I’ve been in two minds about whether to post this quite yet because, well, building photos just aren’t glam! But, with so many references to house renovation without much explanation it’s about time I showed you a little of what’s been going on, especially because, fingers crossed, stage one is coming to an end – hallelujah!
Toff and I moved into our Grade II listed house 18 months ago with the idea that this would be a mini project house. As the only people to put an offer in (clue number one) we snapped up a total bargain. Sure, it looked like it came straight out of a 70’s time capsule but it was nothing a lick of paint here and there couldn’t fix. With a big open fireplace, exposed brick walls, ancient beams and plenty of space, we knew it wasn’t our forever home but it was a place we could start married life and perhaps even a family.
We wanted to live in the space for a year to get a feel for what we wanted to change and what we wanted to achieve – something I couldn’t recommend enough. So, after three months of stopping and starting, this is our little house renovation story so far…
As much as we loved our first little house, what we loved about this one was its big reception rooms. We wanted to create a space that was perfect for entertaining. When we’re not travelling, we love to stay in and have friends or family over. We cook, chat, drink gin and play games. As the most sociable room in the house is commonly the kitchen, this was the first to go! The kitchen/utility room had lots of square footage but it wasn’t used in the most effective way – there were walls for the sake of walls and lots of ‘divides’ in each room that we wanted to get rid of and open up.
The second stage of the house renovation was the bathroom. Having bathroom downstairs was always a big no-no for me when we were house hunting but I compromised with our house because it had so much potential. 18 months later and a winter of tottering downstairs in the middle of the night to have a tinkle and I’m more sure than ever that we need a bathroom upstairs. Not only will it save me from falling down the stairs in a sleepy haze, it will also mean we can have a bath – something I’ve really missed in our current shower-only bathroom.
And lastly, the heating system. Our boiler has been the butt of many jokes over the last year and a half and has been fondly dubbed The Tardis. It sat in our utility room at around 5″7 tall and was enveloped in a cage. Yep, a cage. Sure, you felt warm and toasty merely walking past it but it was costing us a fortune so we wanted to take it out and replace the whole system with oil (the village doesn’t have gas-boo!). To be honest, this was the least exciting part of the renovation so I won’t dwell!
The first few weeks was all systems go – the two kitchen walls were knocked out, the dated tiles chipped off and the brown cabinets thrown on the bonfire. Ou house was full of builders, plumbers and electricians and it wasn’t long before we realised it was no longer our home, it was a building site and it wasn’t fun to live in. Every room was effected – the bedrooms where the pipework ran into, my walk-in wardrobe where the new thermostat was installed, our bedroom where the water tank had to be removed and the third bedroom which would now, half, be the bathroom.
It became too much and too dusty to sleep so we moved out and let the builders do their thing without us getting in the way and our cat, Farley hiding in exactly the spots they needed to work!
Like all house renovation projects, there are problems. And plenty of them. Throw an 800 year old house into the mix and you never know what you’re going to find. What should have been an 8-week project is now rolling into almost 4 months. From leaking new boilers to unstable flooring, the project has eaten into both our time, budget and patience. Juggling a wedding and a new career became too much and we had to stop everything for 3 weeks while we re-grouped, made some decisions and crunched some numbers.
Anyone who has had any work done to their house knows you budget, and then budget again, and then add on at least 20% for surprises. But then most people don’t have a wedding to budget for at the same time so it’s fair to say we were stretched and it was stressful. Every morning we go to the house, make sure it was still standing and grab our post and it was the saddest sight to see our beautiful home empty with only a layer of dust covering every surface.
But, here we are, heading into May and going full throttle back into finishing the project. The kitchen is plastered, the bathroom is plumbed and we’re on the home straight to moving back in. It won’t be completely finished and we may leave the bathroom until after the wedding for our sanity but it will definitely be liveable and everything we hoped it would be. Stay tuned…