Want It Done By Christmas?

Bathroom Moodboard by designbykaty.com

On a recent site visit to a prospective client, who wanted a quote for their kitchen and bathroom installation, my husband who runs Random Task Plumbing asked what they were having and did they have any plans he could see. The client didn’t know what they wanted, other than for all the works to be completed by mid December, in time for Christmas. Bearing in mind that the client hadn’t yet exchanged contracts on the property and presently lived in another part of the country.

Firstly, a detailed quote is impossible to give if you only have a rough idea of what you want, or don’t know what you want at all. Also any tradesperson worth their salt, will have at least a 2 to 3 month lead time, especially leading up to Christmas. Whilst basic help and advice can be given to guide clients regarding types of showers suitable for their water systems and the feasibility  to move the loo to a different location (soil stacks are often forgotten by clients) and draw a scaled plan, most small tradespeople don’t have the time to offer a detailed design consultancy. The fixtures, fittings and finishings have to be chosen by you, the client. After all it’s your bathroom, kitchen etc. and it’s imperative that you love the finished results, it’s your home.

Bathroom Moodboard by designbykaty.com
Detailed Bathroom Moodboard by Designsbykaty.com

So before calling a tradespersons to quote, take time over your plans, keep revisiting them and show them to other people. Think about how you will use the space and how you want it to make you feel. If this is difficult for you, then an Interior Design consultancy is invaluable. For as little as £95.00 a design consultancy could save you a lot of time and possibly money too. Good interior design is about planning, not just about carefully coordinated fabric and paint swatches. This consultancy maybe all you need to set you off to implement yourself. If you require more help tailored to your specific needs, these can be accommodated too, regardless of budget. Of course everyone has budget.

First floor plans of a four bedroom house
You don’t need such detailed drawings unless major renovations are planned.

Interior Designers use local trade, craftspeople and suppliers and only recommend those whose work and people they trust. When deciding, look at reviews, ask to see previous completed work. Personality compatibility also is valuable – can you work with them?

I understand that you want everything ‘done’ and perfect for Christmas, but be realistic with your time scales. Even when you’ve decided on your plans, fixtures, fittings etc. There are supplier lead times to consider too. The last thing you want is a half-finished job over the festive season, especially if planning to have guests.

assembled cupboard carcass's
Kitchen install in progress not what you want at Christmas
After - Kitchen with island and glass partition wall and door to hall.
After – Kitchen with glass partition and door to hall

Once you have detailed plans, you can then invite local tradespeople to quote and provide approximate dates of availability. They will all be able to quote ‘from the same song sheet’, which makes price comparisons clearer. However, remember that cheaper isn’t always better, you often get what you pay for. Allow for a lead time on quotes being received too.

Tiling in progress in shower en-suite shower area
A half finished guest en-suite – not what you want when having guests
Completed Guest En- Suite
Completed Guest En- Suite

Plan the work in stages – what can be implemented and finished by your self-imposed Christmas deadline? Is this in the correct order of your work schedule? If so, fine. If not, then it’s far more beneficial to be patient and schedule the works for early in the New Year, thus eleviating the extra stress of Christmas and giving your home the consideration it deserves.

There’s  always next Christmas!

 

Preparing Your Home For Selling

For Sale/Sold Sign by Zazzle
For Sale/Sold Sign by Zazzle
How long will it take to sell your home?

Spring is a popular time to market and hopefully sell properties, and once that decision has been made, you contact your local agent for a valuation. Agents valuations are based on similar properties to yours currently sold or for sale in the area.

Now, if you’ve lived in your home for many years maybe it  has become a little ‘tired’ or dated’, but would rather sell ‘as is’. Possibly at a lower selling price and taking longer to sell, rather than face doing any work, spending money, in the hope that a DIY enthusiast will see the potential and relish the challenge, some do, many people don’t see the potential or want to undertake the work.

You can ask your agent (if your home is tired or dated) for two valuations – ‘as is’ and ‘tidied up’. Depending on the individual agent, they may advise that it’s not worth spending any money or the effort, as the return will not out weigh the costs involved. Or they may be happy to advise on both scenarios. If the agent offers both marketing prices, you can work out your parameters of what you would be prepared or need to spend for the ‘added value’ and make an informed decision on whether you should implement the improvements or not.

Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the biggest influences on a sale. The view often being, don’t change it, as whoever moves in will rip it out and put in new. Possibly, either straight away, in time, or just don’t want the expense and hassle. Again, compare the ‘added’ value’ and costs, this will help you make your decision. Think about your target market: who is likely to want to buy your home? What will they be looking for?

Front path and door of Victorian house
Ensure the front of your home looks promising.

Whether or not you intend to carry out any updating, your home should still be prepared and ready to market for great photographs for the internet, brochures and actual viewings. Cleaning, especially bathrooms and kitchens, de clutter, windows should sparkle. De-personalise by packing away personal items (well you’re moving aren’t you?) so prospective purchasers can see how their belongings will fit in or not. Don’t be precious, be objective and try to see the house as a commodity rather than your home. If you find this difficult, ask friends ( however they may not be totally honest with you) Estate Agent or Home Staging Professional for their view and recommendations. Refresh garden containers with seasonal plants to brighten up dull corners of your outside space.

Case Study – Before and After of a ground floor flat which I completed last year for marketing and selling. The flat had become outdated and ‘tired’. This was the hardest job I think I’ve ever carried out, the flat had belonged to my dear mother.

The target market was an older individual or couple, perhaps downsizing or retiring, who would probably want to move straight in and not have any or very much to do.

Living Room

Working with a neutral palette to create a cohesive look in a small flat, all the rooms, including the paint work was painted the same colour. A new cream carpet was laid throughout. In the living room the 1960’s fire-place and surround was replaced with a smaller contemporary model. Although excess furniture and personal effects have been removed, we re-used some of the existing furniture and rearranged its layout.

Kitchen

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the ‘before’, of the kitchen, but the units were dark brown wood, beige work top and beige speckled tiles with an occasional fruit or vegetable tile – a 1980’s throwback. The units were in good condition and the design layout worked ergonomically, it was just that it looked dated.  Painting the cabinets an off white, replacing the work top and changing the tiled splash back to white metro in brick style made the kitchen much brighter, more contemporary and up to date.

Guest Bedroom

The guest bedroom was originally very cramped and cluttered. By removing the shelves, wash basin and tiled splash back and a single bed more space was created. Freshly decorated walls and cupboards which were fitted with new knobs, and a new fitted carpet laid. Again,  some of the original furniture and accessories were re used during the bedroom re-design.

Main Bedroom

Main Bedroom. The textured wall paper was removed, and the walls and woodwork were repaired and freshly painted in the same colour as the rest of the flat. The curtains and track were removed, leaving just the blind. The  furniture layout was rearranged, excess furniture was removed, and some items from other rooms were introduced. A new carpet was laid.

Shower Room

Small shower room
Shower Room

Although this work was done prior to the staging of the flat, it would have been necessary to include refurbishing the bathroom. The original pink bathroom suite was replaced with a large 1200 mm walk in shower, with room for a stool if required. The walls were tiled to full height on all walls. A vanity basin provides storage.  Extra storage ( not seen) was provided by a tall cabinet. The adjacent toilet has the same wall tiles and an extra high toilet was installed.

By investing time and money the property increased in marketing value by £35,000 and sold very quickly. But do your own sums, it’s all in the numbers!

Images by Sarah Maidment Interiors, Sign by Zazzle, Front door by rhsblog.co.uk Pots by http://www.etthem.se

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House Before and After Pictures

Front porch of renovated 1930's house

I have now compiled ‘before and after’ pictures, with the occasional ‘during’ photo (remember it always gets worse before it gets better) which I hope you’ll enjoy and give you momentum to commence or  finish your projects.

The renovation and restoration of a 1930’s house is finished! Are you ever finished in a home? Probably not.

Front Elevation

Before – Sad and neglected                                        After – Restored and extended

Hall

Before - The original 1930s' entrance hall prior to renovations.
Before – The original front entrance hall prior to renovations.
Original 1930's entrance hall
Before – The original hall was dark and poky.
Acro props before steel beam is installed
During an internal hall wall removal.

 

After - The finished entrance hall in a 1930's house
After – The completed entrance hall

Sitting Room

Before - The sitting room with the original 1930's brick fireplace.
Before – The sitting room with the original 1930s’ brick fireplace.
After - The original 1930's brick fireplace cleaned up
After – The original 1930’s brick fireplace was retained, so too were the original Crittal French doors.
Before Original 1930's sitting room complete with Crittal French doors and brick fireplace
Before – A 1930’s sitting room with original Crittal French doors and brick fireplace.

Kitchen

Before - The original 1930's dining room
Before – The original 1930’s dining room
During - The wall dividing the kitchen and dining room has been removed.
The dividing wall between the kitchen and dining room has been removed, to be re-positioned.
After - the completed new kitchen
After – The completed kitchen
After - Kitchen with island and glass partition wall and door to hall.
After – Kitchen with glass partition and door to hall. Original servants bell box is re-hung – shame no staff though!
Open plan kitchen/diner/day room with bi-fold doors onto garden.
View into dining/ day room area from kitchen
Before- original 1930s' dining room
Before- the original dining room prior extension and renovation work – damp wall is now where clock is hung.

Living Room

Rear Footings 3rd feb 2015
Before – Laying the foundations
Painted Stove and Fireplace
During – Marking the wall for the multi-fuel stove
Trescotte Sitting Room Afer 073
After – The finished sitting room

Family Bathroom

Before- A tired and dated bedroom                         After – A family bathroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom during construction
The first fix electrics in the master bedroom
After - Large master bedroom with Heals four poster bed
After – The finished master bedroom
master bedroom with four poster bed from Heals
After – The large master bedroom complete with a four-poster bed from Heals.

The Loo

Before with original cistern          After – Re-sited and restored cistern

Guest Bedroom

Originally a landing with airing cupboard, bathroom with separate loo. Now a guest bedroom, painted in ‘Setting Plaster’ Farrow and Ball http://www.farrow-ball.com/setting%20plaster/colours/farrow-ball/fcp-product/100231

Rear Elevation

Before – An overgrown garden                           Waiting to mature!

However carefully one plans either a renovation or restoration project, it rarely comes in on budget – it’s usually over budget. This is not just because of unforeseen problems like discovering structural problems once the work has commenced, it can due to adding a few extra plug sockets here and there (it all adds up) or choosing high specification kitchen, bathrooms and fittings. Usually it’s because we’ve under estimated the basic build/renovation costs – raw materials labour plus VAT.  Comparing your projected budget spread sheet to the actual costs spreadsheet, helps analyse where you under budgeted or over spent.

Did we go over budget? Yes, we knew we’d go over budget when we decided to install the Sonas system. However, the original quote was less than the final invoice due to the time-lapse between the first fix and completion – the labour and equipment had increased in price. The quote was valid for 30 days only, lesson learned.  The building material costs were higher too, despite having a breakdown of these costs from the supplier which our budget spreadsheet was based upon. Generally, the majority of people under-estimate their expenditure.

With the uncertainty of property the market, and the impact Brexit may have, many home owners are opting to improve their current home instead of moving. Having had nearly forty years experience in renovating properties, although home values may dip from time to time, they always go up, and on the whole a good investment.

If you think I can be of benefit to you and your project, whether big or small just contact me.

Floor tiles on cloakroom floor     http://www.firedearth.com/tiles/range/patisserie/sucre-1 and entrance floor  http://www.firedearth.com/tiles/range/casino-floor/mode/grid

Artwork by Kim Major George  http://www.majorgeorge.co.uk/

 

 

Which Decade Does Your Home Reflect?

Morris and Co New Collection

Did you move into your present home some years ago, decorating and furnishing it up to date fixtures, fittings with enthusiasm and sat back and enjoyed since? How many years ago?

Now, sit back, look at your home objectively – is it looking ‘tired’ a little worse for wear? Does it look slightly ‘dated’? Be honest. It’s easy to settle into a comfortable living way of life. You’ve modernised, decorated and furnished it all once, why do it again? Because it ages you, puts you right into a certain decade, which decade is your home from? So unless you are deliberately trying to recreate a certain era or decade in your home, visit http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/  it needs changing.

Alms House Interior Geffrye Museum
Alms House Interior Geffrye Museum

Inspiration and ideas from previous decades can successfully be incorporated into present interiors and are often used as research for paint, paper and fabric design companies. Morris and Co https://www.william-morris.co.uk/shop/new-collections/

Morris and Co New Collection
Inspiration from the past. Morris and Co

In the late 70’s and early 80’s the trend was for stripped pine. Antique pieces are still acceptable, (however, the Victorians would never have had their cheap pine furniture on show, and it would have been painted or stained to look like mahogany or hidden below stairs). The more modern pine pieces – I use this term loosely, turn an orange colour over time and not only look awful but are dated. Same is to be said of heavy dark furniture popular from the Victorians to the 1940’s.

Before and after painted pine funiture
Update your existing furniture with paint.Image sweetsmith.com

 

Before discarding the usually well made, real wood furniture for flat pack modern pieces, consider updating your existing furniture with paint – unless of course you have a budget for a better quality product. Furniture can be transformed with paint. Do check though before painting, that the item of furniture is not a valuable piece.

 

Kitchens are a huge investment and if yours is well planned and works well  few changes to update it maybe all that it requires.

Doors- Again these can be painted and swap the handles and knobs with new ones.

Work Tops – Replace with new to blend in with your new door fronts.

Splash Backs – Remove the tiles if they are from a decade you wish to move on from, and replace with specialist glass or a contemporary tile design.

Flooring – Perhaps lay new vinyl if the existing is worn, with an up to date design to compliment the other changes made. If floor tiles are dated, remove them and lay new. This is more expensive and more difficult if they are laid under the existing fitted cabinets. Never lay tiles over tiles, you’re asking for trouble with cracking and movement. If the tiles are acceptable, and you wish to keep them, choose cabinet and work top colours to compliment the floor. Using specialist floor paint is also an option, can work well if done properly. Hang a new blind, and add some fresh accessories and tea towels.

Walls- Unless you live in a beautiful Victorian house wall paper borders are a no, no. So are dado and picture rails stained a mahogany colour. This is another 80’s hangover.

Image example of dado rail in period home
Painted dado and picture rails in a period home Image Pinterest

Decoration – If you love your paintings, pictures and prints try re framing them. The difference in using a double mount and new frame will not only enhance the art work but also your room. Hang pictures in groups either by subject matter or in matching frames for an eye catching display. Do not hang them as in the 70’s in a triangular mode across the wall, or too high.

Flooring – No swirly carpets – sorry. People use this description when describing a house in need of an update ‘All swirly  carpets’ and people understand what the house is like, dated. Swirly carpets can also compete with the rest of the furnishings.

West Indian Front Room
Everything is competing with each other Image by Studio International.com

Have you got wood underneath  the existing carpet that is worth exposing, then lay a   large rug for warmth in colours to complement your other furnishings? If carpet is preferred a plain neutral carpet usually works best in the majority of standard size homes as it makes the rooms appear larger.

Lighting– It’s fine if you live in a period property or re- creating a particular decade style because you like it, otherwise try changing the shades and lamps to a more contemporary style. Florescent strips in the kitchen offer great light, but its unforgiving and provides little ambience. Try changing the strip to a budget friendly track system. The adjustability of the spots makes it easy to aim the light where its most needed.

Now get into a decade where you and your home belong be it traditional, classic or contemporary.

Bathrooms can be more tricky to update without major work. However, if the layout works well, update with new tiles and flooring. Ditch the carpet for a start! It’s a far better job if the old tiles are removed prior to laying new, especially when tiling down to a bath, basin and shower. However if you have a plaster board wall, this may come away with the old tiles in places, which will need to be repaired before tiling. This is not a quick update job. If storage is a problem, try replacing your pedestal basin with a vanity unit and basin, and add a mirrored cabinet above it. Hang a new blind and add new towels to compliment the room.

Now which decade does your home reflect?

Images from annesage.com, hative, HousetoHome,Geffrye Museum,Little Greene Paint

 

 

 

 

 

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House – As the Dust Settles

After - The completed front elevation of a 1930's house

As extensions begin to settle, and fresh plaster dries out, cracks annoyingly appear in your newly painted rooms and skirting boards will move slightly. One of the most time consuming things on a major renovation project is the snagging. How often have you gone round the house with a bowl of mixed filler, filling in accidental knocks (leave settlement cracks alone for at least six months – they will return or get bigger) odd scratches and holes, to find you’ve mixed up far too much filler. You dispose of the excess filler, only to discover more holes! These of course have to be sanded smooth and touched in with a little matching paint. We have an assortment of paint pots, brushes, filler and sandpaper stacked in one room specifically for this purpose. I will be very glad when these can be stored on shelves in the garage. It’s a good idea to keep the paint used in case of small minor repairs required at a later date.

Snagging goes hand in hand with what I term as ‘The Builders’ Clean’. This is a mega clean. Paint splashes on windows, doors and frames need to be removed with either a small amount of solvent (if UVPC frames) and scraped gently off glass with a razor blade to avoid scratching the glass. This is prior to actually cleaning the windows. The dust will continue to settle and reappear despite your best efforts for some time. However, it’s surprising what a huge improvement these small repairs and cleaning make to the finished house – it actually looks finished.

It wasn't as bad as Miss Havisham's house in Great Expectations
Too be honest, it wasn’t as bad a this!

Finally, we were ready to lay the carpets to the first floor bedrooms, landing and stairs. I chose a plain grey carpet for all these spaces, creating a cohesive look. Grey is a wonderful neutral colour which can be teamed successfully with many other colours, which enables individual character and style for each room. Once the carpets go down, you really feel that the house is almost finished. I was also very pleased to see the back of the dusty floorboards (despite the repeated vacuuming) and noisy stairs. The carpet came from a nationwide carpet shop, who use subcontract fitters. Although we had quite a large area requiring new gripper, underlay and carpet fitting, the rooms were void of furniture, so it made the job a lot easier and quicker. However, I was disappointed to discover that the fitters don’t dispose of the waste and cut offs. They simply bag it up for the customer to dispose of. I have a skip, but what about everyone else? Another trip to the tidy tip? It would be even worse if you had old carpets to remove prior to fitting the new.

The rooms looked much better having carpet, and would have looked amazing if the fitters had bothered to vacuum the carpets before rushing off. There was fluff everywhere, which was also floating around as ‘tumble weed’ downstairs. What happened to pride in your job, leaving looking as best you can? As I was vacuuming the carpet, I noticed in several places that the paint on the skirting board had been damaged by the carpet fitter’s tools. More snagging!

The Sonos System has been connected to the speakers – we have music! Needless to say that my husband and son have enjoyed ‘playing’ with the radio and music selections in different rooms. We have had to have boosters fitted in a few rooms though, due to the poor broad band service speeds available. BT are currently advertising fibre optic service on the television. Why are they advertising a service which is unavailable to so many people?

I have recently received a letter from the local council notifying me that I’m now liable for the Empty Home Council Tax Premium. The council explained that it is one of their priorities to increase the amount of available and affordable housing in the borough. Councillors have introduced this council tax premium for properties which have been unoccupied and unfurnished for two years or more to encourage empty homes back into use. They didn’t specify exactly how much more I had to pay, only that the increased charge would be 150% of full council tax for the property.

The house, when purchased was uninhabitable, and we received six months levy on council tax charges. During this time we had plans drawn up and submitted to the local council for planning permission (permission took twelve weeks) then we had to submit drawings to building control, which took another month, all before we could actually commence work, which took another six months before being habitable – just, (although not finished). Since the initial six month levy period, we have been paying the full council tax charges, despite being unable to move into the house, not until my present house has sold. I can understand and appreciate the councils intentions of encouraging occupancy of empty homes due to the housing shortage, but not all circumstances are the same. The extra council tax was certainly not in our budget or even contingency. Allow for it in your project!

image
Useful category for filing purposes

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (10) It gets Worse Before it Gets Better

A lonely, empty and neglected house.
A lonely, empty and neglected house.

 

Since the builders arrived on 8th January, the house has changed dramatically. The side lean to housing the old boiler has been demolished, as has the garage. The roof tiles being removed first and stored safely for re-use elsewhere. One chimney stack has been removed and the roof reinstated using the old tiles from the lean to.

 

The wooden floor in the old dining room has been removed and the wood stacked in the sitting room for re-use where possible. The original internal doors have been taken off and also stored in the sitting room for re-use. These doors will need a lot of preparation prior to painting, and the handles will need restoring too, as I feel it’s important to re-use and re-cycle where possible and to retain the integrity of the house to use fixtures, fittings and finishings that enhance the existing architectural details, but are still functional. It may not save you much money on your materials bill when you equate the labour hours spent, but you can do it yourself to make savings. Original skirting boards and picture rails had been carefully taken off and stored before the walls were removed, also to be re-instated in some rooms of the original house after the plastering has been carried out. This has caused interesting comments from builders – basically they think the picture rails should go!

Flooring and doors stored for re-use
Flooring and doors stored for re-use

The chimney breast has been knocked out. Easy to say, and not so easy to do. There were masses of bricks and was solid as a rock! The existing wall between the kitchen and dining room has gone too. So we are left with one large space and a beam and block floor, which is ready for the insulation, damp proofing, underfloor heating and concrete to be laid upon. Some of the hall/ dining room wall has also gone, with a lintel in place ready for (much later on) our glass petition wall and door. Block work  has been laid to form a new wall and doorway into, what will be a cloak room. It is a challenge getting to the kettle which is perched on what was a shelf in the pantry ( also gone) to switch it on for tea. That is, after filling the kettle from a small water pipe on the other side of the ‘kitchen’. The rusty old sink is in the skip. Hence no one wants to make the tea!

The walls dividing the airing cupboard, bathroom, toilet and corridor have been take down leaving one huge space upstairs. The dividing brick wall between the two bedrooms was removed because it was only sitting on the floorboards and not a supporting wall. By replacing the wall with stud work (wooden frame, insulation and plaster board) it will be lighter, making a steel beam below unnecessary.

A huge pile of rubble from all the masonary removal was piled in the front garden, some has been crushed and flattened to avoid a ‘mud bath’ and the rear garden looks like the Battle of the Somme. A deep hole has been dug for the soakaway, with earth piled up in mounds all along the sides. Some of the crushed bricks and mortar will be used as a hardcore base for the terrace. Somehow our past efforts with the weed killer look quite feeble and perhaps unnecessary.

The builders have been working on the internal structure work, which needs doing whilst waiting for our neighbours surveyor to complete the Party Wall Agreement. However, we would like to commence digging the footings this week, but can’t until the Agreement is signed. I’m concerned that this is going to hold up our progress. I’m chasing all parties hard.

I have found some information which maybe of help if your planning you’re own self build or renovation project, if you didn’t already know that Jewsons (among other suppliers) offer a pricing service for the project and list all the materials required with their prices. If Jewsons don’t supply a particular material they still include in it a market price. These prices can be compared to other suppliers prices to get the best deal. They charge £180.00 plus vat for this service and I think well worth the money.

Plant hire can be difficult for self builders, due to the insurance policy required to cover the plant. Jewsons also offer self build insurance which covers plant hire too. They have recognized the growing market of self build and home renovations. But as stated before, shop around for insurance cover and be sure to read the small print!

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (7) Behind the Scenes

Present front elevation of the house, waiting planning permission.
Present front elevation of the house, waiting planning permission.

The house stands empty, a shell of it’s former home in a plot with a few mature trees, but void of flower beds and borders. There it sits waiting for action to transform it into a home once more. It appears from the outside that nothing is happening, but nothing is further from the truth. A flurry of activity is taking place off site.

Quotes for the Structural Engineers drawings have been obtained for the work which can be carried out on the existing house not requiring Planning Permission, but just Building Control. These drawings provide the calculations for the steel lintels and supports required, for builders to work to, and for Building Regulations to come and check, and sign off once satisfied that the work has been carried out satisfactorily. To remove a chimney breast (leaving the stack in situ) knocking out the  wall between the existing kitchen and dining room, knocking a wall out between the hall and new kitchen for a glass partition and doorway. Also to add enforcement in the attic roof area for extra support for the removal of the walls between the existing bathroom, toilet and airing cupboard, to make a bedroom. I also asked for a quote for the additional structural drawings and calculations for the work which does need to wait for Planning Permission. The choice was easily decided upon, in this case the price. One quote for the initial work was for £325.00 with no VAT, the other was £560.00 plus VAT plus disbursements (these being an unknown amount). The quotes for the additional structural drawings subject to Planning Permission i.e. structural calculations, for supporting beams, foundations and ground slab. One was £1325.00 with no VAT, and the other £1595.00 plus VAT and disbursements. As the drawings should be exactly the same, it was an easy decision. The drawings have been sent to a builder we know, and have worked with before, and a copy has been sent to our Architect to pass onto a ‘friendly builder’ he knows to quote on the initial work. It appears however, that builders are extremely busy and think our major stumbling block will be the availability for our planned schedule. We would like a builder to start the work the week beginning the 20th or 27th October, so this work can be finished prior to commencing the extension. We should receive our planning decision by the end of October, and hopefully it will be approved. If successful our Architect will prepare the working drawings. We will also require a Party Wall Agreement.  http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/mar/14/home-extensions-plans-party-wall This is an agreement drawn up between ourselves and our neighbour, because the extension will be less than 3 metres from their boundary. Photographs are included as visual evidence, so if any damage should occur to their property whilst work is being carried out, they will be covered for repairs and damage caused. I have two quotes already for a Party Wall Agreement, one for £650.00 plus VAT and one for approximately £1200.00 plus VAT, as I say, shop around.

In the meantime, the old kitchen units will be stripped out, leaving the sink and working taps for the all important cups of tea. The bathroom, and upstairs toilet will also be removed, leaving the downstairs cloak room in situ for the time being.  The existing radiators and plumbing pipes which are mainly lead will also be removed. All items I would like to clean up and restore to possibly re-use in the house, such as the basin in the bedroom in the new downstairs cloakroom and the original glass splashbacks I will bring home and store in my garage off site, to prevent from being ‘skipped’ or damaged by builders. Anything else salvageable which I shall not be re-using will also be stored off site and sold. Remember that copper and lead are valuable materials and these too can be sold and the proceeds put towards something else needed for the renovation. In one of the bedroom cupboards are some wrapped up bolts of fabric left by the previous owner. Much to the consternation of my husband,  these too will be bought home and inspected to see if I can re-use the material anywhere in the house or sold as ‘Vintage’ fabric. It will need to be laundered first.

Our Architect has arranged a meeting with one of his ‘friendly’ builders to look at the proposed plans and give a rough budget guide price for the extension and other work. This will be a guide price only, to give us an idea, as the  working drawings will detail the materials to be used for the structure, finishes and fittings. The drawings will also include electrical and plumbing requirements. These detailed drawings will then be sent to builders to quote on, so they are all quoting for exactly the same work, making comparisons easier. However, we are going to to our own detailed and scaled plumbing and electrical drawings ourselves. This is because we know where we want to place our furniture, bathroom and kitchen plan, the rooms functions and our lifestyle and how we want the space lit. My husband is a professional plumber who will install the bathrooms and domestic plumbing requirements. He is under the VAT threshold, hence saving 20% on the plumbing bill. The electrical drawings, along with details of switches and socket products required will be sent to the building  firm to add to their quote package and to individual qualified electricians. However, despite having detailed drawings some tradespeople will still ignore the details and take the easiest route for them, including placing a room thermostat in the centre of a wall. I don’t know about you, but I would rather look at a painting, or hang a mirror or shelves on a wall than look at a room thermostat! It has been done, and moving the switch once the wall has been plastered is an added cost. So keep an eye open as work progresses.

Ensure thermostats are place to the side on a wall so you can use the wall to hang pictures.
Ensure thermostats are place to the side on a wall so you can use the wall to hang pictures.

This decision is going to be unpopular with builders. Most builders use their own preferred sub-contractors who invoice the builder direct, and then in turn the customer receives a bill from the builder. Our Architect offers a service of preparing a tender/ negotiation and obtain competitive tenders from builders he has used and worked with before. These fees are based on 1% of the build costs plus VAT. The Architect will also prepare a contract between us and the contractor, issue certificates for payments, for practical completion and final certificate after checking the final account. Again this cost is based on 1% of the build costs plus VAT. This is a great service if you don’t have a clue abut building and renovation or really don’t have the time to project manage yourself. It should remove a lot of the stress and responsibility. Should you be more adept and have the time to project manage, and be able to do some of the work yourself, schedule the trades at the appropriate time, this will save you money. Be realistic about your time and capabilities. Some of the house renovation programmes on television are misleading. I would love to see the detailed budget breakdown on their costs for a substantial building project said to cost £88,000.00 and completed start to finish in just five months, doing most of the work themselves, despite having full time employment.

Outline of where the house will be extended. What's the cost?
Outline of where the house will be extended. What’s the cost?

So, I’m busy sketching, drawing, sourcing and putting details onto my spreadsheet. Don’t forget the exterior of the house and landscaping too at this stage. Incorporate outside and garden lighting, patios, terraces, paths and drives into the drawings. This is time consuming, but will save a lot of time later.The London Design Festival is on at the moment, and have taken the opportunity to visit some of the events. There has been so much to see, which I would have loved to attend, but time has not allowed. These exhibitions and shows are great for ideas and sourcing products. The Home Renovation and Building Show  http://www.homebuildingshow.co.uk/ is being held at Olympia from 26th to 28th October (this weekend). This is a great show to visit for ideas, help, advice, talks and lectures on different subjects and have specialist teams on hand to help you. Well worth a visit. If you can’t make it to London this weekend, the show is also being held on other dates around the country.

http://www.originalbtc.com/catalogue_main.php?catID=5516

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House – (6) Planning and Resources

I recently met with one of my neighbours’ whilst clearing the front garden, who inquired what plans we were thinking of implementing on the house. I explained roughly our idea of demolishing the detached garage ( which is the side closest to her boundary), re-building a garage with bathrooms above and going out from the rear, a sort of ‘wrap around’. I could tell she wasn’t keen on our plans. I assured her that it wasn’t going to be as big as the house on the other side to us. Still not convinced, I pointed out that her house had been extended from the original footprint, and ours hadn’t. Her main concern is light. I promised I would show her our drawings, so she can see for herself. It is good idea to try and keep a good relationship with neighbours’ during building and renovation work, providing information and communication (prior notification of noisy work etc.) However, it is not possible to please all of the people all of the time despite your best efforts!

 

Proposed Plans submitted to Planning
Proposed Plans submitted to Planning

Note: The drawings do not illustrate the chosen window design.

We would like to have included a ‘greener’ eco friendly home, and incorporate technologies to help,  but often the costs to install specialist systems prevent us from doing so, despite the long term benefits to both the environment and our pockets. In a new build home it is far easier to incorporate a lot of these technologies than to retro fit. Solar panels, air source heat pumps, brown water harvesting (using rain water collected from the roof into an underground storage tank to be used for car washing etc.) are all possibilities on existing properties. With this in mind I researched the Governments Green Deal initiative, which sounded perfect to help people finance insulating their homes. You could get up to £7800.00 payback from the Government towards installing a more efficient boiler, cavity wall and loft  insulation and glazing. Perfect for our 1930’s home which is definitely not eco by any stretch of the imagination. Alas, when I  came to apply the deal had been withdrawn to new applicants due to overwhelming demand. Basically they had run out money in  just six weeks after launching the initiative.  I was going to share lots of useful information on this, but there’s no point now. The Green Deal can still be applied for, but is more of a loan, which you pay back over time using the savings you make from your energy bills. Should you need to move house for any reason, the new owners take over the payments and receive the benefits of reduced bills. British Gas were also offering money towards a new boiler, and you didn’t have to be a customer of theirs, which I applied for online. British Gas said they would get back to me shortly. This was some weeks ago, and they haven’t. However, by installing LED (light-emitting diodes) lights which don’t have filaments and therefore don’t get hot or burn out tend to be  more expensive to purchase, but are much cheaper to run, putting in a water butt, and sourcing our materials from sustainable (renewable) resources, and even using reclaimed materials we can do our bit to help when renovating or restoring our homes.

 

 

Our plans have been submitted to the local Planning Department and whilst waiting the ten weeks for a decision, we intend to push the project on by starting on the work to the existing house which are not affected by planning approval. Our architects think we’re being too hasty in case the plans don’t pass and we have to change them to a different layout. Point taken, but the removal of the chimney stack, chimney breast and internal wall removals will not be changing. The only changes would be to the extension plans. The Architect also explained that was easier for  contractors to quote for the whole project. Why? Surely they can quote for the extension separately when we have planning permission. He also questioned my wall paper stripping and that contractors would do it. Why pay someone else to do something I’m quite capable of doing myself?Not to be dissuaded, we need structural engineers drawings for the steel which is to be put in between the existing kitchen and dining room to hold the house up when the wall is removed. These drawings will be sent by the structural engineer to Building Control and given to contractors to quote on.

ADVICE: Never ask for, or accept an estimate. An estimate is exactly what it says, and no doubt will cost you more than you budgeted for. For ease of quote comparisons draw up a detailed list of the work you require them to do, along with any drawings which can include specific details. A written contract or agreement of some type should be signed to avoid disputes.  Building Control will visit the site during the work to ensure it meets with regulations. If it does they will issue you with an Approval notice. We also intend to remove the old radiators, bathroom, upstairs toilet and knock through to form a bedroom.

I have started to look for ideas for fixtures and fittings, which I feel will suit the house, but with a contemporary feel. There is a lot of inspiration to be found on the internet including  Pinterest,  https://www.pinterest.com/ Houzz  https://www.houzz.com/signup/u=L3VwbG9hZFNwYWNlcw  and online magazines. If renovating or restoring a period or listed house,  information and guidance can be found on  http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/  If you’re searching for salvaged or reclaimed materials try Slavo, an online shop. http://www.salvo.co.uk/forsale.html or reclamation yards located near to you. There is of course eBay and Gum Tree.  Visiting shops and showrooms for inspiration is great too. There is nothing like actually seeing the products. Researching sanitary and brass ware (taps etc.) tiles,  flooring and kitchen products I would possibly like to use, and listing the details on a spreadsheet room by room including product code, name supplier and cost. It is useful to have all the information in one place to refer to as the project progresses. It doesn’t matter how large or small your budget is,  this is key to a successful project, including a 20% contingency fund for unforeseen problems (and expenses) should they arise.  The most expensive items may not always be the best quality so shop around. When any changes are made (usually the cost) to fixtures and fittings you can immediately see how much over budget you are, and perhaps see where cost cutting can be made elsewhere.  There are usually compromises to be made.

The images below are examples of interior fashions from the 1930’s, which you can draw upon for ideas too, interpreting them to suit your individual style and preferences.

Spreadsheet sample
Spreadsheet sample

I’m also fighting a losing battle with brambles and nettles, it is amazing how resilient they are despite being cleared and are trying to invade the garden again. Whilst digging, I  have unearthed some attractive, original terracotta path edgings, and plant pots which I intend to re-use, and a Kilner jar of apricots, which I definitely won’t!

 

A collection of items found in the garden to be used. (not the jar of apricots).
A collection of items found in the garden to be used. (not the jar of apricots).

 

Utility and Boot Rooms

Interior decoration in our main living areas is always top of our priorities. However, have you ever wondered when walking around beautifully staged show homes where you will keep your vacuum cleaner? Indeed if the home does not have a utility room, where you will keep your ironing board, iron, the pile of ironing for that matter, and the plethora of cleaning materials – in the kitchen or under-stairs cupboard? Even the most modest of Victorian terraced homes had an out house or scullery with a sink and perhaps an old copper to heat the water for wash day. Laundry was not generally performed in the kitchen, this was kept for food preparation only. In today’s modern, modest homes the washing machine is located in the kitchen, which means losing valuable cupboard space. The same loss of space if you have a dryer, and associated cleaning materials and tools. If you have the space, then a utility room is a must.

The minimum space required along a wall is 190 cm, this would allow 60 cm width for the washing machine, 60 cm for the sink and draining board and 60 cm for a tall cupboard to house products and tools – even the vacuum cleaner. If you have a dryer this can be put on top of the washing machine. The minimum depth of space required is 1500.  60cm  being the average measurement of appliances and cupboards, plus room to open the appliance and cupboard doors. Layout examples below.

Utility rooms are best located near the kitchen, with it’s own access to the garden. This allows ease of access to the garden for the washing line, and somewhere to leave muddy footwear and hang everyday outerwear. If a separate room is not possible, and you have an integral garage, which does not house your car, but used for general storage, section a partition wall and place your utility area in the garage. Another option is to designate one wall in your kitchen (or elsewhere if space allows) as the laundry area (minus a sink) and hang sliding or bi-fold  doors across the whole lot, so it looks like a cupboard when not in use.

Plumbing requirements need to be planned, hot and cold supply to the sink, cold water to the washing machine and waste from both into a drain. If opting for a dryer too it will need venting through an outside wall. If this is not possible opt for a condensing dryer. Washer dryers are an option too, but these need to be vented.

White Goods -Appliances – Buy the best quality you can afford. Meille being the top of the range.  Consider whether you want integrated appliances, hidden behind doors. If so you need to purchase integrated appliances specifically designed for the purpose.

Cupboards and Storage – A tall cupboard with well designed interior space arranged so that items can be easily retrieved. Think about whether yo would prefer doors or drawers under the sink. A ‘Sheila Maid’ or rack above the sink for drying clothes is useful.

Flooring – Porcelain or ceramic floor tiles are durable, waterproof and are the best choice in utility rooms. If the room is directly off the kitchen, use the same floor tiles as the kitchen as this makes the space larger. Lay electric matting underfloor heating under the tiles instead of a radiator. This frees up valuable space and prevents the floor from being cold.

Rustic hard wearing tiled floor
A hard wearing rustic tiled floor

Lighting – If space, opt for a window as well as a door, if not have a door fitted with glass to let natural day light in. Energy efficient, good quality  daylight white or warm white fluorescent tubes provide the most economic, practical and shadow free task light. Under cupboard downlights, track spot or pendant lights are also an option.

Sinks  – Consider the use of the sink. If used for cleaning muddy football boots the  Butler sink is ideal. If only used for water to wash the floor a stainless steel or ceramic sink will be adequate. A high level mono tap is best in a utility room, so you can fill a bucket or whatever easily. Worktops – Your choice of work top will be lead by your choice of sink. However, laminate is fine, but will not stand up to hard wear and tear. A granite or stone composite is hard wearing and grooves can be cut for drainage, eliminating the need for a sink and drainer set up.

Decor – If the room is accessed directly from the kitchen, use the same wall paint or a tonal shade. If having a splash back behind the sink use the same tiles as in the kitchen if you have them. If not a plain white brick style tile will create a utilitarian feel.