GAH! So I totally, totally forgot to do a final post about all the work I did in the summer and autumn renovating a city townhouse. So here is a brief rundown of everything that was done. New heating, plumbing, electrics, lighting, garden fencing, plastering, decoration, windows, plus a new kitchen roof with skylights and new unforeseen beams (long story that one..). On top of that it was totally decorated, had bespoke wardrobes made and fitted, a kitchen makeover, new flooring, refurbished original flooring and probably some other things I have forgotten. It also had plans drawn up for a huge loft conversion to make another bedroom and bathroom.
I was going to move into it once it was finished, and once we had sold our current home we live in. But priorities changed, as they always do, and we ended up having to get rid of the city house… so it was put on the market and snapped up straight away.
Here is the dining room before, during and after. It had to have electrics chased, new lighting installed, new plaster, lining paper, decoration, floor renovation and new central heating.
Walls were done in Cookie Crumble, with the Chimney Breast in Railings.
Loved the way it turned out… and it’s a big room with lots of space and light,
So it seems forever since I last posted. In fact it is 2 months, which seems shocking…. However, I have had good reason and am in the middle of doing up a new house, working as usual, decluttering, downsizing, my daughters are both in the middle of exams so need chivvying… and generally life is hectic!
The current house we live in was photographed for a magazine coming out towards Christmas, and it is only as I was having to check copy etc that I realised how behind I have become with blogging. So I am now going to concentrate and lead you through the (stressful) world of renovating a house while living a good hour away and with all of the above going on at the same time.
I finally got the house I am renovating vacated by the tenants (who were model renters by the way and if they are reading this, thank you to them!). So it is only this week that I could charge in with various helpers and trades and start the work. I have a 6-8 week window, and this is the current list that needs doing in that time. It might not seem long, but believe me organising the trades to sit seamlessly and in the right order is not always a smooth task…
Replace all Windows with new sash ones
Move all radiators and replace with nicer ones in better places
Run new cabling, replace the electrical consumer unit and install downlighters and extra plugs in several rooms
Strip off hideous lumpy embossed wallpapers
Strip off badly applied lining paper
Strip off the nightmare that is the dreaded wood chip, and is probably holding up 100 year old plasterwork that will blow the minute I remove it and mean that I probably have to re-plaster acres of walls.
Remove garden facing and replace.
Remove decrepit shed and replace with a new, dry, insulated one.
Remove kitchen roof interior entirely, and replace with a new one with 2 roof lights to bring much needed light into the room. Include new insulation and plaster.
Strip and plaster skim ceilings which have revolting swirly artex patterns
Stain wooden floors, new carpets to bedroom, and new bathroom floor.
This list was planned to the last detail so that as floorboards went up, each trade could do their bit. But things always go a bit pear-shaped, and an electrician blew me out at the last minute. I had planned to get all of that work done when the floorboards were up for the radiator man’s work, killing two birds with one stone. I even had an excel spreadsheet ready. But that has all gone to pot a bit now…
Even sadder of me, I made up templates of all my furniture in newspaper, correct to the last millimetre! This meant I could play with where things would/could fit. This actually has been really useful, although I got strange looks from the family as I made up the templates. Continue reading “Been a bit busy… renovating a new house Part 1”→
For those who have noticed a somewhat silent blog recently, I do have a very valid reason as I have been slogging away 7 days a week over the last couple of months to get this house completed. My life has been consumed by this project, but I now it is done I think I have enjoyed it…(?!)
I have learnt many new things; how to fit door architraves and skirting, mix plaster, fix windows, mitre corners properly and much more. I think I have used about 125 litres of white emulsion, and got a sort of snow-blindness by the end of it. My hands are like a workman’s, and I am exhausted and have spent hours in builders yards and sourcing things online to get the best prices But it has been worth it, and I am on budget which is a miracle…
In the middle of the job my builders’ firm went bust, which could have been a total disaster and left me up the creek without a paddle so to speak, but we managed to muddle through and finish the renovation. My builders honoured the contract and worked extra hours unpaid to finish the job, so someone up there was watching out for me I think! It meant a 3 week delay on the build, and that I had to learn lots of new skills pronto, but circumstances meant that I just had to forge on.
Here come the before, mid-point and after pictures…..
The facade of the house…. from grubby magnolia to zingy blue… I got over vertigo on that scaffolding after a couple of days, and it was a lovely view…
The garden…. from rubbish dump to a much more elegant space…
The once small and festering loo… now a wall has been moved to create a spacious shower room…
The renovation continues. We are more than half way now, with a final push this next month to get it all done. The garden is landscaped and fenced, the kitchen is being fitted, the shower room is half in and tiled, and the bathroom awaits its turn this week. My hands look appalling, all nails broken, with sugar soap having seeped into my gloves so they have puckered alarmingly. I am getting through mountains of hand cream to try and repair the damage.
Main receptions and bedrooms are now mainly painted on newly plastered walls and ceilings, I am waiting to do most woodwork like skirting and architraves until the builders are out as the dust is chaotic. New doors are primed, painted and hung. The main stairwell which winds up through the house has been lined and painted. We only have two more walls to be plastered in a hallway and a bathroom. The final job will be laying the flooring throughout. It has been a 7 day a week job for me, and I am shattered, but I can see the end now.
So, here are some things I have learnt over the past couple of weeks:
Plaster can take a long time to dry when you want it to.
Plasterers are the MESSIEST people, although the walls and ceilings they work on are smooth perfection, the rest of the room, (especially the floors), look like a plaster bomb has gone off. I have spent many hours scraping dried hunks off floorboards, windows, skirting and doors. After some chatting up, I persuaded the plasterers to clean up as they went, but only after we were 6 rooms into the project…
When re-plastering walls, you might as well replace all skirting and architrave as the plasterers are also vandals who yank the existing ones off, cracking them in the process. I have extra hours to do now repairing the damage.
New plaster also drinks paint, even with mist coats. My initial estimate of 30 litres for the whole building is now at 90. Luckily I have discovered Leyland’s acrylic based emulsion which is a one coat wonder, or I could be into the hundreds in terms of litres.
Always make friends with the Builders Yard staff. I have managed to snitch a couple of free deliveries already, and they are experts at getting me in more paint from the manufacturers pronto when I clear their stock!
Chose water based satinwood for spindles and architraves, and oil based satinwood for doors and skirting. The latter take the hardest knocks so need the 16 hour dry time, whilst the former can take the 4 hour version and get re-coated faster.
Builders thrive on a lot of tea, Krispy Creme Donuts and praise. Apart from one errant Electrician who has vanished on a stag week to Bulgaria, mine are all pretty much present and correct. We did have a few days to wait on wet plaster, but otherwise they have been pretty good so far. The electrician returns this week, hopefully not with shaking hands from too much partying as he finishes the 2nd fix.
Always make sure you lock your ladders, I have had a couple of spectacular tumbles so far. The worst day however was when my mum appeared to help paint and slid to the floor as the steps buckled under her. The guilt was unbelievable, but she was OK if not a bit shaken.
Following on from that, invest in a small platform. Much more comfy than balancing on a step ladder.
Invest in a strong metal extending pole for rollers. Some of the ceilings in this house are 12 foot and the stairwells up to 20 feet, and the pole makes painting a breeze.
Here are some more in progress pictures, remember the crappy garden full of brambles, mattresses and rubbish?
We found a patio area and an old lined formal pond under the mess, as well as a lot of bicycle parts! So we re-used the pond as a formal bed planted with box which will grow into a cute hedge with a Bay tree in the middle, and relaid new stones in the patio area surrounded with Cotswold chippings. New lawn and a variety of ornamental grasses in the rear beds finished it off. The garden was also fenced for privacy. I will add lots of pots of flowering plants when the house is marketed, plus more seating in the front patio area.
For the last few weeks I have not had a minute spare to post anything, and have been trying to juggle the renovation, still do another existing part-time job, carry out my school Governor role, look after my kids and still run the family home. I kid you not, this is multi-tasking to another level. Luckily, we women have brains that can compartmentalize and manage these feats, otherwise I should be a gibbering wreck being carted off to an institution for intense therapy!
So, since the last post the house renovations has been cracking onwards. All of the walls have been stripped bare, discovering along the way that the original builders glued woodchip wallpaper straight onto bare plasterboard in some areas, which is impossible to remove without damage. At least 3 walls had this finish so we had to budget for more extensive works to them to get them sorted out. Who invented that paper and why?
I had to source a building team pretty quickly, and was amazed at some of the outrageous quotes that came in from various trades. Differences for wiring quotes, as an example, were from £2,800 to £10,000 for the house. The phrase ‘are you having a laugh?’ came to mind (and more explicit ones that I will not share).. However, perseverance and a lot of cash deals sorted out a great team. I then contracted the builders to come in and do the following lengthy list:
Plasterboard where necessary all ceilings and aforementioned walls, re-plaster all rooms in the house, re-wire and chase in all new electrics, re-plumb, move two walls, install new central heating and radiators, hang & fit all new doors,fit two bathrooms and one kitchen… the list goes on and on. I also have a gardener stripping out the hideous junkyard that was the garden, with new lawn, planting and fencing coming next week. My main job is decorating both internally and externally, chosing the kitchen, bathrooms and flooring. I have been sourcing new joinery and hardware for all the doors in the house, and am become a wizard with my tape measure and minute measurements! I am also on first name terms now with trade suppliers at the Builders yards in the city.
I asked my building team to start from the top down so I can at least prep the new plaster with mist coats whilst the messy work is being done. We are at the stage of first fix electrics being finished, and 50% of the house is plastered. Most floorboards are up and the debris is incredible. It’s a dust bomb basically, it even gets in my teabags somehow.
Stripping a room, can someone explain the painting method on the door to me please?
So here are some photos of the works so far. A small loo has the wall smashed down in preparation for extending it into a shower room.