Things are in full swing at the TwentySixStyle abode this month as we start ticking off finished (or nearly finished) rooms in the house. We said that 2019 was the year of renovating and boy, did we stick to our word! Last year was so hectic with the wedding and me starting my own business that our finances and schedule didn’t allow for much progress apart from the kitchen (which you can see HERE). But with no other major plans on the horizon, we’ve been able to crack on and get going.
The warm weather meant we could repair and paint all of the windows and the front of the house from a peach and white to a more modern cream with sage green windows. Rose and lavender bushes were planted and I must say it’s looking rather beautiful out there now!
With the bathroom work to start in a couple of weeks (THIS is what we have planned), I thought I’d do a little update and share what I’ve learned from renovating our house so far because I get a lot of questions messaged to me and there are aspects that I wish I had known before we started this crazy adventure!
OK, confession time – I’m the MOST impatient person. Ever. So I’ve found this whole renovating process quite frustrating. But the truth is, it’s bloody expensive! Things that I didn’t even think of budgeting for can zap thousands of pounds and you feel like you’re starting all over again. While this may not always be the case with all houses, it certainly is with a wonky Grade 2 listed house!
With every decision and step taken, there’s a lot of pausing, head scratching and researching as we think of the best way to do things while maintaining the original features of the house. But when you don’t have a straight wall in the place, fittings and fixtures can be tricky! Although this isn’t our forever home, it’s somewhere we will be for a good few years and we want to do everything justice. The house has been neglected for so long that I feel like we owe it to do everything properly. And if that takes years then so be it (she says through gritted teeth).
THINGS ARE NEVER ON BUDGET
I feel like this needs a whole separate blog post in itself but suffice to say renovating a home is TOUGH on the old bank balance. Even more so when one of you is self employed. When we bought the house two years ago we had no idea how much work needed doing and when you start in an old house you often start to discover additional problems as you start picking it apart.
For example, out bathroom was supposed to be done at the same times as our kitchen last year but we discovered that the floor (along with our bedroom floor) is completely rotten and pretty non existent. It was barely strong enough to hold us let alone a bath! So a big chunk of our budget and time has been spent reinforcing it, pushing the timescale back a good 6 months. While we thought we had budgeted enough for the kitchen, realistically we should’ve put aside an additional 50% of that to cover the finishing touches such as tiling, blinds and chairs.
In short, whatever you think your budget will be after labour and materials, double it – that way you won’t be stopping mid project to wait until payday, which has happened to us multiple times!
FINDING GOOD TRADESMEN IS GOLD
They’re hard to find but reliable, trustworthy and efficient tradesmen are worth the wait. Someone who can be patient, listen to your thoughts, brainstorm ideas and show up on time cannot be taken for granted. It can take some time and I’d definitely recommend asking friends/locals or even on Instagram for recommendations as word-of-mouth is definitely the best way to gain testimonials.
There are also websites like Check A Trade, Buy With Confidence and TrustMark who, I’ve heard from friends, are really useful as they vet and interview tradesmen for you so you feel like you have a bit of security in the choosing process.
COMPROMISE, COMPROMISE, COMPROMISE
Sacrifice and compromise are two things I have learned to master when renovating a house. I will spend hours on Pinterest (you can see my interior boards HERE) feeling inspired and excited, with a clear vision of how I want the space to look and feel. But am swiftly brought crashing down to earth when our builder tells us it can’t be done in our house because it’s too old/small/fragile. At first, I’d be crushed and upset that I was back to square one but over time, I’ve bounced back and see it as a new opportunity to find something different.
We can’t always get what we want – whether that’s due to finances, space or structural limits, it can be disappointing but there’s always an alternative that’s a better fit for your house or the space you have in mind. Although I love mid-century modern simplicity, applying that to a house with as much character as mine wouldn’t look appropriate. So I’ll put those ideas and boards on the back-burner and who knows, maybe our next house will be calling for that modern minimal style. And when it does, I have the Pinterest boards ready and waiting!
HUNT FOR THE BEST DEALS
There are lots of ways you can save money when renovating a house – from offering to paint things like tables and banisters yourself to sourcing pieces from the local reclaim yard. But what saved us the most money was being strategic. We specifically scheduled our kitchen renovation to start just after Christmas to buy all of our materials and utensils in either Black Friday or New Year sales.
Everything from cookers and washing machines to toilets, sinks and paint, even door handles was snapped up during the biggest shopping season of the year. We made a list of everything we needed beforehand and sourced it from the relevant websites, saving the URL’s to a Word document beforehand. Therefore, when the big sales days rolled around we simply went through the list, clicking on the websites and snapping them up at half the price. I worked out this saved us around £3k in total!
Although renovating a house is lengthy, expensive and frustrating, it’s one of the most rewarding adventures you can embark upon. Not only will it add value to your property in the long-run, carving out your dream space and the feeling of relief and joy after a room is completed is worth every heated argument with your partner and store cupboard meal you’ve eaten!
SHOP THE POST