Tuesday, 19 May 2015

NEW EXTENSION: WEEK 5

I am happy to say this will be the last post about our extension building works because finally our extension is just about finished! The building is up, well insulated, and the best part is, the roof is no longer leaking! We even got our electrics report this week which means that almost everything is in working order. Initially, the job was going to take 4 weeks. But, we didn't take Easter holidays into account which is why we have gone onto week 5 now.

For the first time in the history of our house renovations, we have actually pretty much stuck to the agreed schedule. More importantly, we have kept within our budget! The only extras we have paid for have been the remote controlled velux window, designer radiator, chrome plug sockets and switches. Not a bad result at all! It helps that our architect drawings were so accurate that it was easy for our builder to give us an accurate quote. By the way, another builder quoted me 8 weeks for the same job and it was reflected in their price. It goes to show that you never go with the first quote and it's important to get at least 5 quotes before deciding who to hire for the job.

During week 5, the builders installed timber flooring in our new room. This was placed over the concrete foundation. We wanted to bring up the floor level to match the one in the dining room and originally we were going to have concrete flooring installed. We decided against it in the end for many reasons. First of all, if you lay new concrete flooring you have to wait 3 weeks for it to settle before you can install laminate or wood flooring on it. Secondly, timber flooring will help us to insulate the room better and keep the heat in. Not to mention, it is also better for damp proofing, easier to access pipes and electrics and they also allow more movement than concrete floors.



I wanted to keep the flooring same in all the room so we installed Quickstep Natural Varnished Oak with V-Groove in our new living space. I think for families laminate is the way to go and most people who see it don't actually know that it isn't hard wood! The colour is quite light which is ideal as we do get plenty of sunlight in this room and I don't expect it to fade too much. We certainly don't need underfloor heating as the sunlight seems to have a similar effect. Having the same flooring really makes the whole house flow in my opinion. It also gives you an illusion of greater space as it's less busy and makes the dining area feel like one big room. I also have the same flooring in our kitchen (it's been the for a year now) and I've not had any problems with it.




There is something that I forgot to tell my builders! I wanted them to use adhesive to install our mdf skirting as the skirting boards are then easier to remove if required. And, you don't have to worry about filling those nasty holes afterwards! Unfortunately, the builders had used nails to fix the skirting onto the wall before I had a chance to tell them about my preference. It was quite a nightmare for our painter and he had to use a lot of filler to make the nails disappear. Also, in some parts you can see where the nails are as it looks a little bumpy. It's not that bad that it would really bother me but I certainly wouldn't use nails again. We have used adhesive in the past in the other rooms and have had no problems what so ever.

I had a major painter 'dilemma' last week. We got two quotes to have the room painted (inside and out). The first one was from a painter who painted our kitchen last year. He was recommended to us by our Magnet fitters but did a good job so we thought we'd contact him again. He came over to look at the room and told me he will send me the quote later on. This was odd because usually painters have a daily rate and they can tell you straight away how much they'll charge. He finally sent over his quote and I nearly fell off my chair! £1800 (excluding vat) to paint our new room. He only needed to put a coat of paint on it as our builders had already done all the plastering and sanding down. Needless to say, I was offended. I know that many painters try to pull this off but we already gave him some business. He either didn't really want to do the job or he was seriously thinking we are stupid and don't know what the going rate for painters is. If you want to get an idea how much painters typically charge, have a look at Which - Price Information for Painters/Decorators. Anyway, after some deep breathes, I thanked him for his time and told him we will be going elsewhere. By the way, he was a Dulux recommended painter which is something that you shouldn't be fooled by.

In the end, we ended up using a painter our neighbour recommend to us. I cannot emphasise how important word of mouth is! My last resource would have been Rated People because I just don't fully trust online reviews anymore. Our painter charged us £110 a day (excluding vat) and the job took 3 days. I cannot even compare that to the previous quote. We did have to supply some of the paint ourselves but it certainly didn't come anywhere near £1800. I didn't choose our painter because he was cheaper (although it was a factor of course) but because our neighbour told me he was very good and he has pretty much painted all the houses on our street.

After day one, the walls were already looking white and beautiful. I love white walls with natural light. If only they would stay this perfect. White walls look so fresh and bright. They really make a small space appear bigger and bring some serenity to the room. We used a primer and Dulux Timeless Matt which we have used in every room downstairs. We also used Dulux Pure Brilliant White Matt for the ceiling which is actually more off white than pure white in my opinion. However, it does leave an excellent finish on the ceiling and compliments our timeless paint extremely well.



By the way, here is our Velux Integra remote control hanging on it's holder. I love it! I keep opening the window multiple times a day and it would be a real pain to do this manually. The only downside is that it is quite difficult to clean the large velux window and the best place to access it is from my daughter's bedroom upstairs. I suppose the more glass you have, the more cleaning you will be doing as well. Well, it's certainly the case with me.



Our house is currently covered in dust and the painter is working on another room that we haven't gotten around to paint ourselves. I am looking forward to having this house just for our selves and spend more time in the new room. Few more days to go and we will be able to do just that! I couldn't be happier that the weather has gotten warmer in the last few weeks (although it's not exactly stable) and we can start spending more time in the garden as well!
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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

NEW EXTENSION: WEEK 4

So, the 4th week of extension building works is behind us and for the first time I was actually getting anxious for our extension 'project' to finish once and for all. The excitement has worn off and all the dust and noise is starting to get to me. I still don't regret living here whilst carrying out the building works, but when you have a toddler it does make everyday life more challenging. Especially, when you have limited access to the kitchen. Don't get me wrong, my builders have been great and made sure that there are as little interruptions as possible. However, it's all part of the job when you build an extension.

On week 4, we had our plasterer over to make sure the walls were perfectly even and ready for the paint job. There were some pretty strong fumes coming from the extension so I spent most of the time in the living room or upstairs to avoid breathing them. There is still quite a bit of work that needs to be done, especially around the kitchen opening. Also, I never realised how long it takes plaster to dry. It takes several days for the new plaster to dry indoors and even longer for outside areas. If you paint over plastered walls too soon you might get some cracking which is why it's important you let the plaster dry out naturally (no humidifiers!).

It was interesting to see how the builders used steel reinforcements to make sure all the corners are straight (see picture below). What a clever idea! I know this will be the only 'perfect' room in our house. No sloping floor and wonky walls or door frames. My builders told me that they have been asked to make new builds "imperfect" so that it will have some character. I find this idea crazy but I guess it means that our house has more character than any other house I have ever lived in!




It's all looking a lot neater here than last week and I cannot wait to have our fridge back to it's place (hopefully undamaged). I am very glad that we decided to go for a free standing fridge rather than a boxed one because otherwise the job for the builders would have been a lot more difficult. I am also pleased that they have been careful and haven't damaged our new kitchen in the process (yet!).

I finally ordered our plug sockets which were more tricky to find that I originally thought. We want to use the same Grabtree chrome ones as we have in the rest of the house to keeps things consistent and B&Q have stopped stocking them for some reason. Luckily, I found an online supplier who still sells them so problem solved. By the way, I love polished chrome. Yes it does show finger prints but it looks very timeless and the shiny surface bounces light off beautifully. I associate brushed chrome with office interiors and it just doesn't have the same wow factor for me. However, our spotlights are brushed chrome and you really don't notice them too much. I don't think it's a big deal mixing brushed chrome and polished chrome but I wouldn't try to mix them with nickel.

This week I also had to order the spotlights for the room. Due to the sloping roof, I thought that adjustable ones will work better than fixed spots. I ordered 7 spots altogether (3 on each side plus one in the middle next to the double doors). You really don't want to get too many spotlights as otherwise the room can end up looking like an airport landing! I don't plan to use strong lighting in the room which is why I opted for dimmers. I find that floor lamps and table lamps give a lot nicer ambiance than ceiling light. I do wonder if we should have installed wall lamps but they do restrict the furniture arrangement which is why I decided against them. Unfortunately, our lights won't arrive until in a few weeks time which means our builders will need to be back to install them.

Our builders had to also install drainage in our garden which we didn't previously have. When I saw them digging a hole in the grass I nearly had a heart attack! I knew they had to put in drainage due to current building regulations but I had no idea how they will actually go about doing it. Obviously, they covered it up but I am a little concerned how our grass (which is not great to begin with) will settle back to the level it used to be. The ground is slightly higher now than where it used to be.



Our builders also connected the new radiator to our existing heating system. I am so glad that these guys do pretty much everything themselves (building, plumbing, electrics, plastering) because if there's one thing I have learned from our past renovation projects is that you want the same people to do the job from start to finish. Also, I personally don't like builders who use other suppliers for the job as it's a lot more difficult to track the quality of work they do and whether they are reliable in the first place.

That's it for week 4! Not long to go now and I am looking forward to start thinking about furniture, patterns, colours and accessories for the room. That's really the fun part isn't it?!

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