Joys of home renovation

01:44, Dec 03 2012

It's got to be done by Christmas.

That was our plan.

Our old house - a 1960s bungalow that has served two families well - has good bones and lots of "potential". It needs a makeover but more than anything it needs to be brought into the new century and the way we live these days. That means knocking out a couple of walls so four small rooms can be combined into one good living space based around the kitchen.

You've heard this before, right? Knock out a couple of walls, throw in a new kitchen and we're off.

About May we decided we had gone as far as we could with our own ideas and started talking to an architect, because there were a couple of problems that needed to be "resolved". A builder joined the team and progress was made, at least on paper.

The central walls set to disappear turned out to have a fair amount of roof weight sitting on them so an engineer had to get involved.


We thought about a concrete bench but it was more than the floor could carry so plans were done to add extra foundations to carry the weight.

We quietly worked through the decisions and suddenly the year had disappeared. By the time things had been finalised to the point where the plans could go to the council for approval, and the building consent finally came through, it was November. And people like the builder and the joiner started saying things like "it's only seven weeks to Christmas, why put yourself through all that stress at the busiest time of the year". It was their code for saying "you're dreaming".

We are realistic people and we listened to them.

So our reno is not going to be done by the end of the year.

No problems. We've lived in it this long and we can wait another couple of weeks.

The builder felt sufficiently sorry for us that he agreed to try getting a couple of things done around the outside, like laying a path and a couple of terraces. That way we'll be able to get some outside projects done over summer.

We expected one of his crew to turn up in a few weeks.

Then the phone rang one morning this week; something had gone wrong on another project and his chippie had the rest of the week to get rid of the old conservatory. It was one of those aluminium add-ons with a tinted plastic roof covering a sunny little terrace off the living room.

It had served well as a storage area before we got the boxes unpacked but now it was just an eyesore. It got so hot in there, it blocked the view from the house and made the living room seem quite dark.

Just taking the tinted roof off was like lifting the lid off a box. We can sit inside and see the sky again.

Such a simple thing, but such a difference.

Clever builder - keep us happy by doing something small that makes a difference and gives us a deck we can use again. Ah, that indoor-outdoor flow.

In the meantime, the new joinery and windows and other supplies are being finalised so everything will be ready to go when the builder and other tradies get back in the new year.

Meanwhile, we'll do the Hospice house tour on Sunday, looking for added inspiration.

It's our own version of The Block. Tune in next year for the next exciting episode . . .

The Marlborough Express