6 Month Recap

Waaaaaaay back in January I wrote this post talking about our plans to renovate the ‘middle third’ of our house. The work started in earnest at the end of February and now, six months in to our latest crazy project, we’ve made some major progress. The majority of the structural work is done. Doors, stairs and windows have moved. The walls are now in the correct locations, and essentially we’re about to start the plumbing, insulating and wiring. We’re at the point of doing the first fix! And even though we understand that it will literally take us weeks and weeks to get the next bit done, we’re celebrating little victories.

I thought it would be fun to share the photos from that post on this one, along with an update of where they’ve got to…

  1. Finish fitting a front door

“We’ve already physically fitted the door and done a lot of work to landscape the front of the house, but we are planning an oak porch around it to finish it. This will include a slate sloped roof above the door. At the moment we can’t complete this because we have a window in the way…”

How it looked then:

How it looks now:

We are well on our way with the porch. It needs the roof adding still but the front path is in place and the front garden has been landscaped too.

2. Move two windows

“The upstairs window needs to move so there’s room for the porch, and then the window underneath it also moves up. In theory we could leave the one underneath but our plan is to eventually have the windows at the front of the house lined up – there will be two sets of two (same width as each other and on top of each other) on each side of the door.”

How it looked then:

How it looks now:

The windows are now balanced. The scar that’s been left by the old one needs rendering, but we’ll do this in one go – when we render the entire house.

3. Create a Hallway

“The room behind our front door will become our ‘snug’. This is a large room but we’re going to partition off the front section to create a hallway. This will be the room you walk into through the front door. When we did all the work with the extension we made sure that the door to the living room (the extension) was moved to the front of the house so it naturally falls into the hallway.”

How it looked then:

I didn’t have many ‘before’ pictures (hence the terrible resolution of this one) but the the window on the right is where our front door is now. This picture was taken before we moved into the house.

How it looks now:

This picture is taken from a completely different angle, but there is now a hallway with diving wall. The door in this picture is through to the living room (for reference the window is the one on the left in the ‘before’ picture)

4. Move the door to the kitchen

“Our kitchen is on the left of the house and the door between it and the rest of the house is right in the middle of the wall that runs from the front elevation to the back. We need to move this to the front of the house so that it also leads to the hallway.”

How it looked then:

How it looks now:

The kitchen door has moved over to the left of this wall and the old doorway has been bricked up to let us fit the new beams.

5. Move our stairs

“Our stairs currently sit at the back of the house. This means that if we leave them where they are we’d have to traipse through the entire house to get upstairs. It’s not currently the biggest issue right now, but when our snug is finished we’d like to be able to keep it clean and so it just makes sense to have the stairs out of this room. It will also open up a lot of space at the back of the room too as having the stairs where they are makes this area really unpractical (as you’ll see from the positioning of the armchair!).

They will also move into the hallway at the front of the house. This will mean when you walk through our front door you’ll see doors to the living room, snug and kitchen as well as the stairs to upstairs. This just feels more logical to us.”

How it looked then:

How it looks now:

Yes you’ve just seen this picture but for the sake of continuity and all that(!) The stairs are out and we suddenly have so much more room in this corner.

6. Create a Landing 

“The corridor outside our bedroom was originally the smallest bedroom. It was a very long room (around 5m) but really thin (1.5m) which made it quite an impractical bedroom. It happens to be the space directly above the hallway though which means it’ll now house the stairs and will become our new landing. This seems a much better use of space (it would have had to be a very over sized corridor otherwise) as it’ll free up the space where our current stairs are too”

How it looked then:

How it looks now:

The carpet is patchy, the banister is makeshift and there is a lack of plaster on most walls, but we have a landing and the entire house feels so much better for it!

7. Make an Office

“Currently our plans are to make an office from the space that will become free when the stairs move. They share a wall with the room we used as our bedroom before we moved into the extension and we plan to borrow a little bit of this room to create a small space that I can use as an office.”

How it looked then:

How it looks now:

This is it! It’s not a huge space, but it’s big enough and that window makes it light and airy!

8. Move yet another window

“There is a small window above our current stairs. When we turn this into the office the window will be right at the bottom of the wall (literally ankle height!) so we need to move this up a bit.”

How it looked then:

How it looks now:

The small window has been replaced. This is the one in my office and it’s the perfect size. We also made Ewan’s window (the one to the left) smaller too. This wasn’t part of the plan but we realised that it made his room more functional and that the smaller window worked better with the roof below it. We’ll eventually swap out that huge window on the far right too.

9. And brick up another window

“For some reason, the window that is at the back of the snug had two small windows either side of it. The one in the above photo was literally a window into our living room so we bricked that up a couple of years ago but there’s still one left that we need to remove and brick up too.”

This one hasn’t changed yet – it’s on the to-do list still as we keep forgetting about it!

10. Remove the chimney breast

“This is not a small job. Essentially the chimney is in the wrong place  so we need to take it down. This involves supporting it in the attic with some steel beams. To get these in place we will need to remove both the ceiling and the floor in the bedroom underneath, as well as clearing a lot of rubble from the chimney breast in both the bedroom and the snug below it and finally bricking up the scar left by the old chimney breast.”

How it looked then:

Here’s how it looks now:

Yes the room is a (literal) building site, but you can see how much it’s been opened up now that the chimney breast has been removed. We’ll need to box in the new flue, but this still gives us more room than we had previously.

11. Build a new chimney breast and open up the fireplace.

“We need to install a flu and build a chimney breast around it. This then needs to connect back up with the existing one in the attic. The reason we’re doing all this work is when we create the hallway there will be a partition wall between it and the snug which will be directly under the beam in the above photo  (our front door is in the place of the window on the right). This would mean the current chimney would sit right up against this wall which we felt would look a bit odd. Instead we’re moving it by about 1.5m which means it will sit in the middle of the wall with an alcove either side.

Because this room and the living room (the one we’ve finished) share a wall, we are planning to open up the fireplace between these two rooms and install a double fronted log burner so that the one main fire will heat both of these rooms. In the living room we’ve already done the hard work and have just put a piece of plasterboard over the hole (we’ll remove this when we’re ready) but on the snug side we need to knock through the external wall (and support that obviously) before building up the chimney breast around it.”

How it looked then:

How it looks now:

The chimney breast is yet to be built – but you can see where it’s due to go. The cement on the right of the image is where the old chimney breast came down.

12. Remove and replace the beams in the Snug

“We have two beams in the snug that hold up the ceiling. One is sat on the current chimney breast and the other on a column that sits in the middle of the room against the current staircase (you’ll see it in the picture of the stairs near the top of this post). Because of all the alterations we’re making these will both need to be replaced with new beams. Under current guidelines we need three beams to hold the weight safely so there will be a steel one hidden in the wall between the snug and hallway and two oak ones in the snug itself.”

How it looked then (yep it’s this photo again!):

How it looks now:

These are the new beams. They’re all in place apart from this end which is currently held up by acrow props. The chimney breast will be built here to support these.

13. Patch up the bedroom

“As I mentioned above we will be pulling the ceiling down and floor up in places in the bedroom so we’ll need to get this back together as quickly as possible because a hole in the floor is less than ideal in any ordinary situation, never mind when there are two small children living in the house.

As well as this Harris is currently sleeping in our room and I’m hoping that by the time he is two we’ll be able to let him have his own room so the sooner we can get this room back to normal the better!”

Well you’ll be able to tell from all the photos that we haven’t done this yet, but we are getting closer! And Harris is just about to turn 18 months, so we’re inside of our time frame still!

14. Build some walls

“We’ll need to build the hallway/snug wall, the bedroom/landing wall, the bedroom/office wall and the office/landing wall including making two door frames (for the snug and the office) so there is a fair amount of stud-work and framework we’ll need to build.”

How it looked then:

At one point the upstairs was so ‘wall-less’ that it looked like this. We now have stud-work everywhere and here’s how it looks now:

(The stairgate is at the top of the stairs so these pictures are taken from a very similar spot!)

15. Rewire the old house

“The extension has brand new wiring of course, and the old house is run through the new distribution board, but it still sits on it’s old circuit breaker and uses old wiring. We’ve found a few cases where the old wiring has given us some cause for concern so we really want to get the rewire done as quickly as possible. All the rooms in the old part of the house will be done during this rewire (the kitchen wiring will just be surface mounted until we remodel it properly).”

Again, another one we’ve not started but we are now at the point of being able to seriously think about it!

16. Central heating

“We have no central heating in the snug, the upstairs bedroom, the hallway area, the office area or the landing. There are pipes to some of it, but essentially we’ll need to re-plumb the majority of this space.”

We actually have no central heating in any of the house now as we’ve had to disconnect lots of pipes as we’ve moved things around. This is a massive priority to get sorted in the next month or so as we’d like to be warm by the end of summer!

17. Insulate the external upstairs wall

“The plan is to better insulate our upstairs rooms as the house can be cold (the lack of central heating in the middle of the house doesn’t help!) so we’ll do this at the same time.”

Well we’ve not done this yet, but we have spent almost hours researching this. Keep your eyes peeled for a blog post about it as it’s been a bit of a minefield! We do at least know what we’re planning on doing now!

18. Get plasterboard on the walls

“Finally we’ll get plasterboard on the walls to hide all of the wires and pipes so that we’re ready for the plasterer.”

How it looked then:

Again, we had very bare stud walls at some point however here’s how it looks now:

We’ve actually done half of this already. It made sense to run the wires and pipes behind plasterboard as that way the kids wont be able to get to them, so all of the hall and landing side has plasterboard on already!

It’s been an intense six months. In that time I returned to work full time, and (as per my new years resolution), blogged twice a week. We’ve spent some really quality time as a family, and we’ve spent some long hours getting jobs done on the house. Because of that I’ve decided that I’ve earned a break, and my plan is to take the rest of the month off from blogging. We’ll carry on working on the house (because that’s what we do!) but I’m going to let us ‘get ahead’ a bit with jobs and then there isn’t the added pressure on Lee to ‘finish this bit’ just because I want to blog it. It should also give me some more time in the evenings to help work on the house and should afford us a few days to get away too.

So you should see a few more posts again, early September but for the rest of the summer, I’m off to plumb in the central heating!