It's almost 12 months since we completed the sale on our house and we're finally able to look at the 'before and after' of our renovation.
When we told our friends we were buying number 2, they literally laughed at us for taking it on. 'It's awful!' they said. 'You must be mad.' Dr B's parents drove to see and couldn't find the words to describe how they felt about it. 'What are you doing?' we were asked. There had been 'many' viewings according to the man who showed us around. 'But it needs so much work....'
We could see the potential, and crucially, it was on the market for less than we thought it was really worth. We even managed to negotiate a substantial discount on the asking price, though in reality we'd have paid the asking price if necessary because it had such a lot of scope, hope of a great family home.
But all the same I cried when we moved in - the house was in such poor shape - during the first few weeks we lived here, the corpses of dead wasps filled the bath whenever we ran the hot tap. The gas board were called to investigate the persasive smell of gas in the garage, which unsurprisingly turned out to be a leak. Pressure washing the patio caused it to disintegrate due to lack of foundations, the toilet began to fail, the front door jammed, the electrics started to buzz.
Twelve months later, the house is transformed; three bedrooms turned into five. The garage and utility room were demolished, replaced by a larger garage and updated utility with masses of storage. The sliding garage doors were replaced with remote controlled sectional ones. The dining room had it's glass wall and hatch bricked up to become a study and we built a playroom. The kitchen came out five times the size of the original. We replaced the windows and ripped out the fireplace.
Upstairs the grotty floral bathroom was ripped out and the space became a galleried landing. Two new bathrooms were created, each twice as big as the original. Walls came down, doors were moved. Even the bannister was replaced. The house was rewired, replastered and had a new boiler and central heating.
Outside, we replaced the roof, rebuilt the porch and pulled down the cedar cladding and original render to replace it with new. We dug up the shoddy patio, replacing it with granite and widening it in the process. We widened the crumbling drive and replaced it with cobbled setts.
The house is absolutely beautiful - Christmas cards from the neighbours all along the road testament that our hard work paid off; other residents stopping us as they pass to compliment us on the build. The old house was an eyesore, they say - a wreck. "It brought down the area" said one neighbour. "you've had your work cut out."
I'm never renovating another house, by the way. We're here for good now.