Hi all! I am absolutely delighted to be featuring this stunner of a house on my House Renovation Highlights series today that Shawn @revivingnumber12 has fully renovated to become a dream home featuring it’s own swim spa and amazing views over the South East, that both look absolutely amazing.
The house has been fully renovated from one of the worst bodge jobs their builder had ever seen, including the floor laid on expanding floor and tennis balls covering electrical joins. This sounds like a nightmare to me.
But….today the entire house is beautiful and a wonderful family home has been created, which make the renovations all the worthwhile.
Here Shawn shares with us her entire renovation journey and how they completed the house in 3 stages over 5 years, how they best managed their budget, how they wished that they done a few things differently, why they waited on a few things to spend money elsewhere, and how they worked with their builder including making sure a JCT contact and retention were in place.
This is an amazing renovation and I would love for you to have a read of Shawn’s story, and also to head over to her Instagram to see more of her stunning home.
Tell us about your home and your renovation project. What did you do?
The house was built in 1935 on a double lot, it as just under an acre of garden and far reaching views of the south east. It had been extended and renovated badly over several years, our builder described it as the second worst bodge job he had ever seen. The floors were laid onto expanding foam, the external walls were cinderblocks which only had mortar in the horizontal joins and covered with Styrofoam and chicken wire and then rendered, and the electrical joins were sitting on plates with half a tennis ball covering them. The house leaked internally and externally and the roof was only attached on two sides. Of course we didn’t know any of this when we bought it, just that it had the most amazing view and if the mortgage broker squinted we could just about afford it. We lived in the house for 18 months before renovating it so knew what we wanted from it and that we would have to take everything back to bricks basically rebuild the house.
What did you enjoy the most about your house renovation?
I always say my favourite part is just before it starts, when everything is possible and you haven’t discovered all the issues and compromises. I love the planning stage and picking all the finishes of course although I am terribly indecisive so this can take me ages and I often go for something plain so I don’t regret it and then end up regretting it.
What was your biggest challenge?
We had a few and it is hard to choose.
I think for everyone it is probably managing your expectations vs your budget. For us that meant splitting the house into 3 phases over 5 years and it felt like I was always starting a major phase when pregnant and then trying to get them to finish before I gave birth. Because we did the project over so many years I found our style evolved, trends changed and making sure the house felt like a cohesive space took a lot of thought. We also knew this isn’t our forever home as we want to end up in the country so I find it a challenge to add my personality but keep in neutral enough to be attractive enough to buyers.
Is there anything that you would have done differently?
There are a few things I would love to change like our main bathroom which was done at the end of the first phase and our 1stdaughter was 4 days old and we were out of money. I wish I had hit pause until I could select the fixtures and fittings I wanted and we had a bit more money as we had the master bathroom and it was just us. We made some cuts due to budget, like a window that could open in our south facing master bathroom, we soon regretted it as it gets so hot in there. In hind sight we should not have done works that could have been done later like the built in storage and spent the money on the window.
Tell us your top tips?
- We were really lucky to work with a builder who had an open book pricing model, he gave us line item pricing that was broken down into his costs and his mark up. We then could decide what to eliminate if we needed to save money and what we could hold off on and do later. We signed a JCT Minor Works Building Contract which included which works were going to take place in each stage and stage payments. So if the boiler was going in on week 5 and he was running behind we could hold back the money for that part of the project. We also agreed a retention of 2.5% to be paid when all the works and snags were complete.
- If you have worked with an architect and builder on a ‘design and build’ I would always say free issue appliances and materials like tiles, flooring etc. We saved so much by buying these ourselves and shopping around. We found our Fisher Paykel fridge on EBAY half price because it had a scratch on the side, it is set into cabinets no one would ever see the scratch which ended up being tiny. If you find a tile you like check EBAY or FB market place for anyone selling left over tiles a discounted rate.
- If you have to cut something due to budget try and make it something you can add later. For instance we put in smart thermostats in every room so we could control them individually and remotely. It was expensive at the time but when we had to make cuts and the builder suggested more traditional thermostats we opted not to change 4 of the windows which we could easily do at a later date. We opted for a more expensive counter top as we knew it wasn’t something we wanted to compromise on and didn’t tile the splashback for a year.
What was your best renovation purchase?
The best renovation purchase for us is definitely the swim spa. We inherited an old hot tub from the previous owners, that was quite keen to get rid of but over lockdown 1 and just before we started on the terrace it fast became our favourite part of the house. The girls were in it everyday cooling down in the heatwave and just as an activity when we were stuck in the house. We decided to add a new hot tub but sunk in, which got upgraded to 14 foot swim spa and then an 18 foot swim spa.
Would you do it again?
We would do it over and over again and plan to in the future. As mentioned this isn’t our forever home but hoping the next one is. We almost sold the house earlier this year but lost out on our dream house so stayed and am very glad that we are getting to enjoy this one for a bit as it really is a magical house.
What’s next? Any future renovation plans?
We have an attached garage which we are considering converting to a boot room/family entrance and larder. It would also attached the pool bathroom to the main bit of the house as we now have to go outside to access it. We would build a two car garage out the front of the house in an used bit of garden off to the side. We are assessing the budget, material availability (as this turned our 8 week terrace project into a 9 month project) and how long we thing we will stay in the house. The front paving needs addressing and I would love a new greenhouse so there will always be something with this house.
Thank you so much Shawn for sharing your renovation story with us, I have loved featuring you and your amazing home on my blog today. Fingers crossed that the sunshine makes an appearance soon so you can enjoy your gorgeous swim spa!
Please do pop over to Shawn’s Instagram @revivingnumber12 to see more her gorgeous home the beautiful interior design style that she has created, also to see that gorgeous swim spa – what a feature to have.
If you would love to have your your home featured as part of my series, do drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and take a nose at my last renovations highlight post featuring Houseboat in the City.