Floorplans and plans
We bought a house.
We bought the worst house on the best street. Annnd don’t quite have the budget to finish it. What were we thinking…haha!
We’d viewed houses all across the Essex and Suffolk border for months, racking up 30+ viewings. Every weekend was spent touring the towns on the border. New builds, Mid-century, Victorian — we viewed THE lot. And all that time our house was yo-yoing on and off the market that we didn’t take much notice of it. Sometimes it would appear on our searches and sometimes not. We didn’t even ‘save’ it for later.
But one day in November it appeared again. We’d not considered a proper project. Potential for an extension, great! New windows, easy. Selecting our Little Greene paint, done. But actual work just to get the house to a liveable standard, not right now. But it did have every feature we loved in our search: big rooms, bay windows, garden and a proper hallway. Most importantly, it was in our budget. Which perhaps should’ve been our warning for what was to come.
It was pretty tricky to pin down a viewing. The property was empty and the Agent was handling all viewings. He only allowed viewings on Sunday between 10-2pm. So we went along, hoping not to fall in love, and realised just how much competition we were in for. Five other buyers were viewing the property simultaneously. We had an inkling we’d love it so decided to be extra meticulous with the viewing. 40mins were spent filming, photographing and opening every nook and cranny to find problems and issues. We asked every question we could think of and were the last viewing to leave.
The walls, carpet and woodwork reeked of nicotine. There were cracks and holes throughout the place. There wasn’t even a loo in the bathroom. But it was far from disastrous. It was doable. The house was vast – we barely noticed the other viewees. We loved the idea of a challenge and this would essentially help us skip a move/never move again (it’s such an ordeal!). We did not stop thinking about the place’s potential from the moment we left until the next day. COULD WE DO IT? Can we even afford to do the work? Was it worth taking it on? And despite our brain saying no on all accounts, it was the only place we’d seen that had the illusive feeling.
So despite just one viewing, our heads screaming MONEY PIT, we made an offer below asking. That was, of course, rejected. We knew we desperately wanted it then. We’d asked the Agent how much they’d accepted from previous offers during the viewing. He’d also told us another offer was on the table. Whilst we weren’t willing to meet asking – we needed our savings for the work, we offered what they previously accepted, and they agreed. It wasn’t until months later when we met one of the owners that we learned the other offer was higher and they chose us because we wanted to live there not just flip it.
We’re not sure if it’s just us, but if a place doesn’t have floorplans on their online listing, we’re just not into them. So of course we had to share ’em here.
The ground floor has a large hallway, with an open-plan living/dining room. There’s a largeish kitchen/diner to the rear, outside loo and conservatory. Off the hall there is even a door to the cellar. Which is about Dandy height (just under 6ft) so we’re hopeful this will become a useable space. The ceilings are high, the skirting huge and there’s a lot of glorious original details, like stained glass, fire surrounds and even a crittall door.
On the first floor is three decent size bedrooms, all at least a double and a small box room. There’s a loo in a cupboard off the hallway and a bathroom – which really is just home to a bath. The second bedroom currently houses the boiler and cylinder.
The entire interior is dated, wallpaper on every wall, worn carpet throughout and some crumbling plaster in places. The heating system is tired as are the electrics but serviceable. So we really need to go back to basics. Our budget is/was tiny. Definitely not enough to do the whole place as we envisage it. But we’d rather do it once and get it right than ignore the big stuff and make the place just look the part. So were concentrating on repairing the bones of the places. Repairing brickwork and structure. Reconfiguring spaces and making sure we future proof the services, with a full rewire and new plumbing. We want to focus on making the place warm, dry and safe by working from the outside in. It took us a little while to get over fixating on finishes and details; we’re a long way off those!
The Plans: Kitchen
Firstly, we wanted to get rid of the conservatory and square off the kitchen. In reality, the kitchen has been by far the worst room and yet seemed the most complete space when viewing. The floor was sodden, different levels and even had different building techniques. The outside loo drained to a mysterious manhole that was actually buried under the conservatory footings. The openings were structurally unsound and the electrics were run off lots of extension leads.
We want a minimal kitchen with a run of floor units on one side and tall units on the other. A space for a kitchen table and some simple french doors to lead to the patio. This is a key room to us, for obvious reasons, but were not planning on spending much to achieve this. We’re hoping to recycle someone elses units and I have been avidly searching eBay. As for the tall units we would be lucky to source these secondhand, so we’re thinking of buying these new. Our whole floor is being redone, so we’d like to fit underfloor heating and have a concrete finish.
The Plans: Living, Dining & Hallway
The fate of the crittall in the dining room has sadly been sealed. They will be replaced with identical doors to our kitchen as they lead out to the same space. With the serving hatch being filled, the only other major change at this stage will be installing a radiator in the space.
However, we are filling in the opening between the dining room and living room. We’re just not open plan people. The space would be too big anyway and we like the idea of the dining room being more of a separate adult space. Not much will change in the living room either. We’ve talked about getting fitted units for the alcoves. And our big beautiful bay windows are being saved, restored and draft proofed.
We’re also restoring our front door. We hope to tile the porch and hallway, but we’re a long way off picking those out. And we need a new bannister for the staircase, because it’s actually too low. We see a lovely runner on the stairs but once again, too finer detail to think about now. Our cellar has the potential to be a useable space and were really tempted to tank it and turn it into a downstairs loo and utility room. We’re undecided at the mo… but watch this space I guess.
The Plans: Bedrooms
Rather controversially, to estate agents at least, we’re doing away with the fourth bedroom. We’re converting the room to our ensuite and stealing the plumbing from the loo in the cupboard. We’ve moved the dividing wall to give our bedroom a little more space too. We’re hoping to IKEA hack our way to built-in wardrobes in the alcove and we’re actually hoping the space will be relatively free of furniture and clutter. And we’ve planned a bed ledge to accommodate this.
The other bedrooms will have little change other than new windows and heating. One will become our child’s room. So were hoping to go OUT THERE on decor. The other will become our spare room and hobby space/office. We can’t wait to have dedicated spaces for these again!
The Plans: Bathroom
There’s already a built-in cupboard in bedroom 4 that is perfectly sized to house a walk-in shower in our en-suite. We then have a rather long, thin room to house our sinks and loo, so we may decide to do more with the space – especially as it might end up being bigger than our main bathroom. Should we see if we can squeeze a bath tub in??
The loo in the cupboard will be converted to a healthy sized airing cupboard, with window bricked in and boiler relocated to here. We’ve had to reconfigure the bathroom and back bedroom to accommodate ample space for a loo to be plumbed in the main bathroom. Somehow there was no wall space in it’s previous layout despite the space being decent. Which has somehow left us with a bigger bedroom and compact but waaaayyy more functional bathroom. We’re planning basic fittings for it really as it’s obviously an important space, so essential, but we’re hoping to jazz it up with tiling and paint colours.
Our isolation builder worked hard to strip our space. We now have a bricklayer extraordinaire concentrating on all our structural issues. Once those are in place, we’ll be seeing to our openings (aka windows and doors) either replacing or restoring them. Our roof will have a going over with our soffits replaced and then we can start looking internally. Plasterboarding, damp proofing and getting our plumbing and electrics sorted. It’s a long ‘ol list. Follow along on our hashtag if you fancy seeing the progress for yourself #DandyHomeReno.
What would you do with the space? Anything we’ve missed? What would you do differently?
Until next time…