Top 5 tip’s for renovating your home

Happy hump day!

I don’t know about you but I am totally obsessed with right move! As a scroll through the many properties on offer I click on the floorplan and imagine what I could do to it. As a side note I’m loving their new search facility too. You can now add a keyword so it will bring up properties that mention that keyword in the listing. For me, the word ‘swimming pool’ features often!

If I were to ever do another renovation again I was thinking about my top tips. Things I could pass on to those who didn’t have a clue what they were getting themselves into. So batten down the hatches and here goes!!

  1. Choosing the right people. The trades you work with is THE most important thing you will ever do. You will have to deal with these people daily for months so definitely make sure you do your research. Ask for personal recommendations. Beware of using sites like trust a trader and Facebook for recommendations. I’ve heard lots of horror stories of people just recommending family members. Have your wits about you. Personally, I believe that a face to face recommendation from someone you trust is so much better and perhaps you can actually view the work this person has done too?
  2. Be ruthless. Once you have chosen an architect and you have your drawings and plans approved you need a builder to do the work. Always get 3 quotes from 3 different builders. I wrote notes after each one had visited so I could remember which one was which! I even made notes on whether I liked them or not, did they removed their shoes and did they offer to supply references? Allow time to receive the quotes and to schedule the work. I invited builders to quote for the extension in November 2017 and was hoping to start the work March 2018. That gave them time to do the quote, schedule their diaries and us to make a decision on who to use.
  3. Its all about the detail. When you receive the quotes, go through them with a fine tooth comb. I set up a spreadsheet. I put each individual job down the left hand column and the 3 builders in columns along the top. This way I could see who had quoted for what and what was omitted from certain quotes. To give you an example, for our orangery, our quotes were a shocking £70,000 difference in price. One included the windows and doors, another we needed to add those on top etc. Sometimes what you see is not what you get so detailing it in black and white helped us to differentiate between them. Go with your gut!
  4. Never change your mind. I say never and I understand that sometimes its necessary BUT…. It will 1) cost you more more 2) annoy everyone involved. Changing plans half way through no matter how minor you think they are have a knock on effect for everyone and could ultimately set your project back. This is why it is so important to plan everything in details before. I will give you one example. When we did our extension, we hadn’t chosen our TV which would be installed in the wall. Not a problem you might think? Thats something which can be thought about later right? Wrong. I chose a frameless option which has to be recessed into the wall. I didn’t find out our mistake until the TV installers arrived and there was no recess. How did I know?! We had already had the electrics, plastering and decorating done. Much to my disappointment the TV was returned. I didn’t want the solid stone walls chipped out, re-plastered and redecorated. We had already paid for that once. We also made a mistake in the main house in our cloakroom. The sink we purchased was too big for the room. You get the idea….
  5. Be honest. If you aren’t happy with something say. After all, its you paying for it and you thats got to live with it. BUT, when you say something, be nice about it. No need to go off your rocker! It will just cause a problem in the relationship moving forward. My mum always tells me with my kids, to ‘pick your battles’! If its something tiny can it be forgiven? If not, then say.

So there you have it. My top 5 tips for renovating your home. If you have something else to add, agree or disagree, leave a comment below.

Lots of love

Lisa x

I don’t want to be an ironing board….

Hi

So over on my Instagram account Lovemelovemyfarmhouse  I spoke from the heart about how I was feeling. I wrote:

“Yesterday I did something out of my comfort zone. I met someone via Instagram (who I spoke to for the first time on Saturday) and arranged to meet up in a random pub just because I felt simply that I had nothing to lose and why the hell not?
Recently I’ve felt lost. At a crossroads. No purpose. No ambition. Kids growing up and I’ve kinda lost my mojo. Not to mention the impending big 40 next year looming 😩 What have I achieved so far in my life?

Renovating our house has taken a lot out of me both mentally and physically. It’s not all about these little pretty squares. Now that the end of the renovation is near I’m feeling “what now?” Of course I want it finished but it was my job, my drive, my purpose & reason to get up in the morning. I enjoyed the busyness and bedlam that the trials and tribulations brought. Plus, i had given up my day job to renovate our home so where next? To be blunt, by finishing the project it means that I’m redundant.

I strongly believe that fate wanted me to meet this random person today and that we both had a story to tell. I was drawn to her even before we had met face to face. She is someone I now can call a friend and someone who I have huge respect for.

I chatted with a complete stranger about ‘where next’ and the penny dropped. It’s not the end. It’s simply just another chapter and a new and bloody exciting one.

I now feel in control and motivated to do something for me. So I officially declare the start of my next phase of my life and I say publicly that I am resigning from being a slave to the housework and putting myself last.
So here’s to the next chapter which I am going to embrace wholeheartedly. Cheers 🥂”

So whats been happening since I wrote this last week?

Well that random person is Hayley Southwood of Southwood Social Hub. I’ve joined her hub www.southwoodsocialhub.co.uk which is an inspirational support network for women in business. Go and read her story! She has given me the encouragement I needed to make a change. I love her no bull approach and the positivity she brings each day. I connected with her on so many levels and felt we had lots in common. Not only is she a total babe but she knows her stuff too. You can find her on Instagram under Southwoodsocialhub

Hayley told me about a business competition she won where part of the prize was a course of sessions with Life Coach Jessica Rogers. She couldn’t speak highly enough about the journey she went through with Jess. After investigating I had to get in touch.

Following my initial telephone call with Jess today I’ve signed up for 6 months. Jess Rogers…by her own admission helps women to be BOLDER, BRAVER, FREER. That’s exactly what I need in a nut shell. I’ve had this itch to have my own business forever and right NOW is the time to scratch it.

I’m so looking forward to working with Jess. Watch this space. Incidentally she has just won an award. Congratulations Jess! Read more about it here. www.bemogul.co.uk

I’m sure she will fill us in on her own blog over the next few weeks. Go follow her.  www.jessicavrogers.co.uk/blog

And to finish off I wanted to leave you with something I’ve seen online which made me think.

Which one are you? I don’t want to be an ironing board…

Lots of Love

Lisa x

The ups and downs….

Its been a while since I’ve added a blog post. Partly because life happened and partly because I have been questioning why I’m doing this and whether I’m actually capable?

As I sit here crying and hiding in my bedroom because I’m surrounded by builders, tradesman, family, kids and mess I remembered that writing my blog was actually really therapeutic. So here I am, bashing the keys on my laptop!

Why am I crying you may ask? Because sometimes when you are renovating a house it all just gets too much. Plus I’m frustrated with myself. I’m frustrated because I don’t understand the technical terms companies use. They forget that I’m just a normal person who has no formal training whatsoever in renovations. After 6 years you’d think I’d have picked up a thing or two?

Now don’t get me wrong, our builder and foreman have been absolutely amazing and they have held my hand every single step of the way with the orangery build. I couldn’t have got through it without him.

We are now onto the last stages of the whole house renovating process which involves building the garage and getting the garden designed and finished. If we wanted to spend a huge amount of money I would have passed it into a company to deal with everything themselves, project manage it and save myself the stress. But…. we had a quote for the double garage for £47k excluding the ground works and driveway and we were convinced that this was excessive and could save ourselves some money. Upon making that decision it also meant that you take on some of the stress yourselves. Queue the crying!

I’ve sent millions of emails to the architect, planners, builders, garage build company and its getting so confusing with where each job responsibility starts and finishes. And I’m scared. Scared that in attempting to save us some money but I’m going to mess it up and its going to cost us more in the long run.

I’m tired and I’m questioning everything and my capability of doing this and actually pulling it off. To put it bluntly, its draining.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post but here I am regardless. I’ve sent the emails I need to send for today and perhaps with a fresh head tomorrow it will make so much more sense. Here’s hoping hey?!

Moral of the story? Breath….. Take time out…. Give it a go…. Admit when you do’t understand and its all getting to much…. And for me crying and hiding in your bedroom for an hour maybe, just maybe is what you need. Just one last push to get this renovation project finally finished off.

Signing off now and will be taking the kids out and treating them to a ice cream!

Lisa xxx

Which Pantry For You?

I’ve been asked my thoughts on pantry/larder cupboards. As explained in my squares I purchased mine from Richmond House Furniture. The reason I chose them was because I could specify my exact measurements, choose the colour to match my kitchen and spec the configuration. I actually sent them a drawing and picture of what I wanted and they produced it for me. I paid approx. £1500 for mine and it was delivered and installed in situ. Worth every penny. Happy days. What I also liked was it was sprayed so it has an even finish not the hand-painted brush marks you sometimes get.

The reason I went for freestanding as opposed to fitted was 1) because it was a cheaper option & 2) if we move we could take it with us. Something for you to think about.

I’ve been doing some digging around and have come up with the following options.

High Range

If money is no object I would go for bespoke. For the reasons given above it gives you flexibility and choice. In addition to where I purchased mine from I have also found this:

The Olive Branch– £1555 for this option but they take commissions so would be able to give you a quote. They also do this option which I love for £1390 The Olive Branch

Mid Range

Cotswold Company This is a great option for those wishing to spend under £1000 at £949. I absolutely love the colour. Beautiful. It is well made and I like the oak detailing both inside and outside. It has free delivery and if you spend over £1000 you qualify for 0% finance over 12 months too. The reason I love the Cotswold Company is because they do options in a single or double version with lots of different configurations and they come in oak, cream, blue, grey or green. Something to suit all needs.

Budget Range

Dunelm A great budget option for £599 plus £9.95 delivery. Wow! I’m not a great lover of the cream colour but for that price I would paint it in eggshell paint in a colour of my choice. They deliver it to your door and you get to choose a delivery date a week in advance. They text you the day before with a 4 hour delivery slot between 7am and 8pm. The bonus with this option is it also comes with a 16 bottle wine rack, 4 drawers (2 wicker) and full door racks for spices etc. The reviews are mixed regarding service but the good reviews outweigh the bad.

My Choice

Personally, if you want bespoke I would use Richmond House Furnitureas I did, but if you want off the peg and they have a configuration and size which suits your needs I would go for The Cotswold Company and save some pennies for something nice!

If you enjoyed this blog please sign up to my newsletter to get it delivered direct to your inbox.

Lisa x

 

The face behind the blog

The face behind the blog

I’m Lisa, a partner and Mum of 2. When I gave up work in the corporate world to have our kids I set up an online business selling home interiors.

A year in I realised that it wasn’t the interaction with adults I craved and actually the reality was I spent most of my time sitting in our office alone updating my website and packaging up items. A very lonely existence. I decided to wind down the website.

When we purchased our house, every spare bit of time was spent researching and purchasing so it didn’t leave much time or inclination for anything else. Now that the back of the renovation is broken I have the time to document it fully. Something I wish I had done from the beginning.

Join me on our journey.

Cheers!

What does buying a ‘listed building’ really mean?

When we purchased our house, obviously we knew it was a listed building and we thought the same as many people do, that it was old and needed a ‘bit’ of work doing. What we didn’t appreciate was the ‘red tape’ involved. Naively, we had no idea what responsibility had been bestowed upon us. Something which lays heavy on our shoulders…. even now. You see, it’s not just the initial renovation work but also the constant upkeep and maintenance. Something which will be forever more. We consider ourselves custodians of our home. Merely looking after it until such time it is passed on.

Had we done our research we possibly would have thought twice about what was involved. With hindsight, at our deepest darkest times we wouldn’t have touched it with a barge pole. Not because it has cost us far more than we ever thought possible (although that would have been a huge factor), but because it takes far too long to get anything agreed by the powers that be and because the techniques involved in restoring a listed building take far too long. To put it bluntly, we have found it hard work. With a newbuild (which we have owned previously), you want something doing, you get on with it within reason. Planning permission is straight forward and away you go. With a listed building, the planners are involved but you also have to liaise with conservation officers. Sometimes they don’t agree on an outcome and you are left piggy in the middle paying for the privilege. Often the decisions which are made don’t make sense and they can leave you feeling that it’s a ‘right place, right time’ situation. As planning trends and targets change it can be somewhat potluck as to what’s in fashion at the time.

Nothing is a quick fix. Take the plastering for example. You can’t just pop down to B & Q to get some plaster. You need specialist materials and specialist tradesman. Something which is in short supply and demands a higher price. It’s that simple. Supply and demand commands a higher price. I wish now, I had remembered back to my 6thform Business Studies days!

This lime plaster is composed of sand, water and lime. Historically it often contained horse hair for reinforcement. It is normally layered in 3 coats with each layer left to dry naturally in-between coats. It took approx. 3 months to dry in total. Not a quick fix at all. When you have a whole house to renovate its daunting and would test the patience of a saint! Particularly when you have builders on site to pay for and you don’t want them to disappear on another job because you will never know when they will be returning. Something worth thinking about.

Now bear with me (boring I know) but I felt that this extract from Wikipedia pretty much sums up the responsibility involved: “A ‘listed building’ is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists. A listed building may not be demolished, extended, or altered without special permission from the local authority. Owners of listed buildings are in some circumstances compelled to repair and maintain them and can face criminal prosecution if they fail to do so or if they perform unauthorised alterations. When alterations are permitted, or when listed buildings are repaired or maintained, the owners are often compelled to use specific materials or techniques.”

It’s not for the faint hearted. It takes time, patience (something I’m not good at) and money.

Now I sound like a moaning mini but…..on the upside, its’ not all doom and gloom. You will have original features galore, character and a beautiful old building which is protected for future generations to come. It will certainly have the wow factor. They are an amazing part of our history, but I want to put it out there…. Don’t just buy a building willy nilly like we did without knowing the full extent of what’s involved.

My top tips to buying a listed building:

  1. Do your research BEFORE buying. That includes, the planners, conservation officers, specialist builders and architects. Who are you going to use to do the work? All of which I would recommend being specialists in listed buildings or at the very least have had previous experience.
  2. Employ a project manager whether that be an independent, the builder to do it for you or your architect. You will need that middle man to liaise with all the parties involved, plan and overcome problems along the way. They can cost approx. £30k give or take but they are worth every single penny in my humble opinion.
  3. Get references. A lot of people talk a good game but often don’t have the experience to back it up. View samples of their work. Don’t just take their website as a green light. Sometimes these images are standard pictures found on google NOT samples of their own work.
  4. Are there specialist trades in your area? It’s no good setting a budget and then you find out that the lime mortar plasterer is located in Devon and the delivery/travel costs are astronomical. Or you can’t find the specialists you need.
  5. Break down a budget as closely as you possibly can and always, always, always have a contingency. And… a contingency for the contingency!
  6. Do you have easy access to your property. I can’t tell you how many times we are asked if the delivery lorry’s will have access problems when dropping materials off. This goes for any building work not just listed.
  7. Speak to your neighbours. They often have some great knowledge about what has been done to the property previously.

This is an organic process which adapts and changes along the way. We’ve learnt so much and the process continues every single day.

Happy house renovating!

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In the beginning

Grand Designs was our ‘thing’. Gone were the days of changing rooms. We spent our evenings watching episode after episode of ‘The inverted Roof House’ or the ‘Customised German Kit House’. How hard could it be we thought?

One thing you should know about the other half and I is that we are if nothing else impulsive. We act and think later! Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Life is for living right?

We hunted for land within our very narrow search area (with schools to consider) and it seemed impossible. By this stage we had sold our house on a whim within one week of it being on the market and within 6 weeks it was gone.  We found ourselves in a rented house in an area we didn’t know wondering what the hell we had done. With the cash in the bank we thought it would be easy but land proved elusive to find.

Every day I would trawl Rightmove and began to look at property instead of land.

Perhaps this was the man upstairs’ way of telling us it wasn’t meant to be? Perhaps with hindsight we were naive to think we could ever take on a house build let alone a listed building? Perhaps we were supposed to purchase what would now be considered the biggest challenge we have ever taken on? Adventurous or stupid….you decide!

We found a house which had sat online for 18 months. “Lets just go and look at it and rule it out” the other half said. Before we knew it we had agreed a price and it was ours. Maybe it should have been a sign when the conveyancing solicitor contacted us to say that the mortgage company had insisted on 7 surveys. Eeek! There was a bat survey, an electrical survey and even a tree survey to name a few. We had spent a fortune before it was even ours and there was no going back now. We were in it deep. On 15th February 2013 it became ours. Officially. All 7 bedrooms and 4000 sq ft of it. Gulp!

‘It’ was a Georgian, double fronted, Grade II listed building dated back to the 1700’s. It was habitable. Just. And by that I mean it had a kitchen and bathroom so was mortgagable. No one in their right mind would actually want to live in it though. It even came complete with free cat poo on the carpets where all the local waifs and strays had let themselves in.

Everyone thought we were mad, the neighbours thought we were going to turn it into a hotel and we were in blissful ignorance as to the enormity of the task we were undertaking.

What followed was emails, phone calls and site visits from architects, builders, planners and conservation officers. We had grand plans. Some might say Grand Designs……

To be continued.