The long-running BBC TV program Houses under the Hammer is also broadcasted in the Netherlands (Here it is titled with the literal translation: ‘Huizen onder de hamer‘. I would prefer Villa’s en bouwvallen geveild‘, but okay). It is one of only two television programs not meant to be funny I regularly view. It is packed with diversity. Not only when it comes to the skincolour of the presenters and the main characters: people who buy, fix up and sell houses again.
Almost all of them make profit. Some just a little, others several tens or even hundreds of thousand British pounds with one object. Some are interviewed before and after their very first project, others have a portfolio of dozens of houses they now rent out. The buyers are men and woman with much or very little practical skills. Quite often it is a team, husband and wife, old friends, new friends. Their skins have all colours, athough I did not see one albino person yet. But they all have one thing in common: they have an entrepenourial mindset. Unsurprisingly a disproportionate share is non white.
Initiators without practical skills are never snobs. Most of them do roll up their sleeves for the almost always necessary cleanup and demolition work.
The episode that triggered me to write this blogpost featured several teams (Take note: an episode without the lovely Martel with her adorable Scottish accent). One of these teams consisted of two white friends. One was a huge bloke the other more slender. The latter was the guy with the practical skills the first dealt with the planning and financing.
Another team was bigger and even more ‘diverse’: an older white guy who came from South Africa -I see quite a numberr of them in the show-, his son, a friend of the son from Asian descent and someone who was not in the picture.
Some buildings have sat vacant for decades or had burned out almost completely. Almost all initiators who buy such properties are very outspoken about the pleasure they get from adding value: not only to their posessions but to society as a whole.
Progress for individuals, progress for society.
Sometimes the presence of a few birds, bats or squirrels is enough to warrant permission to return a ruin to a valuable part of the housing stock. But they never complain. Not even those that have to deal with horrible delays caused by local authorities. I like to compare this with the nihilist whiners always looking for victims especially those who belong to ‘minorities’…