Hello and welcome to week three of the blog series – An Honest Chat About ‘Renovation Fatigue’. This week I’ve been able to have an honest chat with Chantal, one half of @londonedwardian. Chantal and her husband Rick have just completed phase 2 of their renovation and they’re also expecting a baby! It has been exciting to see their progress and I’m sure you will enjoying reading about the time, hard work and planning that has gone into their current project. My aim is to bring you a different story each Friday and hope that by doing this we can recognise how far we’ve come, but also share the reality of taking on a house renovation. If you would like to be involved then please contact me either through this link or via Instagram. That’s enough from me – over to Chantal!
- Rick and Chantal
- Renovating their Edwardian house in North London
- This is a two-phase renovation which is ‘hot off the press’ as it has recently been completed!
Hi Everyone – Rick and I are chuffed to be able to share our renovation story with you. Reading Lydia’s very honest blog post on renovation fatigue really resonated with us as we’ve just completed an 11-month project on our Edwardian house in North London.
A bit about us…
I’m originally from Canada and met Rick while working in London. I’m an event planner and Rick’s a broadcaster for the BBC. We got married back in 2017 and I suppose you could say we’ve been DIYing ever since.
This is our second property project together. We previously did a loft conversion on a Victorian terrace house in Greenwich. In London, it’s virtually impossible to find a period house on a budget unless you’re willing to put in the work. So, for our next project we decided to buy an Edwardian house with lots of character but equally lots of issues to rectify.
Straight away we decided to convert the loft into a master bedroom with ensuite and music room. Lots of people suggested building two bedrooms because we had the space, but we were adamant that a for a busy home, you need that haven to relax and recharge.
I would say the loft conversion was relatively easy, once we sorted our changes with planning, more on that later. This was phase 1 and the works started in late October. About half way through, we got a bit smug with how smooth the building works were going (this is all thanks to our amazing builders btw @tghconstruction) so we started tackling other parts of the house: installing central heating, re-wiring the electrics, restoring the original floorboards on the 1stfloor and building wardrobes. During one weekend we had about 10 workmen in the house doing 3 different projects. The reason I know it was hectic is because it ended with me getting wet plaster fall on my head! Don’t worry only my pride was hurt in the incident.
By Christmas it was all finished, but we were exhausted and had to start planning for downstairs extension.
I knew immediately that so much more would be involved in a ground floor extension. Converting a loft is basically adding a box shape space so not too many design decisions to be made.
Our plans were to put in a downstairs loo and create an open plan living area by combining the kitchen and dining rooms, extending into the 100 foot garden for added space.
The level of detail needed to execute the kitchen alone felt like another level! As a visual person, I really struggled with ordering things for a space that didn’t exist yet.
Luckily again our builders (we used the same guys) helped keep us sane and within budget.
We started the major works just after Easter (about 2 ½ months after the loft conversion) and finished, with the exception of a couple of radiators, yesterday. Part of our exhaustion now comes from not giving ourselves enough time between building phases, not realising how different both projects were going to be and the unexpected issues we’ve had with some suppliers.
We were lucky not to go over budget with the renovations, but I would still agree that you need to put away a contingency fund. Our additional expenses have mainly come from suppliers letting us down.
We put a lot of trust in a few key suppliers who provided us with a service or product which we didn’t testing or ask to see before delivery. Unfortunately, this has been a harsh lesson learnt and one that we’re still having to sort out over the summer.
Because this is now happening at the final stretch, it’s hard to keep things in perspective. That’s mostly due to the lack of sleep, too many take-aways and living in permanent dust.
It does start to affect your mental health. You become less patient and if you’re like me (6 months pregnant) very hormonal so crying over the smallest things.
Chantal and Ricks’s Top Tips:
If you find a good builder, ask them if they work with any structural engineers who can do your drawings or calculations. This could save time as they’re used to working together. Plus saves from chasing with phone calls and emails.
Consider whether applying for permitted development is a better option, in many cases you will find it is. Earlier this year the UK government announced that they would extend the neighbourhood extension scheme. This is a half-way house in the planning system where your two next door neighbours essentially ‘sign-off ‘ your extension plans. To do this they must fit certain criteria, such as be no longer than six meters in length and four meters in height. You pay a fee to your council to check this, but it does not go to a full planning decision. Rick could write a whole blog on this as it’s what he does for a living.
Finally, put as many purchases as you can on a credit card because you’ll be protected if something arrives damaged or not as agreed with the supplier.
This has definitely been the reaction and support from friends, family and Insta mates . We’re immensely proud to have managed such a tough project together so quickly.
It pushed us outside our comfort zone and taught us a lot on how to manage stress. Rick’s also discovered a talent for dissecting complicated planning regulations – seriously it’s like trying to crack Morse code!
We’ve managed to create a space that is completely customised to our personal taste and that reflects the way we enjoy living in our home.
Thank you to Chantal (and Rick too!) for sharing their renovation story and having an honest chat about renovation fatigue. I’m sure you would agree that the finished product looks amazing! Definitely something to be proud of and what a lovely space to grow as a family too. Head over to @londonedwardian to see more pictures.
If you can relate to Chantal’s experience and feel that you also have something you want to share on this subject then please contact me to be involved. Either use this link or contact me via Instagram.