new part of the building would have sufficient space for me to have a proper computer desk again (since my ‘study’, colloquially known as ‘the pit’, was converted to a bedroom, eight years ago, I’ve been stuck on a tiny table in the corner of the dining room).

A major company specialising in such things came to visit, showed us nice brochures, sucked their teeth a bit and then offered us a quote that would have left us with a lovely conservatory, but also 10 or so years on an enforced diet while we were unable to afford food.

Our conservatory, pictured yesterday in 1851

A second, local, company came out and also sucked their teeth a bit, before giving us a quote that was within our budget.  Unfortunately before they’d got as far as drawing up the plans they realised they’d forgotten to properly cost for the foundations and that they needed an additional 5-figure sum from us to correct that oversight; assuming we didn’t want the whole thing to detach from our house and slide down the hill before crashing spectacularly into our neighbour’s home.

My wife and I have no experience of conservatories. I doubt I could put up a garden wall, let alone a structural extension to the house, so we’re in a poor position to argue costs with these “…and there’s a special manager’s discount if you pay a 15% deposit today” merchants.  This was their stock in trade, whereas between us we’ve purchased exactly zero conservatories, extensions or orangeries.

Our options then were:

  1. Pay a ruinously high price and get the conservatory we dreamed of…briefly, before the bank repossessed it and the house attached to it.
  2. Get a much smaller, more affordable, conservatory.  Unfortunately this would leave me without a desk space while still spending tens of thousands of pounds that I might prefer to spend on, say, getting rid of my hated old car.
  3. Keep getting quotes for conservatories, with the possibility that there may be an unbridgeable gulf between what we want and what we’re prepared to pay for it.
  4. Decide that the whole thing was a bad idea and re-think our options from scratch.

Funnily enough it seems that there’s a body of people who think that even discussing the possibility of the 4th option is an outrage.  As the proposal to build was passed with an unprecedented 100% majority a conservatory must be built.  To hell with the cost, or, if the cost really is an insurmountable problem, then we must have something that’s not suitable for the purpose for which it was intended, because above all else there must be a conservatory.  If all we can realistically achieve is getting a builder to knock out the back wall of the house and glue a caravan awning in place then that’s what we must do, because that’s what people voted for.

It almost seems like an analogy for something, but exactly what escapes me.


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