Hello! Hope that you’re well and that you’re ready for another instalment in the blog series An Honest Chat About ‘Renovation Fatigue’.
Through this blog series I have been able to open up the discussion about 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. To see where this blog series started, then please click here. If you would like to be involved then please contact me either through this link or via Instagram.
This week Kate of @thehouseonhollydale has shared her renovating experience. Kate and her husband have completely transformed their Victorian home in London. Kate also touches on how life events, separate to the renovations works, can have a big impact on the renovation works and that feeling of fatigue. Please have a read and show her some love too. That’s enough from me, now over to Kate:
- Kate and her Mr S and their 9 month old son.
- Victorian terraced house
- Bought June 2017 and renovation began in February 2018
I’m Kate and I’m a true northerner from Cheshire. I’ve lived in London for the last 11 years but I still have my northern accent!
I work in the city in London as a chief of staff, which can mean any number of things from writing a presentation for my boss to planning roadmaps. I’m married to Mr S and have a 9 month old son.
We bought our Victorian terraced house in June 2017 and started our real renovation work in Feb 2018. We essentially re-built a lot of the house. We tore down the hallway, kitchen, downstairs loo, dining room and pantry and rebuilt the downstairs into an open plan kitchen, living room and loo.
We also tore out the upstairs bathroom, the spare room fireplace and the third bedroom and made a larger bathroom and bedrooms.
The best things about the renovation were being able to create our own space that was right for us. It was both overwhelming and exciting at the same time.
It was a real challenge as we had to manage scope and cost and make some tough decisions but that’s the kind of thing I enjoyed. Seeing it take shape and also learning about the build process was also fascinating!
We lived in the house the whole time, which I definitely wouldn’t do again. The project was meant to take 3 months but the building company that we found were awful which was disappointing as we’d done so much research.
The building company immediately sub contracted the work without asking us and then left everything to the sub-contractor. After a few weeks we could tell things weren’t great as the management’s communication was awful and supplies were delayed. It materialised that they had under-priced the job and didn’t want to do it. They were also using our money to pay for our work and another house nearby and they stopped paying the subcontractors.
Luckily we stopped transferring them money, but they then ignored our calls and sent an email saying they had to stop work until October (it was June and we had a hole where the kitchen was with a bit of ply board).
Legally, they were obliged to do the work for the amount they agreed but enforcing that is so hard. They were registered with the federation of master builders but they said that to have their help we had to go through mediation and couldn’t do any more work until it was sorted. That meant that we would have had to live in a building site with no kitchen for months.
Eventually the sub-contractor agreed to stay on but we had to pay an extra £10k, which we didn’t really have, however he did us a huge favour as I think it should have cost way more.
At the same time I was also really busy and unhappy with work. I was managing a huge global programme that had a tonne of delays. I used to work from home a couple of time a week and it was a bit of a nightmare because the builders would do things like unplug the Wi-fi and cut me out of call or turn the electricity off. I had to work in bed as it was the only non dusty place!
I also put on weight because we had no kitchen for around 4 to 5 months, so we used to live on microwave meals and take outs or go to restaurants which made budgeting even harder!
The worst thing that happened was that we’d been having fertility issues and after a year of trying I’d become pregnant but, at 9 weeks, I had a miscarriage. That was something that was super tough anyway but I remember having to go into hospital and then coming back home to half a house and builders everywhere and having to pretend I was fine.
All you want to do in that situation is come home, get into bed and have a good cry but we were coming back home to half a house and builders everywhere, and I had to pretend I was fine. It was around then that the builders left too so we had to sort all of that out and it was really hard to hold it all together and not tell them our situation and be really angry about everything.
Now I look back it was quite a dark time, and I’m not sure how we ploughed on. We just got on with it and got through it by trying to enjoy things like seeing friends, each other’s company and going for nice food.
That said, we were just unfortunate and I definitely don’t regret the renovation. We love our home and would definitely do another renovation – I just wouldn’t live on site!
Thank you so much to Kate for her honest chat about ‘renovation fatigue’ and I am particularly grateful to Kate for sharing her personal experience regarding loss and fertility treatment. Life goes on while we’re renovating and sometimes that can really affect our renovation well being too.