Things I’m loving at the moment

Design Vintage Pale Grey Vintage Cupboard
Loaf Pudding Sofa
Lama Cushion
The White Company Beaumont Four Poster Bed
Distressed Metal Shelf Unit
Rattan Butlers Tray
Timsbury Velvet Mustard Sofa
Iron Window Mirror
New Trapeze Chandelier
Long Ear Hook
Easton Baskets
Chambray Towel
Stamford Single Bed

When things don’t go to plan

I always knew this project would be a challenge. In fact I distinctly remember saying to Luke when we first viewed the cottage ‘huge potential, but a lot of money and work involved.’ But it didn’t seem to phase Luke at all. This has always been his dream, to buy a project and do it up. So we did.

I knew he had done lots of projects like this before so he had the experience and he would make it work, and if he didn’t know something he’d find out. He’s a complete perfectionist and very good at what he does so I knew everything would be done properly and he wouldn’t cut any corners. It’s what he does, his trade is plumbing, but he has also completed numerous property renovations for clients. But this time it is a bit different, as it’s his own home and our budget (of which we don’t have much of!)

This project has tested us both to our absolute limits, and as I write this, we are still sat in the caravan with yet more news that we won’t be moving in for ‘at least’ another 3 weeks. I have no idea how I have even lasted this long to be honest… it was only supposed to be for a couple of months!

The caravan has been fun (in a way). I just said that through gritted teeth. The summer is hard as it’s like a sauna, being tin, well you can imagine. In the winter, we have no central heating in the van. The heating comes in the form of blow or oil heaters. And let’s just say the electricity bill could have paid for a new kitchen.

When you buy a house there’s so much excitement. You could say a house is just bricks and mortar, but there’s so much more to a house than that. It’s a place where you make memories. We bought the cottage as a family home, a place where we’d bring up our children, a place that I hope they’d look back on with lots of cherished memories. But, I don’t feel like we have made that family home yet, and so far I feel like we’ve just been in limbo. My favourite saying is ‘when we’re in the house, we can…’

I thought I could finally see the finish line. I thought next week we’d start sorting through some of the boxes we had packed away at the end of 2015, ‘stuff’ that I haven’t seen since, and I could start thinking about where things could go. And one of the things I am most excited about was doing the boys bedrooms and seeing A’s face when he sees his new big boy bed and all of his toys in his bedroom. Toys we have had in storage for way too long.This was A’s bedroom, which is now split into two. Originally to be the office, but now the nursery until we extend and build the fourth bedroom.

But, as I have learn’t so many times during this project, not everything goes to plan, as is the case with a lot of things in life. But some of the things that have happened during this project, well you couldn’t make it up. Honestly! Each time though we have dusted ourselves off (excuse the pun) and carried on.

I really surprised myself today. We thought the lounge and stair runner were being fitted next week, allowing us to start getting everything ready to move in, but found out after re-booking the fitting, (because we were all struck down with flu and our youngest W was admitted to hospital), that there was an error with the re-booking and we hadn’t actually been re-booked at all. True story. Unfortunately. So the carpets aren’t being fitted next week.

Whilst being told this, I thought I might cry, but I didn’t. There’s some things that you just can’t help can you? Some things that no matter what you just can’t change. And after all it’s just a carpet. I mean I’m not saying I’m happy that we are going to be living in this caravan for at least another three weeks, but what can I do about it?

During Easter, we were all so poorly with flu which put the project back once again, and W was admitted to hospital for 4 days. All is ok now, he’s fully recovered but it makes you think and reassess. Our situation right now is far from ideal, living in a caravan with a toddler and a baby, but we do have an incredible family home that one day, very soon, we’ll all be enjoying together. And all the blood sweat and tears will have been worth it.

This is the thing with home renovations, I’ve heard it from lots of other people who have done or are doing exactly the same as us. You can’t and don’t plan for these unforeseeable problems, but they are inevitable. Nothing can prepare you for some of the things that happen. I have gone through all sorts of emotions with this project, but most recently its been frustration and disappointment.

There’s a slight sense of urgency to be in the house as soon as we can though, as A, our eldest is still sleeping in his cot, and I am keen for him to be in his new big boys bed that we’ve bought for him. I am preparing for a few sleepless nights to begin with, as we are so used to him being unable to get out of his cot if he wakes in the night or in the early hours.

Then there’s our youngest. At the moment he is in with us in his Moba basket, which very soon he will have grown out of (why do they grow so quickly!) The caravan is only a two bedroom anyway, and there isn’t enough room for him to sleep with A, which I wouldn’t want for either of them anyway, as they’d probably keep each other awake or wake each other up. A likes to play with toys in his bed and read books before bedtime, and W is at the age when its all very quiet, dark and relaxing for bedtime, which at the moment works for us, so I wouldn’t want to mess that up.

Everyone keeps telling me they won’t remember any of this and to stop worrying, but as their mummy I can’t help it. I want them both to have their little bedrooms and all their toys. There’s so much stuff in storage.

I’m also desperate to just start buying things like tea towels, throws and rugs for the house. I’ve bought a few things for the boys bedrooms but haven’t actually unpacked any of it yet so just going to wait to unpack it all and see what there is.

I just hope that there aren’t anymore unexpected glitches ahead, and we can all move in to our new family home and start making memories.

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Why I’ve decided to do this blog

I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to find the time to keep up this blog but I really wanted to keep a record of our journey doing up the cottage. Why? Because alongside having my babies, it’s the next biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life. This is going to be our first family home, so it will be a pretty special place for all of us. It will also be good to look back, see where we started and all of the work we’ve done. I also think there’s something very therapeutic about penning (rather typing!) your thoughts down.

This entire experience will be an emotional rollercoaster, and I can imagine stress will be one of the main emotions, but I thought having somewhere to put down all my thoughts might help to clear my mind or rationalise some of those negative feelings and times, I am sure we will end up going through.

I also hope to build up a bit of an online community through this blog, helping anyone else who might be thinking of taking on a similar project, going through a renovation or completed one. I hope it will be a useful and interesting resource for others and me too!

Luke, my husband, has always said he wanted to buy a property and do it up, but it’s not something I’ve ever really been keen to undertake. Having watched all of these renovation programmes where something always goes wrong and they nearly always go over budget it’s put me off a little, but there’s no turning back now.

We had been looking to move from our first home for a long time, but had just never made the leap as we had started our search off looking at properties we couldn’t afford so ended up setting our standards a bit high! Every property we could afford was either too small, wrong location or just not our style. I know you have to compromise, but even when we thought we’d compromise on a smaller garden or bedroom, the house still wasn’t what we both wanted.

Luke had bought our first home just before I had met him, so it was pretty much a man pad. I didn’t like anything in it to be honest. Poor Luke! But I was keen to put my stamp on it, so I did. Obviously. We started with the bathroom. Then converted the kitchen to a second bedroom and the garage to a kitchen. It took us a long time to do, partly because we were too busy having a good time, going on holiday and spending our money on lots of things we didn’t need. But when we finally got round to doing things, I started to actually like our home. We chose a lot of things with the fact we were going to sell the house imminently, so we didn’t have a big budget, but what we did, I think, looked and worked really well. It was a relatively new build, contemporary property, which I think are often easier to ‘do up’.

I was much happier once the old house was completed. It never really felt like ‘ours’ as we didn’t buy it together. But doing it up the way I wanted it, made it feel much more comfortable, and adding the second bedroom made a real difference, as not long after, A came along!

Once the house was completed. We put it up for sale and it sold a lot quicker than we thought. But we just went with it and ‘thought’ we’d find something else pretty quickly. Oh how naive we were!

We went to our first auction together during our search, this was for an 8 bed student property we’d renovate and convert to a family home. Looking back I’m so thankful we didn’t get this property! Luke ended up bidding way more than we said we would (I think he got a bit carried away waving his card in the air) but luckily it ended up going way over our budget and beyond. We took A along with us and he was only a few months old, so it was also a bit stressful keeping him entertained at an auction with lots of waiting around.

We offered on several properties, all of which ended up having something wrong with them. One was in the same village the cottage is in now. Luke wasn’t 100% about it from the start but I think we were both just desperate to find something at this point as we had moved in with my parents. Something we thought would just be for a few months, with our first son who was around 2 months old in tow. But we ended up still living at my parents 7 months later! It wasn’t a good time, our own space was really my old bedroom and living with my parents again after fleeing the nest many years ago wasn’t as easy as I thought it’d be. I get on with my parents, we’re very close. When I didn’t live there I saw them everyday as I keep my horses and pig at theirs, but when you get older I think you change, develop your own habits and opinions on things which can get on your nerves when you’re living together. So rather than divorce them, we started renting.

This was an expensive exercise. We were paying rent alongside our mortgage for the cottage, plus all the renovation costs. Not sensible! But living in the rental property gave us the space I’d been missing at my parents (which isn’t a small house) but we had nowhere really for our own things, and just being able to do our own thing and watch what we wanted on tv was just what the dr ordered. I love my parents, but like I said before, it’s not the same living at home once you’ve left, particularly when you have a baby!

The house we’d offered on in the same village as the cottage was cute (in the sense that it was pretty small) it was also a cottage but didn’t have a huge amount of potential and we would be buying it on the basis it would need extending in order for it to work for us.

It was on the main road too with parking but not to Luke’s standards. He’s always had a thing about parking. He seems to think every house should be able to facilitate a double decker bus and 3 vans! So you can imagine how difficult this made our search!

Anyway, this other house in the same village, well it wasn’t meant to be. Turns out the mortgage company wouldn’t lend on it due to all of its problems, including insect infected beams! But, just like a twist of fate this cottage (which we had previously offered on but got turned down), the estate agent phoned to say the previous buyer had fallen through, and would we still be interested.

And the rest is history!

We bought the cottage knowing it would need some serious renovation work, and we knew we didn’t actually have a budget to do it. I can hear you asking how we plan to complete the project and if we’ll manage to afford all of the works, well, we plan to pretty much pay for things as we go along. I don’t want us to cut corners or do anything we’ll later regret so we plan to make the house liveable to move in and then we will finish the non essential works once we’re in. I know this isn’t ideal as it’ll also take us a lot longer and if we come across problems, which with an old property is almost inevitable, we might then end up being stuck in the middle of one project and having to divert our focus of being unable to afford something that really needs doing, but I’m confident we’ll be ok. We don’t really have much choice.

We’ve tried to put by some reserves for any thing that we haven’t planned for by selling some of our valuables. My husband has sold his chopper. This was something he found particularly difficult! I wouldn’t ever tell him this, but it was pretty cool and I know he loved it. But needs must.

I have also just sold my dressage saddle, again a difficult thing to do as this was the saddle I bought for my horse, Valou (Looby), she is an incredible horse, and was also a wedding present, (yes very extravagant), so she really does mean the world to me, but unfortunately she was diagnosed with kissing spines a few years ago. It’s a severe case, so not treatable. I therefore decided to retire her early and she now lives out her days in the field. Meaning her saddle is no use to me anymore, so I thought it would help go towards something in the house. I hope to get another horse I can ride again soon, but this horse would need a whole new wardrobe and new tack anyway.

So, here we are at the start of, what looks like a pretty mammoth project. I suppose with gritted teeth we could move in as it is, but there are a few things that we must do such as rewriting the whole house (not a small job), and re-plumb. A new boiler, oh and the chimney fell down too. So, we’d better get started.

I look forward to sharing our journey with you. The good and the bad.

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