Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Waiting Game

We are still awaiting the builders starting the next phase of works for the B&B. In the meantime we are getting on with some of the work we can do in other areas.

The kid's room

We were aiming to get Kid 1's room completed by the time she was six months, what with the chaos that having your first baby that deadline moved to her being a year.

We managed to fit the fireplace after much time spent finding the right tiles and we had decorated. We realised that in order to future proof her room for the inevitable day she will, no doubt, want to shut herself away from her parents and listen to her music too loudly, look at inappropriate stuff on the internet, use her hairdryer, create fire hazards by placing scarfs over her lamps 'for atmosphere' and recharge her phone/tablet/communication device that is not yet invented and may run on fresh air for all we know OR study by lamplight into the small hours (!!) then she might need some extra sockets. So another year passed and then we were going to get it finished before Kid 2 turned up so Kid 1 wouldn't feel evicted for the newest member. Kid 2 arrived and the electrics upgrade then became swallowed up in 'the B&B plan' and only now have the electrics been completed.

It seems that the closer you get to completing a project the longer it takes. Now the electrics are done all we need to do is redecorate the bits disrupted by the electrics, repaint the woodwork, order and fit the carpet and then furnish it but find an hour here or an hour there to do these things when you have a toddler and a baby is a tad challenging.

My most commonly used phrase at the moment seems to be 'I don't have the time...' and I am questionning if this is really the case. I could get up at 5am and have a least an hour before anyone else wakes up (this assumes that everyone stays asleep and there are not many hours when all my dependents achieve simultaneous sleep) and despite loving early mornings, something about the light at that time of day, that lovely light is going to be hard pressed to get me out of bed when I have been up until midnight with the boy and then awake again at 2 and 4am.

I could do it in the evenings but I am not at my greatest at that time plus the boy hasn't yet got to grips with bed time and sees evenings as a time to ramp up the rampant feeding. In fact, if feeding was an Olympic sport he would have a fair few medals to his name. Weekends are the only time t'husband and I can discuss the project or look at bathrooms/carpets/website briefs/building specs and then there is fitting in family time where we are not just dragging the kids around various builders merchants/home improvement warehouses. Arguably t'husband could do it while I mind the kids but he works all week and wants to spend his weekends with the kids or sleeping or watching the Tour de France/Grand Prix or seeing friends/family or visiting bike shops or fixing his bike (which he was doing until 2am last night - just saying) or organising bike races (there is a theme developing here) and although after writing that it seems that he does have time after all why would he want to be doing DIY instead of all those things?

Some might point out that I could be doing it rather than writing this blog but one of the prerequisites of feeding a small baby is to be sat down so I have plentiful time then (assuming I am not trying to simultaneously entertain a todder) to write the blog* (which I must do more now we are going to be using The Money Pit to earn actual money), set up a Facebook page, to research building materials, find and compare prices of baths/tiles, find a dresser on eBay but not so much time to paint walls or sand skirting boards. I have yet to perfect the art of feeding whilst doing manual labour but I am sure someone will tell me it is possible. 

Anyhoo, this is a round about a lengthy way to go about explaining why there are no 'after' photos of the Kid's new bedroom. You'll just have to wait for those!

*Saying that this blog has been written in numerous sessions over a number of weeks!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Planning, planning, planning

Well although it seems, according to the blog at least or in fact if you look around the house (you'll have to take my word for that one), that not much has been happening in terms of development of the Money Pit there has been a whole lot going on behind the scenes.

It has always been the plan in order to get The Money Pit to pay for itself, rather than us just throwing our hard earned cash at it, to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast. As this meant a significant injection of cash, it was rather a long term plan which involved selling our other property and then using that money to invest in getting one room ready as a guest room and the dining room floored and decorated for the aforementioned guests use. And then using any money earned to carry on with finishing other rooms. This was fine until we realised getting that the simple phrase 'getting a room ready for B&B guests' involved a new roof complete with improved insulation, a fire alarm system, new wiring, a complete bathroom refit, soundproofing, change of use to guesthouse/residential, new flooring, decorating, kitchen extraction and all manner of other things. Our budget simply didn't stretch that far....so we were a bit stuck and wondered if the B&B would ever become reality.  Then, miraculously, a while back we heard about a funding pot that was being made available via  the Rural Northwest Tourism Connect project, funded through Defra for independent, small hotels and B&Bs in rural areas to apply for grant funding to support renovation projects.

It sounded perfect so I contacted them to enquire if, being in Ramsbottom, we qualified. We did and within a week or so of our initial enquiry, we had had a visit from the Tourism Connect Project Manager (hi Sarah) and had been left with a pile of paperwork/guidelines to go through. The application process was quite stringent and required us writing a business plan complete with the first 3 years financial projections, a detailed budget and project plan for the build including getting hold of no less than 3 quotes from different builders for which we required a complete building spec and an application which asked for milestones, risk analysis, forecasted targets, details of the entire project and a document signed by an accountant to say that our business plan and financial projections stood up!  All well and good you might say and only what most people would do when looking to start a business. The initial deadline for the funding project to end was April 2013. This was perfect timing as, just to make life a little more complicated, we had also found out we were expecting our second child in June 2012. It meant that we could work on the application in the Spring of 2012, have the baby, get used to the baby, if we got the funding we could start the build in late Summer 2012 and be ready to open the B&B in Spring 2013.

But things don't turn out like that. We got a phone call early March to say that the funding project was closing early, a year early! If we wanted to apply we need to get the application complete and submitted for review by mid March in order it could be assessed / approved before the end of the month! We had a week...

Although we had made a start on a number of elements the next 7 days were a blur of researching, writing business plans and building specs, meeting builders, going through figures, meeting with our funding project manager (who is a star) and accountants, checking quotes, refining specs, chasing builders for further quotes as well as still trying to do our day jobs, look after the kid and find time to eat and sleep (the sleeping tended to be the thing that got squeezed!)

After rather too many late nights, a considerable amount of coffee and 'discussion', some tears and a lot of time at the computer, we finally pressed the send button on Monday 5 March. We had done the best we could and if we didn't get it then at least we gave it a go. We got a call on Thursday to say that the internal review had gone well but there were a few refinements we had to make to the application before the panel meeting the following week. Another late night beckoned as the paperwork had to be with the panel  on Friday. On Weds 14 Mar we go the call to say that not only had our application been approved, but it was one of the best business plans they had received! The B&B project was underway....

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Kitchen Project

After 2 years of not having a kitchen, we at last managed to save up enough cash to get the kitchen done.

The husband did a mighty job of getting everything done on a tight budget. If the UN are looking for a keen negotiator then he is your man. This is how the kitchen looked beforehand.

We had a rickety sink, a fridge and freezer and tables and chairs that were donated by a lovely colleague, a dishwasher donated by my aunt and windows that were held together with duck tape as they were push your finger through the wood rotten. I insisted before we moved in that I would not now or never be cooking on a camping stove so we channelled out the chimney and installed a cooker when we first moved in.

Below was my inspiration for out kitchen. I loved the light (we are lucky to have a bright kitchen), the tiles, the sink and although I wouldn't be able to achieve the rustic units I loved the long bank of units with a separate island.

I also loved this one. Again the tiles, the floor which was similar to ours and was luckily in good shape and the colour of the units. I also loved the mixture of seating around the table.

First step was replacing the rotten windows. Not a big job but quite a costly one.

There was also a fair bit of re-wiring, plumbing that also had to be done before the units arrived. Choosing the colour was nerve-wracking. I wanted grey and was going for a dark colour (Farrow and Ball Charleston Grey) but the kitchen cabinet maker had done a few kitchens in Farrow and Ball Pavillion Grey and said it was a great colour so I went for it and am glad I did. Although, they look green here...they're not.

I would love to give the guys that made and fitted our kitchen a plug but I can't find a website for them. I cannot recommend them highly enough. They were helpful, friendly, knew their stuff, produced a beautiful, handbuilt kitchen at a better price than many an off the shelf option and the lads that came to fit it worked so hard it still amazes me. They left home at 5am to pick up the kitchen, drove to Ramsbottom, arrived at 7am and worked through until midnight and were unfailingly pleasant throughout.

For the lights I was trying to re-create the lighting I had seen in bars on the continent and I think the Metro in Paris. I wanted something that felt a bit industrial. The lights were from Original BTC. The photo doesn't really do them justice but I love them plus we managed to get them on sale.
Worktops were also a sticking point as the husband was stuck on granite and I wanted rustic solid wood. I just wasn't a granite kind of girl. It felt too 'slick'. I am still not sure how he brought me round to his way of thinking, perhaps he mentioned that I would be responsible for oiling the wooden one regularly and then suddenly granite seemed like an easier option.

There is are still some bits of joinery to do, we need to get the tiling done and some finishing touches but this is nearly another project we can tick off the list which is a good thing as we have a busy few months coming up.

Stair project

Okay, okay I have been really remiss in not posting any house updates since the kid was born but I am determined to get into it again. Especially as we are about to start on a new phase of works and I need to catch up on what's changed since last July!!

Okay between May and November 2010 there was the small matter of a small person that landed in our lives and dropped the bomb of never sleeping for more than two hours at a time. Which sounds a dream during the day and prior to having a baby I thought that wee ones sleep muchly so I would be able to, blissfully, get on with the numerous house projects while my little ray of sunshine slumbered away. Well it didn't exactly pan out like that...although she slept a fair bit in the day her snoozes were filled with me trying to retain some semblance of order and housewifery between THE CONSTANT FEEDING and THE WASHING MOUNTAIN....man they can eat and poo those newborns.

Anyhoo, after 6 months of shattered sleep, we eventually started to come out the other side and as an early Christmas present, in a wave of "wow our baby can sleep, let's make sure we put measures in place to never disturb her again" fervour (which included nailing down floorboards, installing black out blinds and oiling doors) t'husband arranged for our stair carpet to be fitted.

Looking at this picture, the non-carpeted stairs look quite nice....they weren't! If they had looked anything like this I would have kept them as they were.

And below is the new carpet....

Seems like a small project but seeing as we had to decorate the stairs and entire landing before it was fitted, this was the pay off.

Isn't it funny how some twinkly, sparkly lights make everything not only brighter but better!

An extremely belated Happy Christmas...

Friday, 2 July 2010

Friday, 23 April 2010

The Bedroom Project

So we have spent the last few weekends trying to get a few projects completed before the arrival of the baby. Weekends in March and April have largely been overtaken by the Bedroom Project, the Nursery Project and the Downstairs WC Project.

Here is the low down on the Bedroom Project. This is it emptied of furniture. The front wall needed to be re plastered as the plaster hadn't been applied properly before and had lifted away from the wall.

The removal of the radiator in order to facilitate the plastering nearly led to the Replacement of the Living Room Ceiling project but luckily we managed to catch that little disaster before it became..well.. too disastrous.

Here is the removal of the old plaster and t'husband doing what he does best, project managing, which admittedly looks a lot like watching and chatting...

And the new plaster in progress. Love a bit of smooth plaster which is good as this wall took forever to dry. A good few weeks....

Then there was the sanding. Oh sanding how I hate thee...which is why t'husband did it.

Essential tools of the sanding trade. Paper, mask, ample supply of warm brews accompanied by lots of encouraging words...

I didn't photograph the next stage but between the sanding and the wiring was the wood worming. Apparently, the fumes are not good for a woman in my condition! Then there was the wiring. I am so impressed that I have a husband with all these rad skills.

Then there was a painting which was something I could help with. However, painting skirting boards at 35 weeks pregnant leads to all sort of contortions.

And finally there was the fitting of the carpet and the reinstalling of the furniture. So a few days of plastering, a few weeks for plaster to dry, several weekends of sanding, wood worming, wiring, painting and carpet shopping and that is our bedroom...DONE!*

*With the exception of a new light, some bedside tables and putting pictures up.

And from looking at this, it's just in time...

And none of this would have been possible without the skills, patience and hard work of a good and loving man. I am indebted to t'husband who promised me all along I would have a bedroom ready for when the baby arrived. You totally rock and I love you....

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

What Goes Up...

To burn off some of the copious amounts of calories consumed over Christmas, our kind friends the O'Neills asked us to come and spend some time with them in the Lakes. They suggested a bit of skiing which I couldn't, unfortunately, take part in due to the passenger I am now carrying that makes these things difficult. So they suggested a nice walk and some fun in the snow with a stop for tea and cake after.

What I didn't realise was that the 'walk' was more akin to a hike. A three hour hike, up a hill, at 25 weeks pregnant with nary a toilet in sight...toileting issues (or lack thereof) aside we had a marvellous day. The weather was amazing...

The terrain challenging...

...enough to feel a sense of achievement at the top...

And the views were immense enough to warrant catalogue style posing...

But what goes up must come down and the descent was precarious and hilarious. I ended up deciding it was safer to scooch down on my bum, rather than risk slipping and falling. Anyway, I lifted my heels off the floor at the top for milliseconds and before I knew it was sliding high speed down the peak with no real means of stopping…all I could hear was t'husband screaming from the top of the hill ‘Who let the pregnant woman go first!?’ I eventually managed to anchor myself with a walking pole after sliding about 70 metres. Scare-larious…

Due to high jinx above, I was made to follow t'husband down the hill as he slipped and slid in his inadequate for ice, snow and descent shoes. Mrs O'N and I tried hard to contain our giggles at his flailing arms and legs but failed. Was exhausted with laughing by the bottom…

A brilliant day...