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!

Adding Value to Your Home

Add value from top to bottom
Add value from top to bottom

Buying a home is probably the biggest investment most of us will ever make, therefore as well as making it as comfortable as possible for ourselves whilst living in our home, we want to get the maximum return on our investment too. Location is a key element. You can change the property, but not the location. The more desirable the location, generally the higher the price you will have to pay.However the returns should pay dividends when you eventually sell. If you don’t have the necessary funds for the best location, you may decide to buy a house in a popular road, but at the ‘dodgy end’ of the same road, or in an area adjacent to the ‘prefferred’ area in the hope that the area will eventually become more desirable. This can work, but should be viewed as a longer term return on your capital investment. You may have to wait a long time.

Advice The thrill of owning your own home can carry you away on a DIY spree, or with builders quotes for major improvements. Do not be too hasty to knock down walls, live in the house or flat for a while, find out what works and doesn’t work for you and your lifestyle. Long term homes evolve gradually. For shorter term homes used as a step ladder in the property market, think about who your target market will be when you come to sell. Who will want to live in your property, what will they need and want. Then plan any updating and renovations on this basis. immaterial of your goals, do your sums first, do not over do or over develop as this can have a derogatory effect and end up costing you. Recently I have viewed properties which are in need of renovation. The asking price did not particularly make it a bargain to instantly grab. After planning and costing the work necessary to bring the property up to standard, I asked the selling agent what selling price could realistically be achieved. The agent suggested a vague figure. “Oh” I said. “By the time I had bought the property, spent X amount on it, not mentioning the blood, sweat and tears) the house will be worth maybe a little more, or even less than it had actually cost me”. The agent replied that I should look at it as a long term investment. Even so, you at least want to break even, better still make some money for all your efforts, otherwise you might as well go and buy something already completed and lovely, and save yourself all the grief and bother. The same can be said when over developing a property on very expensive and unnecessary improvements. Use the existing values of  houses in the same vicinity as a guide for the ceiling price which could realistically be achieved, and don’t forget to take market fluctuations into account too.

Value Added

Kitchen – Will add up 4-5 % value. A well planned and designed kitchen help sell a property. It will also give you pleasure whilst working in it. Don’t install a very expensive kitchen in a modest house,  your gain will not cover the cost of the kitchen. Likewise a very cheap kitchen could de -value an up market home. Think about which style of kitchen is going to suit your target market. You may love bright orange, but will they?

Bathroom -Will add  will add up 3% to the value. Keep it simple by adding a white suite,  a shower screen (if over the bath) instead of a curtain.  a chrome heated towel rail, nice taps and shower heads.

Conservatories or Orangeries – Will add   up  7% to the value. Create extra square footage by adding a conservatory or orangery.  Always build it as big as you can, but do not compromise your garden. Place furniture in it for it’s intended use i.e. dining or lounging area. Make the space flow from the existing house and not look like an added ‘bolt on’ afterthought.

Loft Conversions – Will add  up to 12.5  %  to the value Use a ‘dead’ space for living space and extra square footage. However be careful not to compromise  the existing accommodation  to fit in the stairs  i.e. by encroaching on small bedrooms or landings. Employ a specialist company to plan and execute the work. Building Regulations will be required.

Converted Cellars and Basements Unless your home is worth £300 per square foot, which is the cost of doing a basement, you will not get a return on your investment, only add extra living space. Though expensive, this is a very popular choice of adding extra living space for kitchens or family rooms. A specialist basement conversion company should be hired to carry out the works.

 Garages –  Not many houses actually use the garage for their car. It is often used for storing stuff. Turn it into living space. The cost will be approximately £10,000. To calculate the added value simply multiply the square footage gained by the local price per square foot of property.

Less is more, it is better to do less very well with good quality fixtures, fittings and finish, than more done badly.

Conservatories, Orangeries and Garden Rooms

 

 

A few brief, tantalizing warm sunny days drew us out into our gardens and garden centres in droves, under the false impression that Spring had sprung. Now driven back indoors to view our gardens from the warmth of our homes to view and admire the flowering spring bulbs. If, like me you are a fair weather gardener, a garden room, conservatory or orangery are ideal places to enjoy your garden all year round, and will bring light and extra space to your existing home.

Decide on the purpose of your conservatory, orangery or garden room. Is it to create a kitchen, dining area, living space or even somewhere to indulge in hobbies such as painting or plant propagation. Make the room as big as you can afford. Ensure the design will compliment the existing style of your house, this includes the brickwork, cladding and paintwork. Which material you choose will come down to budget. Hardwood being the most expensive, softwood much cheaper, but will require higher maintenance with regular painting or staining, UVPC and Aluminium. These do not have to be white, UVPC and Aluminium are now available in a myriad of colour’s, which can be matched to your existing window colour. Why not choose a shade of green for the inside colour, thus blending with the garden. All conservatories orangeries and garden rooms can and should have double and sometimes triple glazed units.

Plot your required furniture placement on your plans.
Plot your required furniture placement on your plans.

Heating is a must, and underfloor heating laid beneath a well insulated floor is efficient under tiles. If opting for another form of flooring, check the manufacturers recommendations with under floor heating. Good ventilation with roof lights is recommended. These can be manual or automated and can even include rain censors. Depending on the aspect of  your glass extension, solar controlled glass, and temperature controlled technology in glass means that it will reflect the the heat when cold and let the heat out when hot. Roof blinds maybe necessary too to avoid too much glare and spoil plants. If you want plants on a window cill, use tiles, perhaps off cuts from your floor tiles for the surface other than wood in case of water spillage.

Lighting is a primary consideration in a glass room. Light reflecting the glass at night makes a stunning atmosphere, whether electrical or candle. Plot where you want your furniture to be placed and plan the lighting requirements around this. Plotting your furniture also helps decide where to place the door into garden, and traffic flow. If you plan to dine in it fit a decorative pendant light over the table. Specify this in planning, as structural changes maybe necessary. Plot wall sockets for table lamps. If it has a high pitched roof , light this space up with with cowled directional LED spot lights to add sparkle, minimizing glare and prevent cold expanses of darkness at night. A row of low voltage up/downlights bring out texture of a wall, can highlight wall art or mirrors and creates drama. Use a dimmer controlled switch.

Furnishings, really depends on your intended use of course, and should blend and compliment the joining rooms. Pick a colour from the adjacent room and use in the conservatory for example. Choose good quality fabrics which won’t fade too quickly in strong sunlight. Group several small potted plants together on a table, this has more impact than several individual plants dotted around. Or opt for one or two  over sized containers with large specimen’s. use framed botanical prints and add a mirror on the wall. Try not to look too contrived, a mix of styles looks more relaxed and informal.

There are many specialist conservatory, orangery and garden room companies, for all budgets, and will sometimes involve Building Control approval, so do check this out.