Why we are converting to supervised DIY

This weekend, Joe & I thought it would be a great idea to finally get some stuff on the walls of the lounge. Pictures of the family and a canvas that we have. After all, we placed our blinds on order last weekend (blog post to follow on these when they arrive woohoo! No more nosey neighbours looking in on us!) so we thought, why not get the finishing touches done now?

This involved a simple job of screwing in the tie-backs for the curtains on the back window. Simple, it was not.

There’s a phrase that Joe likes to use: “We are so bloody unlucky” – I don’t think he means it in an ungrateful kind of way. But with this kind of stuff, we do tend to get in a pickle a lot. For example, with post, I am terribly unlucky. More often than not, stuff I send will be lost, and stuff sent to me takes weeks. Next day delivery does not exist in my world. But that’s another story altogether. Really boring. No-one wants to read about that…

Anywho, Joe and I started with the tie back. This was another Christmas present off Joe’s parents alongside the curtains (thanks again you two!) The first one went up a treat.
We get to the second one on the left hand side, and we hit something.
When Joe drilled a hole for the screws, water suddenly started spurting out of the wall and trickling down onto our brand new carpet, down our fresly plastered and painted walls.

Joe looked something like this…
After pulling up the carpet, unplugging the nearby electrics, scurrying for towels and quickly legging it to the other side of the house to turn off the boiler and water, we grabbed a bucket for the hole and rang Joe’s dad (no matter how old you get, parents are always the wisest people at hand) and our plumber.

When we had the central heating installed after we bought the house, we discovered that the floors downstairs were not floorboards like normal (although there were floorboards present – very confusing), but it was concrete. This wasn’t a major problem but did mean we had to install the piping for the radiators in the walls as opposed to under the floor. We, of course, forgot about this and drilled straight into the pipes.

To be honest, I don’t think we could have aimed for the pipes better if we were actually trying! Typical!
As you can see, we had to chisel into our new plaster (sad face!) to expose the plastic casing. Then Joe cut into the plastic to expose the pipes. After instruction from our plumber, he cut the pipe in two and connected them again with a coupler (which took a whole afternoon to find!).

It could have been a whole lot worse and a lot more damage could have been done, but I know that if we want anything hanging on the walls from now on, perhaps we could do with some supervision.

Next job on the to-do list, is re-plaster and paint this hole. Darnit.

Karen x

Wishlist Wednesday – 25th Jan 2012

One thing that will probably remain on my wishlist until at least next year is a new kitchen.
Here is a brief introduction to the state of our kitchen…

The view when entering the kitchen, from the hallway.

The left of the room!

The right of the room!

It’s not a bad size really, and when you consider the outhouses at the back (you see that red door at the back over there! That’s the outhouses) we’ve actually got quite a bit of space.

Next year we’d love to knock through to the outhouses to make one large kitchen and finally get one installed. It’s a massive job which is why it currently remainds firmly on the “wishlist” pile, and not yet on the “to-do” list.

Me & Joe would adore a kitchen like this one below. A white glossy kitchen with see-through feature cupboards. This particular one is from Magnet, and although we may not end up getting this exact one (unless we win the lottery), this is the look we want. I’m superduper excited to get it. When the kitchen is in, it will mean the house is done and dusted. A very exciting goal to look forward to 🙂

Karen x

Bathroom Update!

So, not long ago, we came to the realisation that tiles cost an absolute fortune. Who knew? We’ve been putting this stage off, not because we didn’t want to do it (trust me, I am so excited to have a shower and then not be covered in dust! It’s currently like getting out of the ocean on a beach, but far less glamorous) but simply because of the cost.

All we initially wanted was a plain white tile to cover the walls, with a small border around the room. Any colour at all. We were pretty flexible. But, it turns out this is incredibly difficult to find that’s not outrageously out of our budget. For bloody tiles?!
I tell you what, it’s a good job I’m not that much of a girly girl because if I spent any money on clothes/shoes/make-up, we probably wouldn’t even have a bath yet!

Anyway….after stumbling upon a really good deal in B&Q for some plain whilte tiles with a slight grey fleck in them, we decided to sod the border design, and stock up on these. Get the bathroom finished and then decorate with ornaments instead. Again, with cost in mind, Joe and his dad decided to take on the challenge of tiling the bathroom themselves. So far, they seem to be doing a fab job and I’m really proud of them for braving it!

There has been a few set-backs such as some tiles falling off and Joe screaming with frustration – I was cooking tea downstairs at the time so could only assume that he’s chopped his arm off. But, it seems to be going pretty well.

Hopefully next week, it will be further along and we will be able to book someone in to install our bathroom and shower (currently the loo is in temporarily and the bath still isn’t fully fitted. We’re still brushing our teeth in the kitchen sink. It’s almost like luxurious camping!).

Here’s a few piccies of the work so far.

The first pile of tiles…

Joe primed the walls and painted the lowered ceiling white.

Bacon butties for the boys at work – complete with ketchup initials. Awww!
Teamwork!

The first wall that was done – What will make the back of the walk-in shower.
More coming soon…

Karen x

Where’s the cat gone?

Some people have been asking me lately: “Where is Pebbles? Does she still visit you? I’ve not seen her on your blog!

Don’t worry, she’s still around! In fact, she’s at the house everyday! I often wonder if she’s ever at her ‘real’ home. She’s waiting for me when I get home from work, and she’s sat by my car in the mornings, hoping to get a feeding and a cuddle before I leave for the day.

Her new favourite thing is our carpets (which she initially thought was her clawing toy. Honestly thought i was going to have a breakdown the first time I saw her pounce on it!) as well as rolling around in newspapers. She’s very easily amused.

Here’s some recent snapshots of Pebbles continuing to make herself at home.

She likes to sit underneath Joe’s head! Anything for the attention!

Karen x

Wishlist Wednesday -18th Jan 2012

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find something in a store, add it onto your mental wishlist and then forget about it forever. I’m so forgetful sometimes it’s unreal!

Let me expand. Every Christmas my mum asks for a list (you’re never too old to do this!) Her logic dictates that she is going to buy me a present no matter what, so it might as well be something that I really want.

Me & Joe did a joint list this year, but although we needed absolute shed loads (Hmm, maybe next year we could ask for a shed?) for the house, we couldn’t really think of anything to ask for.
In the end, we had included items such as stuff“, “duct tape(Joe always asks for this. It’s a weird one) as well aspicture frames. As you can tell, it was a bit vague. It’s really amazing that we got such good presents because we weren’t very helpful on the list front.

So, I’m going to start a Wishlist Wednesday on this blog.
It’ll be my weekly post where I can indulge in what I want for the house – whether it is something I will come back to later and add to my Christmas list, or something that I just would love in a dreamworld.

So, my first addition to the list is…8-bit flowers.
Joe & I have had our eyes on these for a long time – since we moved into the flat in February 2010!
They’re from a website called ThinkGeek, and to be honest, I’d quite happily get most things from that website! If it wasn’t in America, I would have ordered them a long time ago, but for now, I don’t think I’ll risk the customs charges until I really need them.
I do love flowers around the house and it’s always a lovely suprise when Joe buys them for me. But these cute little decorations will never flourish and will never need watering (and are a lot cheaper than weekly living bouquets!) We’re hoping to buy one or two when we eventually turn the third bedroom into a proper office.

Karen x

How we bought a house in 2011


I know that generally in January, everyone is looking forward, making huge plans for the year ahead and planning what to wear when you fit into your skinny jeans again (yes, I’m also on the diet bandwagon this year).

But, with going back to work this past week or so, feeling hungry (It is no longer acceptable to have wine for lunch and chocolate biscuits for brekkie, dammit) and feeling like the Christmas holidays went far too quickly, I’m left looking back at 2011 and thinking, where did it go?

Well, I know the answer to that question. It went on the house. I’ve not really talked about our move process before on here as of yet because we were so giddy with finally moving in and getting stuck in with all the DIY, so here’s a little bit about our big move in 2011, month by month.

January
At the beginning of 2011, Joe and I decided we’d love to buy a house. After a lot of bad experiences in our flat, and with the possibility of a rent increase, it would work our cheaper and more convenient to be on the property ladder. Plus, it’d be all romantic and stuff ❤
We were first-time buyers with no knowledge whatsoever on how to buy a house. If you are new to it also, never be afraid to ask questions! It’s easy to assume that estate agents and solicitors will explain everything to you. They won’t. Don’t be embarrassed about feeling ‘stupid’ when you don’t understand their fancy jargon. We learned this the hard way. Sad but true, people assume that because you are young, you will be pushovers. My mum taught me better than that.

February & March
In February, we had already seen a few houses that we liked the look of and had even viewed one or two just to get the feel of things. We had also seen our mortgage advisor and signed away our life all the documents. This gave us an idea of how much we had to play with, and what kind of timescale we were on. In March, we found our house and knew it was what we were after – a family area, good size, big garden, potential room for driveway, in need of modernisation. Lovely jubbly.

April
April was the month of the offers. When we had our parents take a look at the house and a few other family members, we were all a bit giddy at the thought of actually taking this very grown-up step. We put in our initial offer and it was rejected. Uh-oh! What was frustrating is that the seller had not actually been to the house – it was inherited. They were therefore in no rush, and were holding out for higher numbers. Eventually, after a short bidding war with another couple, our offer was accepted.

May
We had the survey done on the house in May; A really nerve-wracking experience because a lot of areas came back with warning or advisory notes. And where there were traffic light systems, often it came back red. However, we were fortunate enough to have family that know what the jargon means and it turns out it wasn’t as bad as we thought. Luckily all of the problems, we were already aware of. For example, it was highly recommended we get a new bathroom. Duh! The previous bath was rotted! (P.S We will have our bathroom done very soon! Will absoutely have a post on it shortly.)

June, July & August
The months of panic. During this period, there were unexpected curveballs thrown our way. Firstly, the land at the back of the house (essentially, part of the garden) technically didn’t belong to anyone. We had to renegotiate this with the seller’s solicitor to confirm that they would purchase the land, register it, and then sell it to us with the house. Secondly, the seller couldn’t find the deed to the house *mind explodes*. This was all sorted with no problem but the waiting around was horrible. Especially since all of our mortgage documentations were only valid if we moved in before September. We were cutting it very close. We finally got the go-ahead mid-August and we collected the keys on the 26th.

September, October, November & December

The rest of this you will have seen on my blog, as I started writing about it once we had the keys in August. Because we still had a week’s lease left on the flat, we took the time to gut the house whilst having the comforts of the flat. It was currently not in a state to live in.

In many ways I feel like  a lot went wrong during this process, although I think a lot of it was down to impatience – after all, we found the house in February, were given an estimated moving process time of up to eight weeks. It actually ended up taking a lot longer. But, not to sound ungrateful or like an absolute misery guts, I’m glad it was complicated and stressul. It made us both realise just how much we wanted it and how lucky we are to be on the property ladder at all. Hopefully we won’t have to go through it all again anytime soon though. Phew.

Karen x

How to tell that a pensioner once lived in your house.

It’s all in the mail.
I like the fact that some cute old lady lived in this house and gave it to us in a really dated state. It’s given us a great project.
But I must admit, I do get a bit weirded out with post that thinks I need a zimmer frame. Or letters from the NHS asking me to come in to have my blood pressure checked urgently. Or correspondences from a lawyer alerting me that an old friend has passed away.

Perhaps I should stop reading her mail…

And maybe I should look at who it’s addressed to in the future *reaches for glasses*

Eeep! Maybe I am getting old!

Karen x