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6 years on...

So today is exactly 6 years since the last time I wrote anything on this blog.  How time flies!

Still living in the house (and still love it!) and was just browsing the site tonight as Anthony our builder has emailed me recently to say that he is putting together his own website and wanted to include a reference and some photos.

Thought it would be interesting to see how many of the other companies/tradesmen that we used back in 2007 are still around so clicked on all the links on our Links page and it looks like the following are no longer around:

Aardvark Roofing - the company that did our flat roof

Richmond Renovations - didn't actually use them on the house but this guy decorated Diana's old flat

Grand Designs of Richmond - we bought dining room and bedroom furniture here but it doesn't look as though their website is still in use and I know their shop in Richmond has closed

Carpet House - don't think they ever had a website but I've noticed that their shop in Twickenham seems to have closed down recently.

Good to see that everyone else is still in business, although it looks like I could do with updating a few of the links.

In fact I would really like to put a few finishing touches to the rest of the website as I never did quite complete it, although the other big change in the last 6 years is the arrival of our two boys Jacob and Henry, so I have a lot less spare time on my hands! 


6 days to go...

So yes, the big news is that we're moving in next Saturday.  The plan for this week is that Riverside HiFi are coming to work their magic on Tuesday, the carpets are being fitted in the bedrooms on Wednesday, Diana is taking Thursday off to move some small stuff to the house, we're both taking Friday off to move all the boxes and cases and then on Saturday someone from is arriving at 8am to help move all the furniture.  So depressingly early, but at least the sooner we start the sooner we're in...

This weekend we've spent a lot of time packing everything so that we're ready for the move.  We had to dismantle a massive IKEA wardrobe this afternoon and I'm happy to say that we managed to do it without breaking anything and without me shouting at anyone!  Let's hope that it's just as easy to put it back together next weekend!

Very excited about finally moving in...

A bit of sunshine

Before today the last visit to the house that Diana and I had made was after work on Wednesday evening.  By then all the panes of glass had been fitted in to the roof of the kitchen extension, however the battery on the camera died so we couldn't take any pictures to post on the website.  We were also hoping that on Thursday the large pane of glass for the picture window would be delivered and fitted, but due to us both running 5.6km in the Chase Corporate Challenge on Thursday evening and then having a "few" celebratory beers afterwards, we didn't make it round to the house that night.  We then went away for the weekend, so it wasn't until this afternoon (Sunday) that we made it back to the house to check on Thursday and Friday's progress.

It was definitely worth the visit!  The extension roof was there in all its glory and so too was the picture window at the end of the kitchen.  Even better though was the fact that now the kitchen is secure and water tight, the builders have taken down all the boarding that was being used to shut off the kitchen area from the rest of the house.  Finally we can get a real idea of how the whole lounge/dining room/kitchen area will look.  Luckily we even managed to get a bit of sunshine while we were there so it really looked good shining through and lighting up the house.

Seeing the house finally opened up and with the sunlight shining through has just made us even more excited about moving in.  It can't come soon enough!

In terms of next steps, all the radiators and the boiler had been delivered and were in the lounge ready to be unpacked and hopefully fitted in the next week or so.  Tomorrow and Tuesday should also see the plastering of the kitchen done. J 

Progress Update

Had a quick update on progress from Anthony today:

  • Radiators and boiler have now been ordered.
  • British Gas finally installed the new external gas meter today and there were no problems with that.  It's taken them long enough to get it all done though!
  • He also dropped round a sample for the door architraving.  It's a pretty good match for the window architraving, so that's fine and one less thing to choose.
  • The plasterboarding is continuing and most of the house has now been done.
  • He's waiting for City Plumbing to give him a quote on the bathroom materials.  Will be interesting to see if they can match or beat the quotes I've been getting from the internet! 
  • The widening of the doorway from the dining room to the kitchen extension is one of the next things that the team will be working on.

So overall things are progressing well at the moment.  I also popped round to the house tonight and saw that the guttering for the extension has now been installed and looks good.  J

Completion date

We met up with Anthony at the house this afternoon for a progress update and to make a few decision on various issues that had come up during the recent building work.  Luckily none of the issues were serious and instead we could concentrate on the really good progress that has been made so far.  The extension definitely seems to be coming along quickly.

The other good news is that we finally have a completion date from Anthony.  So the big day is 15 August 2007.  Which is only 108 days away!  It's a random Wednesday, but it would be great if it was finished by then.  Personally I reckon they might be able to finish a bit sooner.  Fingers crossed...

And the walls come tumbling down...

OK, so maybe not quite that dramatic, but Diana and I went round to the house tonight as Anthony and his team had been working on knocking down some walls.  And they'd certainly made some good progress!  As you can see on this page, the wall has been completely knocked down between the lounge and the dining room.  The ceiling is now held up by about 4 large supports before they put the steel beam in.

We also saw that they have started knocking down the side wall in the kitchen.  The window and the brickwork below has been removed so the door from the kitchen to the rest of the house is now boarded up to prevent unwelcome intruders! ;-)

It seems like they've made great progess in just one day.  Tomorrow the council surveyor from the Building Control department is coming round to make sure that everything is line with Building Regulations.  Lets hope he doesn't find any problems!  J


The re-wiring of the house has been progressing this week.  Also the cabling for the multi-room music system is being done.  In fact, I've just had a call from Anthony to say that they've run out of speaker cable - used 100 metres of the stuff already!  Hopefully Riverside HiFi will be able to sort him out with some more at short notice.

The other news from today is that the builder doing the kitchen extension can now start next week, which is really good as originally he wasn't going to be able to start until mid to late May.  Anything that means we might be able to move in sooner is always appreciated...   J


Haven't updated the blog for a couple of weeks.  I guess the initial novelty factor of having a website is wearing off!

Plenty has happened in the last fortnight though.  We received the quotes in from the three builders and have selected one of them do the majority of the work on the house.  In the end we went for Builder 1, who had the most competitive quote and who is also a friend of Diana's, who has his own construction company, Malabar Construction.  The first stage of the work is due to start next week and will involve ripping down ceilings and lots of plaster. 

We've also finally found a cheaper quote for the replacement sash windows.  Going to save us a good 3-4 grand and the company is still FENSA registered and look pretty good.  They're booked in for 23-25 April.  The new windows will definitely make a big difference to the house.  The current windows are just so awful, rotten and haven't been painted since before the war.  And I don't mean the Gulf War!

I've also ordered the multi-room audio system!  I am so looking forward to having that in the house!  Pretty pricey, but the good news is that I've only paid a 30% deposit and I get a 12month interest free period to pay the rest!  That gives me 52 weeks to try and win the lottery...


Permission granted!

Just checked the Richmond Council website and our permitted planning development application for the kitchen extension has been approved!!  :-)  That's one less thing to worry about.  J

Another day, another quote

Had stupidly arranged to meet another sash window company at the house this morning.  At 8.30am!  Sounded like a good idea on Friday, get it out of the way and have the rest of the day free.  Definitely wasn't such a good idea when my alarm went off at 7.45am!

Anyway went to the house, met Terry and he talked through the options for the windows.  Sounds like it's going to come out at pretty much the same price as the other two quotes we've had for the windows.  Sash windows are so expensive!!  Could really do with finding a cheaper alternative...



The first builder got back to us tonight with his quote.  Pretty much in line with what we'd originally budgeted.  A few things were over and a few were under, but overall no big shocks.  The good news is that it means we will be able to afford to do the kitchen extension.  We were starting to worry recently that we might have had to bin that idea which would have been a huge disappointment.  Anyway, think we can do it!  J


There's snow place like home...

So did everyone get snow today?  How awesome was that?!  Ok, so it meant the trains were messed up and I got to work late (some might say that's a bonus in itself!) but the snow was still brilliant! 

And at Twickenham station this morning there was even a snowball fight.  It was a bit one-sided though as it was basically a bunch of scally kids up on the bridge that crosses Twickenham station throwing snowballs down onto the communters that were waiting for the delayed trains!  I did chuck a couple back, but I was at a bit of a disadvantage throwing from the platform. 

Good clean fun though and most of the other commuters saw the funny side of it all.  Well, apart from the woman who shouted up at the kids "I know where you go to school!".  Oooohhh...


Builder 3

Builder 3 came to look at the house to give a quote.  We figure 3 quotes is about right.

Similar story - he is coming back in the week to look round with other guys (electricians, plumbers etc). 

James and I need to draw up a 'to do list'.  Need to decide about a structural engineer, the roof / chimney issue, boundary line notification, any kind of grants for insulation or central heating, exemptions for council tax.  So much to do......  DD

Builder 2 & Woodworm

Had scheduled a couple of house meetings for 9.30 and 10.   A phone call at 8.45 woke us to let us know Kenwood were already at the house.   Shortly afterwards the builder also called to say he was early too.

Kenwood - fitted airbricks and sprayed under the floorboards to kill woodworm.   They needed water to do this - ours is cut off.   Luckily the friendly couple 2 doors down were kind enough to supply us some water.   The very first work on the house started!

Builder 2 came to quote on the work.   He was super enthusiastic about the house potential - which made James and   me feel good (even if it was part of the sales pitch?!).   He is coming back in the week to spend some more time on the house to provide a more detailed quote.   DD

Riverside HiFi - awesome shop

As well as visiting the pretentious kitchen showrooms, we popped into Riverside Hi-Fi  (also in Richmond).

I'd seen on their website that they do Multi Room audio systems which sound like a great toy to me!  Needed to go in and find out a few more details. 

We spoke to Paresh, who I think it the owner, and he talked us through some different options with multi-room systems and accessing your iPod with keypads in each room.  Awesome stuff!  He gave us quotes for three different types of system and was very helpful.

The prices weren't as high as I was expecting, but I'm not sure Diana is fully convinced that we can make room for it in the budget!  Check out their site  though and also look at Speakercraft, a Californian company that makes the keypads, docking stations and servers.


Ridiculous bespoke kitchen shops

Diana and I went into a couple of expensive kitchen showrooms in Richmond today, just to have a look really and also as we were curious about just how different they are from your bog-standard MFI/Magnet/B&Q type kitchen.  Oh yeah, and to find out just how much they cost.

I would like to think that we both managed to keep our poker faces when the lady at the first shop said that their kitchens started from £20k and the bloke in the second shop said a ballpark figure would be £18-26k!  Obviously they could tell we weren't going to spend that much on a kitchen (I think they have an in-built richness detector) but fair play to them for talking us through the options and not just kicking us out of their showrooms!

Later in the afternoon we had a quick look around Magnet and to be fair they looked pretty good and are certain to be much cheaper.  Seeing as we seem to be suffering a bit of budget-creep, I think that's the way forward.




Have quite a nice perk at work - every other Friday off provided I work certain hours for the remainder of the other 2 weeks.  Had today off so busy with house.  Saw 2 sash window companies.

Got slightly different opinions from the 2 companies on what needs doing - either replace and repair or totally replace all.  Guess we will see what the quotes come in at.  DD

Chimney still....

It turns out that due to the conservation area the house is in - the chimney cannot be removed from the roof.  Instead if we still want to take out the chimneybreast, a steel beam has to be put in to support the chimney.  A structural engineer is needed.  We have a quote for the work - another thing to add to the budget!  DD

Chimneybreast saga

Have spent a lot of today on the phone to the roofer and the builder to try and understand what the chimneybreast removal means for the replacement of the flat roof.   The roofer is speaking to the Council tomorrow when we will know more.   DD

Builder 1 (& wardrobe)

Have taken advantage of James not working this Saturday to meet some people at the house.

First - a furniture company came to measure up for some built in wardrobes (and a study).   I think that will be expensive!

Second - Builder 1 came to do a review of the house in order to provide a detailed quote.   We went through each room talking through our thoughts.  

We had considered removing the chimney breast in Bedroom 1, this is where the wardrobe was going to be built.   But this would obviously mean no chimney in the lounge and therefore no fire.   So we have binned that idea.   A fire will be great and the wardrobe can go on the other bedroom wall - better call wardrobe people who were here earlier and ask for re-quote.

The other issue that arose was removing the chimney breast from Bedroom 3 and the kitchen.   This will interfere with the roof replacement which we have already agreed to.   Lesson 1 Diana - try and speak to builder very early on before going full steam ahead with booking other tradesmen when you don't fully understand the implications of all the jobs you want done!!     DD

Meter Readings

James and I went to the house today to read the gas and electricity meter readings - have to try and get rid of all the red bills that have accumulated on the doormat.

My God the place smelt bad again today - we didn't stay long.   Please let the work start soon.   DD

It's not all work, work, work... Err, actually it is.

Haven't had much chance to do anything on the website this week, just been working long hours at the office.  Was even at work until 7pm tonight.  A Saturday!!  Think January is going to be a long month.  Especially as I've given up booze for the month.  Whose bright idea was that!

Anyway, if you're wondering why the site is still pretty shitty and there's not much on it, basically I'm too tired to make it fun and interesting! J


Me doing the house work again.   I met the roofer today - he came to measure up to repair / replace the flat roof.   He is going to order the materials and hopefully work will start on the roof in about a week - lets hope there is not too much rain before then.

House smelt bad today - about 2 minutes was all I could bear in there.

I also discovered today there is a side passage to the back of the house - for which we need a key - which we don't have!

Still no sign of James at the house. DD


Today I met with Charlotte - our architect. We met at the house and I showed her round our new home (!). She did say it was up there with the worst she had seen but she also was excited for us and enthusiastic about the potential. The place didn't smell too bad today but after 2 hours in there I had such a headache!

We spent about 6 hours together, during which time Charlotte did a number of drawings of ideas for the layout of the house on both floors. We've decided to go with the ideas we originally had - Charlotte then drew these up in more detail.

I am still a bit confused about the planning permission, building regs, party walls, boundary lines etc etc - there is so much to consider.

Will just wait for the drawings in the post and try and work out what to do next! DD

New website

Right, it's a bit tricky this website business.  No idea what to put in it, but bear with me.  Hopefully it'll be worth it in the end.


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