Sunday, August 30, 2015

DIY - Creating a Haven

This post was originally posted on A Kiwi Dream, my short-lived separate reno blog. Over the next couple of months I'll be migrating the content there here so please bear with me if you were following me there. 

As I mentioned previously, priority one for this new house was to get the two downstairs bedrooms done up to create a nice space to retreat into while the rest of the house is in disarray.

The house is a bungalow, with the common-in-Wellington feature of an addition downstairs; some of the hill has been excavated from under the house, allowing two bedrooms and a bathroom to be inserted.

Oddly, the bathroom was never finished (perhaps money ran out before the project completed), and though it sits on the same concrete floor as the rest of the downstairs and the walls are framed, there are no wall linings, so it is open to the foundations and therefore feels more like outside than in. We're ignoring that for the time being - we have bigger fish to fry.

The unfinished downstairs bathroom

The bedrooms were reasonably tidy, though dated, and also hadn't been quite finished. Architraves had been added to the doors but never stopped or painted, and the wardrobes were missing skirting boards (required given the gaps between the wall linings and floor / ceiling). The carpet was clearly a hand-me-down when it was installed and had only roughly been cut to size, and not fixed down (which did make pulling it up easier!).

The delightful carpet

We assigned ourselves a week between taking possession and moving in to paint, carpet and do a couple of "minor" (ha!) building jobs - an ambitious deadline determined by an offer on the old house which would later fall through, making our stress and pain almost entirely arbitrary.

My husband and I both took the week off work, leaving our son in daycare, and went as quickly as we could. There was an air of reality television about the week, which is not really the vibe we were going for - the rapid transformations and fun reveals are all well and good, but the mental health of the participants is important too!

Anyone who has ever painted will be aware of the significance of prep time on your schedule, and as well as stopping dents and so on, sanding, and sealing the wallpaper in one bedroom, we also had a fair bit of electrical work done - moving plug points to make things a bit more logical. In hindsight we probably wouldn't repeat all of these changes, but most were necessary (as an example, the downstairs was designed to potentially become a second flat eventually, and so the main light over the bed in the master bedroom was operated from a switch on the front wall of the house, rather than by the door to the room).

We roped in a builder to help us with reframing the door at the bottom of the stairs to widen access, and to sort out the sagging floor at the back of the house (which turned out to be a rotted out bearer rather than a pile), and then convinced him to build us a new balustrade, as the existing one was far from baby-proof (we had planned to do this ourselves but - predictably - ran out of time).

Help from family makes it go much faster.

Luckily we had some reinforcements at the eleventh hour, and the last night before the carpet layers came we finished painting at 10pm.

We're technically still not quite finished, but the outstanding work is very minor (touch-ups from carpet layers scuffing the paint, painting the sliding wardrobe doors) and therefore is now at the bottom of a very long to-do list. I recognise the danger of that statement and perhaps we'll revisit once we have a functional kitchen (and have run out of money for big works!).

Have you ever tried to turn around a room on a deadline?

Downstairs paint, wardrobe fit-out and carpet
Budget: $7,800
Timeframe: 1 week
Who did the work: Us + sparkies + builder + help from family
Actual cost: $11,129 ($3,329 over budget)
Learnings: Book the tradies in early, don't be too ridiculous about little things like where a plug point is, always build slack into your schedule.

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