The ups and downs of renovating a house

…or two

Archive for the category “the house”

The final video

I know.  It’s been a while. We went on holiday, I got ill, things got in the way…you know the drill. But I finally got a chance to take the final renovation video.  Is the work all done? Not entirely, there’s things to change. But it’s mostly done (and what has to be done isn’t really all that visible).

So, here’s the “before” video.  Definitely check it out first so you can see the changes a lot better.

Youtube video of “before”

And this is our video of “after” (please note that I did not spruce up the house – it’s how we live – and it’s certainly NOT a show home).  Excuse my voice and brain farts.  I did this three times and I guess it’s how my brain works.  It’ll never be perfect.

Youtube video of “after”

If you want to see all the pics I took and saved, you can head to my Flickr album here: click

If you have any questions about where we purchased items, please get in touch.

I’ll update the blog as we put up new paintings, do the outdoors, etc.  Owning a home is a never ending bit of work!

Week 32: not yet…but the small things I love

We’re not quite done.  I know, it seems so long.  It has been.  But we have had some good stuff happen.  We now have a working fridge.  Yay!  No more “not working so well” mini-fridge.  We have curtains on two of the rooms and at least privacy sheers on the front of the house.  Barney is adapting to living here (even if the people coming to work on the house freak him out a lot). The bathroom we use is amazing, the living room comfortable, we just got our alarm system put in (feeling safer already) and I’m almost completely unpacked.  Unfortunately, the dishwasher has been found to be blown and our washing machine decided to take a walk the first time I used it, so I still wash dishes by hand (not a big deal) and have been going to the old house to do laundry (boo), though I get to bring it back to a dryer which is amazing (soft towels for the first time in 12-1/2 years).  Luckily, after writing this draft, they fixed the washing machine so I’ll be able to do it all here.  They are still working on the exterior.  And the front and back gardens are a mess.

I decided to take pics of my favourite things for now.  I’ll post, finally, when I take the video of everything done (probably before the back garden is finished but that’s okay).  And I’ll post where we purchased everything in case something strikes your fancy.

So, here they are…my favourite things:

You can't really get a good feel of it from this photo but it's gorgeous. Such a lovely mix of blacks, blues and greys with little flecks of light (mica?).

You can’t really get a good feel of it from this photo but it’s gorgeous granite on the kitchen counters.  Such a lovely mix of blacks, blues and greys with little flecks of light (mica?).

 

We have some lovely fireplaces but this is my favourite. It's so different from anything else I've ever seen.

We have some lovely fireplaces but this is my favourite. It’s so different from anything else I’ve ever seen.

 

Our bathroom makes me so happy. The light coming in from the windows brings me joy. The whole thing has come together really nicely.

Our bathroom makes me so happy. The light coming in from the windows brings me joy. The whole thing has come together really nicely.

 

The door handles are so different from what was here before. They are soft on the hand and look elegant. A perfect fit for the age of the home (1920s/30s).

The door handles are so different from what was here before. They are soft on the hand and look elegant. A perfect fit for the age of the home (1920s/30s).

 

The rug under our dining table. It's a great mix of colours from navy blue to teal to pink to green, etc. Brings a shot of colour to a room that is very light, white and pale grey.

The rug under our dining table. It’s a great mix of colours from navy blue to teal to pink to green, etc. Brings a shot of colour to a room that is very light, white and pale grey.

 

Another bit of colour in our kitchen. And SO COMFY!

Another bit of colour in our kitchen. And SO COMFY!

 

The herringbone pattern of our white subway tiles in the kitchen is classic but a bit different. Perfect for the shaker kitchen.

The herringbone pattern of our white subway tiles in the kitchen is classic but a bit different. Perfect for the shaker kitchen.

 

It's not perfect or gorgeous but it works perfectly for us. Our front entry has enough hooks for all our coats, places to put our sneaker/trainers and any winter items, as well as Barney's leads and collars. It works.

It’s not perfect or gorgeous but it works perfectly for us. Our front entry has enough hooks for all our coats, places to put our sneaker/trainers and any winter items, as well as Barney’s leads and collars. It works.

 

Being organised. Having the space to be organised. It's tough to bring together two households worth of items (my mother-in-law had a LOT that we got rid of and I had a LOT that I got rid of), so it's nice that we could get it all put together. You should see the cabinet with the five types of dal - all organised in labelled jars as I'd have no clue).

Being organised. Having the space to be organised. It’s tough to bring together two households worth of items (my mother-in-law had a LOT that we got rid of and I had a LOT that I got rid of), so it’s nice that we could get it all put together. You should see the cabinet with the five types of dal – all organised in labelled jars as I’d have no clue).

Week 29-1/2: We’re in, Problems and Joys

It’s been an interesting few weeks since last I wrote.  There have definitely been some serious ups and down.  2016 is turning out to be quite the year in so many ways.  I apologise as this is going to be a bit long.  If you just want pictures, scroll to the bottom.

On Dec 19 we had an appointment with the UK Power Networks.  They never showed up despite me staying at home and not showering, which was so frustrating.  They then said they’d come before 1pm on the 20th.  It had to be then for two reasons – I had an eye appointment and we were also meant to get our alarm in on the 20th.  Again, they didn’t show. Due to not having power, we were unable to have them put it in.  I was so peeved.  (And we’re not going to be able to get it down until some time in the new year, darn it.)  My husband and I then call bombed them until they basically got someone to show – around 8pm on the 20th. Yay!

And then, it all went horribly wrong.  The guy started testing things – and everything started to blow – you could hear cracks and pops.  He stopped.  I called my contractor.  He told the guy what he thought was wrong.  The guy checked it out and then called more guys in – eventually they showed up at around 10pm.  Yup, it was going to be a long night.  The same two guys who showed up initially and turned off our power were the ones who showed up again.  AND YES – they were the problem.  The work they did initially ruined our system.  So, they dug it up, changed things and at 2:30am, they were essentially done.  But we had to have an electrician in the next day to fix the internals.  Finally, we had electricity.  But we also had a hole at the side of the house.

At least having power meant we could move.  So, we moved on Friday, 23rd of December.  We had asked the contractor to make sure everything was turned on.  Problem.  The guys had blown the brand new fridge freezer, the dishwasher, the extractor fan as well as multiple lights.  We were worried about the electrical  underfloor heating in the bathroom, but it worked.  It kinda screwed up the fan in there, though.  We soldiered through.  And discovered that the sinks were not plumbed in and no one was available to come fix ’em up.  So, no washing dishes.  Paper plates and plastic forks it was.  Boo.  We also, unfortunately, discovered that the washing machine was not fully plumbed in after a minor floor in the kitchen – we caught it quickly.

Here’s a few pics from the move:

We took over one of the rooms for all the boxes in the kitchen as the guys were still doing some work when we arrived.

 

We put together a small front entry place to hang coats and place shoes (no shoes allowed in our house).  As you can see, more boxes, and an excitable Barney.

 

Our new living room with our old couches and chairs as well as a new coffee table.

 

The old kitchen table with a new rug.

 

A warm master bathroom!

 

Stools at the island.  They are a bit brighter than I expected (ordered online) but I love them as they are a good pop of colour and are very comfy.

We had a delivery from IKEA coming tomorrow as well as a guy from Samsung to check out our fridge.  We’ll be talking to the manufacturers of our extractor fan and dishwasher as well to see if this is covered under warranty.  If not, UK Power Networks are bound to pay for new appliances.  I can’t wait to have a fridge that works (other than my mother-in-law’s old, not so cold mini-fridge).

We also don’t have a phone line, internet or cable at this point, which is driving us both a bit crazy.  We got unlimited internet on our phones but we can only use up to 6GB of data porting to our computers (I’m at our old house as we still have internet there so I could upload the pics and write this post.) .  I hope we get all three very, very soon!

On the positive side, the contractor came today and plumbed in one of the sinks and the washing machine.  We have a working dryer (it wasn’t plugged in at the time of the electrical issue).  I can do laundry tomorrow and not have to hang it up!!!   I love quite a lot about the house – it’s so much more open and airy.  I love the granite we chose.  Barney is having fun playing chase around the entire ground floor. Our new bed and mattress is amazing (King size).  Our new bathroom is just about perfect.  And the house is warm.

Despite all the issues, I’m happy that the house is coming together and that we’re there.  Once things have fully settled and the work is entirely done, I’ll do a final video and pictures so you can see before and after.  I’ll also list where I bought everything and more about our contractor just in case you want any info.

Week 25: more painting and electrical stuff

I passed on the paints to the guys on Friday, for them to do the work on Saturday and Sunday.  Here’s what we chose:

Dulux Trade (only paints we’ll use) Chiffon White 4 for the hallways and stairs:

It’s a good neutral which will go with both my mother-in-law’s vanilla based bedroom & bathroom colour, as well as the blues, greys and yellows we are using on the ground and first floor.

For the kitchen we’re using Dulux Trade Quartz Flint 4, a pale grey which will work with the cabinets:

 

And finally, the living room.  Yeah, we went for it. Bright blue.  It’s not as bright in person, painted as the tub of paint would make you think…but it’s still quite a lovely bright blue. Dulux Trade Royal Regatta 3:

Here is what it looks like in person with the new lights (chandelier and wall lights).

The kitchen and hallway/staircases haven’t been painted yet as they are still working on some plastering and prep work.

What has been done are a lot of the lights:

The entry/front hall light.  I wanted something that wasn’t too imposing but still was a bit different.

The shabby chic light in our guest bedroom (more off white than grey, unlike this pic).

I used the old living room light for the exercise/guest/tv room.

Our office light.

I’m going to hold off from sharing my bedroom lights mainly because the pics I took of them just weren’t great.  Next time you see the master bedroom, it’ll be fully finished.

A few bathroom details have been added, though neither my mother-in-law’s nor our master bathroom is fully finished.

My MIL’s bathroom – added the towel rack and mirrored cabinet.

Our lit mirror (which also has a demister).  It’s the same width as the cabinets which means I won’t have to share with my husband (yay!).

Our towel rack, which I love, love, love.  It is so different from anything else I saw out there.

And our shower…with an extra handset on the tub filler (which will make it easier to wash my hair while luxuriating in the tub).

We were meant to have our worktops in the kitchen put in, but there were a few issues that came up.  I’m hoping that we’ll be ready to get them by the end of the week.  We shall see.  We still have to have the ground floor waxed, which will take up two days of work and then need at least 2-4 days to dry enough to really do much on it.  We can’t move in until at least a week after this has happened.

Our carpet is scheduled to be put in on Dec 7 and we’d like to move in on Dec 16.  That’s only 2-1/2 weeks away.  Will it happen?  I’m guessing no.  I’d love to schedule the move but I’m just not ready to do it. Bah.

Week 23: coming together?

Yup, I skipped a week.  There really wasn’t much to see, though stuff was getting done.  So I decided to wait a week and show you better what has happened.

On the downside: I arrived on Friday to meet up with the guys doing the template for the worktops and found water coming through the ceiling.  The guys working there don’t have fabulous English so I couldn’t understand what happened.  But it definitely means that I’ll be making them take down the plasterboard there as I don’t want mould.  The worst part – it was coming through the hole made for one of the lights and dripping down wires.  Yeah, safe.  Luckily, not connected.  In addition, we still don’t have electricity.  Oh, well.

UPDATE: saw our contractor yesterday.  He had heard nothing about it so I’m glad that I was there.  He’s going to be investigating and, yes, he will definitely remove all the bad plaster, etc.

On the upside: painting has continued, switches have begun to be put in, lighting has arrived, sanding of the floors has been achieved and we had the guys in to do the measurements for the granite.  The kitchen still has a lot of work to yet be done but it’s moving forward.  Lots of pictures!

Lots of lights (there are more!) and switches and plugs

The navy of the master bedroom

Master bathroom blue

Newly painted feature fireplace in mother-in-law’s bedroom

The template being measured

 

A few pics from the template

The big sink

Handles on the kitchen drawers and cabinets

Newly sanded oak floors

The mess that still exists on the 1st floor (2nd floor for those Americans reading)

It’s very exciting that things are moving forward.  I really can’t wait for it to finish!

 

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 16: prepped and ready

Nothing too exciting to report this week.  Basically, it’s a waiting game until items arrive.  So the guys have been prepping things in anticipation.

The flooring is ready in the ground floor for the underfloor heating to be laid.

The walls in the living room have been prepped for plastering.

And the outside of the house has begun to be plastered so that they can put the final surface on it (very awesome protective stuff).  It’s a silicone rendering which will help protect the house.  We’ve chosen this colour:

 

The week ahead will bring the underfloor heating being put into the ground floor and the walls being prepped and plastered.  The week after is when things get exciting – bi-folding doors put in, oak flooring being put in and waxed…wahoo!

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.

NO MORE WALLS!

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