The excitement is palpable – after several meetings with my lovely, patient architect the plans are ready. I know what they will look like as I have pictured them so many times in my head. Andy, the architect turns up with them and we spend an afternoon working through them. The idea is to change the look of the house from ‘Swiss ski chalet’ to ‘New England Colonial’. I firmly believe that the house should compliment the beauty of the land that surrounds it and not dominate it or be in stark contrast to its softness. So no glass and render cubes, no red brick ( which I love), but render and weatherboard.
So the exterior facade has to be altered which includes all of the windows and the cladding. At the same time we are going to upgrade i.e. introduce some insulation. The garages are coming down and the strange, oddly angled projection that links them to the house is also going. The leaking conservatory is going as well. So that leaves the ground clear for a large extension of 5.5ms x 12 ms running along side the existing house. which will house the new kitchen, breakfast room and family room. Plus a much smaller extension which will extend the main lounge, which is on the other side of the house, together with the changes to the front elevation and a new, large laundry room.
On the top floor we are introducing 3 dormer windows and adding a shower room On the first floor we are going to upgrade the bathrooms, change the windows and put in new bathroom fittings.
Plus re-wiring and new plumbing and adding a central heating system. He has done everything I asked so we should be good to go.
I spent several weeks at the beginning of the summer working through the plans with my builder. The top of the house works with a few tweaks – great. The first floor also seems fine – although I have doubts about the position of my bed – but there is very little change on this floor. Double great. The ground floor though is a different matter.
Quite simply we cannot afford it. Costings from my builder have given me a reality check. It is going to be almost double what we can afford to spend – I have allowed myself to get carried away. However, if I am totally honest I am secretly pleased. Something about the plans have been bugging me – not the architects fault as he was working to my brief. The proposed house just didn’t feel right. Because of the way the existing property is built with the front door in the gable putting on 2 side extensions felt like we were creating distinct sides to the house which had no relationship with each other. It also left a middle section which felt like no mans land. The house didn’t flow and it didn’t feel homely or warm. Moreover it just didn’t feel ‘us’. Plus over the summer we have been sitting in an area at the back of the house next to the conservatory. It’s a sun trap in the morning and shady in the late afternoon. It is bordered by the side wall of the garage and the back wall of the odd-shaped projection. It’s like a courtyard and has a great feeling even in its slightly grubby state. We have had BBQs there using our new Kadai fire pit and spent hours there just relaxing. Part of me did not want to lose that space – but it was bang in the middle of where the new kitchen would be. It goes to show that you need to live in a place to really get to know it and how you want it to work for you.
So it was not with a particularly heavy heart that I had to tell the long-suffering Andy that it was back to the drawing board and we needed a new plan.