Hunt that wascally habitat!

Well, it’s nearly time to shoot off to England to see if we’d rather live there than here. Next Tuesday is when I fly. I’ve set out a schedule to visit the Pennines, South West and the Lakes, the last two with Neil and Chris, respectively. Unfortunately, due to their other commitments, I have only a short time in each area and I need to be efficient about seeing houses. This includes doing an effective triage on the candidates on the web; getting as many visits in as possible; recording data and impressions carefully.

The triage is proving difficult, though I may be over-thinking the problem. Three weeks ago, I searched RightMove’s web site for likely places and saved those pages as webarchives. When I repeated the search for recent listings, I seemed to miss a lot of places that Monica has now highlighted. As well, Monica has re-prioritised several places I’ve already rejected so I have to go back and re-evaluated them.

The usual process follows this pattern:

  • set up a regional search based upon: #beds, price, detached, not new
  • work through about ten pages of this search
  • for each interesting property
    • gauge first impression of the look of the place
    • check its match to the main selection criteria*
    • take a broad view of the property’s location in Google Maps
    • try to check the satellite image of the property and its surroundings
    • try to get a street view
    • make an assessment and score the property as must-see, could-see or don’t-see

Now, I’ve found it hard to record each of these steps, hence I’m forced to repeat evaluations and new properties are piling up for evaluation. I need a system! DevonThink or Finder seem to be the front runners. The spreadsheet approach may be a useful adjunct for scoring but is unlikely to be the basis for what is likely to be a fairly emotional decision.

The requirements for the system are:

  1. Record data and images for each house
  2. Allow comments and scoring to be attached
  3. To be repeatable and uniform
  4. To be compatible with a hard-copy form for use during an inspection

In the Finder, this will require a folder for each property containing images, web link, brochure, notes and data capture sheet. All that’s needed is to draft the data capture and comments sheet, including fields to flag whether a brochure, image, map, satellite view and street view were obtained. I’m sure this could be done in Pages or Bean and saved as a template.
It’s hard to see how DevonThink could improve upon this. It has a template facility but it doesn’t look easy.

*From ‘House criteria’, the house we choose will:

  • be old, fine-looking and sound (listed is OK)
  • look out over a changing view
  • have four bedrooms and three reception rooms
  • include a separate accommodation for visitors
  • be blessed with several sheds
  • be set in a few acres
  • be private and quiet
  • be near water and hills
  • be within five miles of an excellent market and the railway
  • be a couple of hours from a city or cultural centre
  • cause family and friends to want to visit and stay
  • More detailed criteria and scoring are in an spreadsheet ‘House selection table’

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