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.
After the small trickle of construction in the last post, it feels like the flood gates have opened. There has been some further progress in the kitchen which I’m sure is not as major as it feels, but it feels huge.
The door between the dining room and lounge has been blocked up and the party wall has been constructed between the kitchen and the WC – also forming the new kitchen doorway. Now we can really see the shape and size the kitchen will be.
The holes left by the chimney in the dining room ceiling and floor have also been covered over. Now we will find out if we have enough spare wooden bricks to complete the parquet floor.
We’re off to Edinburgh this weekend for a friend’s wedding, so we’ll stop at the house for a couple of days on the way home next week and get to see the changes in person again.
More photos have made their way to us and we were pleased to see that the loft ladder has now been installed in the ‘den’ which will become my office. Access to the storage space was previously via a small hatch in the upstairs bedroom. This will become our new bathroom and we didn’t want to waste the available space in there, so Sarah had the great idea of installing a loft hatch for access from below.
We have also heard that the scaffolding has gone up around the rear of the building now, so hopefully work on the upper part of the project will be able to commence shortly.
One change that caused great amusement to Stuart my father-in-law, was the addition of a wheelbarrow to the dining room.
We shall be heading up North ourselves at the beginning of April to attend a friend’s wedding, so we’ll be spending a few days at the house too and see the changes for ourselves.
May dad sent me a message today asking if there was any more progress on the house. “Nope” I said, only to be proved wrong when Sarah got home and declared “The chimney’s gone!”.
It’s extremely exciting to see and hear about progress happening, but also really frustrating that we are so far away from it that we don’t really know exactly what’s going on and where it’s at.
Sarah’s mum sent us photos of the progress. The last portion of the chimney has now been removed meaning there is a hole all the way from the roof to the floor of the cellar.
As well as the de-struction there has actually been a little con-struction happening. A lintel has been installed in place of the arch that used to separate the toilet from the rest of the bathroom. A partition wall will be installed set forward from and overlapping part of the existing one to allow space for a small basin to be installed. They have also added the brickwork and lintel which complete the new doorway from the kitchen into the hall.
We don’t know the order things will be done in at the moment, but I’m hoping that they’ll make good all the downstairs rooms before starting to work on the upper rooms and roof. That way we’d be able to think about some decorating during Easter or the May half-term. That would mean some rooms would be almost finished! Too much to hope for?
With the demolition started we’re beginning to get a feel of what the space in the kitchen will be like. This combined with a trip to a potential kitchen supplier has got us starting to think about the specifics of what it might look like. Any excuse for me to play with sketchup will do, so at the weekend we sat together in my office and got to work modelling it out.
We’ve got as far as choosing the colours and the placement of the tall units, but we don’t yet know how we’ll arrange the other units in-between.
The tall unit on the far right will house the fridge-freezer, the next one will house the oven and likely a microwave in the cupboard underneath (Sarah prefers it to not be visible) and the far left unit will be cupboard space, probably for things such as the vacuum and ironing board.
For the wall units in between we will most likely include some open shelves for glasses, but we are unsure whether we’ll split them all into two rows of vertical doors, or have standard cupboard doors.
There’ll be a dishwasher under the sink’s draining board, probably bins under the sink itself and then deep pan drawers below the hob.
The built in seating area and table were Sarah’s idea. She’d like us to eat together in the kitchen both for some evening meals (to get us off the sofa and away from the TV!) and for breakfasts at the weekends. It also gives me somewhere to sit and keep her company when she’s in the mood for baking. I suspect we’ll use the dining room occasionally too, but it will probably mostly be for when we are entertaining.
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!