5 years to go

Well this month marks the halfway point.

Our original plan was to try to rebuild our house in ‘just’ ten years. Which to many people seems a very long amount of time, I know.  But, for us, we wanted to enjoy it. To not feel like we were rushing things. To make sure that we got everything exactly right. To ‘enjoy the journey and not the destination’ (or other words taken straight out of an inspirational quote).

We didn’t want to be those people that you hear about who underestimated how much time it would take (we kinda did) or how much money it would cost (yeah, that too). We wanted to be realistic. And in fairness, we mostly were. We still feel like ten years is about the right amount of time, and in all honesty, we really are about halfway through.

What we didn’t stop to think about five years ago, was how we’d finance it all. We had a small (at the time it felt huge!) pot of money and we just thought we’d ‘fund it as we go’, without really having that much of a clue as to where that money would come from. Particularly as I was a few months short of my first maternity leave, followed by my second around 18 months later. Which leads to the other dilemma of just how difficult it is to do major renovations with two small children living in the house.

We’re now in a situation where life is a constant balancing act between feeling exhausted and wanting help, paying for help and slowing the work down for fear of running out of money, and then debating just letting the project take longer. The thing is though, we’re both starting to be ‘done’. Lee from the sheer amount of backbreaking work he has to put in at the expense of family time or down time, and me from 18 months of maternity leave and 12 months of pandemic meaning I’ve lived surrounded by a building site for too much of the last five years (which obviously whilst I’m ridiculously grateful for being at home during a pandemic, a ‘finished’ house would have just been a bit more bearable).

But, in amongst the exhaustion and the doom and gloom is the light at the end of a very long tunnel. There is an enormous amount of work still to do, but we’re nearing competition of a massive portion of the work and this means we’re giving ourselves a bit of time to slow down and just enjoy living. We’ll not stop the work, but instead we’ll concentrate on outside (the garage and garden) for a bit and enjoy living in a (mostly!) clean and building work free house.

There is now more of the house that we like than house that we don’t like, we have more usable, finished rooms than we’ve ever had before, and the idea of spending the next couple of summers outside, with friends, enjoying the garden fills us with more happiness than it would have been possible to imagine pre 2020.

For us, 2020 was the year that we got to DIY together. The kids were old enough to play near us without needing constant supervision. We were the lucky ones that saved money during the pandemic which helped us get a lot done. And, of course, there really wasn’t much else to do with our time.

As always, as soon as the DIY kicks in, I never manage to make time to update my blog, and there is over 12 months since my last post. I’ll go through the back catalogue and blog everything in more detail, so this post contains some spoiler images, but it felt wrong not to mark the halfway point and celebrate our achievements.

And so, since my last post at the start of 2020 we have…

Rewired and plumbed the entire house (with the exception of the kitchen which is now fed by the new supplies but will need updating as we do that room).

Plasterboarded and plastered the entire ‘middle third’ of our house.

Fitted a new staircase, and decorated the hall and landing, including finally having a landing carpet.

Created an office for me where our old stairs used to be (it’s now decorated too).

Decorated Ewan’s room just in time for his fourth birthday, complete with his ‘tree house bed’.

Have almost finished decorating our ‘snug’ with just the last bit of the flooring left to do.

Knocked down the old store and garage.

Rebuilt a new one in its place, which joins our workshop into one continuous building, and spent the entire of last winter fitting slates on the roof.

And build a treehouse in the garden for the kids.

And we’re genuinely excited about what we get to do next. The next 12 months should see some exiting achievements including: finishing the snug in time to decorate for Christmas (it has been a dream of mine to get two Christmas trees in the house and this year I’ll manage it); finish off Lee’s garage; start landscaping the garden including more outdoor space for the kids, and the first of multiple patio and seating areas; create an outdoor kitchen and by spring time next year be ready to start on the garden room/conservatory that’s been on the back burner for five years.

Obviously it’s tough and we’re constantly tired. But if 2020 taught us anything, it’s how much we really love this house, how grateful we are to have been able to start and raise our family here, and how our happiest time together is often working on a project together.