When An Old House Gets Too Much

GrahamandBrown

Last weekend we popped to our local family-run flooring company and booked some work in for the floor to be replaced in our third bedroom. The carpet in the picture above is coming out and a wooden floor to match what we had put in the home office is going in. It’s something we’ve been meaning to do for ages but it’s a costly job and it’s so hard to know where to spend the money when there are so many jobs that need doing.

It’s just over two years now since we moved into our home in SE London. Two years where progress in renovating has been painfully slow and even more painfully expensive. I’ve been in quite reflective mood lately and can’t help wondering if we’ll ever get the house finished or maybe we have to concede defeat and acknowledge that homes are never truly finished. I just despair at how much work is involved in even the smallest bit of renovation – just as an example, we have no plugs in our hallway and I really want a console table by the front door with a lamp on it, so we’ll have to call in an electrician just to get a simple plug socket done.

Replacing the floor in our spare room will mean taking all the furniture out, lifting the carpet and whatever underlay is underneath, checking the existing floorboards over and filling/fixing the invariable cracks. Then the skirting needs to come off which means some of the plaster will inevitably come off too, and all just to put a much more modern floor down.

Replacing the floor in another bedroom

When Pete and I first got together, I was renting a one bedroom flat in West London and he owned his own house in Ely, Cambridgeshire. It was a lovely two bedroom new build that he’d bought even before it was built. He was able to see the plans, pick his plot and literally watch it being constructed from scratch, therefore having a lot of say into the placement of fixtures and fittings so that when he moved in, it was DONE! Admittedly it was the standard magnolia paint but that was easy to change and painting a blank canvas without first having to replaster and fill cracks is a thing of joy.

Even now, I’m writing this post looking around our living room. The windowsill is coming away from the wall underneath it. We have artex on the ceiling and cracks in the coving, as well as the door frame. If we were to be really fussy the walls could do with re-plastering. I hark back to those early days when we spent a lot of time together at Pete’s home and I didn’t really appreciate the joy of a new-build home because I was in my early 20’s and thoughts of being a home-owner weren’t even on my radar. As we strip our old home back and give it a thorough makeover, I’m realising more the value of having something well-built that’s clean, modern and ready to be personalised – or just lived in – without the need for blood, sweat and tears beforehand.

Do you have a new build home? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

This post is in collaboration with New Home Finder. All words, opinions and images are my own unless otherwise stated.

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12 Comments

  1. April 28, 2016 / 10:54 am

    I moved into a new build home seven months ago. I always said I’d never buy new; but I did. Like you, I realised the joys of renovation-free living, which should last around 10 years, giving us time and money to do other things with our lives. However, I do still love old homes and would love to own another one day. I also think few homes are ever really ‘finished’; you could come over to my house and assume it is, but I still have so much I want to do, so many improvements I want to make; I think some people can always see room for improvement, while others are happy to live with what they have, just my two pennies 🙂

    • Lins
      April 29, 2016 / 9:59 pm

      Oh Laura this is exactly right – there are some parts of our home which are obviously unfinished even to visitors, like the bare plaster walls but no-one else would ever notice the cracks and minor things like I do. It does feel frustrating when we think we either spend money on another house project OR a holiday but then we get something else done it does feel very satisfying. Thank you for commenting X

  2. April 28, 2016 / 1:38 pm

    I know what you mean! Old houses (whilst they have bags of charm and ooze character) are hard work and tend to suck money!! We have renovated houses for so many years now! I have lived in both old and more recently brand new and I must say that I love my newer home so much! 🙂 xx

    • Lins
      April 29, 2016 / 9:57 pm

      I can absolutely appreciate that!! Hopefully in a few years time this place will feel like new a lot more than it does right now 🙂 XX

  3. April 28, 2016 / 2:58 pm

    I totally feel for you, Lins! When we bought our home we knew that it needed a lot of work doing to it, but that was the reason we could even afford to move to the area we wanted. Whilst the first few years were definitely tough (dodgy heating didn’t help) we do enjoy the feeling of ticking something off our to-do list and seeing before and after pictures of our home. We always knew that it wouldn’t be our forever home and friends and family find it weird that we’ll do all of this work and then not benefit from it. But… just because we don’t have a perfect home, doesn’t mean that we don’t still enjoy living in our – even with the chaos.
    Try not to stress too much. In real life, no one lives in a perfect home so try to enjoy your home – even with its imperfections!

    • Lins
      April 29, 2016 / 9:56 pm

      Such sensible advice, wow I didn’t realise it isn’t your forever home!! How exciting to know that at some point you’ll have an entirely new project. I think sometimes I struggle because we imagined that all we’d ever be able to afford was something similar to what we rented – a 2 up, 2 down terrace with a teeny garden so to find ourselves with about 4 times the space is a little daunting at times. But we’ll get there and yes, even with the all the madness we do still love it X

  4. April 28, 2016 / 5:07 pm

    Hmmm, I see your point. I have always wanted to live in an old house but in reality, of the three homes we’ve owned, the oldest one was built in the 1970’s (in very convincing Georgian style, but even so). I hadn’t really considered the frustrations you mentioned. I suppose what you need to think about is a) whether you’re ever likely to move and if so b) whether what you are doing to the house is adding value up to the amount that you are spending. If you’re spending more than you’re likely to make if you sold it, I suppose that would be the time to question your decisions. If you’re never going to move, I’d be inclined to think it’s worth making it exactly how you want it (within reason) without worrying too much about it. I’m hoping that you will find that restoring your home to its former glory is worth every penny and is a great return on your investment. Chin up love! xx

    • Lins
      April 29, 2016 / 9:50 pm

      You’re very wise Sue!! Yes we’re definitely here for the long term and hopefully forever term all being well so getting it how we want it definitely seems worth it. We’ve got the added advantage of being in London which means that the value is going up every day even if we didn’t make any improvements so fingers crossed it was a very sensible investment. Thanks so much for your encouraging words! XX

  5. April 29, 2016 / 12:44 pm

    I’m totally with you on this one! Everything costs so much, and no renovation job is simple in an old house. It is exhausting. However, if you live in a new build house you may have to put up with smaller rooms, titchy gardens, flimsy walls etc. I certainly crave an easier life most of the time. I wish you still lived in Ely! x

    • Lins
      April 29, 2016 / 9:30 pm

      DOesn’t it just!! I know it was the right decision but sometimes I wish it was easier! Ahh it would be fab if we were still in Ely, we could go exploring together! X

  6. May 2, 2016 / 9:51 pm

    I live in a new build and, I must admit, it’s so, so easy to live in. If I want to change anything, I simply pop to Homebase and pick up some paint. Job done in days!! That said, while it might be easy, I miss the character of an older property. And new build gardens are seriously small. Swings and roundabouts. You’ll get there, I’m sure! xx

    • Lins
      May 10, 2016 / 12:04 pm

      Yes I completely agree on both fronts, in fact we’re currently battling (again) a new build development round the corner from us and on looking at the plans the gardens are very small. But oh the joys of just being able to change a room up in the space of a weekend! X

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