Thursday, 6 June 2013

Our New House–The Work Begins

Today Chris, one of Andy’s team, began work on our new house. We are off to a fairly slow start because they are mopping up operations on their previous job, and we are also waiting on the scaffolding man to get the necessary permissions from the local council to put scaffolding in the road, but Chris is now free, and was able to make a start indoors today.

He began by stripping units from the kitchen. Here’s a reminder of what it looked like when we completed the purchase.

Beginning to remove the units: this is the section between the two doors; the utility room door is on the right.

While packing up our existing kitchen, I came to realise that Howdens’ original design for the new kitchen did not include enough units. Having the adapted section with room for my knees underneath, I have lost several potential cupboards. I have done a preliminary sketch of what I would like done, and when Andy came round the other night, he agreed in principle, and added his own input with practical suggestions to improve it further. The fridge freezer is now set to be in the corner beside the utility room door (see above photo), and the work top will extend to the left, and then out into the room on a peninsular unit, giving me several more cupboards and more work space. This is preferable to putting units along the wall on the other side of the hall door, because it would not necessitate the moving of the radiator, and will also make the working area of the kitchen more compact. Our table may be too large, but we can get a small round one which will be adequate.

I am glad we’ve got the luxury of time with this project, because I haven’t had to make any hasty decisions that I’d live to regret, but can plan things out, and spend time in the house thinking about it, and how it might or might not work for us. This is something we are going to live with for a long time, and we want to get it right.

A unit and worktop against the radiator wall. You can see the original fitted cupboards on the left, which we are retaining.

Here is the section with the cooker, with the units starting to be removed.

Here is Chris, removing the extractor hood from above the cooker.

All the wall units from above the cooker removed. With the units gone from the alcove, quite a lot more light is getting in. I am having my microwave here, and Chris suggested some curved shelves into the angle of the alcove for display or storage – great idea.

Here is Chris making a start on the annexe kitchen. He had a bit of a job with this particular unit as part of it was glued in!

This is a view into the annexe kitchen from the annexe sitting room, showing the left-hand units removed.

As he removed them, Chris stored all the units in the annexe bedroom. You can also see the two doors he removed, one from the wall that is coming down between the back hall and the utility room, and the other from the annexe kitchen wall – this doorway is going to be blocked off. These doors will be used elsewhere. They are the beautiful original solid wood panelled doors from when the house was built – we know the main part of the house was built in 1925 and are not sure of the exact date of the lean-to extension which forms the utility room, back hall and annexe kitchen, but we think it was probably in the 1940s or 1950s.

Some of the units removed from the kitchen will be used in the annexe kitchen and utility room, and we think my hubby may have some in his workshop. We know several people who would probably take the rest. Chris is being very careful as he removes them, so they can be re-used in an undamaged state.

I didn’t just go over today to photograph the work in progress, but to start unpacking a few things. My hubby brought some of my books over the other day, and today I started to put them onto the shelves in Bedroom 1. This central part of the mirror-fronted fitted wardrobe is shallower than the rest, and appears to cover the original chimney breast. The previous owner had books on it, and I thought it looked very nice. I deliberately slid the right-hand mirror further over to the right for this photo, so that you can see the shelves and hanging rails in the right-hand wardrobe – lots of great storage space! The mirrors can be slid over the central part so the whole wall is covered with mirrors, but I like to see the books. I have reserved one shelf for ornaments and photographs. While the builders are breaking through the bedroom wall to form the doorway into the en-suite bathroom, I shall close off this central section to protect it from the dust.

Also while I was there today, I was able to sit at my small black desk that was taken over the other day, and work on last month’s accounts, and feel very chuffed that I have finished them! My hubby and his friend also took over my old wheelchair so that we don’t have to fill the back of the car with my wheelchair every time we go over, but can use the space for boxes instead.  The whole set-up worked very well, and I intend taking the laptop over on future occasions so that I can work on other things while in the house.

My hubby filled the back of the car with boxes on the way over this morning, and after he’d offloaded them, he went off to do other things, and when he returned to pick me up, he brought a load more. He decided, however, that it wasn’t wise to bring quite so many over each time, as it was totally exhausting loading and unloading them! We’ve got plenty of time, and we also have to plan things fairly carefully so that we don’t fill the place with boxes to the extent that the removal men can’t get the furniture into the right places!

I have asked Andy to do my ARTHaven conversion as early on in the project as possible – he obviously has to project-manage it to fit in with all sorts of different criteria (for example the timing of the scaffolding) so I have to be flexible and fit in with his (more important) needs! However, once he’s done my ARTHaven, we can start bringing all my art boxes over and I can be working on that while other building and renovation work is going on – this way I should get it set up before the main move, which will be great.

My hubby has been a bit concerned about the garage since we completed the purchase. He says it’s really too small, and the door doesn’t work properly. Today, he told Chris that he was looking up replacement doors in the Yellow Pages, and when he measured it, it turned out to be non-standard – this garage was a concrete pre-fab built in about the 1960s and my hubby, being his usual self, was prepared to make do and mend, and put up with less than what he really wanted, but I suggested to him that we ask Andy about replacing it completely, and Chris went out with my hubby to have a look, and persuaded him! I am very pleased about this, because when he retires next year, he wants a really nice place for his workshop, that he won’t be constantly frustrated with. He said it went against the grain to spend any money lol! I told him I was sure the budget would stand it, and Andy is going to have a look at it on Tuesday. Chris said it could be a timber-frame construction with decent board inside, and insulated in between, and if it was moved back a bit, we’d have a proper space for one car in front of it. Chris said that as it was an existing structure, we wouldn’t need planning permission – all we need to do is inform the council, as long as the footprint is no more than twice the size of the original.  The timber-frame construction would apparently go up in no time. I am very pleased that Chris was able to talk to my hubby man-to-man about this, and make him see that he should grasp this opportunity while he could, while the team was on site.

Later he told me he was worried that it would prolong the building period even further, but I said if the garage was done last, it could easily be done after we’d moved in.

Chris is continuing tomorrow, finishing the ripping out of the kitchen units, and then he will remove the wallpaper from the hall and landing. I shan’t go over till next week; the stair lift man is coming on Monday afternoon so I have to be there for that, and I will also go on Tuesday so I can meet up with Andy to discuss various things. Hopefully he and Paul will soon be finished on their present job, and the team will be at our new house full-time; once that happens, we can start ordering things, in the certain knowledge that there will be someone there to take delivery.

Meantime, I need my hubby to take me to Homebase or similar, to start looking at kitchen flooring, tiles, bathroom tiles, etc. and to get some paint colour charts, so that Andy knows what to order.

Another job I did today was to go from room to room, checking curtains and lampshades, and deciding which should be replaced and which were OK to remain – we’ve got some nice lampshades here that I would like to use, and fortunately the colour schemes are compatible. Most of the curtains are OK but I want to use our red sitting room ones; I washed all the Indian fabric drapes yesterday and took down the metal curtain poles and these will be used too. So many things to think of!

I’m taking tomorrow off to rest. Today has been a long day, but a very happy one – I felt so contented pottering about in our new house, and starting to unpack some of my things. Chris had to leave at 3 for his daughter’s birthday party, and I had the place entirely to myself and was able to soak up the atmosphere as I moved from room to room.


  1. so pleased for you that everything is slotting into place now! Remember (both of you!) to take it easy! lol xx

  2. Really glad the work has started :D It looks good so far. It'll be a long haul to get there but so worth it in the end.

  3. Oh how fun, Shoshi!! I'm happy for your husband that he has been talked into a new garage for himself - awesome! I look forward to more pictures and stories of the progress.


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