I am saying part one, only because I am assuming that this is destined to be a two (if not three!) part-er. I know, who would have thought there was that much to say about a kitchen extension, but trust me when I say I could probably go all day (It’s at this point I should probably say that I am surprised I have any friends as we near the end of this project, I must have bored them all to tears with my kitchen chat over these past months). If you missed the first post about our plans for this project, you can find that here.
I feel like we are nearing the final furlong with this project, so with that in mind I thought it was a good time to document what these past few months have been like. Aside from not having a washing machine, or indeed any water downstairs for the past six weeks, I would say that all in all it’s actually been easier than I thought. Saying that though, we did tactically plan a two week break in Cornwall when we knew things would be at their worst, so that when we came home it would feel like were on the home straight to completion. I know everyone says this, but the only thing that I have really struggled with during this entire project is the dust and mess the work creates. I tried to keep things clean at first, and then gave up about six weeks in as the dust and dirt would come back in pretty much instantly after I cleaned. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat and wait for the worst to pass!
We started ground works on 21st February at the back of what was the existing house. I felt so excited when they finally made a start, we have been building up to this for such a long time that it had begun to feel like it might never happen. Little did I realise just how many weeks we would have to wait before we started to see any real changes (walls going up and coming down). There was lots of digging, lots of concrete and generally lots of mud everywhere! We were really lucky with the weather considering the time of year, and only had a couple of really rainy days. This meant they could get this stage complete relatively quickly. My husband had already done a lot of the ground work in preparation for the builders too; and had moved and rebuilt the garden walls and patio. As well as saving us lots of time, this also saved us a large amount of money, as it meant we were able to start with ground works and footings straight away and the builders had a flat work area they could use (all the gardens in our road are on a slope!).
After a few weeks we were ready for base of the floor to be built for the new extension part of the house, and the steel structure began to go in. This was also really exciting to see, as it meant we could get a feel for the size of the space. I couldn’t get over that I was still standing in the garden and that was set to become part of the house!
By this point, the new wall began to go up between us and our neighbour (that would form the new party wall), and then the new outer wall to our side of the house took shape too. They built the new external structure and put all of its steels and roof in/on before they went on to take down the old kitchen wall and take out the dining room wall and window. This was such an interesting process to watch as I had imagined they would take all the old walls down before they put the new ones up. It turns out that I know absolutely nothing about building (no surprises there?!).
During this time we moved all of our furniture to my in laws house (we were lucky they had space to store it, which meant we didn’t have to pay for storage) , as we didn’t have enough space in our house to put anything. We packed everything up that we thought we could live without for four months, and packed the spare room and Teddy’s room to the ceiling with boxes. We also fashioned a pretty functional pop-up kitchen in the front sitting room. Definitely not one for whipping up any gourmet meals anytime soon, but it did the a job! As long as I was able to make a cup of tea and cook some soup on the hob then I was pretty happy. We sold our big fridge/freezer as we had bought a new one for the kitchen, and couldn’t store either in the meantime. So we delayed the delivery of the new one and bought a small fridge that we could fit into the sitting room, to use as a temporary measure. We also bought a two ring electric hob, and we still had the microwave and toaster; so we were fully functioning! I have to say, that little hob has saved the day, and would definitely be a top-tip of mine to anyone considering a renovation whilst still living in the house.
We were about 5-6 weeks in by this point, and to help speed up the process we did quite a few things ourselves. We ripped out the old book cases and cabinetry in the old dining room, and took the floor up and all of the skirting boards off. We also removed the old kitchen units and flooring ourselves. By doing all of this and taking everything to the tip/ recycling centre ourselves we saved ourselves time (about 2-3 days of the builders time) and money, as we didn’t have to add the disposal of these things into the skip or grab bag lorries that were coming. I think we both actually quite enjoyed the process too, as we knew we were helping things to go a little quicker (I think that mentally that really helped me feel like we were getting somewhere quicker!).
During this time I also had to make sure we had ordered everything we would need for the finishing of the kitchen. I had already been buying things for a few months, but had to start thinking about bigger things like the cooker and refrigeration as some items tended to have much longer lead times than others. I also ordered the kitchen flooring. We had decided long ago that we wanted a fairly traditional and simple flagstone floor; so we bought a limestone flooring from Beswick Stone. We went for a tumbled limestone floor in “Velvet Beige”.
The kitchen we had bought and had on order from Panelven Kitchens (a firm local to us) so we knew the timeline and fitting dates for that. In my mind those were the dates that the builders were working towards. We chose an “in-frame” kitchen in style “Henley” and colour “Edwardian White”, as I really wanted to make sure I kept the style in keeping with the rest of our house and the light and bright look that I love.
We also had to make a decision about doors and the roof lantern. We had designed the new space so that although we had centrally opening bifold doors at the back of the house, we also had a wooden barn-style door to the side to sue for main day-to-day access. The roof lantern was to cover almost all of the ceiling space above the newly extended area, so we also wanted this to be in a colour and style that lent itself to the style and age of the house. We decided the we loved the colours of our old kitchen windows and doors so much that we wanted to keep with the same colour. Those were Farrow & Ball Hardwick White, and unfortunately the company that manufactured the doors and lanterns didn’t bespoke spray in F&B colours, but were able to get the closest match possible from the RAL colour chart, which we were really happy with.
I felt like we had made all of the major decisions by about 10 weeks in, and everything was on order and in place to arrive on time (hopefully). So at 11 weeks in with the new roof structure in place, the walls down and the mess at it’s absolute worst, that was when we made our exit to Cornwall and left them to if for two weeks; hoping that we would be on schedule upon our return…
(To be continued!)