An Honest Chat About Renovation Fatigue with Heather of @atheathershouse

Hello and welcome to the first blog post of 2020 in this series of An Honest Chat About Renovation Fatigue. It was great to start this conversation last year and share the reality of taking on a renovation project – the highs and the lows, the stresses and strains and the effort it takes to transform a house into a home. If you would like to be involved then please contact me either through this link or via Instagram.

This week Heather from @atheathershouse has shared their experience. Please have a read and show Heather some love too – they’ve had a tough time with this renovations. That’s enough from me, now over to Heather.

  • Heather (& her long suffering other half and kids) 
  • 1930s semi-detached in North East England.
  • Moved in March 2019

I’ve always loved the idea of self building or renovating a house but life has always got in the way and it never felt like the right time. When my parents made the decision in 2018 to sell their home of 24 years, it definitely didn’t feel like the right time for us to take on a big renovation with full time jobs, 2 young kids and an upcoming wedding. We knew it would need a lot of work to make it work for our family but houses in this area tended to come on the market ‘done’ with the price tag to match, so we decided to just go for it. We put our new build home of 4 ½ years on the market and committed ourselves to buying our now home.

We started work in October 2018, deciding to renovate the rooms that would not be impacted when we added a two storey extension the following year. In December more significant work began replacing the heating and electrics. It was going well and we were really pleased with the tradesmen we’d been recommended and our planning permission for the extension was approved. 

My partner hired a family friend to replaster 6 rooms and retile the bathroom. This felt like a blessing at the time as the thought of handing over thousands of pounds to someone we didn’t know or hadn’t come recommended felt uncomfortable. Little did we know he had over quoted us by almost half again what the job should have cost. Soon, I began getting complaints from almost all of my other tradesman about him but I laughed it off as a personality clash. I didn’t check on progress/quality regularly as I trusted him.

My decorator started while I was working away and I hadn’t had the opportunity to see the plastering. He immediately called me round to the house, warning me I might not be happy with the quality of work. The freshly plastered walls had more waves than the sea, the plaster didn’t match up with the plug sockets and there were areas where the plasterboard was left unfinished.

In addition to this there was damage to the new shower tray, floorboards and electrics (where plaster had been mixed upstairs and water had seeped through), the radiator valves were broken and you could no longer see my parquet floor under the mess left behind. 

I don’t think I stopped crying for the whole weekend, but when Monday came around and I needed to get on with day to day life, the enormity of the problem was just too big and I shut down. I wasn’t angry or upset just fatigued and detached. I held myself totally responsible for what had happened. In the weeks after my mental health suffered as did my relationship. I went through the motions of day to day life but I wasn’t really present.

It quickly became apparent that we just couldn’t financially stretch to fixing the damage and getting married, as planned, so I braved myself to be told how much wedding deposit money we had lost and to be shouted at by suppliers. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every single supplier showed so much support and sympathy for what we had been through, agreeing to postpone the wedding by a full year and doing everything possible to make sure we weren’t out of pocket. 

Our renovation journey has brought us some real lows but also some real highs. I’ve never really liked the quote ‘trying times reveal true friends’ but oh my god how true it is. My wonderful friends rallied around us, helping us move furniture into a freezing house often late into the night. Our families were so supportive, stepping in to help financially and to look after the kids so we could tour around collecting eBay purchases. We couldn’t have done it without my father in law there to help with so much of the DIY, patiently teaching me the basics as he went along. 

We still haven’t got round to fixing all the damage, (the playroom wall still gives you sea sickness if you look at it for too long) but we made re-doing the bathroom a priority and it is now my favourite room in the house. It would never have looked how it did if we hadn’t had to strip all the rubbish plaster work back and realise just how much we loved the exposed brick.

As we keep plodding on with our renovation (a little older, wiser and alot closer to bankruptcy) it’s so lovely to finally consider some rooms finished. Knowing that our hard work and perseverance has got us there really does lift our spirits. The kindness shown to us by others has made our whole journey so much easier. Having joined Instagram back in July I was hoping to get some inspiration and DIY tips. I could never have expected the incredible support from the interiors and renovating community and I am so grateful for that alongside the support of my amazing friends and family. 

I’m so lucky to be in the position we are in and to be given the opportunity to renovate our home. That doesn’t change the fact that continuing with day to day life and then spending your evenings and often nights doing DIY, making design decisions, liaising with contractors and balancing the books is bloody hard work – especially when things go wrong.  What I’ve learnt most throughout our renovation is it’s important to sometimes take a step back to remember we are only human and accept the help and support of those around you. 

I just cannot imagine the stress that Heather and her family have been under during this renovation. Isn’t it amazing to think that the bathroom may not have had that exposed brickwork if the plastering hadn’t been so bad?! What an amazing room it is now – I think they certainly have the last laugh!

If you can relate to any of the above or feel that you have an experience that you would like to share, please contact me using this link or via Instagram

Lydia x

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