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Property Renovation

Merry Christmas

Posting about Christmas 48 hours after the event isn’t ideal – but Merry Christmas anyway!

We did it – despite our fears we managed to have a merry Christmas at home, cooked a merry Christmas dinner in our kitchen AND did not have to have microwave meal/beg a local restaurant to fit us in.

I am truly, truly grateful for how things worked out – so close and it could all have gone so horribly wrong!

If I’m honest, we took advantage of a fault in the shower tray we were fitting the week before and agreed with the homeowner that it would be best to push completing the project into the first week in January. We’ve already done a lovely en suite for her, and she lives alone, so she does have a functioning bathroom – we’re not that mean!

It meant Dean and co could concentrate on our own house and by some magical push we managed to get straight.

I wrote about our house renovation challenges only very recently and how bad things were. We had the plasterers in working on the kitchen, so the old kitchen was in the conservatory, along with the fridge, the stored bath, the stored cooker and most of our lives. We were washing up in the small sink in the utility (still are, if I’m honest) and the ‘living room’ was a storage hell-hole for two sofas standing up on ends, various pieces of furniture piled high and of course, sand cement and plastering gear.

But, as is the way of the world, the darkest hour is often the one just before the light comes in. We got through it and things suddenly made a magical turn the moment Dean and C got the bath upstairs. Suddenly we had additional space of approximately 1 foot by 3 feet and our lives started to change! Kitchen walls were painted, literally as the plaster dried, and the cooker was wired in at the eleventh hour.

I picked up a lovely table from a charity shop on Christmas Eve for ยฃ35 and C dug four chairs out of the rubble of our belongings in the caravan.

Even the dogs cheered up as suddenly they had space to stretch out and even play. I wrapped presents on the newly-installed worktop.

Ah, hello fragments of life! It’s been a while!

We took the 25th as a day off and had a truly merry christmas. The day after Dean and I took the dogs for a lovely walk up to our rented field and checked on the lambs. And then today we were back to work – refitting the dispensary of a veterinary surgery.

It’s the last non-bathroom job we took on, and we had to honour it, working in their quietest time of year so we cause minimum disruption to patients. How could we say no to a vet? Especially as it is our vet – and when you own a 100-mph lurcher you can end up spending quite a bit of time there!

Life is on the up. The wall units are still to go in, so we can’t fully unpack, and the sink is still not in.

But we’re getting there.

I hope wherever you are, you had a wonderful, merry Christmas, and the stars shone bright for you too.




Change your life Property Renovation

It couldn’t get much worse…

At least, just when I think it can’t get much worse, it usually does.

We are renovating, an old, old property, owned by members of the family, and right now, it would be fair to say I dislike this property, intensely!

It is our second project with them, so our second joint venture (JV). The first is now a beautiful three-bedroom home, let to a sweet family and the rental income is split between us and our JV partners. Every month I pay our portion into a separate bank account and pay all household bills as they come in, so in effect we live for free.

Nearly two and a half years ago Dean and I left our home and lives and moved across the country to do these two projects. The plan was we would renovate them, sell them and split the profit, allowing us to move back home.

Which would have all worked out, had we not decided to settle here. What actually happened was we completed the first property on time and on budget 18 months ago, but the second, which we’ve been living in, was a long way from being finished. I feel like I’ve been camping ever since.

By not selling up we ran out of money and had to prioritise building the business. Even so, we haven’t made enough profit to fund a full renovation, so we sold our old home, partly to fund this project, partly just because it was the right thing to do.

Life in a renovation pit can be pretty grim.

But since October, when we finally made the decision to just… DO IT, it’s all gone a bit beyond grim.

We started with the new gas connection and boiler and boy am I glad we did – it’s been so cold recently we would have been miserable without heating.

But although I know that with each project we edge closer and closer to completion, this place is really stretching my patience.

We currently all live on the second floor, which is finished and carpeted, sharing the en suite in Sam’s room. On the first floor is an empty shell that will one day be a bathroom, I hope. There’s my office, covered in a thin layer of greasy, filthy dust. There’s one other bedroom, in which my clothes languish in a wardrobe I can’t reach because it’s become an inpromptu workshop and there’s a flat pack kitchen leaning against the doors.

On the ground floor, it’s as close to misery as even misery herself dares to admit.

The kitchen we’ve stripped back, even beyond the old stone wall, as we’ve had to prop the space with steel RSJs and columns to support the weight of the floor. This week, the kitchen is being plastered. The outside walls have been stripped of all cement, to enable a water barrier and insulated boards to be placed against them to stop damp.

The entire room is a hovel of filth, dirt and dust.

The space you would laughingly call a living room is basically a storage corridor for plasterboards and insulated boards. And the cold, leaking conservatory is where we have stored our kitchen. We are using the small sink in the utility room as our only water and washing source and boy is it grim in there.

I’ve lived in renovation projects before and every time I say ‘never again’. This time, I truly mean it though.

This house, more than any other, has come the closest to pushing me over the edge.

On the other hand, this is the house that we will get the biggest return on. This is the project that could send us forward more than any other has done before.

So I’m hanging on in there, with gritted teeth and dirty, frozen fingers. I’m promising the poor bewildered dogs that this isn’t for ever, that they will have rooms they can walk across again without having to go around tools, plasterboards, piled up furniture. I’m telling us all it will be worthwhile and I’m trying to remember to be grateful for this amazing opportunity.

I don’t think we will have a kitchen in time for Christmas but we may have a bathroom and that would be pretty spectacular.

Just hanging on in there, hanging on, keeping my eyes on the goal!