Since November our house has become something of a horror. We had builders, plumbers, plasterers, electricians, tilers, carpenters, kitchen fitters and many other tradespeople traipsing across our house. In total they were in our house for 13 weeks, we spent 11 of those weeks living on a building site because that’s the kind of thing you need to do when you renovate your home on a tight budget. A number of people asked why we didn’t move out for the majority of it but we didn’t have much of a choice, here’s why. We aimed to be out of the house for week and booked to stay in a apartment hotel further out of Manchester (which after exhaustive searching was the cheapest we could find for our needs – a long term let would have been cheaper than an apartment hotel but we would have to commit to a 6 month contract). The apartment allowed us to have flexibility, be close to work and check in on the building work on a daily basis and it was something we factored into our budget from the outset. However when we were set to move back in after a week we were categorically told it was 100% unsafe so we decamped 4 hours away to Mr Thrifty’s parent’s house down south for a week. After those total two weeks were up we came to move back in and our foreman begged and pleaded with us not to but we didn’t have any other realistic choice.
If we stayed in rented temp accommodation the extra costs we would incur would be:
– Paying to board the dog (around £150 pw)
– Extra petrol costs for Mr Thrifty to get to work as he usually cycles (£30 pw)
– Rent on top of mortgage (£400 pw extra)
– Extra insurance costs – we informed our insurance company of the works and as we weren’t staying over night the price went up dramatically. (£46 pcm extra)
– Public transport costs for me to get to meetings included the tram and a bus which is triple the price of the train from our normal location. (approx £50 pw extra)
Issues raised with staying with friends/family for a long period:
– Some people welcomed dogs and some don’t. Jarvis is quite an umm spirited animal, so living with him can be quite full on – so boarding is again a factor
– Some friends and family live a significant distance meaning we were unable to keep an eye on the works which was something we really needed to keep on top of. Each and everyday we were required to sign off works, check deliveries, meet with planning people, agree costs, approve work and generally keep the work moving along.
– Mr Thrifty is only allowed to work from home a certain number of days per month, so living 4 hours drive away isn’t ideal.
– I, for the most part, work from home which means I would always be around and I’d feel bad for always being in their hair. I could have worked from a coffee shop in an ideal world but alas my laptop was broken at the time and it would have meant heaving a huge desktop down to Costa. With family this isn’t so much an issue – we tend to understand how we each operate. But with friends, especially those who work from home or have small children, I would feel like a real imposition.
– Most of our friends, like us, live in modest homes and most have small children or babies – so despite their generous offers we couldn’t realistically decamp to stay for an extended period of time.
– I will do a whole post of costs to factor into a renovation very soon, we are only just learning of some of them now.
When we moved back in we had a mattress on the floor, my computer on a desk of drawers serving as a TV and a work spot for me and a dog bed. We also had the addition of two working plug sockets in our bedroom, a toilet and a bath (but no door). We also fed a very long plug down from our room two stories down to the cellar to set up a make shift kitchen (more of that soon). Within a couple of days we had a light in our bedroom, internet and bathroom sink but apart from that our situation was pretty much the same (and actually deteriorated in certain parts of the house) for 6 weeks – including Christmas.
Here’s the thing, we were prepared for most of it. My requirements for moving back in were – a bed, a loo, 2 plug sockets, running water and the internet and that’s what we had. Maybe people see me as high maintenance or a control freak, I’m not sure, but almost everyone who came into the house exclaimed ‘how are YOU living like this, how?’ like I usually swan around in furs with freshly manicured nails not second hand dresses and Converse trainers. I’d accepted my lot before it even began and made sure we were prepared for our return. I dug out our oldest duvet covers as I was sure they would only be fit for the bin afterward (I was right – we lived in our bedroom for months with the bed serving as bed, sofa, office, dining room, dog bed and God only knows what else), I packed only 5 outfits for each of us, I created a small kitchen box for the cellar, I picked out my most comforting books and DVDs and everything else was bare essentials (apart from a stash of small Christmas decorations). Sure I moaned and sure it wasn’t perfect but we saved a lot of money and genuinely all I remember from those few short weeks was feeling really grateful oh and the bloody plaster dust.
If you are planning a renovation and you’re doing it on a budget, I really urge you to think about your comfort levels. If you find camping difficult then think again, if having guests asking for tea 7 times a day annoys you – then think again. If you like to poop in peace then renovation whilst living in the building isn’t for you. A big thank you to Mr Thrifty’s parents for having us to stay and also a huge thanks to our neighbours for helping us out so much along with our friends for having us to dinner and plying us with drink. We appreciate you more than you will ever know – sorry if we left plastery footprints on your carpet!