How we Designed and Bought a House in Pakistan during Covid-19 Remotely

How did we buy a house in Pakistan in a Coronavirus time without actually seeing the house..?

We bought a house in Islamabad on Facebook during the lockdown. In Spain, the lockdown was tough. If we left the house without a reason we would had been a given a fine of 600 euros on the spot. The military vehicles were roaming around. The vehicles with dead bodies were on the road too. The whole of the ice ring in Madrid was used as a morgue to keep dead bodies cold.

How do I know this?

We had a reason to leave the house and that’s what we saw. We saw people trying to be smarter than the police and had been fined on the spot. We couldn’t go to a bigger supermarket because it wasn’t close to the house. We didn’t hoard any of the supermarket supplies because to go to a supermarket was a real pleasure for once. The supermarket wasn’t out of stock either like in other countries.

I lost a few friends because they don’t ‘believe’ in coronavirus. But they haven’t seen death like my husband and I. We know people whom lost their mum and grandmother on the same day. I saw coffins on the road. In this bleak reality my husband and I were busy. We planned our lives and trips.

Since we planned a trip to Pakistan we wanted to explore options of where and which parts of Pakistan to stay. We looked at various hotels and airbnb’s and found out everything is expensive. We wanted to go to Islamabad so we can go to the Northern areas of Pakistan. See the mountains. After all Pakistan, has the biggest mountain glacier on earth!

The Ad that got us

My husband found an ad on Facebook it was a house for sale as a grey structure. Some bathrooms had been tiled. Some flooring had been done. However, most of the house was still unfinished. It screamed like a mad amazing project to get involved in. We were toing and froing should we even consider buying a house in Pakistan..?

We thought to have a base in Pakistan isn’t a bad idea. It’s great to have another perspective. Travelling around Europe isn’t the same as travelling in Morocco, Tanzania or, indeed, Pakistan. It’s probably a good idea to have a base somewhere in a Muslim country.

We love spending time in Muslim countries too. Our purpose is to minimise poverty and create education opportunities for those less fortunate. Pakistan seemed like ‘it’. My husband had spent a few good days speaking to people, doing the research, asking what’s available what isn’t. What we found out was we couldn’t go wrong buying a house in Islamabad.

We involved our family too! My father in law negotiated the price for the house. We took the plunge and paid a token fee (deposit) for the house. This set us off on an adventure of our lives! Before we could get on the plane to Pakistan due to coronavirus all our travel plans were delayed; we had months and months of phone calls with the guy in charge building the house.

The Hard work

We’ve spent a lot of time on video chat looking at the house in question. We chose handles for the kitchen cabinets on whatsapp. We chose white cabinets for the kitchen, which later transpired in Pakistan, they don’t do white cabinets for kitchens. We got some weird washed out lilac colour instead! Can you imagine the shock when we saw it?

We chose marble for the floor downstairs, the kitchen worktops, the terrace, the room on the top of the house, bathroom and the stairs. We asked to open up the kitchen to a living room / diner. We chose most of the lighting pieces. All was done online. We designed the terrace with a beautiful design and the gate. (The photo is the front of the house i.e. first photo in this blog post)

What we discovered was certain things easily available in Europe weren’t as easily available in Pakistan, for example, golden shower units. However, the bed frames are elaborate some castles couldn’t compete with the design!

People here are real craftsmen! Here they love design — hate it or love it! You get the idea when you see a simple massive truck being decorated, painted with most intricate design. Not only do the trucks have a huge variety of colours but also it has poetry or verses from the Quran. Mainly the driver does the design.

I may not understand the design but it’s spectacular. I don’t know if any other country does the trucks like that. And this type of attitude goes for everything in Pakistan. It’s elaborate, too much, astonishing, incredible and spectacular. Some work that has been done in the house is absolutely stunning like this staircase for instance.

Just look at the staircase made by hand, the metal and the woodwork. The tiny detail in the middle of the staircase painted in gold — an idea given by one of the very capable builders. Marble staircase, my husband’s idea. My husband chosen an Islamic pattern for niches inside and outside of the house. It was custom made as per his chosen design. I was impressed what is available to create in Islamabad!

In Pakistan, they make elaborate ceiling designs too. I have seen some pretty spectacular ceiling designs in Fes and Marrakesh in Morocco. However, the ceilings the guys make in Pakistan is a real art. I have never seen a home with ceiling designs like that. It’s got glass details, then some design and if they were allowed they’d add some lighting on it too like blue, green or red. We stuck with this look.

The doors had been designed by us. The inspiration has been taken from the doors we bought in Marrakesh. It’s not the exact design but it’s made better. All made by hand and crafted in Pakistan. Isn’t this spectacular?!?! The work that has been carried out in the house by the Pakistani guys is spectacular. However, not all! I’ll leave that for another blog post!

What’s Next?

We’ve bought this amazing house what’s next? First and foremost our task is to finish off the house as there are some details unfinished. The finish of the house should be another blog post too… It’s not that straightforward. It’s the same idea as what’s easily available and acceptable in Europe is slightly different in Pakistan. Fascinating!

I have recently read a quote from Dalai Lama:

“Our prime purpose in life is to help others…”

We, my husband and I, ask ourselves how are we going to help others? We often say to each other: “We’ve done this and that, how are we going to help others? What are we going to do with it now? What’s our plan?” Now that we’ve got this house we can travel around Pakistan, choose an area that needs help most and do good deeds such as build a school.

In Pakistan 40% of people are illiterate. I’d love to reduce that as much as I possibly can. By building a school in areas where children need it. I know it’s not that simple. There are many factors in play here but if we at least do a little bit and lower that number our mission will be accomplished.

I’d love to create sustainable communities. Pakistan is rich for exactly that. I’d love some arts and crafts from Pakistan to be available everywhere. My coding will come in handy as for that I will need to code out a website. So that anyone will be able to buy stuff from Pakistan. It’s not a new idea. I am probably not the only one wanting to do it either.

The more the merrier! As long it helps those in need the better the world it will be.

Love and Light!

I am a writer who learned to code! I write about personal experiences within a humanist and global context. Find me on Twitter & Instagram @erikachaudhary

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