In general you get more for your money if you are willing to do work on a property. It is certainly true for us. We bought a larger house than we were looking for because the house needs significant work and no one else wanted to take it on. In fact the property wasn’t a house before it was a care home. The property is structurally sound so we are able to live in it and take our time to make sure we create our perfect family home. The focus during the last year has been working with an architect to workout the new layout.
To most people it may seem we haven’t made much progress, but we have done more than just talking about our plans. We’ve
- Agreed plans with architect
- Got plans from structural engineer for the beams needed when the lift is removed
- Bought an oven to fill the gap left by the previous owners
- Had a wood burning stove installed
- Changed the plumbing so the washing machine can be in the house instead of the garage
- Removed several internal fire doors
- Removed the automatic fire door closures from all doors
- Got a wood store
- Assembled a climbing frame
- Pulled up the wee smelling carpet that was glued to the floor
However, we have only just started, so there is lots we haven’t done yet, for example we have moved the safe from next to the front door to the other side of the drive, but really have no idea how to get rid of it completely. We have a mess of electrics in the dining room because it was their sensory rooms so have switches for bubble tubes and mirror balls but very few plug sockets. Here are details of some of the other things we still need to change.
All the doors are fire doors complete with closures so they close automatically at night or if the fire alarm goes off. We are not planning to replace any of these doors until we have finished the structural changes. We have one push bar external fire door, however it is so distorted we don’t think it would close again if you managed to force it open, we intend to brick up this gap. There is a hole above the ensuite door where a hoist track was positioned (that was removed by the previous owners), and we have one ‘magic’ door downstairs that is opened by pressing a button. We also don’t have a proper garage door as they used it for laundry and storage so boarded up the front with just a normal door access.
The plumbing is dreadful. Every water outlet has a thermastatic mixing valve to prevent scalding, however it appears they have been fitted very badly so we have a variety of issues around the house. It is impossible to get hot (or even warm water) in the downstairs toilet, it takes 5 minutes to start getting hot water in the ensuite, in the kitchen you only get hot water if you run the tap on full and the bathroom shower has no pressure so it is barely a dribble. However my personal favourite is the two sinks in the kitchen, if you run water from one it stops it at the other one!
I was very excited that we got a wet room in the ensuite, but oh no. The floor doesn’t seem to slope enough so the water doesn’t drain properly, plus there is a small leak at times going to the lounge below. In addition, we have a sink in every bedroom, much to the children’s delight, so we’ve been cruel parents and closed the isolation valves in their room.
Fire and emergency safety
Throughout the house we have fire safety signs, so at least in an emergency we know how we should leave the house and to assemble in the back garden. We also have many fire alarm break glass points which thankfully the children haven’t tried pressing because we really wouldn’t know how to deal with that alarm panel. I admit our emergency lights are not very attractive, but they came in very handy during the power cuts around Christmas because we still had light in the corridors; maybe they should be fitted as standard in all houses!
Removing the lift is a major structural change to the house because some of the roof joists were cut to install it, so when it comes out we need to support the roof with several steel bars. Once the lift is removed we will also be able to remove the hydraulic pack and free up a room that we will turn into small cloakroom.
Plans for year 2
The key thing for this year is to develop our master plan concentrating on two areas:
- the order of tasks to reduce disruption and duplication
- the tasks we’ll do and when we’ll get a builder in
We will continue doing small tasks such as sorting the plumbing, but intend to start doing something more substantial such as installing new double glazing as the windows leaked during the recent storms, or knocking down the wall between the two downstairs bedrooms (yes the one with the children’s mural). My personal favourite is to install ground source heating which I think long term will be more cost efficient than our current oil system. Come back in 12 months to see how we’ve done.
Do you have plans for your house this year? Do you have recommendations for what we should include in our renovation?