Monday, 29 July 2013

Watching TV Can Seriously Damage Your Health

.... or at least your nerves! I blame my friend Nicky. After we'd been having a chat about everything we were wanting to do to mum's house - two separate extensions, a loft conversion and lots of internal reconfiguring, Nicky introduced me to her guilty pleasure. It was something I'd never tried before, and neither had Al, but we quickly became addicted to the daily BBC1 show 'Homes Under the Hammer'

In case you've never come across it, the premise is fairly simple - and repetitive - the two presenters follow three homes (or properties as I believe it's compulsory to call them these days) as they're bought at auction, valued, renovated and revalued to see if a profit has been made. The show is weirdly addictive, partly because it gives me design ideas for mum's house, but also because I'm addicted to checking out how much everything costs.

While we're not interested in the profit element as we're obviously going to be living in mum's house (which I point blank refuse to call a property,) what does interest us is the designs, and especially the renovation costs. This is where the nerve shredding bad-for-your-health thing comes in - I have violent mood swings from despair to ecstasy depending on how the renovation unfolds. We usually watch the show together, so Al's there to laugh at me when I start shouting at the screen - sometimes at the annoying presenters - but more often at how much it costs to do a similar sized extension to the one we'd like. If it's more than our budget I'll be sitting with my head in my hands, and if it's way under our budget then I have a massive grin on my face. Whenever the developers go over budget - which happens a lot - I worry that the same thing will happen to us as we don't have much of a contingency fund.

I know watching this show isn't doing me any good, and I really should cancel the Tivo series link and give it up, and I will ... just a few more episodes, then I'll go cold turkey, I promise!


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Blood, Sweat, Tears & Takeaways

One of the big advantages of moving to mum's house is the garden. It's a lot bigger than ours, and very private as it backs onto allotments and fields, so it's not overlooked.

The garden was mum's pride and joy. She was a very keen gardener, and until she became ill, she spent almost all her free time out there - weeding and maintaining of course, but also tweaking and changing. Moving plants, buying new ones, and relegating some to behind the shed, although she rarely got rid of anything! Even after she became too ill to garden herself, she was happy to issue requests and suggestions to Al and I, so the garden was always kept tidy at least.

This is how the garden looked in early summer, but I'm ashamed to say that since we lost mum, we've completely neglected the garden. Mum would hate the state it's got into! I know we can't keep it exactly as it was - and we wouldn't want to. What worked for mum won't work for us, so hopefully once the house is done, we can also landscape the garden. We'll definitely want something that's lower maintenance, with a much larger seating and decking area than mum had, and probably a larger lawn for Buffy dog.

So, the question is, what do we do between now and then? Well, although there's no point landscaping it when there's going to be so much building work going on, we decided we ought to do something, so yesterday we made a start on tidying it up. Stupid idea on such a hot day! We spent hours up there trimming shrubs that we might want to keep, and digging up some that we definitely didn't. We cut the lawns (2 of them) and the beech hedge at the front, and collected bags and bags of garden waste to take to the tip after completely filling the garden recycling bin.

And the result, after all this hard work? We were hot, sweaty, exhausted, scratched to bits and the garden barely looks any different! We've hardly touched the surface of what needs doing - there are LOADS more shrubs to be trimmed and removed, not to mention lots of paths and raised beds to be dug out - oh, and we haven't even started weeding yet, and most of them have gone to seed, which will be even more of a nightmare next year!

Which is why the title of this post is blood, sweat, tears and takeaways - I wasn't in any fit state to cook after all our labours yesterday, so after a planned lunch of fish and chips, we skipped the low fat homemade prawn curry, and had a Chinese takeaway for dinner. Eek! Don't want to be doing that every time we tackle the garden! Although, on the other hand, just how many calories does gardening burn anyway.....


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Moving Forward ..... Slowly!

We were on holiday last week, which was lovely, but had an email while we were away from the architects. They wanted to set up a meeting with the structural engineer we'd hired on their recommendation. A little strange, as we'd originally been told that there should be no need for a site visit - he would just work from their measurements. However, as we basically have no clue what we're doing, all we can do is agree and go along with it!

The meeting took place on Tuesday. The engineer seemed friendly and very very knowledgeable. Everything we want to do seems do-able, although I'm really worried about the costs. We can't put the project out to tender and get quotes from builders until we have the more detailed drawings needed for building regulations, which means at the moment we have no idea whether or not we'll be able to afford everything that's in the plans. Catch 22 really - we can't get a quote without the plans, and yet it seems silly to do the plans if we may not be able to afford the work.

We've stressed (again) to the architects that we're keen to press on and get things moving, so hopefully we'll have the final plans soon and can get some quotes.


Thursday, 4 July 2013


This blog is mostly Al's baby, so this is my first post. I have to admit I wasn't entirely sure about the whole project at first. I was still very raw about losing mum, and couldn't quite imagine the house without her in it. She'd really wanted us to have it though as it's much bigger than our current house, and in a nicer location, so after much thought and discussion, we decided to go ahead.

It feels much less like mum's house already - all her furniture's gone, mostly to charity and Freecycle, and now the wallpaper and carpets are going, I can finally start to imagine how it will look by the end of the project.

I grew up in this house - although I moved out in my early twenties - and I'm getting quite excited about bringing it up to date and back to life. Mum only used a couple of rooms after losing my dad 10 years ago, so it will be nice to see everything refurbished and used!



Downstairs now emptied, as much as we can for the moment.

All built in furniture has been removed.

Jay spent a day stripping the main bedroom. A lot of work.

Whilst visiting Wakefield tip, the nice man told me that no one was using the other tip. A little confused, we took a look at the council website. Normanton tip is being refurbished & the temporary tip is in Wakefield. So off we went. Went once, went twice and on the third visit we saw another car!! The gent who helped unload the car said that they'd had 4 cars all day. Going to keep that little gem a secret :)