We moved into our house in 2011, when I was 24 weeks pregnant with our first child. It wasn’t the house we’d meant to be buying, as we lost our ‘love at first sight’ home after a few months of waiting for the owners to find their dream place. Stuck in a sticky situation of our buyer threatening to pull out, and knowing we wouldn’t have time pre-baby to start over, we found a compromise house.
Although not as pretty and finished to the same standard as the afore mentioned ‘beauty’, it was similar in age and build, on a road a stones throw away; a less popular road, hence reflected in a significantly lower price. It had some of the features on our ‘must have list’ that we’d conveniently wavered for the other place, including a drive, a garage and a Kitchen extension.
A Kitchen extension, that is, with conservatory walls, a plastic roof, a tiled floor and no external walls of the house separating the house from the conservatory. And, as the searches later revealed, no building regulations.
Our glass half full eyes saw the place at its best, on a spring sunny day. Filled with light and the cottage garden towering with hollyhocks, becoming one with the house. A light and airy space for our unborn child to play, eat their first meal overlooking the garden and trees of birds. We loved it. Here is how the house looked on its right move shots, as dressed by the lady who’d lived there before us:
Our solicitors assured us it was all fine as we could take out indemnity insurance, so, we cautiously grabbed the house with both hands and steamed ahead with the buy.
The day we moved in was a little more telling of some of the problems we would encounter as time went on. It was the September heatwave of 2011, and as temperatures soared, our helpful removal team of friends and family sweated their butts of as I watched on, 7 months pregnant, under strict instructions to do as little as possible.
So, it would seem, our lovely family room was a furnace on a hot day. That was soon forgotten as summer became a distant memory and autumn rolled in. It was a perfect place to sit with friends, between the seasons.
Winter was another story. The tiled floor resembled an ice rink, never to be touched with an unslippered foot. Mornings we would have to nip down to plug in various fan heaters 30 mins before breakfast time. We often joked about putting a coat stand outside the kitchen door with wooly hats and boots for guests. This room wasn’t exactly one we could do without, it was our kitchen!
We managed through a couple of winters with fan heaters, oil heaters, IKEA rugs, and warm clothes!
We painted over the red, a lovely sage green, and filled the room with plants, and toys. In the spring, cooler summer days and autumn, we lived in that room.
We knew things would not ‘do’ in the summer that followed, as the previous ‘slow drip’ of the roof seal turned into an indoor monsoon. Constantly soaking the foam matting and rugs we’d put down for our little crawler to be able to tolerate playing on the hard tiles. We knew there was no point spending any money on repair work, so our fabulous Father in Law managed a quick fix of gluing the velux window shut. No more indoor rain, but the temperature in the height of summer got even crazier.
We had dressed the dining room with dark wood, and it’s grey walls, ceilings and woodwork made for a somewhat dingy grown up space, used for the occasional hosting of dinner. The 8 seater table I’d had my heart set on meant it was a bit of a squish, and the room was most frequently used as an oversized office and dumping ground. The cream cushioned chairs were a definite no go for any small person eating on a regular occasion. We always preferred the ability to watch the girls whilst preparing food on the go, that the kitchen table offered anyway.
I’d put off the idea of a major renovation with a baby or toddler. Mr G was somewhat more into the prospect of resolving all the niggles. I’m a bit of a tidy freak to be honest, so the idea of living in a building site scared the hell out of me.
We decided not to put it off any longer in 2013, and bit the bullet to get some quotes. To cut this section short, it seems some builders have a relaxed approach to appointments, call backs, paperwork. We pretty much missed the cut off of when we wanted to start that year. And then, a surprise pregnancy put all plans on hold. It had all been a bit of a non starter, but we’d learnt what we needed to do next time.
At the end of 2013, we had a sudden and sad ending to the pregnancy. I threw myself into decorating our toddlers bedroom, and Mr G set about working on resurrecting the plans for the house build. In our dark place that year, money seemed to have no boundaries and we booked holidays, focused on the house, trying to bring positive plans to our horizon to look forward to.
Mr G sourced a brilliant Architect, who came and measured, chatted to us (him) about what we wanted, and what he could suggest, and three months later we had some proper structural architectural plans, and our planning permission approved.
He had recommended installing a utility room, downstairs loo, knocking through the existing dining room and creating a large L shaped kitchen diner.
As well as approved plans for the build, we had also another major project in the making: Another baby on the way. Having been through so much we all agreed to put the build on hold until the spring of 2015, when I’d be on maternity leave. I did give the OK to Mr G to line up builders and quotes, so he progressed with this in the background.
As we got past Christmas and the first 3 months of newbabydom we set upon the project with a little more momentum. I realised I needed to get more involved, and start engaging with the project. I started perusing kitchen magazines, looking at white goods, letting the fun begin.
Find out what went down in Part 2…. Coming soon.