Everyone loves to see the fantastic ‘before and after’ pictures from a kitchen renovation, but what happens in between? Our customer, Lindsey Jewkes documented her journey as she renovated and extended the kitchen in her Edwardian property. The aim was to extend their small kitchen into a large, welcoming family hub that breathed light and space. Aside from the structural work, Lindsey and her partner took on much of the renovation work themselves.
Read below for the highs and lows of the project, which started just before the national lockdown in March 2020, for a raw and insightful journey into renovating a family home.
Day one: 12th February 2020
The builders came and dismantled the old run down – and slightly dangerous porch – that has been added too several times over the last few decades. As much as the back garden was a mess, and I had a mud fest outside the backdoor, it felt like a great improvement and a step forward to one of the biggest reasons for buying this house.
Creating the perfect kitchen/diner where myself and the kids can all sit together whilst we cook, bake cakes, make coffee and enjoy the openness, of not only the back garden, but the kitchen itself. A place where we can watch the kids run in and out of the garden and play games on the kitchen floor.
As much as we want this, there is an element of sadness as the elderly couple who lived here before us probably built the porch themselves with any bits of wood and metal that they could get their hands on. It was a rather ugly and dark space but it served a purpose for them. But now it’s time to move on and make the space work harder for us.
Day 2: 13th February 2020
Holes have appeared on the floor where the porch once stood and the shape of the extension has shown itself. The builders had to dig further down as some parts where too soft for the footings. This was from an old pipe that had been leaking for years. It was not as bad as it first looked though as the builders only had to dig a further 300mm to a 1.3m depth. This isn’t the biggest extension, and I’m pretty clued up on this type of work, but the foundations needed would surprise anyone – apart from another builder!
Day 4: 15th February 2020
So most of the trench fell in due to storm Dennis and I’m not going to lie I thought the outhouse was going to fall in! The builders turned up at 7am and dug it all out and filled it full of cement. I think the kids were more excited that there was a cement mixer in the garden but I was just happy this part of the house was still standing!
Day 5: 16th February 2020
The cement is drying and whilst that happens, I need to fill in the Standard Assessment Procedure to make sure the house is well heated and insulated as the bulk of the extension is glass. We decided to change our heating from a traditional radiator to under floor heating to keep us toasty in the winter but also speed up the build process. A good note here is that if you don’t have an architect designing your extension then you will need to do this yourself with your builder. An architect would normally do this, but as we haven’t used one, we found this out after the first building reg’ visit.
Day 6: 17th February 2020
Today is my daughter’s birthday so thankfully I’m off work to take her shopping, but this gives me a chance to see the builders and catch up. I would always recommend catching up with your builders so that you can get an update on any issues or progress. This doesn’t have to be daily, as this may start to irritate them, but once or twice a week gives you piece of mind as well as ensuring things move forward with minimal delay. The builders have managed to start the block work and start brick laying now the cement has dried. This is really exciting as we can begin to visualise the true footprint of the extension – I hope it’s big enough!
Lindsey’s top tip: “When you’re living in all the mess and the builders aren’t on site as the weather is too wet – thank you British weather! – try not to get disheartened or overly stressed. You of course want to click your fingers and it to be done, but the reality is that you will be living around additional clutter for a while. Just remember this is only temporary. Keep in mind the beautiful end result that made you go for it in the first place.
Day 8: 19th February
The wall is up and with the wind, rain and snow it has taken a little longer, but in the time it has taken, the Standard Assessment Report (SAP) has come in and we are good to go for the underfloor heating! Next week the steel work goes up and the true shape of the extension takes shape.
Day 12: 23rd February
The steel was delivered today, and it felt like Christmas! We have only seen the side wall for the last week and as much as we have seen the footprint of the extension, with the steel going up this has given us a true look at the size of the space and the glass doors we will be one day getting. The glass doors/windows are to be full height of the room, so 2.5 metres high overlooking the garden. The feeling of opening the doors up into the garden will be like removing the entire wall – I just need to now think about landscaping the garden after the project is complete. I will worry about that another day!
Day 13: 24th February 2020
The roof started going up today and its now super dark in the kitchen. Until the wall comes down and the glass doors are in it’s going to feel like we’re living in a cave. The builders have been back and forth a lot which has been helpful for us all as it allows you to stop and take in the build and make decisions that are thought out and not made up on the spot because your builder needs a decision there and then.
Day 16: 27th February 2020
Coronavirus has put a pause on everything! Keeping safe and distanced from the builders is key so we have decided to wait till the government say it’s ok to start again. Watch this space.