Friday, 5 October 2007


Once we'd got planning permission I naively assumed that we'd be able to start building in the next few months, take advantage of the summer weather to get loads done and more or less be sorted out by Christmas. What I didn't expect was that we would wait, and wait, and wait.

The date the architect had fixed for issuing the tender to builders (end of March) came and went, and I'm not very proud of the heated exchange of views that we had when I rang her to ask why. The thermal insulation regulations on glass changed in April and our plans for the glass box had to be updated (at further cost) to reflect them. In May it started raining almost continuously (you may remember) and all the electricity went downstairs. We cooked and watched TV for several months on extension leads running from the only working plug sockets, which happened to be in the hall. We did finally go out to tender in June, by which time water had drenched the dining room from a couple of leaking pipes and we'd had to have them replaced, at further vast expense. By the time we'd actually chosen a builder I had ceased to find the rain or the garage even faintly amusing. Lots had happened since we moved in. My son had started school, learned to ride a bike without stabilisers and got his five metre swimming badge. My daughter had had her first birthday, started eating real food rather than mashed up carrots and had even said a few words (teddy and no!) The previous owners' decor is preserved in glorious technicolour in a whole swathe of important family photographs. Even our architect's circumstances had changed - she unexpectedly announced in March that she was having a baby, her third, due in July ( the new projected start date for our build!)

I think what made it worse that was that a family we knew from my son's nursery had bought a house to do up several months after us, had gutted it, built a 2 story side extension, converted the loft and refurbished throughout and were ready to move in, when we hadn't so much as laid a brick.

I'm sure veterans of the renovation game will be laughingly knowingly at this point and shaking their heads, but I really had no idea that the thing would take such an incredibly long time to get off the ground. I'm hoping that in time our year (16 months if you count the build time) without a cooker or any windows at the front of the house will be a hilarious bit of family lore to chuckle over when the kids are older. Fingers crossed...

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I'm 39 and married with two children aged seven and four. I'm fatally attracted to house renovation projects, and this is our third in the last seven years, my personal fifth since I bought my first flat in 1996. I think we might have bitten off more than we can chew with the Worst House.

Fame at last!

Fame at last!