So in terms of a 2015 New Year’s commitment to blog about building my dream house, I think the fact that my last post was 21st February is pretty solid evidence that I failed miserably! In my defence, no-one ever really keeps their New Year’s resolutions, and its fair to say that 2015 has been a more eventful and busy year than I was expecting, including not one but two new jobs. As a result overall progress on the house has been slower than I originally planned.
That aside, it has been an incredible first 9 months in my little home, not least thanks to the arrival of two new housemates Freya and Loki, my beautiful tabby maincoon crossed kittens. So despite still having an entire room full of boxes and not even one fully finished room, I’ve settled in oh so happily, especially in my front living room, where the curtains might not reach the floor, but when I walk in I know that I am home.
But… despite all of that, I cannot WAIT to get starting on the works I want done. And following a visit from the local council, a week of waiting and then a slightly hairy moment involving a sash window which my lovely architect Jo kindly kept from me and resolved unaided, I now have my planning permission, delivered just in time for Christmas!
Having never done works on a building before, I originally sought lots of different advice, from friends, magazines, blogs and then a number of architects. Yet – in the end very reassuringly – the changes I knew I wanted to make on my second visit to the house, on my second day in my home and then eventually agreed with the second architect I saw and hired, were all the same.
Firstly, the ground floor. One of the reasons I bought my little house was because it still retained so much of the original character and features (the stripped and white-washed peers I also viewed broke my heart!) but the drawback of course is that I knew it needed work. And nowhere was that more apparent than the back of the house where, in true traditional Victorian terraced style, the master bathroom is tacked onto the back of the kitchen. Though I understand the rationale behind it (connecting an outhouse) it’s is a real dislike of mine – traipsing still damp and cold through the kitchen, and also obstructing access into the garden. So out with the bathroom, and in with the open plan kitchen/diner with folding doors onto the garden.
Then a little toilet tucked under the stairs, widening the divide between the two reception rooms – though keeping the doors so the spaces remain distinct, but connected – and some general carpentry and the like. The book loving part of me is perhaps most excited for built in shelves on either side of the fireplaces.
Up the stairs.
As you can see from the plans below, the first floor doesn’t extend all the way to the back of the ground floor, meaning the back room is on the small side. So I’m taking it all the way out and in a display of extreme luxury converting the space into a walk in wardrobe and master bathroom! This is probably the change that my head and heart wrestled with the most – though in actual fact it didn’t take that long for my heart to win. I go into it knowing that losing a bedroom is likely to knock a bit off the price but ultimately I am building my home for me, not some unknown future owners. It was actually viewing this room with my then soon-to-be architect, Jo Hagan of Use Architects, and he spoke about moving through the space each morning – the ritual of getting dressed – that I knew firstly it was the right thing to do, and secondly, that he was hired!
And so it begins. Plans agreed, tenders out, roll on the New Year.