Our Home Renovation: Week 1

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Well, the first week of our renovation has flown by and the builders have moved on at a fantastic pace. First task was to demolish the rear patio and pergola, and instantly it was amazing to see how much brighter the kitchen was. I wish we’d taken it down years ago!

We are living onsite for the first 6 weeks of the project, so we’ve slowly adjusted to living on a building site. The boys have absolutely loved it, and have spent hours at the back door, watching as the mini digger dug the foundations.

Our first week wasn’t without its stresses. The speed at which our project went from being planned for late summer to just after Christmas left us with very little time to arrange all of the necessary admin that goes with a building project. The biggest one being the party wall agreements with both our neighbours. Despite the fact that we’re a detached house, because we’re building within 3m of the boundary, we need permission from both our neighbours to do the work. Paperwork was sent out at the start of December, but due to some confusion, it wasn’t signed and returned until just before Christmas. Although both our neighbours agreed to the work, we wanted to have a schedule of condition drawn up, to protect us all in the event of any problems. But fitting this in proved very difficult with the Christmas break. In the end, our builders started demolishing on 2nd January, and on the morning of the 3rd January the surveyor was able to visit the site, which meant work digging the foundations could start without too much delay.

Second stress was on the Building Control front. You are required to give the council 48 hours notice of work starting, so we dutifully filled out the forms and sent them before Christmas, complete with accompanying cheque. I was more than a bit surprised to receive all of our documents back in the post after Christmas, as I’d stupidly managed to write the wrong numbers on the cheque and it was 3p out. This left us having to drop the documents off in person, in order to meet the 48 hour deadline.

But the biggest stress of all was organising the finances. We are funding the work through a further advance on our mortgage, which was all agreed before Christmas and I was told funds would be in our account on 31st December. But the 31st came and went, and there were no funds to be seen. I assumed they were just clearing, but when I called to check I was told that our signed documents hadn’t been received. Well, we e-signed them well before Christmas, so I knew they had been submitted! A few stressful days later, the bank confirmed that they had found the documents and funds were released. Which was a massive relief, as we needed to make our first payment to the builders the following day!

Foundations dug at rear of property, looking out from the house, down the garden

But despite the stresses, none of those have been to do with the builders, who have been brilliant, and made so much progress already. The rear patio has been demolished, foundations have been dug and concreted, and it feels like things are moving ahead really quickly. In fact, it’s moving so quickly that I think we are going to have to move out a bit sooner than we’d planned, so we are going to have to get a move on with the packing!

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