Our long-waited home renovation project, 10 things we are looking at now

It has been since September last year that we have been waiting to get our hands on a house. The process of buying and selling in the UK is over complicated and unnecessarily long. So we were caught in it, waiting to complete the purchase of a house for 10 months. What holds the whole process up and makes it lengthy, is the concept and practice of a chain, a number of people buying/selling from each other. Instead of having a one to one transaction, in the UK you are bound to wait until everyone in the chain completes.

So with a lot of frustration and anxiety we went through the 10 months, worried every week that it would fall through. But in the end it didn’t and we got the lovely house we were waiting for.

Except that we can’t live in it straight away. The house needs a whole renovation. It hasn’t been changed probably since the 70s, it has had leaks, water marks and damage on the ceiling, the wooden floor is broken, the carpet is so old and has lost the fabric, wall paper is falling off and the paint is colourless. There is mould in the bathroom, the bath tub is broken, the shower’s side glass panels have been nibbled at the bottom. The kitchen is small, with cabinets that desperately need replacing. The garden is massively overgrown.

On top of the complete overhaul of the existing space, we are also going to extend in the loft and in the kitchen.

I have already got an idea of how I want the kitchen to be.

And ideally we’d love to fit 2 bedrooms in the loft extension and a small bathroom. We have parents visitin often and staying with us for a while, so that’d be the perfect space for them. And perhaps a small room for a study or the occasional au pair.

So what are the kinds of things we are going to focus on, in the initial stages of the project?

  1. The overall design of the house, including loft and kitchen extension. We have chosen an architect, she is very nice and she will be drawing the plans for us. We have to make a number of decisions there, about the use of space, the loft size, the details of the side extension, the opening from the kitchen into the garden. I will dedicate a separate blog to this as it’s such an important part of the works.
  2. The architect will finalise the plans and apply for a planning permission at the council.
  3. We had to clear up what was left behind by the previous owner, which was a lot of rubbish, toiletries and other more sentimental items such as a nursery report from 1984. The family who sold the house had lived in it for the last 40 years. Roger felt quite emotional when he read the nursery report, as we are at a similar stage of our lives with our older son just finishing nursery and starting school. And I felt emotional too when he told me about it. We used Junk Monkey, a company that takes your rubbish away. All done in one afternoon. 75 black bin bags, in total! And that is without the garden and a few more things, that could fill up a skip on their own.
  4. Next stage will be to get quotes from builders once we have the plans from the architect, so that the quotes can be precise.
  5. I am keen to include eco friendly features that are easy to incorporate and don’t cost a fortune. Solar panels, wall and roof insulation, smart energy reader and double glazed windows. I would also like to see if we can include, a rain water tank harvester but they require a lot of space and that might be an issue.
  6. Once we have had the quotes, have met the builders and have discussed our specs it will be the stage of choosing the builder. Such an important decision that can ‘make or break’ the whole project and experience.
  7. When we get to the stage of actually starting the works I will be so excited and pleased that we got there.
  8. While the builders do the works we need to have our shortlist ready for the next phase, kitchen appliances and fittings, kitchen tiles, bathroom fittings and tiles, wardrobes, flooring, wooden floor or carpet, colour paint for the walls. 
  9. Moving in – I don’t expect this to be before January next year but if it does, it will be a very good surprise for the start of the new year.
  10. Once we are in, we will have to finish the interior decoration but that is a stage I love taking the time for. I love browsing on eBay for second-hand items. I will have to get familiar with scrapyards that we can go to easily from London. And if there is any budget left, we might buy something new, if not it will have to wait.

We have done a renovation project before but it was very different as it was a flat and also we didn’t have children. This time, we have two of them and it will be harder but we are very excited about it!

This is during our first project, in our flat with the main builder.

This is during our first project, in our flat with the main builder.

What about you, have you any tips for things to consider at the initial stage of a home renovation project? Have I missed anything important?