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.