It feels like I’ve been living in the land of home renovations forever… In reality, it’s been just short of 4 years.  When we moved here, we left a history of pristine new builds behind us and opted for a “challenge”.  It wasn’t even a tricky challenge, but it was an expensive and therefore time consuming challenge none the less.

So I thought I would round up the 5 things I wish I knew about home renovations (that no one warned me about!) just in case you are verging on a similar decision.

Forever Homes can literally take forever to complete

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I honestly went into this with my eyes fully shut.  I saw the floor space and features and paid very little thought into the reality of the situation.  I adopted the famous saying “we can take our time doing it up”, but as someone who suffers with a severe case of perfectionism, what on earth was I thinking?!  As I said, it wasn’t much of a challenge… Although the building itself dates back to 18th century, the place had been restored 7 years prior, but just not to our taste.  I think we were lulled into a false sense of security, thinking “it’s just the decor”.  The cold reality is that I fear this place will never be fully finished when you factor in the windows, exterior, garden……

It’s never just a quick fix

At the risk of sounding pessimistic… There’s always a contingency for a reason.  Those non structural walls, will always throw you a sneaky plumbing or wiring curve ball that you didn’t see coming.  Who would ever have thought that getting a new oven would need partial re wiring of the kitchen?!  Ok, so you can put this all down to bad planning and inexperience on our part.  But I’m sure we aren’t the first and won’t be the last to misjudge the work involved for even the smallest of tasks.

house aerial

It’s not just the house, it’s the outside too

I’m not entirely sure what we were thinking when we bought a house with a garden that was pretty much a full time job to the previous owner (who didn’t have small children).  They spent years cultivating the most perfect chocolate box country garden.  That, despite their detailed hand over instructions, we can’t stay on top of (much more than the grass cutting). It’s a double edged sword, because we don’t have the time to cut it all out and turf it either… Round and round we go!

It’s like the Forth Road Bridge

One of the first jobs we did when we moved in was to paint the red/brown wood stairs and upstairs skirtings white.  I wanted to get it right first time, so a lot of effort went into the prep work of sanding, sugar soaping, knot treatment, priming and numerous coats of paint. Those knots are shining through already!

Being realistic

Ok, so I guess by now you will have gathered that my one big downfall here was falling head over heels for what the property “could be”.  Our list of what we were looking for in a house wasn’t the sort of thing that popped up very often and self building was too terrifying a thought, so when this place was relisted at a drastically lower price we just had to have it.  But realistically I should have known that living in a house with a to do list for 4 years (and counting) would make my eye twitch.

Honestly though, if you are looking at the forever home project, be realistic with yourself… Write down everything that needs doing, but also those that you would like doing too and tally them up.  Does it seem like something you can do in an acceptable amount of time?  Also think beyond the logical cost of it… Are you a patient person who can take the time to complete everything on the list, or will it drive you to complete distraction? I’m not going to say that I would have been happier staying put in our previous new build, as there is always a compromise.  However, home renovations can be just as much of a compromise… One which is worth the careful weighing up that I’m not too sure we did all to greatly!

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