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Christmas Eve Wish…

…this year I don’t think will be granted. I said last year when we started the build that I’d love for all the renovations and decor downstairs to be complete by Christmas Eve, so much so, I’d be decking the halls like a Christmas grotto.

I’ve come to the realisation that five weeks out from Christmas Eve, that isn’t happening. We’ve still got a list to rival Santa’s still left to do for us to function properly downstairs…

  • Second fix carpentry including doors, architrave, skirting boards
  • Few bits of second fix electrics to complete
  • Utility to plaster, decorate and fit out (we’ve decided to include a double shower downstairs to wash the dogs, muddy kids from their sports activities etc. Then as we get older we’ve got full bathroom facilities downstairs too
  • Downstairs toilet to plaster, decorate and fit out with a new toilet and sink
  • Hallway to plaster and decorate
  • Playroom to plaster and decorate
  • Dining and lounge walls to decorate with the new wall coverings I’ve recently collected ready to hang
  • Dining area fire surround and hearth to fit
  • General decorative pieces to source and add throughout downstairs

Well be upping sticks and trooping off to the family’s for Christmas this year. It gives us the time and space enough at least not to rush this final stage – something we’ve been guilty of doing in the past with our other homes.

Posted in Blog post

Build update

Gosh, it seems an age since I last wrote a blog post! To be honest, my main vehicle for delivering updates has very much been my Instagram page but I posted on stories a while ago what content you’d like to see on my blog here and it was for a general build update.

So… since March 2019, this year, we have seen the most change with the build. Practically, the back of the house was removed that being the old dining room bay window and brickwork, the old external kitchen wall, the old external two walls of the utility room. Within the house internally, the wall between the old kitchen and dining room was removed, a french door opening was made between the wall between the old lounge (soon to be playroom) and old dining room. Upstairs, off the split stair case to the right, the house stopped, but a new, small staircase and corridor was created into our new master bedroom.

I made a big mistake that day staying home packing up the car for me and the children to move into my parents house (whilst Mr H stayed home like a true trooper with the dogs) because it was so unnerving watching the back of the house, quite literally being torn down and even worse the internal walls being smashed down. It was like my actual and metaphorical foundations were being whipped from underneath me, very strange feeling seeing it happen! So glad this is our forever home and won’t need to see it happen again!

Then after which the building team made good the roofing, windows and bi folds, ensured we were watertight and insulated as specified with them, we were left to it. All of a sudden after having a team of builders at home nearly every day since December 2018 through to March this year, we had to go it alone. Scary!

So in the last seven months since March we have been focusing on choosing and installing the kitchen, fitting the underfloor heating and getting it to work, choosing tiles and getting them laid, plastering, doing the first fix and now finally getting round to the second fix. We’ve managed to agree and choose our accent colours for the open plan kitchen, living and dining space that’s been created. We’ve gone with a navy blue and grey paint. We’ll be teaming those colours up with real wood shelving, lots of plant greenery and also some splashes of mustard yellow to compliment. I’ve also managed to twist Mr H’s arm and chosen some fabulous stone wallpaper for the TV wall in the living area and woven rattan type wallpaper for the dining area. We’ll be using a sheet of mdf to make the wallpaper stand proud of the wall (mainly because the paper comes in at nearly 1 meter lengths) to save on buying more rolls to cater for the slivers we’d need to complete the the wallpapering on our wide walls we’re saving on the expense by doing this technique.

For everything we’ve done ourselves, be sure to search our #hautodiy tag on Instagram.

Slowly but surely it’s coming together, slowly but surely it’s coming together… keep repeating that to myself! πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

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Our first β€˜Oops!’

It’s been a financially costly ‘oops!’ as well! 😬

I got a phone call from our local council where our planning application was submitted stating that as we’ve now decided to elect a private building regulations inspector that we are only entitled to part of the fee we’d already paid to cover building control duties.

This was news to me!

I asked Mr.H and he hadn’t got any idea why we’d had a phone call, so next stop was to question the builder.

Our builder informed us he’s hired a private building control inspector to take responsibility for our extensions compliance thinking we’d forgotten about it.

We must’ve originally paid our local council to take responsibility for visiting our building team to check the extension was in full compliance with building regulations. However, we completely forgot we already paid this money up front when we submitted the original planning application. It was back in early 2017 so I blame that!

Anyhoo, it means we’ve got to surrender just under half of the fee paid to the council for administrative services already rendered. We received the letter today saying we were entitled to Β£165.00 back from the total fee. But we’re not happy with that so I’ll be appealing the value we’ve been refunded on Monday.

Got to gear myself up for that phone call now! Worth it though, especially if we get more money back than they decided we were entitled to just for mere paperwork duties carried out. There’s not been a visit conducted!

UPDATE: The local council would only refund us the Β£165.00 as the other cost is their standard, published plans checking, consulting and approval free so I couldn’t dispute it πŸ™„

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Builder meetings

By my calendar we’ve had our builder over to the house three times to discuss the extension before it even started. The first being: is he interested? Turns out he was. Second visit: to discuss the build in as much detail as possible. Then the third and final visit was to discuss finer details, timescales and set a start date. It also gave him a chance to refresh his memory of the existing house layout and refer to the drawings to ensure he was familiar with the works required.

Having a builder that worked this extra time into the lead up to the build was invaluable as it set the tone of what we wanted and has helped since in being able to refer back to my lists (ooh I’m a list lover) of conversations we had in those meetings.

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β€˜Party Walls’ and undertaking building work

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 (relevant at the time this blog post is published) is an important one when undertaking any building work and whether it applies to you. It’s one that requires some reading and paperwork to get right.

We used this really informative UK government website:

It helped us understand what our responsibilities were and the timescales involved. There is a really helpful pdf booklet on there to explain in what instances you require to come to an agreement with a neighbour and also gives handy template letters and replies for each of you to sign.

Using the webpage and the booklet, you too, like us can save on hiring a party wall agent and write the agreement letters yourself and save some πŸ’·πŸ’³

Our obligations are now complete in terms of our party wall agreement but it’s something that when undertaking your build you factor into your schedule.

So that’s another thing ticked off the list!…

Vision βœ…

Architect βœ…

Drawings βœ…

Steel calculations βœ…

Planning approval βœ…

Approximate budget βœ…

Builder selected βœ…

Party Wall agreement signed βœ…

Posted in Blog post

Why I’m a fan of tiered spending

Everyone has to spend to make their house a home. But it’s in what ratio that’s important for a budget conscious home owner.

That’s why I’m a real fan of tiered spending. I’ve recently done it to kit my sons bedroom out, and did a whole blog post about how I spent less on Master.H’s top bunk than the bottom but still achieved the same quality.

I have three levels of spending that I tend to have in my head…

Budget friendly

Fancied a splurge

Went all out

So, in my household item spend I tend to stick to budget friendly shopping, for example, I don’t buy main branded toilet roll. When it wipes your perverbial and gets thrown straight down the toilet I tend not to overspend on it. Likewise with anti-bacterial wipes, as long as they match main brands with their ‘kills 99.9% of bacteria’ criteria, I buy non-branded.

With these everyday savings I can then spend more on house to home purchases. And I’ll still apply my three tiered spending in my home too. So in my boys bedroom, for those of you who’ve followed me on Instagram, I bought budget friendly items for the top bunk (as it’ll be used sporadically for cousin and friends stopping over) and then fancied a splurge for my sons bunk at the bottom as it’ll be slept in every night and then went all out on the actual bed as it’s a London Bus Bunk Bed!

As I continue with blogging and showing my house to home journey on instagram I’ll detail my purchases as I go through as ‘budget friendly’, ‘fancied a splurge’ and ‘went all out’ so you can see how I *try to keep within budget!

Posted in Blog post

Master.H’s bed

It’s been a couple of days since Master.H’s big reveal on his bedroom!! He’d not been allowed in for near to three weeks so he could have a mega surprise. He was super excited I have to say! There were lots of ‘Wow’s’ and an appreciative ‘Well done Daddy!’ As he knows Mr.H did his room from scratch, all DIY.

I’ve done quite a detailed post on my instagram page, detailing all the companies we sourced his bed and bedding from. All down to the waterproof sheets.

We’ve really tried to create a fun, vehicle themed room (he’s big into vehicles) that will also be future proofed. The navy blue and deep red help create an older feel whilst the vehicles themselves on his wallpaper are child like in design.

We obviously had a budget for his bedroom (as always) and we helped keep within this by doing a little hack to make everything work.

Apart from the actual bed, the next two most expensive items to kit it out are the mattress and duvets. Now, to help keep within budget, we bought less expensive mattress and duvet for the top bunk (where he won’t be sleeping). They’re still top in terms of quality but easier on the purse.

As the top bunk will be less frequently used as it’s going to be for friends and cousins, we could justify the difference in what we bought.

If you’re in a similar situation, this could help you too.

Posted in Blog post

To project manage or not to?…

Vision βœ…

Architect βœ…

Drawings βœ…

Steel calculations βœ…

Planning approval βœ…

Approximate budget βœ…

With a fair few jobs ticked off the list towards completing the ground works for the extension, we needed to get serious.

We needed to find an all important builder. This is of course the person/team of people we are handing over probably the heftiest amount of money we’ve ever paid anyone. Ever. We’re not lucky enough to be a total cash buyer for this project.

The amount of TV programmes I’ve seen where the home owners hand over the whole amount of money or there about upfront before a jot of work has been done, sometimes in actual, hard cash too, is unreal. Not a trap to fall into for sure!

Any good builder will ask for the total quote to be paid in chunks. It helps their cash flow and also helps home owners to keep tabs on costs.

Any job we ever get done, small or large, we tend to get three quotes as a minimum. For this, our biggest project yet, we got seven builders to quote.

We only got building firms to quote who had done work for people we knew well, family and friends. Firms that came highly recommended and their work had recently been done in the last 12-18 months.

Each builder we asked round to the house to get a feel of who they are, what their remits are and whether they were interested. We used the opportunity to explain in great detail what we wanted to achieve in the house. We then emailed through our drawings and calculations for a detailed quote. We asked for the quote to be itemised rather than one figure so that we could see where our major costs were and where savings could be made.

Once the quotes came in, we obviously combed through them carefully. We then realised that if we handed over the whole job we would go seriously over budget. The whole job being listed below…

  • Getting the shell up to be watertight: Digging out the foundations, ground works and foundations up to damp course, the shell ie blockwork/brickwork with ground and first floor joists, installation of steels, roof work, insulation, exterior render, windows, doors and knock through to the existing house πŸ”¨
  • Install stud walls
  • Plasterboard and plastering
  • First fix: electrics and plumbing πŸ”¨
  • Underfloor heating preparation
  • Floor screed πŸ”¨
  • Kitchen purchase and installation
  • Laying choice of floor
  • Wall painting or papering
  • Second fix: electrics and plumbing πŸ”¨

So, having done up two houses previously, third time a charm. We’d be doing it again, and like I said in my bio, never again. This is our forever home. We went through the quotes and focused carefully on the itemised list. We decided to get best price quotes from the same seven builders on just the jobs above highlighted with a πŸ”¨. This helped change the quotes to make it manageable to get the shell up in the first instance.

The builder that came out as ‘the chosen one’ is the one that has come over as and when we’ve wanted to chat through the build more than once, came in reasonably on the quote and talked through parts of the build that could help us save.

Doing this though, one thing is now clear. We are project managing this build. Every contractor that we employ after the water tight shell is up will be managed by us.

We’ll have to make sure that we have the contractors ready to be called in to minimise delays. So all the contractors will have to be vetted and a range of quotes sought prior to hiring. Essentially the same process we’ve gone through to choose our builder.

Updates on this will be posted on my Instagram page as the build goes on.