We finally managed to move in to our new house on Saturday morning, having decided that living on site was finally possible (working loo, tap & electric sockets in the kitchen working, if no where else, and two serviceable rooms to live in). We are still popping back to my parents’ house for showers though!
It feels like a lot has happened in the three days since we moved, so here’s a summary.
The dining room plaster dried, so we could paint it:
Our fabulous main builders spent Sunday on the roof fixing the ridge tiles in place (I don’t have a photo of that yet). They also fitted the wetroom boarding ready for tiling.
The plasterer came back and plastered the bathroom today (Monday), so hopefully in the next few days the plumber will be back to fit the bath so the tiling can be done.
The electricians (there were three of them here at a couple of points today) also came today and lit up the downstairs. This is fabulous as it means we don’t have to use a torch to find the loo after dark. They’ve also fitted the plug sockets in the other rooms downstairs, so we don’t have extension leads everywhere.
Kitchen (above the imaginary table)
Living room recessed spotlights
The electricians also switched the oven on, so I made scones. Happy days.
Yesterday we said goodbye to our house in Brighton for the last time. We’d had a “Friends” moment collecting all our keys from local friends and it was finally time to go.
The removals men arrived (after a slight ‘really, gas company, you are choosing this moment to park a huge truck directly over our driveway?’ moment) and made short work of packing our belongings into their van.
It still feels very odd that we aren’t going back to that house, particularly as we can’t unpack everything as the house is still a building site. Having been up and down to the new house so much over the last year is enhancing the feeling of ‘we are only up here for a week, we’ll be back in Brighton soon’. Hopefully we will be able to start living at the house soon, even if fully unpacking is a little way off.
Spot where our oil lamp was…
At least the guinea pigs seem to be settling in to their new home well!
The major work upstairs has started in the last week – parts of the roof have been taken out and the wall that will split the bedroom and landing has been started. Our fabulous builders are reusing as much of the original material as they can, so this wall is mostly being built out of chimney.
Inside the gable end.
We were there briefly during the week this week, so were able to meet with the electrician and talk through the rewiring as well as seeing recent progress. The electrics are a bit of a mixed set at the moment (“Have you got an outside socket?” “Well, there’s a socket outside.” “Umm, that’s just an extension lead.” “Ah.”) so we are having the whole house rewired to modern standards. This also includes moving most of the light switches as we have moved some doorways and, because we’ve changed the use of rooms, will be changing which way doors open. Apparently we don’t need a shower pull in the middle of the kitchen either. It has been an interesting challenge trying to decide where we want plug sockets and lighting, especially with sockets in the kitchen, but we now have a plan to start with, even if it gets adjusted nearer the time.
Part of the importance of removing the chimney stack has been to allow us to turn the big room upstairs into a usable double bedroom, but the extension plans don’t stop there.
We wanted to be able to make the most of the fabulous views from the back of the house, so we (Rob, mostly, with Sarah making encouraging noises) designed a full width extension to the back of the house. Rob’s proficiency on Sketch Up meant that it was easy to show our architect what we wanted when it came to him drawing up the plans.
Almost inevitably, we had to make some compromises in order to secure planning permission – this felt frustrating at the time, especially given the reasons the planning officer gave for the initial rejection – but we have essentially come out with what we wanted.
The biggest differences between the first and second planning drafts was that the extension now looks (from the outside) like a big dormer extension, rather than the initial asymmetrical roof we had planned. The planning officer also asked that we changed our originally-planned timber cladding for a tiled finish. What difference this makes, we don’t know, but she requested it, so we did it!
The other change to upstairs is that the bathroom is moving up there from downstairs, into one quarter of the upstairs space. The other available quarter will be a “landing” (so called so it doesn’t have to have a door to meet building regulations), leading on to a small balcony.
All this is yet to come – it looks very much like a building site up there at the moment. The lining of the ceiling is gone, as have the previous walls that gave storage in the eaves, so the next big step is for the roof to be taken off, but that requires scaffolding, so the builders are doing all the interior prep work in advance.
Work really feels like it has started now – the wall of the kitchen is gone (or, rather, is piled around the room waiting for the skip to be replaced) and as a result we’ve got a much clearer idea of the space.
The door that used to lead from the bathroom in to the hall is staying where it is, but will be enlarged slightly to meet modern door measurements. To fit a basin into the downstairs loo (you can just about see it the toilet in the “after” picture above), the width of the room is being increased slightly, but as the wall is load-bearing, our fabulous builder has suggested an alternative that means that they don’t need to replace the wall entirely. Instead, they are going to cut a notch in the brickwork (you can see the pencil line on the wall) and adjust the spacing of the partition wall to allow for a basin.
When the house was originally built, the toilet was in a room on its own (as was the done thing at the time, apparently), but as fashions changed, the bathroom was knocked into one and the original toilet doorway blocked up and a cupboard built in opposite the toilet. The parquet flooring was left in place, making an interesting base for the cupboard!
Having been up to the house during Sarah’s half term means that we have been able to take these photos, but also gave us the chance to think more seriously about kitchen planning, which is quite exciting. Here is a sketch of our current thoughts, which will probably evolve somewhat before we order the final kitchen!
We have now visited a few kitchen showrooms too, so have a good idea about the style of unit and worktop that we want, but are holding off ordering anything until we’ve got the final measurements when the new walls are up. Hopefully we’ll be able to put in our order at Easter – until then, the tea and kettle have been relegated to the cellar!
Our builders have been hard at work for the last few days, and the fruits of their labours are evident. Where there once was a chimney, there’s now half a pile of rubble (which has now been moved – some to save, but a lot for the skip).
The change in the room is already pronounced, and we can see the huge change that this will have to the available space, particularly when the doorway is blocked up and so the room isn’t doubling up as a corridor.
When we were clearing out the cellar, we found a box of spare parquet bricks, so when the chimney is gone completely we will be able to fill in the gap with matching bricks. We will be sanding back the floor (when all the brick dust is gone!) and bringing back the natural wood colours, but that job seems far off when we are looking at a pile of bricks!