Following my rant last week I have just heard that permission for our proposed building work has been granted! ‘Full steam ahead’, I hear you cry. Hmmm not really. Whilst the plans were in the hands of the planning office they were something that was not really real. Procrastination could be blamed on the planning office. Now they are a real possibility and turning them into a reality falls squarely into our – by that I mean my, lap. And quite honestly the thought of starting what is actually a large project feels me with dread – the thought of not starting also feels me with dread. Starting is probably the lesser of the two evils but only just.
It is freezing here – well really cold. We have a log burner and an AGA and some electric heaters which when on send the electric meter into a spin faster than a Catherine Wheel. I keep hearing that its going to be the coldest winter ever since the last coldest winter ever. There are only so many layers of clothes that you can put on. So we need to start.
What’s stopping me? Well the thought of the logistics of it all. We need to get heating in and the electrics upgraded. The top floor seems easy enough if you discount the fact that we have to replace the windows and build a shower room which requires a dormer window to be built. Can’t do that until we get the scaffolding up which we won’t do until the ice age passes. First floor needs new bathrooms, re-wiring, heating put in. Ok until I try to work out how to get the bathroom in without moving the window at the moment and the heating in when the radiators in our bedroom are going to be fixed to the wall that we are going to build out to incorporate the balcony – can’t do that until the scaffolding is up and the foundation is built. It all seems a bit chicken and egg – and we can’t afford to make any mistakes and we definitely can’t afford to undo anything. And that leads to the next problem, the ‘disconnect’ to quote the lovely Charlie Luxton between our budget and our aspirations. We have had quotes in for windows and doors which range from £33,000 to £65000. The lowest quote is about what I thought they would be so our choice seems somewhat limited. Both the electrician and the plumber are about £10000 more than I thought and don’t start me on kitchens. Do people really pay £1000 for a tap? I suppose I am hesitating to start as I am not convinced I can afford to finish. I know it will be wonderful when I have finished but a half-finished house is not something I treasure – I have watched too many home improvement programs where the ‘Grand Design’ has turned into ‘Living the Nightmare’ rather than ‘Living the Dream’.
So what to do? Well other than eat cake which is my go to answer for everything – (my children think it is drink more water – but that’s just for them ) – I am going to have a round table meeting with the plumber, electrician and the builder – I might even attend! Bash some heads together and come up with a plan that can be broken down into manageable pieces. In my head the project can be divided into :-
- Build the plant room – decision as to where is yet to be taken but the planning office have left us our permitted development rights intact so we could build a stand alone shed tacked onto the garage.
- Start at the top of the house – get the insulation sorted out, both acoustic and thermal, re-wire, carcass out the shower room and get the heating in. Aim is to only pull up the floor-boards once!
- Move down to the next floor and repeat – not sure how to do the en-suite without moving the window but think I can put the radiators in a temporary position for now.
- Re-lay existing slightly grotty carpet until new windows are in – thus putting off making design decisions until later!
- In the Spring – do the extension to the dining room and extend our bedroom which lies above it. Move radiators and move bedroom around putting in new wardrobes. Replace exterior cladding with render and put in insulation. Do front extension and put in foundations for the rest of the extensions. That will give us a new downstairs toilet and a utility room.
- Do kitchen extension which requires knocking down side wall of house between existing kitchen and awful leaking smelly conservatory.
- Do lounge extension.
Somewhere between 4 and 5 or may-be 5 and 6 at a push, I will need to please Charlie by getting some more money. Not sure where from yet as my career plan of winning the Euro millions does not seem to be panning out.
Seriously the budget is a real worry – I can buy as keenly as I possibly can and shave my ideas but at the end of the day I think we are short of what we need. However, if we hit a real brick wall I think that we should be able to get the interior of the house sorted, the look of the outside and the front extension. Anything else will be a bonus.
In the meantime I have to learn how to enjoy the house that I have – it’s hard to do when I know what needs doing – my eye settles on the negatives and fails to focus on the many positives of our house. The location and setting are truly lovely, we have something that can be improved on – that elusive thing called potential. We are dry, warm – well not warm but not desperately freezing, we have privacy, running water and power. There are many in this world and indeed in this country that don’t have the basics so we should count our blessings. Much as I know that I should it is hard to think like that though – and although I know that we are lucky in so many ways I find the negative things about the house constantly push to the fore. So I have come up with a solution – a filter.
I have created some nice spaces which mask the unpainted skirting boards and the chipped architraves – I want my eye to fix on the nice bits and filter out the less attractive areas. I have spent very little money on these little oasis of splendour – cushions and ready-made curtains from Next and Dunelm both are brilliant for cheap items to dress a house – Homesense likewise. Creating little corners of things that you love can mask a myriad of sins – hopefully this will keep me positive during the coming months of frustration, noise and dirt while we bring this property up to date. As the nights draw in and we live in that twilight period where the morning turns into the evening seemingly missing out the afternoon I will light a fire, put candles around the place, cook warm sustaining food and read good books – not much to complain about really.