Almost 4 months into our build and renovation (and five weeks past the completion date, but hey, who’s counting?) we can (almost) see the light at the end of the tunnel. Upstairs has been (almost) finished, decorated and reclaimed as a fairly viable living space. In fact, at end of the day that we spent 12 hours putting everything back into the right rooms and ejecting the rubble, it (almost) felt like we were spending the night at The Dorchester on London’s Park Lane, compared to how we had been living.
The weird thing about a project like this is telling people it’s just about done, but not feeling like it’s actually anywhere near done, thanks to the continued presence of dust, rubble and great expanses of light-sapping plaster coloured walls. There’s a lot to be said for finishing touches like decorating and flooring, and how big a role they play in transforming the house from hovel to home.
But anyway, what can we say we’ve learnt?
- Never, ever build another extension again.
- Actually, despite point 1, we are already feeling the benefits of creating home that works to our specific needs, so we’ll probably forget the pain in due course and think it’s a good idea to embark upon phase 2 (phase 1 has been extending downstairs only).
- If you’re planning on living in, don’t.
- Just kidding – moving out is a very costly business and if you absolutely have to live through the building work, liaise with your builders to map out what will need to be moved around when so you don’t end up doing mad panic moves at 11pm to prepare for work invading a room the next day.
- Learn to practise mindfulness and meditation to get you through the moments that the builders don’t stick to your carefully planned and agreed schedule in point 4.
- Expect (and budget) to have to place quite a lot in storage. A cull at the beginning is crucial. But a second round of packing and storing things mid way will probably also become necessary.
- Expect the things you don’t place into storage to become buried in dust (however well you wrapped them). We are at all times to be found inconspicuously patting ourselves down from streaks of dust all over our clothes.
- Think details – at all times. No piece of work will be carried out because it’s common sense or because the builders think it would be really useful to you. If you don’t note it, it won’t happen.
- Measure light fittings. Properly. We (OK, I) seem to have gotten the buying of light fittings more wrong than anything else in the whole house. From too small, to too long to ordering extra lights for rooms that didn’t even need them – one way or another, we seem to have ended up with enough spare light fittings to open a lighting store.
- Keep the faith. There have been many (many) moments that someone has switched off the light at the end of the tunnel (usually when they’ve switched off the electrics without telling you and then gone home for the night). However dismal the site looks at any time, it will come together. Eventually.
- Embrace the adventure. Especially if you have children, they will revel in sleeping on dust sheets, eating on the floor and doing their homework perched on the toilet because there is nowhere else to sit. Life’s rich tapestry and all that. And one day, MANY MANY months into the future, you’ll (probably) be ready to laugh about it.
Check out a few of our during and almost done shots below. The ‘during’ phase has been the exact opposite of fun. But the ‘almost done’ part has brought a surprisingly large amount of elation. Who’d have thought that just being able to sit on a sofa could be such cause for celebration? It’s the little things.
I feel like bursting into the opening line of Take That’s ‘Never Forget’…”we’ve come a long way…” Forgive me, the stress has made me a little hysterical.
After shots coming soon. Almost.