Monday, 17 June 2013

Our New House–Planning and Shopping

My hubby dropped me off early at our new house this morning, so I could see Andy, our builder, and also the kitchen man, and start making some detailed plans.

I had The Most Fun Ever, today! (Oh, the joys of being a simple soul and getting such inordinate pleasure from such simple things lol!!)

My hubby only had a very limited time because he had to dash back for an appointment mid-morning, but he and Andy were able to discuss ideas for the garage. Chris pulled down the funny little greenhouse/shed later, which he said was pretty rotten in places anyway, and this will enable us to extend the new garage further back into the garden.

Trevor from Howden’s Kitchens came with his sidekick who does the CAD drawings, and we spent quite a long time going over my revised plans – while packing up my existing kitchen here, I had come to realise that I hadn’t planned for enough units in the new kitchen, particularly as half the worktops have no cupboards underneath, being designed to sit at. They approved my ideas and we then went into great detail of exactly what units were required – drawers, cupboards, etc., and I chose some of those gorgeous carousels, which I learnt today are called “Le Mans” carousels because they look like the famous race track!

(I am learning some great new terminology through all this!)

A slight problem arose with the accessible worktop, because it has to be supported, and it looked at first as if I would have to have the cupboard under the worktop, which would prevent me sitting at it. However, a solution has been found – to support it with what Andy called “gallows” brackets (you can imagine why!) – this means the worktop can continue right round with no uprights underneath to impede my movement. It was fascinating watching them, and listening to the discussion, pooling of ideas, and calculations going on between all these professionals, and how quickly they came up with a plan. Andy has now ordered my new kitchen, and Trevor is going to email me the new CAD drawings – when they arrive I’ll share them with you.

After they had gone, Andy and Chris informed me that my original plan to knock down the wall between the existing utility room and the back passageway wasn’t going to work, because there is a continuous lintel which supports the wall above both the door from the utility room into the passageway, and also the door of the loo. They said that anyway, not a lot would be gained, and it certainly wouldn’t be worth the expense. Later on, Chris took out the door frame, and it is amazing what a difference that made – a couple of inches either side, if that, but the whole thing looks much more open, and this effect will be enhanced when the whole thing is rendered and decorated. Here it is from the utility room:

01 Utility Room Doorway

You can see that there’s only a tiny bit of wall on the right anyway, up to the loo wall. Here it is from the other side, standing in the annexe kitchen:

02 Utility Room Doorway from Annexe Kitchen

What you can see standing there with a jacket draped over it is a unit from the original kitchen – they moved several of these around to indicate the proposed layouts of utility room and annexe kitchen, and in order to make sure I could get the wheelchair through.

The other plan of mine that isn’t going to work is to retain the sliding glass window at the end of the existing passageway, which I was hoping would be our access into the airing cupboard. It turns out that only half of it slides, and it doesn’t give anything like enough access. Here’s a picture I took when we completed the purchase at the end of May:

12 Back Hall from Back Door

(You can see the door from the passageway to the utility room proper, on the left, before Chris took it all out.) The plan now is to remove the window completely, and replace it with a 2ft 6in door. This will give me more accessible storage space and a bigger airing cupboard. I am sorry to see this original feature of the house disappearing, but have to console myself that at least I’ve got photos, and also that we are retaining a large number of the original 1920s features. For instance, at the end of the landing where there are two doors, one to the existing bathroom and the other to the separate loo, when this is converted to the en-suite bathroom, neither of these doors will be required, and they will be boarded up on the inside, and tiled over, but on Andy’s suggestion, they will remain on the landing side, but not openable – this way we retain the original appearance of the landing.

We planned the layouts of the utility room and annexe kitchen, making sure there is wheelchair access from our kitchen through to the back door. Chris suggested we removed the door between the kitchen and utility room as it’s not really needed, and that makes the doorway slightly wider too. We’ve now got 3 spare doors for use elsewhere!

We went round every room, discussing in detail what needed to be done, and Andy looked at the power points and saw what needed to be improved upon. We also discussed the location of the dedicated power point for the stairlift, which has to be installed before the stairlift can be fitted.

My sister suggested last week that we should remove the bath from the annexe bathroom and replace it with a walk-in shower for Mum, large enough for a carer as well, and with a seat. After Mum injured her leg, she was unable to have a bath for about 12 weeks. Her leg is now healed and no longer needs dressing, but after being so long without getting in the bath, she is feeling less than confident about being able to get out, and has agreed to a shower, much as she dislikes them! Andy measured up and knows what to order.

Going upstairs, Andy discovered that contrary to what I’d thought, the macerating loo in the second bathroom is not blocked after all – I had just not switched it on!

We then went into my ARTHaven to be. Sitting on the floor, we planned the layout of the units. After a lot of research into different people’s craft rooms/studios on Pinterest, I got a brainwave to enable me to have even more storage. I had planned several work stations around the room, with a continuous work surface supported on fixed kitchen unit carcases, with knee-holes at intervals to sit at. We have now agreed what a good idea it would be, to fill each of these gaps with a unit on castors with a flat top. After all, I can only sit in one place at the time, and why waste all that precious storage space? When I sit in a particular area, all I will need to do is pull out the mobile unit, and form a temporary L-shaped working area. (Don’t you think Shoshi is brilliant lol lol? – I got the idea from a picture which showed what looked like movable units underneath a work surface – not sure if they were or not, but it triggered something in my brain…)

Andy took detailed measurements, and “drew” the shape of things to come on the carpet with the back end of a pencil – I told him he could draw on the carpet with impunity because it was coming up! However, a drawing in the pile of the carpet showed up the outline of everything. We also planned how the wall units and shelves would work.

He gave me a plan of the en-suite bathroom and I couldn’t believe how easily he and Paul have planned it so that I get everything I want in there, and more besides! For the life of me, I couldn’t work it out… He is making a doorway between the existing bathroom and loo, and I suggested that rather than making it a normal doorway, why not make it an arch? It would look less as if a door had been there and taken out. He pulled and face, and said he didn’t like arches! He couldn’t really tell me why, and said they were all right in their place (I said “like 2,000 years ago in the Roman Empire?!!”) – Chris and I then started teasing him unmercifully about arches, and he is now officially the Archbuilder. (After all, he does head up the team!!) When we got back later from our trip out, Chris had done the doorway in the utility room and said “Come and see my arch!” Lol! This evening I sent him an email, and included in it was a Youtube link to Flannigan and Allen’s “Underneath the Arches” ha ha!! His new theme tune.

Andy said he was a bit concerned about the lack of heat in the en-suite bathroom, because the towel-rail radiators don’t put out as much heat as a conventional one. We came to a compromise and found a small space for an additional radiator but it wasn’t brilliant, and neither of us was 100% sure about it.

Having done a lot of planning, we all sat down for our sandwich lunch and had a good laugh. Andy then took me shopping! We went to B&Q to look at tiles and laminate flooring and I had the time of my life. (Yes, I know, I know… I should get out more!) We found some absolutely gorgeous tiles for the bathroom – wall and floor (non slip) and a beautiful border strip to embellish the walls. My dream bathroom! Then I found a display on the wall, with 2 tiles side by side, and it said “Put your hand here… and here…” and the difference was extraordinary – the second one was really warm to the touch! Andy said Chris had put this electric under-floor heating under his conservatory tiles and it was brilliant. He said it wouldn’t add a significant amount to our budget to have it done (it would cost many thousands to do if the bathroom had already been completed) and it would also solve the radiator problem! So we are going for it. It comes with a timer. When we get the solar panels it can be on just during daylight hours and shouldn’t cost anything. I said it occurred to me that if we went for this, I’d never get the kitties out of the bathroom… Photos will follow, I guarantee it.

We looked at laminate flooring – I’ve decided to have that in both the kitchen and my new ARTHaven – both the same, to save wastage. Unfortunately the only one I really liked wasn’t suitable for kitchens, but Andy says now he knows what I want, he can find it somewhere else.

I also picked up a paint colour chart for the kitchen. Andy can match the colour I choose with a trade colour which won’t cost so much.

While I was upstairs looking at bathroom taps, he selected all the cheap white kitchen unit carcases needed for my ARTHaven, and got them all at trade price, as well as the tiles that were in stock. The others are stock items which will be in again in sufficient quantities in a week or so. He loaded up the back of the truck, with the help of a very willing and charming young assistant, and we went back to the house again. He and Chris unloaded all the boxes of units, and Chris is going to start assembling them when he’s there again on Wednesday. They obviously can’t be installed till the floor is done.

Still no scaffolding in evidence. On Friday Andy phoned me and asked me to chase up the council highways dept. for the license to install it in the road at the front, and they told me that the scaffolding firm had phoned to ask about it, and it was agreed verbally, but they had to submit an application – it appears that they haven’t yet done this! Paul would chase this up, and today, Andy said that hopefully the scaffolding will go up for the roof sometime this week, and then the work can begin.

I’m not sure when we’ll go back next – probably when my hubby wants to do some more over there in the garden. He’s been hacking back the overgrown stuff, and needs some help with cutting down certain Leylandii trees that are too thick for his trimmer. He’s already brought a trailer-load of clippings home to burn. It’s looking a lot better already, especially now he’s tackled the grass. Once licked into shape, this garden will be very manageable for him, and he can start to enjoy gardening properly in his retirement, rather than it being a maintenance chore when he’s already busy with work etc. and a much larger plot than he’s happy managing at present.

So, progress is definitely being made! All the wallpaper is now stripped from the hall, stairs and landing, most of the kitchen units are out, all the plans are finalised, stuff is being ordered and purchased, and this evening I made my first online transfer of funds to the three of them for work done so far.

Onwards and upwards! Lots more piccies to follow in due course!

Oooh, oooh, ooooh, Shoshi’s so excited!


  1. I feel excited for you! It's a great opportunity to start from scratch with a house - putting your own stamp on it!

  2. Well, I finally had a chance to catch up on all of your blog posts, Shoshi. Thanks for all of the pictures and information on what's going on in your life. I'm enjoying the renovations of your new home. Happy Belated Birthday to your dad.


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