Monday, 4 August 2014

Fiddling on the Roof!

It seems that life in the building lane has two paces.  It's either all stop or all go at 100 mph!  At the moment we're speeding along at a rate of knots and can barely keep up with the decisions we are having to make on a daily basis.  The rookie status that we wear is very noticeable!

I think it's fair to say we have A LOT to learn and I have a sneaking suspicion we might learn some of it the hard way.  That's all part of the adventure though.  At least that's what I'm telling myself.  I'm also telling it to the slightly manic and very bemused part of my personality that seems desperate to take control of me at the current time.  TCM and I seem to be both adopting a slightly glazed expression. This is an adventure.  It will be exciting and nerve-wracking and it's really too late to turn back now because......

This week, after much talking, work started on the front of the house.

This was our bedroom until a few days ago.......

It looks quite happy, sitting there minding it's own business doesn't it?

Then the builders did this to it....

Then they took the front part of the roof off.......

And then they turned my house into a dolls house......

Where's my roof gone?

Measuring up the new window.....

Seeing the light switch really amused me.....

All tucked up for the night....

The view from inside.....
I knew the roof was almost off but it was a text from my neighbour, Cat Lady, saying "your house looks like a dolls house" that got me racing over to see.  There were lots of work men doing various jobs.  There were Carpenters and Builders and the Electricians had popped in for a look. Our Builder was chivvying everyone along, having arrived on site at 7am that morning (he didn't leave until 6pm when we went to move some furniture in the room underneath our bedroom in case the rain leaked through).

Seeing the roof off was more emotional than I thought it was going to be.  It's a bit like seeing a good friend after they've been beaten up. I found it really hard to look at it, if I'm honest.  Hearing the wind whistling through the tarp over the room was eerie.  The house seems a little lost without us, as are we without her.

Today she sits unattended, waiting for work to start again tomorrow.  TCM and I are currently trying to wrap our heads around the size of piping we need to draw water around the house from the mains. I never even considered that there were different pipe sizes but after spending hours looking at Mega-Flow systems we have discovered we can install another Combi boiler if we re-pipe from the mains and around the house with bigger pipes.

Of course we can..... it all makes perfect sense.....

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Story So Far......

This will actually be a fairly short post I think as currently very little is happening at the house.  This feels very familiar having watched a great many Grand Designs programmes over the years.  Delays seem to be a big part of any building work. Yet it has taken quite some time to get to this point already.

As I mentioned in my first post we were lucky to have our builder on board from the outset and have discussed every element of the project with him.  He's a very creative person so his ideas have been very helpful.  Part of what scares me most about doing this project is that I am not really very creative, well not in an artistic way anyway. I am not very good with concepts on paper. I need to see the space before I can decide how it will look.  I need to understand the light in the room before I decide which colours will work on the walls.  I hate too much choice.  I am not someone you will find scouring flea markets looking for some bijou piece of furniture.  I can sew but I don't think of clever ideas of things to make.  I'm very practical. A roll your sleeves up and get on with it sort of person.

So, yes I'm nervous about the creative design.

I do have some ideas but I will wait until I see what the space looks like before I think about it too much. I'm looking at kitchens and bathrooms and am looking around Pintrest for ideas.  Due to budget constraints all of those will probably come via B&Q because a very dear friend is able to access a wonderful discount for me.  Having been a wood kitchen person (and am at heart really) all these years I'm thinking of going for a very modern feel with a high gloss white or cream kitchen because part of our house struggle with light and I think this will help to brighten it all up.

Even designing the building was a struggle.  One of the early designs was literally a two storey extension straight out the back.  My concern was that it would look like a giant Toberlone! As much as I love eating Toberlone chocolate I don't think the building would forgive us for embodying that within its structure.  I was also very adamant about the size of my utility room so we decided to wrap the extension around the sides.

Once that was decided upon it took several attempts from our architect to get the design right.  I've learned that architects can draw perfectly lovely looking designs that are totally unbuildable so I'm grateful to our builder for overseeing the whole process and highlighting when the designs were unachievable.

Getting planning permission was a relatively stress-free experience.  It was a slow process but there were no issues.  We sought permission for a garage as well but that was rejected.  Our architect didn't think we would get permission for the flat window at the front of the house and tried hard to talk us out of it and accept a dormer window.  We were resolute on that though and prepared to go to appeal. Our architect was flabbergasted when permission was granted.

The most frustrating part has been waiting for the building regs so we can get going.  It has taken weeks for the front of the house to be agreed between the architect and the structural engineer.  We are excited about the triangular windows in the front and back and keen to see at least one of them in situ.  However we now have to wait again for the steels to be made so more thumb twiddling will ensue.  Having moved into rented accommodation now I am anxious to get moving as quickly as possible because I am currently paying double the bills I was previously plus our rented house is lovely and I'm grateful that we can afford to move out but it is very small and I am missing the space of our home.

One of the things I am hoping any readers of this blog might offer is help with ideas so if you have found an amazing website that you want to share with me the I am all ears!  Also if you have any tips that you may have found really useful when doing your own build I would love to hear them.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Dream


We are self confessed procrastinators so it's no surprise that it's taken us 10 years to finally embark upon our big, dream, building project.  To be fair, we have been busy with other things and this is the first opportunity we've had to finally get this build off the ground.

Who are we?

I'm Gem and my hubby is TCM (which stands for This Charming Man) and our two children Katie (6) and Pip (20 months).  We have two gorgeous Maine Coon cats called Leo and Willow. We live in Hampshire in a quite spacious 1950's bungalow set on a third of an acre.  We've never built anything bigger than a patio so this will be our first build. TCM has been dreaming of this moment for over 10 years.  I'm excited and terrified in equal measures. Terrified because I'm in unchartered waters for me and excited because, if it all comes off, we will have the most amazing home.

What is the project?

When we bought our bungalow 10 years ago it was already converted to a chalet bungalow but only had Velux windows upstairs. The bungalow has been subjected to a lot of bodging by the previous owner so we are pretty much gutting it all and starting again. We call the bungalow "the house that Bodge built". 

The aim of this project is to complete the conversion of our 4 bed converted bungalow by fitting two beautiful flat triangular windows in the upstairs of the bungalow, front and back, hopefully avoiding a cyclops result. We are also building a 6 metre, two storey extension that will wrap around the side of the bungalow.  This will bring us a new open plan kitchen with lounge/diner (and built in fish tank! keep the baby happy) overlooking the very large garden with an added healing room for my Reiki practice. We will also gain an additional bedroom upstairs which will mean the bungalow will have 5/6 bedrooms. We will move our bedroom to the back of the house enjoying a more spacious bedroom with an en-suite and the children will both have a good sized double bedroom each plus a shared family bathroom. The fourth bedroom upstairs will double as dressing room and a guest bedroom for when other children stay overnight. We're going to re-tile the roof, fit a new kitchen and bathrooms upstairs and downstairs. We're going to remove an internal wall and move the stairs. There are three walls in the property that will remain untouched, the rest will either be moved or re-sited. As well as my healing room, one of the things I wanted most was a utility room with lots and lots of storage space. I'm as excited about my utility room as I am about my healing room.

That's quite a lot to be getting on with especially if you consider that the origins of this project were first to simply redesign upstairs. This then widened to a single story extension out the back and side but, when it appeared the roof would be too complex, expanded further to become a two storey extension.

We have a budget of £150K for everything including finishing. The piling for the foundations will eat up at least £30k of that budget. I will admit that we do not, as yet, have a quote from our builder (mostly due to the pending building regs) and will be starting the project really on a wing and a prayer. We trust and like our builder though and he is fully conversant with our budget. We know that he will bring savings wherever he can and he is as excited about the project as we are. I'm sure Sarah Beany would shake me until my teeth rattled if she read this paragraph!  

At the moment our bungalow looks like a typical 1950's bungalow from the front and a Swiss chalet from the back. Our aim is to give the property an identity; to help it decide what it now is and bring the front and back of the property together into one building.  The large room at the back of the bungalow will have large bi-fold doors that will invite the garden into the house. We're keeping the design very simple though. We wanted to have a contemporary feel to the bungalow and to steer away from the dormer windows that are prevalent our neighbourhood.

What's the story so far?

We've traversed the complexities of our local Planning Department with the help of our Architect and Builder. Planning permission has been given and we are currently awaiting building regs to start work, hopefully the week after next. The design of the build has involved our builder from the start. It was his drawing in Sketch-up that brought it all to life for us. Our architect isn't overly keen on the design, although his wife is! I've kindly pointed out to him that he doesn't have to live in it. The bungalow has recently been coated in scaffolding, which arrived the day we moved out to live in rented accommodation for the duration of the build. The approximate building time is 6-8 months. The building will be unliveable for us with the two children and our two cats so we've escaped to a house about a mile away. Work is due to start in just over a week's time on the front of the bungalow (if our architect ever finishes sorting out the building regs!). Our builder is phoning him daily to push things along.

Oh, and we are the proud owners of 5,000 bricks which we bought on the advice of our builder because the price of bricks seems to be more inflationary than the FTSE 1000. They are going to be delivered next week, now we have permission to cut down the trees in our front garden so we can actually get them on site.

How exciting is that?

This blog will be the record of our build 

............and quite possibly the outlet for my stress!

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>