I’ve heard some horror stories about trading on Trade Me so I’ve always approached it with an element of caution. If someone had told me they bought a shed without inspecting it I would have told them they were crazy to do such a thing. Yet, we did just that.
We’ve been looking at sheds, garages, transportable homes, relocatable buildings, railway carriages, containers and even cardboard boxes for several months now and so I guess we were getting a bit desperate. Needless to say we’ve been surprised at how expensive the simplest of buildings are. So when the opportunity came to buy a complete building at a low price it looked like a bargain.
There were warning signs, of course – no 0ne else was bidding, it was located in rural far north and the interior had been relined a year ago. We never thought to ask why. We soon found out when we dismantled the building. It had been underwater twice in the past five years, a victim of the so-called ‘once in 100 years floods’ that happened two years in a row.
Buying the building proved to be the easy part. Dismantling it was a nightmare we thought will never end. First came our inspection. Once we skirted our way past the rottweilers – chained up, thank God – we discovered the building was much smaller than we expected.
Our negotiations started in earnest. Sorry, said the owner, her husband must have made a mistake with the measurements – 9 x 6 m was now 6 x 6 m – and sorry again, no refund, they’ve spent the money. The owner had a relative who could dismantle it for us though. How convenient. His starting fee was more than the building was worth. Luckily he was out of work so the fee came down very quickly, though the negotiations nearly stalled when arson was suggested as a possible alternative if we couldn’t agree.
So the dismantling commenced. One day became two, two days became almost three. The relative disappeared half way through the second day never to be seen by us again. By coincidence he had been paid that morning.
We perservered, and finally after 2.5 days of toil and sweat and fear and gettting stuck in mud for several hours until our vehicle could be towed out, it was relocated to our property. By then I was ready to write it all off to experience and let the wood and iron rot and rust away in the corner. But, there is a happy ending. At least, that’s how it’s shaping up.
Talking with our builder neighbour the next day we discover that he is far more optimistic than us and has the building experience to backup his optimism. After a brief inspection of the materials and our property he gave us renewed hope that a sow’s ear really could be turned into a silk purse. No, his name isn’t Rumplestiltskin. It’s Brian actually. Not as sexy but easier to spell and trust.
So it seems there will be a happy ending. But it won’t include anymore “sight unseen” bargains from Trade Me.