Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House Before and After Pictures

I have now compiled ‘before and after’ pictures, with the occasional ‘during’ photo (remember it always gets worse before it gets better) which I hope you’ll enjoy and give you momentum to commence or  finish your projects.

The renovation and restoration of a 1930’s house is finished! Are you ever finished in a home? Probably not.

Front Elevation

Before – Sad and neglected                                        After – Restored and extended


Before - The original 1930s' entrance hall prior to renovations.

Before – The original front entrance hall prior to renovations.

Original 1930's entrance hall

Before – The original hall was dark and poky.

Acro props before steel beam is installed

During an internal hall wall removal.


After - The finished entrance hall in a 1930's house

After – The completed entrance hall

Sitting Room

Before - The sitting room with the original 1930's brick fireplace.

Before – The sitting room with the original 1930s’ brick fireplace.

After - The original 1930's brick fireplace cleaned up

After – The original 1930’s brick fireplace was retained, so too were the original Crittal French doors.

Before Original 1930's sitting room complete with Crittal French doors and brick fireplace

Before – A 1930’s sitting room with original Crittal French doors and brick fireplace.


Before - The original 1930's dining room

Before – The original 1930’s dining room

During - The wall dividing the kitchen and dining room has been removed.

The dividing wall between the kitchen and dining room has been removed, to be re-positioned.

After - the completed new kitchen

After – The completed kitchen

After - Kitchen with island and glass partition wall and door to hall.

After – Kitchen with glass partition and door to hall. Original servants bell box is re-hung – shame no staff though!

Open plan kitchen/diner/day room with bi-fold doors onto garden.

View into dining/ day room area from kitchen

Before- original 1930s' dining room

Before- the original dining room prior extension and renovation work – damp wall is now where clock is hung.

Living Room

Rear Footings 3rd feb 2015

Before – Laying the foundations

Painted Stove and Fireplace

During – Marking the wall for the multi-fuel stove

Trescotte Sitting Room Afer 073

After – The finished sitting room

Family Bathroom

Before- A tired and dated bedroom                         After – A family bathroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom during construction

The first fix electrics in the master bedroom

After - Large master bedroom with Heals four poster bed

After – The finished master bedroom

master bedroom with four poster bed from Heals

After – The large master bedroom complete with a four-poster bed from Heals.

The Loo

Before with original cistern          After – Re-sited and restored cistern

Guest Bedroom

Originally a landing with airing cupboard, bathroom with separate loo. Now a guest bedroom, painted in ‘Setting Plaster’ Farrow and Ball

Rear Elevation

Before – An overgrown garden                           Waiting to mature!

However carefully one plans either a renovation or restoration project, it rarely comes in on budget – it’s usually over budget. This is not just because of unforeseen problems like discovering structural problems once the work has commenced, it can due to adding a few extra plug sockets here and there (it all adds up) or choosing high specification kitchen, bathrooms and fittings. Usually it’s because we’ve under estimated the basic build/renovation costs – raw materials labour plus VAT.  Comparing your projected budget spread sheet to the actual costs spreadsheet, helps analyse where you under budgeted or over spent.

Did we go over budget? Yes, we knew we’d go over budget when we decided to install the Sonas system. However, the original quote was less than the final invoice due to the time-lapse between the first fix and completion – the labour and equipment had increased in price. The quote was valid for 30 days only, lesson learned.  The building material costs were higher too, despite having a breakdown of these costs from the supplier which our budget spreadsheet was based upon. Generally, the majority of people under-estimate their expenditure.

With the uncertainty of property the market, and the impact Brexit may have, many home owners are opting to improve their current home instead of moving. Having had nearly forty years experience in renovating properties, although home values may dip from time to time, they always go up, and on the whole a good investment.

If you think I can be of benefit to you and your project, whether big or small just contact me.

Floor tiles on cloakroom floor and entrance floor

Artwork by Kim Major George



Old House, New Home. What’s Your Next Move?

Renovation, restoring, extending, decorating of tired old houses is a passion for some, a nightmare for others. It’s not for the faint-hearted, and am I’m currently enjoying Old House New Home on Chanel 4 The joy and sense of achievement after all your hard work ( and cash) when it’s finished for you to enjoy and live your life is a celebration indeed.  For some it’s a way onto the property ladder or an upgrade to a larger home, hoping for a cheaper purchase price, which will increase in value when completed – hopefully worth more than they’ve spent, and to live and enjoy their old house, new home. Some lenders will require the house to be habitable though, insisting on there being a bathroom and kitchen.

Of course there is always competition, winning these properties from other like minded people or property developers and builders. The latter looking for pure profit of course, and may renovate as quickly and cheaply as possible for a quick return. If the plot is large enough a developer is likely to demolish the existing house and build a larger one, two or possibly more (subject to planning consents).The latter option is not so easy for non builders or developers due to mortgage restrictions although there are some specialist companies who offer this type of lending, and information can be found on   I personally dislike the waste of demolishing a structurally sound house, requiring work, but see the attraction on saving 20% on the VAT bill. It’s also not very green or ‘eco’, unless replacing with an ‘eco’ ‘passive’ house.

Extending our existing homes if possible has become more popular due to the high cost of moving – stamp duty, legal and agents fees, plus the extra on the purchase price for that extra bedroom, living space or bathroom.

Whichever way you decide to move, renovation project or extending, the ordinary home owner has a distinct disadvantage  – VAT. 20% is a high proportion of the budget.(Barn conversions and some renovation projects and building your own home are zero rated).  VAT is on fixtures, fittings and labour charges. If a dwelling has been empty for longer than two years or more you may be illegible for a reduced rate of 5%. For details go to To encourage and help ordinary folk, the Government should lower the VAT threshold on renovation projects. It’s greener too. Years ago, grants were available to help fund bathroom installations (if there wasn’t an inside bathroom), damp and woodworm treatments. Alas this help has long gone. Wouldn’t it be helpful to bring funding back for essentials, subject to certain criteria – income and length of residency, perhaps to assist those on lower incomes make a home of their own?

With the housing crisis, and lack of affordable homes especially in certain areas, a lot of young people with the dream of owning their own home is just that, a dream, despite working hard. There are Government schemes – Help to Buy ISA where the Government will top up your savings by 23% (up to £3000.00). The drawback being that the house you buy must have a purchase price of up to £250,00 .(up to £450,000 in London). Mmn. Try finding a house in the home counties for that price. The Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee is a better deal, it lets you buy a home with a 5% deposit. The guarantee is to the mortgage provider, not you as a buyer. The purchase price is up to £600,00, which is more realistic in the high priced London area. However, you still have to prove you can afford to make the repayments of course, and with the average living salary, its still a tough call.

Hard earned cash pays their rent, living expenses and student loans, with little left to save for their deposit. House sharing in your twenties is not the same when in your thirties, especially if you want a family. This is now a major decision factor too, maybe putting your life ‘on hold’. You can’t make the home your own either, due to tenancy agreement restrictions.  Are we regressing to earlier decades, when complete families lived in a few rooms in a house shared with others? In 1918 the majority of households in England and Wales were rented, with just 1% socially, rising to 31% in 1981. Today the highest percentage of renters is in London, along with the highest property prices.

The newly built starter homes on big estates are, in some cases, poorly designed and cheaply built, with little more than a ‘postage stamp’ for a rear garden. There are great architects who could design  well planned homes, which could adapt to the changing needs of the occupants over the years  to extend if need be, i.e. the option for a loft conversion. The ‘Lifetime Homes’ concept was developed in the early 1990s’ by a group of experts including Habinteg Housing Association and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to design homes to support the changing needs of the individuals and families at different stages of their lives. From raising children, coping with illness or reduced mobility.

Shelter are currently running a campaign to celebrate 50 years, called ‘What does home mean to you? to raise funds and awareness of the housing crisis. So what does home mean to you?

House plan found on Google search, unfortunately without reference to the designer, for accreditation.



Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House – As the Dust Settles

As extensions begin to settle, and fresh plaster dries out, cracks annoyingly appear in your newly painted rooms and skirting boards will move slightly. One of the most time consuming things on a major renovation project is the snagging. How often have you gone round the house with a bowl of mixed filler, filling in accidental knocks (leave settlement cracks alone for at least six months – they will return or get bigger) odd scratches and holes, to find you’ve mixed up far too much filler. You dispose of the excess filler, only to discover more holes! These of course have to be sanded smooth and touched in with a little matching paint. We have an assortment of paint pots, brushes, filler and sandpaper stacked in one room specifically for this purpose. I will be very glad when these can be stored on shelves in the garage. It’s a good idea to keep the paint used in case of small minor repairs required at a later date.

Snagging goes hand in hand with what I term as ‘The Builders’ Clean’. This is a mega clean. Paint splashes on windows, doors and frames need to be removed with either a small amount of solvent (if UVPC frames) and scraped gently off glass with a razor blade to avoid scratching the glass. This is prior to actually cleaning the windows. The dust will continue to settle and reappear despite your best efforts for some time. However, it’s surprising what a huge improvement these small repairs and cleaning make to the finished house – it actually looks finished.

It wasn't as bad as Miss Havisham's house in Great Expectations

Too be honest, it wasn’t as bad a this!

Finally, we were ready to lay the carpets to the first floor bedrooms, landing and stairs. I chose a plain grey carpet for all these spaces, creating a cohesive look. Grey is a wonderful neutral colour which can be teamed successfully with many other colours, which enables individual character and style for each room. Once the carpets go down, you really feel that the house is almost finished. I was also very pleased to see the back of the dusty floorboards (despite the repeated vacuuming) and noisy stairs. The carpet came from a nationwide carpet shop, who use subcontract fitters. Although we had quite a large area requiring new gripper, underlay and carpet fitting, the rooms were void of furniture, so it made the job a lot easier and quicker. However, I was disappointed to discover that the fitters don’t dispose of the waste and cut offs. They simply bag it up for the customer to dispose of. I have a skip, but what about everyone else? Another trip to the tidy tip? It would be even worse if you had old carpets to remove prior to fitting the new.

The rooms looked much better having carpet, and would have looked amazing if the fitters had bothered to vacuum the carpets before rushing off. There was fluff everywhere, which was also floating around as ‘tumble weed’ downstairs. What happened to pride in your job, leaving looking as best you can? As I was vacuuming the carpet, I noticed in several places that the paint on the skirting board had been damaged by the carpet fitter’s tools. More snagging!

The Sonos System has been connected to the speakers – we have music! Needless to say that my husband and son have enjoyed ‘playing’ with the radio and music selections in different rooms. We have had to have boosters fitted in a few rooms though, due to the poor broad band service speeds available. BT are currently advertising fibre optic service on the television. Why are they advertising a service which is unavailable to so many people?

I have recently received a letter from the local council notifying me that I’m now liable for the Empty Home Council Tax Premium. The council explained that it is one of their priorities to increase the amount of available and affordable housing in the borough. Councillors have introduced this council tax premium for properties which have been unoccupied and unfurnished for two years or more to encourage empty homes back into use. They didn’t specify exactly how much more I had to pay, only that the increased charge would be 150% of full council tax for the property.

The house, when purchased was uninhabitable, and we received six months levy on council tax charges. During this time we had plans drawn up and submitted to the local council for planning permission (permission took twelve weeks) then we had to submit drawings to building control, which took another month, all before we could actually commence work, which took another six months before being habitable – just, (although not finished). Since the initial six month levy period, we have been paying the full council tax charges, despite being unable to move into the house, not until my present house has sold. I can understand and appreciate the councils intentions of encouraging occupancy of empty homes due to the housing shortage, but not all circumstances are the same. The extra council tax was certainly not in our budget or even contingency. Allow for it in your project!


Useful category for filing purposes

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (17) What a Load of Rubbish

The Front Porch

The Front Porch

Although we enjoyed the ideal weather in July ( I warned you I was way behind with progress updates) we were still waiting for the roofers to return to finish off the garage, porch and boiler room rooves. Once completed the render can be applied and then painted. We are also waiting for the electrician to come and complete connecting the light switches and sockets, so we can have light and power. This would certainly help with the tangle of assorted extension leads around the house.

New wiring, along with current supply is the power hub

Electricity Hub and tea making station on what was the pantry shelf


The front of the house is finally being cleared of rubbish and transformed from building site to drive. We hired ‘grab’ lorries to take away the enormous pile of Earth, brick and stones. Although not cheap, these lorries can remove and takeaway far more debris than skips, which is more cost effective in the long run. Our eight yard skip ( one of many to be hired from this company during the whole renovation) was now full to bursting, and I rang the company to collect it and to hire another in exchange. The company I had used had recently been bought by another larger waste management company, who had no record of me, my skip, account number or address, so wouldn’t come and remove it. They asked if I was sure it was their skip, to which I replied, it’s bright red with your company name painted on the side. Despite this, they still insisted that the skip didn’t belong to them. Not sure what to do with a full skip sitting in the drive, I asked for their advice. One man suggested I pay for the skip to be removed and emptied. I had already paid for this service when I first hired the skip, and was not going to pay again. I suggested to them that as I required another skip, and they couldn’t find my account, that I would have to go to another skip hire company for them to collect the full skip and deliver another, and that the new company could keep the skip. I was told that I couldn’t do that, as the skip didn’t belong to me. (Well I had paid for it, and you keep telling me it doesn’t belong to you). Over several weeks phone calls were exchanged, and became a source of amusement to everyone on site. In the meantime, I hired a skip from a different company so we could continue with clearing the site. Eventually they found my account, and came to collect the skip. Quite a cheer went up! I was asked if I wanted another skip, but declined their offer, it was too much like hard work.

Some of the earth left at the front of the house was piled up with a digger to form a raised bed, in front of the hedge, and a retaining barrier was created using sleepers which were bolted together for strength. A stone slab footpath was laid to one side, for ease of wheelie  bin maneuvering on collection days.  Dragging a heavy bin over gravel is no fun. One was poured and spread over the cleared drive area and flattened with a whacker plate to form a base for 20 mm pea shingle to be spread out on top to form a drive. What a difference, the whole front facade was transformed. It actually looked like a drive. We spent another sunny Saturday planting  some herbaceous plants in the rear garden with my mum. Although her gardening days have gone, she enjoyed directing us from her wheelchair, and a day in the garden was enjoyed by all.

A Saturday was spent sorting out numerous stacked boxes, containing, what would be the fitted kitchen. First we separated the unit door fronts from the carcass’s into different piles, and set to constructing the units as per instructions. Each one was labeled on completion with masking tape for identification purposes, and roughly placed as per the kitchen plan. We needed a quiet day, without interruption or people wandering about, so we could concentrate. The cupboard fronts were left packaged and safety stacked until the units had been fitted to the walls. The majority of our kitchen order had arrived as promised, apart from the dishwasher and hob, to which we received no reason for non delivery from the suppliers. The washing machine did arrive, although damaged, so was returned, with the promise to deliver another within the week. Needless to say this didn’t happen, and after several weeks of phone calls I eventually returned to the shop to chase not only the washing machine, but also the hob and dishwasher. Fortunately this did not delay the initial unit fitting. Apparently the washing machine delivery people didn’t think we still wanted the washing machine. Really? Why would we purchase something that we didn’t want? The washing machine finally arrived the following week. The dishwasher was crammed into the rear of my car, but we had to wait another two months for our chosen hob, as there was a manufacturing fault which had to be corrected.

The kitchen at least was beginning to look like a kitchen, albeit with a temporary ply work top and no splash backs. But to have running cold ( still no hot at this stage) water from the sink was luxury indeed. We’re constructing our own central island unit, with a ‘pop up plug’.

Sensio PowerPod 13A 3-Gang & Dual USB Pop-Up Power Socket Black Nickel     This plug can be pushed in and out of the work top when required, comes with a useful USB port,  and has been designed around standard available units. The kitchen cannot be completed with kick boards until the flooring has been laid.

Aperture waiting for screens

Aperture waiting for screens

The kitchen flooring cannot be laid until the glass partitions have been sourced and installed. I have scoured salvage sites, Ebay and  companies specializing in steel framed doors and partitions.The former drew a blank due to available sizes and difficulty in transportation. The latter much too expensive. Discussions with different trades on site on other possibilities was solved by our excellent carpenter Tom, who suggested using Tulip wood and staining it, and put us in touch with a local small family run joinery company called Goodwood  Joinery. We had drawn out a scaled plan, which Tom then re measured which were sent to the joiners. There was an 8- 10 week delivery lead time, and we would need to order and put in our own safety glass, and stain it ourselves, but we had plenty of other work to carry on with, and the partitions only delayed the finished floor being laid. With lots of trades in and out of the house, this was probably fortunate.

The central boarding has been removed and wooden spindles inserted into the original aperture, so we can retain the original oak banister rail. These will be a time consuming job to paint, but has opened the space, and allows for more light through the  hall.

The roofers arrived! They have now completed the tiling on the remaining rooves. The electrician arrived! I shrieked a thrill of excitement when the lights went on, and we could finally boil the kettle from a wall socket, rather than disconnecting someone’s tool, or worse radio!


That’s more like it!


Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (13) Unforeseen Challenges

Front elevation with tiled roof

Front elevation with tiled roof

However well thought out and planned, unforeseen problems can arise during the execution of the works. It wasn’t until we reached roof level, when we had found a carpenter, accepted his quote, booked him in and about to order the joists, that the builders noticed a discrepancy with the architects drawings, that didn’t make sense. They looked at the engineers drawings and calculations and although different to the architects, didn’t work either. The roof structure was quite complicated, breaking into the existing, building around the existing chimney stack and creating gully’s.During a site meeting the builder suggested removing the chimney stack. This would save time and money and make the roof construction easier. The original brick tied fireplace in the small sitting room would probably rarely be lit, if ever, be used as an open fire. We could also remove the chimney breast wall in the bedroom above making it bigger and a less awkward shape.

The chimney breast was removed from the bedroom, which solved twp problems at once.

The chimney breast was removed from the bedroom, which solved twp problems at once.

The builder and carpenter worked out the calculations accordingly. Interesting though, you pay architects and engineers a lot of money for their services, and the experienced builders and trades notice the errors and sort out the problems.

The master bedroom is having a vaulted ceiling, so two steel beams had to be hoisted and maneuvered by a crane over the house into place. It was exciting to watch. I have to say how clever builders and trades people are, they think ahead. Piles of raw materials stacked ready to be made into a home.

The rear external wall from the existing house into the extension (master bedroom)  has been knocked through. However, the floor levels are slightly different. This could not be foreseen as the floor in the exisitng bedroom slopes very slightly. It is not enough to form a step, it’s more of a ‘trip’. Ideas and suggestions have been discussed, from laying more chipboard flooring on the extension floor, to lifting the original bedroom floor which slightly at one end. A decision hasn’t been decided, but needs to be made soon.

The roofers have arrived and we now have a roof! We were lucky with the weather whilst the work was in progress. The roof tiles we salvaged from the garage have been re- used at the front, which seamlessly matches the existing. Reclaimed tiles have been used elsewhere to blend in too. Whilst the roofers were tiling the roof, the rear garden was leveled , a crushed concrete base at the bottom of the garden for a patio area and path was laid half way down the garden.  Indian Sandstone slabs have been laid on top of the crushed concrete. This has been done now as the rear garden is accessible with a digger, prior to the small side mud and plant room being built at the side of the house. Raised vegetable beds constructed from wooden sleepers have been laid and filled with top soil.  Turf has been laid from the bottom of the garden, three quarters of the way to the house. No point in doing any more until the rear work on the house has been completed – it would get ruined. I always think that the transformation of a garden when the turf has been laid is like laying a new carpet in a freshly finished room, it completes it.

We are not in the ‘dry’ yet though, due to the windows. This has been quite a marathon. Architects drawings and sizes were sent to different companies for quotes. Some companies could supply the windows but the roof lanterns and sloping glass would have to be sourced from a different company. Some companies were helpful asking questions we hadn’t considered about ‘openings’ to meet building fire regulations and handle choices. Some companies just returned a quote without asking these important points or offering ideas, a little indifferent. The quotes varied too by several thousand pounds. However, the cost of our preferred  aluminium windows is prohibitively expensive.  One company came to measure the finished apertures, and then asked me which window cills I wanted, tile creasing’s or oak, (£106.00 per metre plus vat for oak). We assumed, as no one had mentioned it before that the cills would be aluminium. This was an extra cost on top of the window quote, and to be honest why have maintenance free windows with wooden cills which require maintenance? Tiles would be more durable, but the materials and labour costs still have to be added to the overall budget for the windows. Spending such a large proportion of the budget on the windows is not an option. The bi-fold doors, roof lantern and sloping roof will be aluminium for strength, but the windows will be UVPC. All windows and doors will be a dark grey RAL ( a universal colour chart chart in the industry) 7016. The window style will be as near as possible to the original Crittal window style to keep the character of the house. We have instructed a local family run company who manufacture and install the windows themselves. This way we have more flexibility in the required design.

The huge steel beam supporting the bi-fold doors and roof glass has been a sticking point. There are no details on the architects drawings showing how this should be finished to take the doors and glass. The architect, when asked for details explained that he had’t been asked for them, and would happily supply them for an extra fee! I have asked our structural engineer instead to provide the details. The builders can then do the necessary works for the window company to measure the apertures and make. As stated before, window companies will only start making the windows when the aperture is finished. This causes problems removing existing windows where the aperture is changing with security and the elements. Whilst the scaffolding is up and before the lower roof is built the soffits and fascias have been put on and the rendering applied. What a difference covering the block work makes. It is beginning to look like one house, at the back at least. Of course the biggest transformation will be when the windows go in.

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House. (12) From Plans to Execution

Despite having every conceivable weather thrown at the builders – snow, frost, sunshine and heavy rain, the house has grown and is beginning to take shape. It’s such a thrill to see the rooms form, from what has until now, just been ideas, sketches and Architects drawings and plans. We have now nearly reached 2nd floor joist level, so all very exciting!

My husband and I agreed to disagree, on the internal brick wall, and have compromised on a brick ‘chimney’ breast’. This will act as a grid line behind the wood burning stove as a focal point in the the room, and to create a cohesive link with the original brick fireplace remaining in the sitting room. This will be built after the walls have been plastered. The log burner will have an external flue, so the bricks are purely aesthetic. A raised hearth will also be built for the stove to sit on, and to be seen from across the room, not hidden from site by a coffee table.

Replacement Aluminium Replacement Windows  The Heritage Window Company

Replacement Aluminium Replacement Windows The Heritage Window Company

We will shortly be placing our order for the windows. We have decided on the design and material and have received quotes from a couple of companies. I requested a local company who I have used before to see a sample at his showroom. An online brochure is O.K. for all the technical information and design, but to actually view the windows first hand is important, and you are spending a lot of money. If you were buying a car, you would certainly want to view it. The owner of the window company explained he did not have a sample window because they source the windows from a manufacturer, they only install the windows and issue the FENSA certificate. His supplier of the windows insist he purchase a window to display in his showroom, and suggested that I visited the manufacturers showroom in Canvey Island. This is not going to happen, I’m not traipsing miles – sorry. This may lose him the order. I rang the manufacturer to explain the problem. They told me that after three orders of the windows the installation company get a refund for the product. Personally I feel the window installer and manufacturer should strike a deal which will ultimately be beneficial to more sales. If you haven’t got the window on display, how are you going to promote the sale of it?  But then I’m not Mary Portas!  As with most builds the windows and glass hold up new builds and renovations because they won’t make the windows until the apertures have been built in case they don’t fit. My builder says that if the windows are made to the drawing dimensions then they should fit, if not he will adjust the aperture to make them fit. (He didn’t put it quite as politely as this!). Perhaps window companies could offer a disclaimer for signature –  or is this a legal minefield? So we will have to wait for the windows like everyone else.

I'm going to attempt to renovate these doors

I’m going to attempt to renovate these doors

As explained in an earlier blog we are trying to re- use and recycle as many materials as possible. Roof tiles from the now demolished garage roof and lean to will be used on the roof of the extension, which will also help to blend the new and old, avoiding obvious new roof lines. Renovating the original doors, and saving some of the wood from the timber floors for a cloaks rack to be made later on. This will save money, as well as being conscious of the impact on the environment. We would have liked to install solar panels, and  perhaps an air source heat pump, but the initial costs of installation are prohibitive, even with Government schemes. We are ultimately re-cycling the whole house, which was uninhabitable. Very environmentally friendly. It’s a pity the Government won’t recognize the value of the millions of people doing the same to their properties and axe the VAT on these renovation projects. The VAT saved could then be used to install new technologies to reduce carbon emissions. Eraze the property to the ground, even if it is structurally sound, use more materials and resources and do it VAT free, saving yourself 20% without having to install many sustainable and renewable energy technologies. There was a Code for Sustainable Homes, now scrapped which gave instructions and guidelines to builders and some local authorities, depending on area.

Small, simple changes can make a huge difference to utility bills and the environment though for instance:-

Changing your light bulbs to LED bulbs. Whilst more expensive initially, will ultimately save on your electricity bill.

Install water butts fitted to gutter down pipes for watering the garden.

If you have outside space, install a washing line to dry clothes.

Fit showers with aerated heads. These mix air with water, thus giving a good shower, but using less water.

To install a cistern, which again uses less water. 3 and 6 litre cisterns, dual fuel flush to WRAS regulations.

Purchase high grade energy rated electrical goods. AA being the highest.

The rear garden, like all gardens during major building works has been battered by a digger and dumper. Wearing wellies is a necessity.. The earth has been leveled and a crushed concrete base has been laid ready for the paving slabs for the path and sitting area at the bottom of the garden as per landscape plan.  This has been done now so access for carrying heavy materials is easier. Once the side ‘mud come boiler room’ is built it will be far more difficult to transport the materials to the rear garden.  Thinking and planning ahead is sensible, but sometimes one can forget the obvious small things when looking at the bigger picture, like an outside tap or an provision of an exterior electric point.

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (10) It gets Worse Before it Gets Better

A lonely, empty and neglected house.

A lonely, empty and neglected house.


Since the builders arrived on 8th January, the house has changed dramatically. The side lean to housing the old boiler has been demolished, as has the garage. The roof tiles being removed first and stored safely for re-use elsewhere. One chimney stack has been removed and the roof reinstated using the old tiles from the lean to.


The wooden floor in the old dining room has been removed and the wood stacked in the sitting room for re-use where possible. The original internal doors have been taken off and also stored in the sitting room for re-use. These doors will need a lot of preparation prior to painting, and the handles will need restoring too, as I feel it’s important to re-use and re-cycle where possible and to retain the integrity of the house to use fixtures, fittings and finishings that enhance the existing architectural details, but are still functional. It may not save you much money on your materials bill when you equate the labour hours spent, but you can do it yourself to make savings. Original skirting boards and picture rails had been carefully taken off and stored before the walls were removed, also to be re-instated in some rooms of the original house after the plastering has been carried out. This has caused interesting comments from builders – basically they think the picture rails should go!

Flooring and doors stored for re-use

Flooring and doors stored for re-use

The chimney breast has been knocked out. Easy to say, and not so easy to do. There were masses of bricks and was solid as a rock! The existing wall between the kitchen and dining room has gone too. So we are left with one large space and a beam and block floor, which is ready for the insulation, damp proofing, underfloor heating and concrete to be laid upon. Some of the hall/ dining room wall has also gone, with a lintel in place ready for (much later on) our glass petition wall and door. Block work  has been laid to form a new wall and doorway into, what will be a cloak room. It is a challenge getting to the kettle which is perched on what was a shelf in the pantry ( also gone) to switch it on for tea. That is, after filling the kettle from a small water pipe on the other side of the ‘kitchen’. The rusty old sink is in the skip. Hence no one wants to make the tea!

The walls dividing the airing cupboard, bathroom, toilet and corridor have been take down leaving one huge space upstairs. The dividing brick wall between the two bedrooms was removed because it was only sitting on the floorboards and not a supporting wall. By replacing the wall with stud work (wooden frame, insulation and plaster board) it will be lighter, making a steel beam below unnecessary.

A huge pile of rubble from all the masonary removal was piled in the front garden, some has been crushed and flattened to avoid a ‘mud bath’ and the rear garden looks like the Battle of the Somme. A deep hole has been dug for the soakaway, with earth piled up in mounds all along the sides. Some of the crushed bricks and mortar will be used as a hardcore base for the terrace. Somehow our past efforts with the weed killer look quite feeble and perhaps unnecessary.

The builders have been working on the internal structure work, which needs doing whilst waiting for our neighbours surveyor to complete the Party Wall Agreement. However, we would like to commence digging the footings this week, but can’t until the Agreement is signed. I’m concerned that this is going to hold up our progress. I’m chasing all parties hard.

I have found some information which maybe of help if your planning you’re own self build or renovation project, if you didn’t already know that Jewsons (among other suppliers) offer a pricing service for the project and list all the materials required with their prices. If Jewsons don’t supply a particular material they still include in it a market price. These prices can be compared to other suppliers prices to get the best deal. They charge £180.00 plus vat for this service and I think well worth the money.

Plant hire can be difficult for self builders, due to the insurance policy required to cover the plant. Jewsons also offer self build insurance which covers plant hire too. They have recognized the growing market of self build and home renovations. But as stated before, shop around for insurance cover and be sure to read the small print!