The ups and downs of renovating a house

…or two

Archive for the category “Building”

Week 24: little details and exterior

Possibly three weeks to go (hahahaha) until the work in the house will be done.  Nah.  Probably not.  But, we are hoping for pre-Christmas.  We’ve put off our holiday and Roy will be around to help me decorate.

I’ve started to search for specific items for within the house and we found the pendant lights we’ll use above the island.  My husband doesn’t like most of my entry way (front hall) light suggestions as he sees them as outdoor lights, so I’m trying to come up with a compromise.  What do you think of those below?


We’ve begun to figure out what we’re doing for our kitchen/dining table.  My husband has researched something a bit different – a pool table which can become a dining table. Very different.  He actually found one I like.  So we’re considering it.  We measured the space and there should be enough for a small table (6′ by 3′) which will have a table top along with the pool table bit.  We’re still trying to figure out the exact colour of the wood as well as what sort of chairs, but my husband would prefer fabric covered chairs, so I think we’ll go with it.

We have definitely found the stool we’ll use for our island (we’ll get 4):

The colour will work well with our island pendants (gives you a hint as to what they’ll look like) plus they are adjustable.

Some of the small changes around the house…

The exteriors of houses in London are quite different from what I was used to in the States.  The house I grew up with had vinyl siding, some of the houses nearby had wood siding and some in the cities I lived where brick. But NONE had pebble dashing.  What is that?

Also known as roughcast, pebble dashing is a coarse plaster surface used on outside walls that consists of lime, and sometimes cement mixed with other items.[1] The materials are mixed into a slurry and are then thrown at the working surface with a trowel or scoop. The idea is to maintain an even spread, free from lumps, ridges or runs and without missing any background.  It was used a lot in the 1920 and 1930s as it was easy to do and didn’t need a lot of skill (due to WWI there were a lot of skill sets missing).  It also lasted a very long time and was cheap.  I think it’s SUPER ugly.  Below is an example similar to our house:

Ours was damaged with all the house work so we’re getting new rendering.  What you can see in the pics above is the insulation that is under the render.  We’re using K-Rend, which is a silicone product that goes over insulation.  We’re doing exterior insulation as the walls could not be insulated (typically houses built in a similar era had cavity walls – this type of house does not, so cannot be internally insulated) and then the render will be put on top.  We chose a grey (granite) which is a medium grey colour. As we live on a busy street in London, the exhaust tends to colour lighter coloured houses, making them look dirty.  We’re hoping that this colour will help.

The electrics (plugs, switches, etc) are slowly being put in place. I really like what I selected, which is a brushed steel.  We also have the new underfloor heating thermostat in place for our master bathroom – yay!

So, what’s coming up this week? I’m expecting that the rest of the electrics will be put in, that the lights on the 1st and 2nd floors will be installed (other than the hallway), and that they’ll begin to paint the halls and staircase walls.  I know they are doing the rest of the prep work for the walls in the kitchen and living room, so may get to painting those as well.  We’ll see.

On Tuesday, we’re having a guy come to quote for the carpet on the staircases, 1st floor hallway, 2nd floor bedroom and the office.  We have carpet for the other bedrooms, so we’ll get a quote for re-instillation. We went to pick out the carpets this weekend with my mother-in-law who approved the colours.  We’re doing a champagne colour on the 2nd floor (mother-in-law’s room) which hopefully will go with the vanilla yellow walls, a pale grey in the office (to go with the denim blue) and an ash colour for the stairs/hallway – similar to this (in colour & style) which is a good neutral:


We selected our beds and mattresses.  I have to say that our favourite bed company is the Original Bedstead Co.  We already own several of their beds.  We are getting a super king for ourselves and a twin/single for my mother-in-law (it’s what she wants).  We also own the Arran bed in chrome and the Virginia in satin white.  Fabulous!  Here’s what we’re getting:

Mother-in-law’s bed.

Our bed


Week 21 – ups and downs this week

So much going on.  So much.  Which, I guess, is the norm as you get to the end of a renovation project.  Some of it was planned, some of it was not so planned and we had one emergency.  I apologise ahead of time because this will probably be a very long post full of lots of words as well as pictures.

First, the “emergency”. We no longer have a fence between ourselves and our neighbours.  They needed to bring a digger in to make a hole for their concrete base (side extension).  The digger did two things – knocked over our concrete posts (which they’ll have to replace) and cut through the electrical wire which comes to both of our houses.  So, we got an emergency call at 9pm about this.  The electrical company found a problem with our electricity while fixing this cut and so, took away our electricity.  Yup, our renovation is without electricity until our contractor can produce an electrical certificate.  Now – the electricity was only connected to an extension cord at the time, so any fault is not in the wires in our house (they are not connected).  We’re not sure where a fault might be coming from unless it’s from the base unit or from the wiring coming into the house.  Yikes.  Expensive.  In addition, the contractor is not in a position to provide an electrical certificate for at least 2-3 weeks (as he’d have to install all the outlets/lights, etc and test them before he could get a certificate).  So, my contractor is going to have to bring a generator to supply the guys with electricity.  Boo.

Another thing that has made life a bit difficult is that it seems as if the guys have lost some stuff – they couldn’t find the legs to our range cooker, the specialist bathroom recessed lights and some screws necessary to put the kitchen together (as well as instructions in how to put it all together).  I know our contractor is a bit pissed off at them for not being more organised (he stops by but he’s not there all the time).  I’m not paying for anything they can’t find.

On the positive side, our flooring is in.  They will still have to sand and wax it, but it looks good.  I like the pattern they used (from what I can see so far).  A lot of the painting has happened.  And they have begun to put our kitchen together.  It will happen.  It will all come together.

And now, the pics (with a few words):


Our current house is being over-run with boxes.  We have ordered lights, switches and plugs for the first and second floors (ground floor will be another time).

Finishing work on the plastering.

Our sliding doors have been installed – the bottom roller still needs to be applied and it needs handles (which we’ve purchased) but I like them.  They will provide light straight through as well as a sound/smell barrier between the living room and kitchen.

The kitchen furniture and appliances are finally being put in place.  It really allows us to see how much space as well as storage in the new kitchen.  It’s going to be amazing.

As you can see, the kitchen furniture is on its way to being placed and fixed.  Guess they figured out how to do it and found screws. They didn’t seem to find the legs for the oven though…boo!

One of the guest bedrooms after one coat of paint – the fireplace will be repainted.

The other guest bedroom – this fireplace will also be painted.  Neither fireplace will work – only decorative.

First coat on the master bedroom.

We’re looking forward to seeing continued work on the kitchen, more painting, etc.  It’s so exciting to see if all coming together despite the various setbacks.

Week 19: lots of ‘stuff’

We’ve gotten a lot of deliveries of ‘stuff’.  I know it’s made it difficult for the builders due to the issues from the previous weeks.  But at least it has arrived, ready to be put in place.  They have continued to work on the walls on the ground floor and once that’s done (hopefully by tomorrow afternoon), they can start on the underfloor heating.  In addition, we finally got the bi-folding doors in, and they are fabulous!  So much light.

The steel beams have been covered. Including the beam above the side door!

As you can see, there is more to cover.

Kitchen stuff being stored in the master bedroom

This is the colour of the cabinet carcasses

The rendering beginning to be put on the front of the house

I’m looking forward to our next steps.  Things are going to move at a quick pace, I think.

Week 18: slow moving

It has been a frustrating few weeks since I last posted.  We had building control come to do an inspection and they decided we needed a new steel lintel above a doorway (side garden).  That meant working with our structural engineer, who is not great at responding quickly.  He finally did get in touch and so the steel will be put in this week.  That meant that the flooring, underfloor and wood, had to be put off as well as finishing the plasterboard and plastering.  Unfortunately, our kitchen furniture and appliances are being delivered this week which will further complicate everything.  But, that’s life in renovations.

One thing that has happened is that a lot of final plastering and priming has been done on the 1st and 2nd floors (2nd and 3rd floors for you Americans out there).  It does look very nice.  We’ve picked out our paint colours for these rooms and look forward to seeing them painted.

My mother-in-law’s bedroom

The guest bedroom

We have received our wood flooring, which will need to be sanded and waxed once it’s laid.

Our bi-folding door is at the house and just needs to be put in (as the opening was fixed to fit it correctly).

While it is frustrating to have work keep getting pushed back, we can see it all come together.  It’s great to see how much space we’ll have under the staircase, for example:

We’ll have doors put on so we can access this area (dog food & our vacuum will fit).

The plastering has begun around the living room, ground floor hallway and kitchen/diner.

So – lots of plastering yet to happen, painting to come, flooring to put in, etc, etc.  It will happen.


Week 15: walls are down, skylight is up

The walls have finally come down in the kitchen and the steels have gone up.  It’s now one big, huge room.  Honestly, I think that room is bigger than my first flat.  In addition, the skylight has been placed where it’s going to be (though still covered with film so its full glory is not to be seen yet) and the doorway to the back garden has been measured (so we’ll hopefully have the bi-folding doors in a few weeks).  Not much else has happened in the house other than the corner toilet has been put in place in the loft bathroom.  But it’s still SO EXCITING!

We did a walk through and figured out where all the lights are going, where the electrical sockets should be placed and what else might need to be changed.  It’s going to be fabulous when it’s done.  I hope.

On my side, I’ve ordered the English solid oak wood flooring from Northwood Forestry Limited.  We’ll have to finish it at the house but I like that idea – it gives us the ability to choose whether to keep the natural wood colour or stain it a bit.  The flooring is meant to be used with underfloor heating and was just about the same cost as good engineered wood flooring.  Yay!

I’m quite certain we’ve selected our tiling for the backsplash, but I’m not going to share it ahead of time.  There needs to be a few fun reveals, ya know!

So, here’s the collection of photos from this weekend to check out:

New door handles have been selected

It’s a tight fit and a small bathroom but it will work.


Wall covering have been removed - discovered a bricked in fireplace.  We're not using it as it just won't work with the rest of the room.  Plus it'd be darn expensive to fix it up.

Wall covering have been removed – discovered a bricked in fireplace. We’re not using it as it just won’t work with the rest of the room. Plus it’d be darn expensive to fix it up.

Steel beams are in place

More steel beams and the pyramid skylight is in place.


Week 14: FINALLY! (extension is going to happen)

The contractor finally got information from our structural engineer.  And then he ordered the steel support beams.  AND THEY ARRIVED.  Wahoo!

Two of them are partially in place (according to contractor, he needed about his entire crew of 10 men to put it in place as it was not in a place where he could use any mechanical means) and one is in place in the front hall.  There are two more to be put up, but they are smaller beams, and then they will make sure everything is secured.  Wahoo.  The extension can finally be built.

What this means is that we’ll be ready for the kitchen install in about 3 weeks.  So, it’s been put on order for delivery as of today.  I’ll be ordering our 95 square metres of solid wood oak flooring today as well (holy heck that’s a lot of wood – and very expensive stuff too but it’ll be worth it).  And we’ll be able to get the window/door guy out to measure for our bi-folding doors on Friday.  Things are starting to come together!

We should be ready to move in within 6-8 weeks (hopefully).  Not much too place this past week as they want to build the extension and see how the house settles – they can then do a bit of plaster work if cracks appear (normal).  We’ll then be ready for painting, floor laying, and finishing of the bathrooms.

The next few weeks will bring on the big changes.  VERY exciting.

Week 13: new entry, under-flooring & bathroom stuff

Just back from scuba diving in Cornwall and went to take some pics of the house with my husband and mother-in-law.  There are some changes that have happened and it’s great.

The big one you notice when you first come in is the change to the entry and staircase.  Here’s the original stairs:

As you can see, you enter in the side and have a small entryway.  There was a closet against the wall and a door to the hallway/staircase.  We have removed everything in the hallway, the wall, doorway and we’re bringing the stairs straight down.  Here’s what it looks like right now:

It’s hard to see in the pic, but it really opens everything up.  My mother-in-law is so happy with it and my husband and I are thrilled.  It’s amazing.  Once it’s done, we’ll have to figure out where to put shoes and coats and all.  I’m doing all sorts of Pinterest searches on possibilities.

The bathroom furniture is going in slowly (the blue you’ll see is protective covering) in both the top and first floor.  We need to order a few things, but it’s starting to come together.

This is the main bathroom.  For us, it’ll be huge as we’ve had a tiny square of a bathroom to use.  It’ll only have a single sink in the middle, but it’ll still have so much more space to use.  The counter is laminate but looks pretty good.  It needs to be fitted to the sink area.  We still need to finalise the tiles, put in the mirror (it’s HUGE and has lights), put in the awesome heated towel rack/radiator and the toilet roll.  And then paint it, clean it, finish with all the grouting.

As you can see below, the base flooring for the underfloor heating on the ground floor is going in.  They have also insulated the area and left space for air to travel under it all.

I can’t wait to see what the next week will bring!


Week 12: bathrooms and a few touches

In the past two weeks, we’ve picked out our final bathroom tile choices, began to pick out room colours and a few touches have been made as well as work on the garage and attached shed roofs.

Externally, the roof on the garage is looking quite good though it needs a bit of final work – here’s a pic from earlier in the week:

(And yes, there is work being done on the house next door)

As you can see they started pulling up the materials from the ground floor last week, and now, this week, actually got a lot of it up:


My husband is showing where the original flooring was located and where the new flooring will be located (we think):

These are the colours we’ll be using on the first floor (2nd floor for Americans):

The ground floor will be much more neutral but we like clean colours for bedrooms/bathrooms.  My mother-in-law’s room will be a neutral off-white colour (as she prefers that).

Tile has been installed (partially) in the main bathroom – it’s a bit messy in there but I think it’s going to look amazing once it’s done.

Bathroom stuff has begun to be put in my mother-in-law’s ensuite bathroom. It’s going to look fabulous once it’s done!

Here’s a glimpse of one of the items for the main bathroom – I’m in love!

What’s next?

The ground floor will continued to be emptied, the bathroom tiling will be finished and furniture installed, and, hopefully, if our structural engineer gets his finger out, they’ll be able to start work on the extension.  We’ve made one further change to the structure of the ground floor which I’ll reveal later.

Week Ten – a video

This week’s focus of work has been to do the roof of the garage and storage shed (attached to the house) as well as working on the second and first floor bathrooms and putting in the new boiler.  We’re still waiting for the engineer and architect to return from holiday (ugh) so nothing can really be done this week on the ground floor (boo).

Youtube video

Week Nine – more plastering, decisions on hold

A few small changes have happened as we’ve finished week nine.  Basically, plastering, electrics and plumbing have continued.  It’s not glamorous or pretty, but it’s a good step in the right direction.

The floors are still coming up in the kitchen area, but we haven’t been able to move to begin the extension as we have to make some changes and our architect is on holiday for two weeks (and the structural engineer doesn’t seem to want to return calls).  At least there is plenty for our contractor to do in the other floors.  This will push back the finishing time a bit.  Oh, well!

The wall has gone up in one of the doorways to the kitchen.  It’s going to make a huge difference.  We’ll now be able to do laundry without worrying about getting a door in the back.  Yay!

They installed the skylight into the loft bathroom and have figured out where the toilet, etc, will be placed.

We’re going to be making some changes to the front of the house.  With the installation of the windows, the plaster/pebble-dashing came off in chunks.  So we’re going to have the contractor remove all the plaster (YAY – it’s ugly), put new smooth plaster on and paint it white, which will go nicely with the red brick.

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