'I had just purchased my dream home. A week later, I got a phone call.'

In 1994, a year after I was born, my dad, a tradie and my mum, a beauty therapist who worked on the local Clarins counter, bought a house for $270,000 on top of a hill in a sleepy beachside town. You might have heard of it, you may even be there right now, on holiday reading this article on your phone, under your CoolCabana.

Noosa. A much-loved holiday destination and my childhood home.

When I was 17, I left Noosa and moved to the big city, first Brisbane, then Sydney and eventually London where I would meet my partner. Over a decade later, we decided it was time to return to Noosa to buy our own home on the hill and start a family. At least that was the aim. You see my parents sold our family home in 2007 and I would have bought it back in a heartbeat if it didn't sell for over $3 million in 2020, only to be demolished a couple of years later to make way for a $7 million mansion, complete with an underground Jiu Jitsu studio where my dog was once buried.

Watch: Twenty-somethings discuss whether it truly is possible to buy property in Sydney. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

This isn't just happening in Noosa, it's everywhere and the fact of the matter is in 2024 it's hard out there if you're not a Jiu-Jitsu-practicing millionaire.


Buying a property has become almost a pipe dream, even for two full-time professionals with corporate backgrounds and nonsensical internet jobs. For the longest time, we couldn't quite reach it, even though my partner works in the cloud.

So we saved, and we saved and we begged and we borrowed and against all odds that first home buyers face today, we eventually put enough money away to put an offer on a modest home, quite a bit further down the hill from the house I grew up in.

The moment our offer was accepted we thought the battle was over. Sure we were set to be in an unbelievable amount of debt but we're in, we thought.

HAHAHAHA. How wrong I was.

Before I dive into it, if you do actually happen to be holidaying in Noosa right now, check your child, are they swimming between the flags? If they are bothering you, tell them that you'll get them a Massimo's ice cream after they let you finish this article. I'm going to need your full attention from this point onwards because it may just save your toosh one day.


After the building and pest inspection was complete and the contract was signed, we started moving our lives from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast. We packed our boxes and labelled the rooms they were going to, my British partner, Steve, even briefed me on where the kettle was as it is customary in his country to offer the removalist tea and biscuits every 30 minutes. We were set, we were ready.


Then days before we were due to move into the property, we received a call from the agent who sold us the house. The first thing the agent asked was, "Are you sitting down?"

They told us that a gardener had attended the property to tidy up before we were set to move in that same week - a tidy up at most was all this property needed, part of the appeal was that it was 'move in ready' for Christmas.

Upon entering the front yard, the gardener noticed water coming out of the garage. The agent told us there had been a burst toilet pipe and that insurance would need to get involved.

We were deeply concerned but at no point in the conversation did it register that we wouldn't be able to move in to our new home. It just wasn't in the realm of possibility for us, we had no plan B. We'd already gleefully told our landlord in Sydney we were moving and our apartment had been rented immediately for more than we were paying. So I did what a lot of millennial first home buyers would do in this situation, I called my dad.

Luckily, Dad was able to go and inspect the property and an hour later he called me back and said, "Yeah baby, it's f**ked."

Paige's home was destroyed because of an unfixed toilet pipe. Image: Supplied.


A toilet pipe had burst upstairs, and for days water had been running through the house. It filled the upstairs level, went through the floorboards and through the ceilings on the bottom floor.

Due to an unfixed toilet pipe, lots of water scattered all throughout Paige's house. Image: Supplied.


My dad, in his humble tradie opinion told us it would take roughly six months to repair the damages and that we would need all new floors, walls, ceilings and more. It would be months until we would be able to move into our home.

Every day in Australia you hear of wild weather destroying people's homes but a toilet. I have an irritable bowel, toilets are my friend, but I did not know that a toilet had the power to destroy everything in your house. Well, it does and apparently it happens quite a lot. WHICH IS WHY YOU MUST CHECK YOUR PIPES AND TURN YOUR WATER OFF WHEN YOU GO ON HOLIDAY.

The ceiling situation in Paige's house. Image: Supplied.


While burst pipes destroy homes every day, it must never happen to first home buyers within the settlement period because everyone we called including our conveyancer had no idea what to tell us.

We needed to know who was responsible for the damages and what our options were. I know what you're thinking, surely the seller is responsible if you haven't actually settled on the property.


Now if you are planning a move from New South Wales or Victoria to the Sunshine State, you may want to pay attention to this next bit.

It turns out, in Queensland, the buyer is responsible for the property from 5pm on the first business day after signing the contract - this is before the settlement date where you officially own the property and get the keys to the house and therefore our insurance provider should cover the cost of the damages.


Such a succinct sentence (I hope) that took us DAYS to figure out and when you're in a situation like this, moving interstate into your parents' home because you officially have nowhere to live right before Christmas, days feel like years.

It was at this point I looked at my partner Steve, as it had been his job to insure the house. One of the many things you must do in the confusing and never ending house purchase process. One thing I am most grateful for throughout this entire process is that I was not in charge of organising the insurance because I fear, in fact I know, I would have taken the "we'll be right approach".

Thankfully, the day after we signed the contract Steve took out insurance with a reputable provider and ticked all the boxes including one that essentially said, cover us for whatever it takes.

It's worth noting that If we didn't proceed with the purchase, then the seller would be responsible for the damages. I have no doubt that was a very real reality for them and that they were probably pacing back and forth like us.

We had a decision to make and a week before Christmas; we decided to settle and claim the now mould ridden home as our own. We did this because we love house but also because, honestly; we feared we would never be able to find anything else.


Listen to Things You Didn't Learn In School where we talk with property manager Fleur Schrader about everything we actually need to know about buying a house. Post continues after audio.

I hope by sharing our story we can bring awareness to the fact that your dream home can be destroyed at any moment. First home buyers, don't just assume the battle is over once the contract is signed, be prepared and make sure you get good insurance. And for everyone else, no matter how good your relationship is with your toilet, get a professional to check your pipes or at the very least turn your water off when you vacate a property.

This story does have a somewhat happy ending. Our insurer has agreed to repair the damages and as I write this, they are currently tearing the walls and ceiling down to eventually replace and rebuild.

The other positive and massive relief is that our insurer also covers the cost of temporary accommodation while the restoration is being done. We were very lucky to find a short-term lease in Noosa just in time for Christmas.

However, we will continue to hold our breath until we are able to finally move our belongings into our first home, which we have been told could be between 6 and 8 months.

In the meantime I might take up Jiu Jitsu, as you never really know where the next battle will come from.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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