Home Time

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 02, 2007 11:22 PM GMT
    My partner and I have been living in a small studio loft in London since we got married. Very convenient, especially since he is going to grad school in London; but also very cramped.

    For the last 6+ mos we have been looking for something larger. I was thinking more along the lines of a townhouse, Iain wanted something bigger with a large garden - something I admit appeals to me too after a long day.

    Now apparently he has found a place he really wants me to see - he sent me some photo's and wants me to fly home to see it.

    The place is a WRECK - an 800+ year old farmhouse - it hasn't been lived in since just after WWI. Half the walls are falling down, in one place the roof has collapsed. The garden and grounds are totally overgrown. The place is an absolute DISASTER. No heat, No electric, No running water, etc

    The property itself is close to London though, and it is a good amount of freehold land.

    Even with my resources though it would take a considerable mortgage, then there is the cost of building and renovation.

    Iain thinks we can just move into a couple rooms and restore the place ourselves over the next few years.

    OMG - though, I am just totally unsure about living in the middle of a major construction project for the next few years. Half the time I am traveling for business, when I do get home I don't think I want to have to pick up a trowel or hammer immediately.

    We are probably capable of doing the work, though we've never tried a project together. I certainly know enough about construction - at leasst in the US - my grandfather was a builder, and I sometimes worked construction in HS and C.

    Does anyone else out there have experience with juggling job, relationship, and major renovations or construction? What was your experience?

    Really Ambivalent.

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    Oct 02, 2007 11:37 PM GMT
    Are you handy with tools? Have you guys done this before? Have you gotten any inspections from contractors to get estimates how much it would by them and by yourselves?

    You and your boyfriend should have this whole thing planned and budgeted...like a flip.
    .............................................................................................................

    I had to live in my house during repairs after a pipe burst upstairs. It's a big house. 6 bedrooms. 2 kitchens. 2 living rooms ... actually think of it as 2 3-bedroom houses...each floor as a 3 bedroom house.

    Ceilings fell down. The walls filled with water. The hard wood floors curled. It took a month just to dry the walls. And 6 more months before it was all finished.

    Furniture from one floor had to be moved to the other floor as each floor was worked on. The furniture was stacked to the ceiling. It was like living in King Tut's tomb...with just little burrows to move thru.

    It was not fun.
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    Oct 02, 2007 11:41 PM GMT
    My advice: make a conservative estimate on what renovations will cost and then budget for twice that amount. Seriously.
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    Oct 02, 2007 11:52 PM GMT
    ...and twice the time to do them.

    Everything in keeping up the condos takes twice as long as I would have thought.
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    Oct 03, 2007 12:11 AM GMT
    My partner and I renovated a home BEFORE we moved in and we still spent a lot of time there. I can't imagine living in the place while doing the renovations!! Our other place was only a mile away from the home we were renovating. It takes over your life!! I can remember walking into my office many a Monday morning and thanking God I was at work so I could rest at my desk.

    The home we have now was brand new. Sold the other two and will probably never renovate another home again. My personal time is much too important to be swinging a hammer ever again... but.... never say never.... right?? icon_wink.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 03, 2007 12:31 AM GMT
    I had planned to build my place by myself, but after getting a year into the permitting and loan process, and tens of kilobucks in deposits, the bank insisted that I hire a general contractor. Basically, the contractor wasted half of my money screwing things up, and I did most of the work anyway.

    When I moved in, I was under deadline to get back to work. I had one gas chromatograph set up in a corner of the shop, screened off with plastic sheeting. I'd analyze a few samples, then run out and hang some drywall, then run back and work on the computer for a bit, then stay up all night laying tile. Things gradually improved, but there are still a dozen projects that need finishing, after six years.

    According to his biography, Peter Mitchell did basically the same thing. He bought an estate in the English countryside, renovated it, and turned it into a home and research institute. (Uh yeah. The same thing... except he won a Nobel Prize.) However, he stopped all lab work for a year, and his whole staff concentrated on the renovations. Got them finished. Then went back to work and won the Nobel Prize. Jeez. Smart.

    Well, I've gotten a little smarter. I don't loan tools, so don't ask.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 03, 2007 1:00 AM GMT
    I've renovated three homes. You do not want to live in while renovating.

    Consider complete demolition and reconstruction by a contractor to do the major stuff. Pick some sensible projects for yourself - like finishing the master bath, installing a tile backsplash in the kitchen, landscaping, installing the deck in the back.

    If you are insane enough to try it all yourself while having a relationship and a career - get a prefab home installed at the site temporarily (1-2 years) while you do the work. You'll be 'trailer trash' for 2 years but a clean trailer with working toilet and kitchen, beats the heck out of no plumbing and a leaky roof. My aunt had a double-wide with three bedrooms, living room, kitchen, pantry, laundry, dinning room, family room and two baths - so they can be roomy. When you are done with it, sell it to someone else and have it shipped away.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 03, 2007 1:50 AM GMT
    I recommend you follow Paradox's advice and then double the doubled figure.

    My partner and I did a major renovation of a farm house in the NC mountains. I don't mean we did it ourselves. We hired a general contractor and let him live in the house while he did the work -- promised to be completed in 9 months. Two years later, it was almost done. It is a SMALL house.

    The entire project almost completely ruined our relationship. It cost far more than expected, not the least because the contractor ripped us off bigtime. That is the main caution I'd issue. The stress on a relationship is BAD. We had a major project planned at our house in the city and completely abandoned it when we saw what the mountain experience was going to be like.

    On the other hand: We live in a Victorian-era house with a huge wraparound porch that we had to have completely rebuilt a few months back -- as well as replacing some structural beams in the house. It went phenomenally well, thanks to a great contractor. It really all depends on finding a responsible contractor.


  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 03, 2007 2:37 AM GMT
    While I was with my wife over the 27 years, we bought plenty of run down houses and remodeled them while we (including 5 children) lived in them. She and I had a phenomenal relationship, so it wasn't so bad, and she pitched in. However, I will tell you this - If it hadn't been for the patience we were able to call upon during each of the processes, we would have been at each others' throats and long since divorced.

    The stress on all levels, physical, financial emotional, intellectual, etc., is taxing at the very least, and otherwise disasterous for a relationship. It's not a good idea. Being a weekend warrior is fine, but leave it at that. I suggest you watch "The Money Pit", because, believe it or not, that story is more realistic than anyone wants to admit (it's just taken to the extreme).

    On the other hand, something you might do is to purchase it for the land, and build a kit house or a modular home (pre-built in a factory using jigs to maintain high quality and square walls, using a building loan so that you don't have to live there while you do it. I imagine that because the property is so dilapidated, you could negotiate enough of a price difference to be able to put up an inexpensive kit house. Talk to your bankers about it, and see what they think.

    If you want to chat about it, drop me a line.

    Steve
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    Oct 03, 2007 3:06 AM GMT
    Unfortunately the property, though totally decrepit, is a listed property and the local council has to approve any 'Renovation plans'; I don't think there is any way will they settle for starting from scratch.

    The more I think of this the worse it sounds, I mean we would have to give up vacations and free time, and literally pour money into a hole in the ground...

    If Iain weren't so excited about it I don't think I would even consider it.

    I did promise I would fly back early to look at it though.


  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 03, 2007 3:18 AM GMT
    Does your boyfriend read this website?
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    Oct 03, 2007 3:30 AM GMT
    If you are interested because he is excited, then maybe you should get looking and get really excited about some other property that's not such a disaster. Maybe he'll drop this one and get interested in the one you're excited about.
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    Oct 03, 2007 3:31 AM GMT
    OW: Very Rodinesque new profile photo.. I think you need to look more pensive and less inviting, however :-)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 03, 2007 3:37 AM GMT
    My lifelong buddy married a french girl and moved to France. He(has the money) bought a bourgeois class home 400-500 years old-these things just don't change hands to outsiders) for about 2 million FF at the time (1996)approximately 50 kms from Grenoble. The property was also in a shambles. It also had about 3 acres.
    This man is very clever and handy. Between his brothers, me flying over there to lend a hand, the transformation was phenomenal. He redid the entire property, put in a his wine cellar, cheese cellar, vineyard(that's my handy work).
    Quite a phenomenal project to take on. In the end, he got divorced(not because of the property). Sold the property got another smaller version and is renovating as he enjoys doing this kind of work. He also flys around the world because of his business.
    I think if you can honestly visualize what Iain sees it may be a reasonable goal to take on. It;s gonna take money and sweat.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Oct 03, 2007 4:09 AM GMT
    My house was completely remodeled when I was in late elementary/early middle school. One year we put on a second floor; the next year, we knocked down almost all the walls on the first floor and remodeled it, ripped up the floors, etc. We lived in it the whole time. Waking up to 50 some leaks in your living room ceiling because of an unexpected rainstorm is not pleasant. Neither is a fine coating of dust absolutely everywhere, no matter how diligent you are with plastic sheeting and constant cleaning. It was quite stressful on my parents' relationship even though there were contractors involved. Financial issues related to the renovation, and the ensuing trust issues they spawned, were a large percentage of the cause for my parents' divorce. If you're hesitant about this project, you need to tell your partner so clearly, directly, and before anything's signed. He may not like hearing it, but he'll like it more than what could happen if you try to just play along.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 03, 2007 4:23 AM GMT
    TigerTimOW: Very Rodinesque new profile photo.. I think you need to look more pensive and less inviting, however :-)

    Aw, thanks. Perhaps you didn't know Rodin's "Thinker" was contemplating the effects of exuberant fellatio on the jaw muscles.

    Since you are a Blake fan (apparently), have you heard (the Goddess) Patti Smith's hymn to him:

    My Blakean Year Lyrics
    Artist(Band)icon_razz.gifatti Smith


    In my Blakean year I was so disposed
    Toward a mission yet unclear Advancing pole by pole

    Fortune breathed into my ear Mouthed a simple ode
    One road is paved in gold One road is just a road

    In my Blakean year Such a woeful schism
    The pain of our existence Was not as I envisioned

    Boots that trudged from track to track Worn down to the sole
    One road is paved in gold One road is just a road

    Boots that tramped from track to track Worn down to the sole
    One road was paved in gold One road was just a road

    In my Blakean year Temptation but a hiss
    Just a shallow spear Robed in cowardice

    Brace yourself for bitter flack For a life sublime
    A labyrinth of riches Never shall unwind
    The threads that bind the pilgrim's sack Are stitched into the Blakean back

    So throw off your stupid cloak Embrace all that you fear
    For joy shall conquer all despair In my Blakean year

    So throw off your stupid cloak Embrace all that you fear
    For joy shall conquer all despair In my Blakean year



  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Oct 05, 2007 1:38 AM GMT
    The worst things to deal with are a lack of a functioning kitchen and bathroom.

    If it's as bad as you say, consider renting a caravan (as you Brits say) and living in that on site until those rooms are done.