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 Michelle of @blackfamilyvictorianrenovation has shared their renovating experience. I’m sure many of you will relate to Michelle’s experience and how renovating with young children and chronic pain, along with the the recent global pandemic, can bring additional challenges. Please have a read and show her some love too. That’s enough from me, now over to Michelle:
- Michelle and TJ, and their three children.
- Victorian terrace property in Greater Manchester.
- Purchased in September 2019 and have been renovating since then.
Hi, I am Michelle, I am 41 and from Salford. We have purchased our first home together in Bolton. This allowed us to bag more for our buck as its further from the city (Manchester). It’s also neutral ground as TJ is from Manchester, so we have been exploring our new surroundings together.
I am a mother, I work in finance part time and am a passionate traveller. I started motherhood physically quite late at 37, but I have two beautiful bonus children 3 years prior getting me ready for the challenges ahead. To which we are now a blended family of five, so when looking to purchase a home, space was a must.
We had a tight budget, as full time private childcare we weren’t willing to pay. I shortened my working week and along with that, decreased our income as we only one full time wage. Buying our first house was a fete and we had to be creative, hence moving to uncharted waters for us city sleekers.
Our home is a Victorian terrace property dating to 1881, which I am sure is steeped in tonnes of history that we have yet to discover. The town we live in was built on an robust industry back in the day full factory churning out cotton. Our home faces a Victorian railway built in 1838 to transport the towns wears. The streets around us are lined with back to back terraces (two-up, two-down), plonked on cobbled streets, that were built for an ever growing Victorian industrial world at that time.
We have had the keys for 13 months so far. We completely gutted it ourselves and then paid for professional help to get the house safe. Structural work needed to take place, a full rewire and cosmetic work. We moved into the property mid pandemic on the 1st of April, alone with a 3 year old, which was traumatic, but the situation was so unprecedented. We were renting too, so we just needed to move in. It was semi building site, no floors and was dangerous at some points, but we managed.
The highs have been:
- Being able to afford more property as it needs works to be done.
- Having the opportunity to make something bespoke to your family.
- Using your creativity on a grand scale and lots and lots of learning along the way.
The lows can over shadow the highs, as there are lots and they hit your emotions so hard. Renovating somewhat makes you very vulnerable and sensitive.
The biggest low for me is the shake it has on your relationship. You are both so highly strung and under pressure. It can make for not a nice home life at some points. Also the financial burden, is huge, especially when you don’t have rich parents etc to help and support this process. You are literally doing this alone. Then slams in the mum guilt. Especially over a pandemic, with no respite or routine. I have felt like the most awful mummy at times, when my patience has been short and tech time has been an all day or an all week occurrence.
Luckily as I have been furloughed over this time it hasn’t affected my work life, but I do start back next week for 2 days a week, which I am thankful of getting some purpose and adult conversation into my day, but it’s really taken its toll on all of us and made us battle as a couple. Plus don’t try this if your relationship is on the rocks already as it will finish you off. Mentally and physically it has taken its toll.
I personally suffer from chronic pain, so physically having to a lot of the DIY has given me so many days where my body has given up on me. The stress of the renovation and money worries has affected my pain also, which then hands over to the effect all this pain and worry has had on my mental health.
I have days when I can’t or don’t want to move or engage in anything life or house related. It gets so overwhelming. I can’t speak for TJ, but it’s affected him also and made him a lot more silent and generally p****d off with living like this. At points he has really fallen out of love with the house.
We are now getting to a point where the hard work is starting to show and you can start confidently saying to people, “it’s worth it”. Make sure you are physically, emotionally and mentally ready for the most craziest ride of your life. Where normally you would retreat to your safe place your home when the world gets you down, when you’re doing a renovation you don’t really have a safe place, because the stress is your home.
Thank you so much to Michelle for sharing her experience. Renovations certainly aren’t for the faint hearted, and I really appreciate the honesty that Michelle shared. As you can see from the progress pictures already, Michelle and TJ are creating a wonderful family home – one to be proud of! You need to check out their garden revamp too!
Michelle is also one of the founders of the hashtag community #blackhomesuk and so please head over and follow their account @blackhomesuk and see the wonderful accounts that are being showcased. Following this account, and it’s other hosts, is another great way to diversify your feed!