January 2017 we started the process of finding an architect to help make our plans a reality.
We started with a large, local architect firm and were extremely disappointed following our first meeting. We were hoping for more than a 10 minute walk around, which is basically all we got. Following a brief discussion about what we were looking to do, he talked us through what would work and what wouldn’t, certain areas didn’t make any sense to us but he wasn’t willing to elaborate any further to help our confusion. He left shortly after, telling us they had a long lead time and would send a quote to us for our consideration. The following week we received said quote and a lead time of 12 weeks. It goes without saying that we did not go on to work with this architect. First impressions really are everything and unfortunately we didn’t feel like this was someone we wanted to work with. It is such an important project for us and we wanted to work with someone who would give us a small amount of their time, to help us understand. I believe that a little investment upfront goes a long way to helping the client, reassuring them that their home is in safe hands, taking time to answer any questions. I didn’t feel comfortable working with them, that they would listen and understand our needs and it is so important to work with someone you trust and feel like you can talk with.
We had recommendations for a local builder who could help us with the technical spec of the build as well as completing it and this really appealed to us. We knew what we wanted and all we needed was someone to tell us if it was technically possible and to enhance our ideas.
Allan was a breath of fresh air, he spent over an hour with us on the first visit, talking though every detail, he put pen to paper there and then and we watched our home take shape for the first time and every meeting since has been like this. We had a great rapport with him from the beginning and we knew he was someone who we could work with. Being an old cottage we also wanted a design that would be sympathetic to this and with Allan specialising in timber frame builds, he was a perfect match for us. Over the coming weeks he drew plans for us to talk through, amend, improve and finally we had a set of plans for our new home.
Currently, this is the cottage layout;
To knock down the outside storage room adjoining the side of the cottage. It used to be the old coal store for the cottages on our terrace and in recent years was converted with electricity to use for storage. To extend the back of the kitchen by 2m and extend the full depth of the house where the storage room was. This is to be our new kitchen/dining/family room. Bifold doors and windows front and back with velux windows over part of the single storey kitchen. Increasing the size of the kitchen also allows us to introduce a utility room and incorporate a new entrance and boot room. The pitched ceiling in the kitchen will be lowered to a standard ceiling height to enable a master bedroom to be built overhead.
To build two new bedrooms and an ensuite. One at the back of the house, this will be the master bedroom with ensuite and a vaulted ceiling and large window. And one on the side of the house over what would have been the storage room. To reduce the size of the current master bedroom to enable a landing through to the new bedroom on the side.
The house will be rendered on the front and sides to match the rest of the cottage and the rear extension will be finished with hardiplank.
The garden is also going to be undergoing a huge transformation but I’ll save that for another day!
Once we had the plans drawn up, on the 13th July 2017 Allan completed all of the planning applications for us, speaking with the planners along the way to get a feel for whether or not our application was throwing up any issues, taking away some of the worry. As it turns out, they weren’t happy with the size of the extension and if we didn’t want our application to be rejected we would have to compromise and reduce the extension by 1m on the back of the house. We’d already pushed some of the boundaries with planning, opting to keep the roof line the same height as the current building, whereas they usually prefer the roof line of an extension to be dropped so there is a distinction between the original and new build. However, weeks later we had full planning permission granted and could pop the prosecco open. We had crossed the first hurdle.
We opted to start work in the Spring of 2018 so we didn’t have to work through the Winter. As 2018 began we started chasing for the formal quote we were yet to receive so we could sign off and agree a start date. When the quote came in somehow it had come in over budget!! We were very clear with our budget in the beginning so this was a huge surprise but we really didn’t want to change the spec of the build having come this far. We had meetings with our builder and he started working on some cost reductions. By March we finally had a figure we could work with thanks to our builder and on 18th March we sat down with our quote and a coffee and started combing through, ensuring everything was present and correct and paid the deposit.
May should have seen the start of our groundwork but with more delays it wasn’t meant to be. We had numerous visits, planning of the groundwork, planning the build, visits from building control to review the depth of the foundations, discussions with the electrician but no sign of any work starting. Delays with existing jobs, delays with contractors, delays with equipment. I chased constantly, requesting updates and keeping communication open but in reality there was nothing I could do. It was just a waiting game and I was going to have to learn to be patient. And then at the end of June I was told we were starting ‘next week’. And finally the demolition started.