Tag: building work

My house just had it’s Pinocchio moment!

When we bought our house earlier this year, it certainly wasn’t for it’s charming good looks!

In fact, it was such a strange building that we’d been scrolling past it on RightMove for almost 4 months, dismissing it completely out of hand. It was in the postcode we wanted, but that’s where the appeal ended. It was marketed as a 2 bedroom apartment with a private garden and 3 garages. And it looked like this.

Our house when we bought it

We assumed that, as an apartment, it would be leasehold; that it was some type of commercial property; and that the 3 garages were probably rented out or, if not, what the hell were they there for?! Plus we were moving out of a 2 bedroom place, and specifically wanted a 3 bed.

It wasn’t until the husband, in a fit of back to work after Christmas boredom, had a proper look at it that it even became a possibility. He came home from work and told me it was actually freehold, all of the garages belonged to and were being sold with the property and, looking on Google maps, it was in a very secluded area. Also, it had potential for planning permission. Bubbles of excitement started to develop.

The other thing to say here is that we had a very limited search area. When Phil & Kirsty talk about Location, Location, Location – we embody that! We had perhaps a square mile area where we wanted to live, and we were struggling to consider other towns or locations. The problem with that square mile area was that there weren’t really many properties that matched our needs. There’s lots of flats (which, as I say, we were moving away from), lots of Victorian houses which don’t have a garage (essential for the husband’s Harley) and very poor street parking which is high in demand, and lots of really big multi bedroom houses which were way way out of our price range. There really weren’t a lot of properties which were going to meet our (strict) requirements.

So, when the funny apartment with 3 garages started to tick some boxes, we began to wonder whether, in the absence of something available that matched our wants and needs, we could actually part build something instead?

I won’t bore you with the tumultuous offer process, estate agent dealings or price negotiations. Or the planning permission, rules and regulations. Obviously there was a happy ending because we bought the property, and we’re now making it into a traditional house. We’re converting the double garage (leaving the 3rd garage in place for the husband’s motorbike), knocking that through into what was a really big porch, and building an extension to the side which will open out on to the garden. Downstairs will be fully open plan, with an L shaped kitchen and lounge area in the (former) garage, a dining space in the extension, and the large hall/walkway up for discussion! The layout of upstairs will remain the same, but we’ll repurpose the space – what’s currently the lounge will become our bedroom, the kitchen will be a laundry/utility room, and we’ll have 2 more bedrooms and the bathroom as is.

The builders have been on site for 5 weeks and it’s been a stressful and exciting time. Every morning at 8am we hear them starting work and every evening we get home wondering what will have changed that day. On the plus side, because the property was a 2 bedroom apartment, we’re living relatively undisturbed upstairs with no building mess or interruption (although we still have a lot of boxes and bags that we didn’t unpack after the move because we didn’t have space to put everything!)

You’re probably wondering about the Pinocchio moment I mentioned in the title of this post? Remember when Pinocchio the puppet gets his wish, turns to Geppetto and says “look, I’m a real boy!”

Pinocchio I'm a real boy

Well, where once was 2 garage doors is now 2 proper, double glazed, uPVC framed opening windows. And we have the rudiments of a canopy over what will be our new front door. I feel like our property is saying “look, people who saw past the weirdness, I’m a real house!”

Our house now

Unfortunately, for now, that’s as far as it goes, because we have to wait for the extension glazing and the front door to be manufactured, delivered and fitted. The builders have downed tools for a few weeks because they can’t proceed with doing anything inside until everything is watertight. But we’ve picked and ordered our kitchen and worktops, interior doors and flooring, and it’s SO EXCITING! Still clinging on to the hope that we’ll be done before Christmas (god knows I’ll be cracking the whip on those builders!) and then I get to do all the exciting stuff like cushions and pictures and pretties, which is far more interesting than plasterboard and wall insulation.

When we moved into the flat 11 and a half years ago, we had a bit of work done then – redesigned kitchen and an interior wall knocked down. It was so stressful and messy that we swore we’d never move anywhere that needed big work doing again. You can see how that vow worked out!

I’m sure I’ll be boring bombarding you with lots more pictures in the weeks to come, as we start the decorating and dressing of the new rooms!

Have you ever taken on a building project? Done lots of work to a property? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

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Peeling paper, plastering and planning permission

It’s all going on in our house at the moment. Remember a while back, when I giddily posted that we’d bought the place, but it needed work to make it the home we want? The work has started. We’re living in a mess. We keep saying “it’s only temporary” on repeat, and spend as much time in the garden as we can but there’s no doubt that we are very much having work done.

The man who lived there before us had been there since it was built, in the 90s, and I’d say he hadn’t changed the décor since then. So we inherited dated pastel wallpaper borders in some of the rooms, which we’ve been trying to remove ready for plastering. We also inherited 90s artex ceilings, which need to be plasterboarded over, hence the need to remove the borders first. We have furniture in rooms where it shouldn’t be, ladders on our stairs, and a kitchen full of buckets, plaster dust covered sheets, screws and stuff. It’s not exactly a pleasure to live there right now! There are only the 2 bedrooms left to do, but I need to break down huge, fugly wardrobes that were obviously built in situ and hence can’t be taken out in one piece in order for the plasterer to be able to do his job. So that means we have piles of clothes to add to the general upheaval!

House update

Oh, and the plasterer can’t come today because he’s at a funeral, and can’t come tomorrow because it’s an Irish funeral and he’ll be hungover! I admire his candour though!

On the plus side, we have weekend tickets for the Moseley Jazz, Funk & Soul festival this weekend, so we’ll be spending much of our time away from the building site and dancing to bands like Soul II Soul and Chaka Khan in the park. It’s been a couple of years since I was last at the festival, so it will be a welcome return!

In other house news (because I don’t seem to have much else going on in my life right now, it’s pretty all consuming) our builder has been in touch about the other work we’re having done, which is BIG STUFF. Garage conversion, new house front and an extension, gulp. That will hopefully be less messy, for us at least, because we can live upstairs while all that’s happening downstairs. I shall link back to this post and remind myself of my (probably misplaced) optimism when it’s happening! Just waiting on planning permission (please be kind and quick, Birmingham City Council).

The funny thing about all this, is that when we started house hunting last year my Mom asked us if we’d consider taking on a project. And we said NO WAY. We want to buy a house that needs NO WORK.

That ended well…

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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