A Progress Update on the Renovations

Wow! So much has happened and yet so very little progress has actually been made.  Welcome to the world of home renovation…

London Houses

Image credit: Kathleen Conkin

The Flat Renovation

The renovation of the flat is going apace.  The builder said 2 months to complete but 4 months along, we are still another month from completing.  The funny thing about my builder is that he is always one month away.  I figure it is at least 2 months away in real life.

We’ve stripped the old flat bare, put in insulation, built out the cupboards, plastered walls etc.  This week the underfloor heating is going in.

The big downside with completing in June?  By early July most of the private schools in London are closed and lots of people are on vacation.  My potential market of buyers will be gone for the summer.  So I’ll have an empty flat waiting for sale or rental possibly until September.

Casa del Dumpo

The house build is my biggest headache.  Where shall I start?

The Neighbour With The Cowboy Builders

We have a neighbour who has put in three illegal water connections from Thames Water into his house for flats he carved out of the space.  The pressure got too much for the pipe which burst.  Now, we have a lake in our back garden.  Thames Water have been trying to resolve this issue since November.  We are pumping water daily from the garden but we need dry land to build.  I may need to call in the big guns because trying to play nice has gotten us nowhere.

The Intransigent Local Council

The local council are being really difficult with the building plans.  Although we bought the house with planning permission, upon closer inspection of the plans, we discovered that the approved plans were for a house actually bigger than the plot of land.  The previous owner had clearly done a quick and careless job with the building plans in order to sell the plot. We reapplied for planning permission but now we are getting all sorts of grief.  The new house plan is pretty much the same house that got passed last time around but just smaller.

OK, technically I may have tinkered with it a bit to make it look less suburban-developer 🙂  We have tried to streamline the Arts & Crafts roof to make it easier and cheaper to build.  We are also putting in a basement into the house because we will have to build a foundation anyway.  The foundation for the house will become the basement similar to a house build in the USA.

Anyway, the local council is not amused.  So discussions are still ongoing.  They really want us to build a cookie-cutter 1930’s house that looks like the rest of the street with no allowance for the fact that such a house will not be (i) architecturally interesting nor (ii) located in a conservation area.

The German kit-house from Schwoerer Haus

We have decided to have a German factory-built house on the land.  Having seen the amazing Huf Haus episode on the Grand Designs factory show like everyone else in Britain, we are smitten with the quality and efficiency of German building methods.  There is no way our council will let us build something as modern as a Huf Haus on our street.  Hell would freeze over first.

We have instead signed up with Schwoerer Haus, another large German pre-fabricated house manufacturer, to build a house according to the specifications our council will approve.  Do you get the irony? We are building a 1930’s English style house in a German factory in a predominantly Jewish North London neighbourhood.

Having mentioned above that our English builder always runs late, we decided a Schwoerer Haus is the fastest way for us to get out of our rental flat and into a home.  The whole process will take about 7-9 months for it to be turnkey (once we have planning permission!).  I will outline the Schwoerer Haus process in a further post.

So thanks for bearing with me.  I’ll post regular progress reports from now on even if it is just to vent at the obstacles in my way.


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