Jo has just bought an end of terrace house in need of a bit of love in the Poets’ Corner area of Brighton and Hove. In this series she’s sharing her experience of the purchase and renovation process. In this post – dealing with first week niggles and making a plan for the most urgent renovation work.
Tackling first week niggles
We already knew from the viewing that the house would need some work, and we had a homebuyer’s survey done early on in the purchase process, so we had our eyes open. There were still a few surprises… including a temperamental boiler, a dead dishwasher, absent fridge and some dodgy plumbing. We got the appliances on order and arranged for a plumber to come round… and then got on with the seemingly endless unpacking. The moving company agreed to collect the boxes once we’d finished, so mercifully within a month of getting in we were almost completely cardboard-free.
A torrential downpour on our first weekend provided a useful opportunity to validate our assumption that the house isn’t entirely waterproof, and to get on the case arranging a roofer.
It wasn’t all bad… the lack of fridge gave us a great excuse to eat out (we moved in August when eating out was possible) and work our way round the neighbouring pubs. This particular corner of Hove has a wealth of them!
Making quick improvements
We are planning big and disruptive renovation work later, so it felt slightly silly spending time and money on small touches, but it’s so important to make a new house feel like home. We prioritised a few life-changing details;
- Painting – A feature wall in the home study and our bedroom to make our mark, and mural in the guest room – see how I put it together here.
- Purlfrost – We’ve put this temporary frosted film on the street-side windows so we can get out of bed and use the bathroom without giving the neighbours an eyeful.
- Lightbulbs – Wherever possible we’ve replaced grim blue-ish halogen bulbs with warm white LEDs. Next stop… getting rid of the terrible buzzing dimmer switches.
- Shelves and hooks – Chris bought B&Q out of simple metal brackets, and we’ve put up shelves and hooks in a few key locations. Until we are ready to install all the built-in storage we’ve planned, this makes a big difference to clutter management.
- Plants & Artwork – The home jungle was a bit of a pain to relocate, but immediately made the house feel personal. Hanging artwork is a double win – see our journal on how best to go about this here. It got more things out of boxes and off the floor, and made us feel like the move was just about done.
- Getting some garden furniture – easier said than done in the summer of 2020… but we cobbled together a table and chairs so we could make the most of the Autumn sun.
Planning some work…
Doing what I do, I know that by far the best way to renovate is to design and plan everything before you start, to move out, and to do all the work at once – it’s good to plan! This approach minimises the overall time you have to spend living with dust and disruption and makes it easier to plan and execute the work so that everything works properly (and legally) together – see our tips on how avoid dealing with dust during a renovation here.
However… we identified some winter-proofing work that would be so life-changing we got it booked in right away.
That included fitting a wood burning stove, and lots of external roofing work to channel water away from the outside of the house. As part of the full works we will be getting damp proofing treatment* but in the meantime some gutter & roofing repairs will go a long way to reducing the amount of water getting into the house!
…while working on the big plan
In parallel, we’re working on the designs for all the changes we want to make – including those we won’t get to for years. This will help us to make sure we don’t do anything now that gets in the way of making those changes later. Doing work in phases will almost always involve a bit of duplication or rework – but with good planning it should be possible to minimise this.
So, we are in the process of appointing;
- An Architect
- A Structural Engineer
- Damp proofing specialist
- Building Control
*watch this space for an upcoming post on dealing with water penetration!
If you have recently bought a new home and are thinking about what renovation work to prioritise, get in touch!