Our Bristol home renovation tells the story of the early stages of our time in Little Ravenswell. This is a 1960s family home lived in by the same family, until we acquired it in December 2017.
The early build
We met with our Architect, Simon, the day after we moved in. Being the impatient sort I was keen to get started on this project as Little Ravenswell clearly needs some love and attention! At this initial meeting we discussed the potential in the property and our desire to create a light, open home that works for our family and takes advantage of the views to the large garden. Simon began by taking a survey of the property, measuring up to enable initial designs to be developed. This took around 4 hours as he literally measured every nook and cranny of the property.
Six weeks later and after our first Christmas in the house, Simon was back to talk us through the initial draft design plans. Before this stage we’d deliberately not been too fixed in our minds as to what we wanted in each room or how the house should look – after all, we are paying for the expertise of a design expert.
The wish list we shared with Simon before the initial plans were drawn up included:
- Kerb appeal with welcoming porch
- Children’s play room downstairs with sufficient space and storage.
- Utility room, , with laundry shoot being a bonus.
- Kitchen / dining / living space with high ceilings (including glazing) – possibly a lantern room, and maximises view of the garden with sliding or bi-fold doors.
- Family bathroom to include bath and separate shower (the house currently has an over the bath feeble electric shower)
- Ensuite to master bedroom
- Spacious and comfortable lounge
- Sufficient storage for coats and shoes
We were presented with the initial design drawings and were pleased that Simon had managed to incorporate nearly all the points on the wish list. The next step was for us to reflect and review the draft design. We pondered over this for a while and went back with questions, particularly relating to the downstairs layout – which is where we’ve decided most of our budget will be spent. If we’re honest, we’d love to make more of a radical change to the upstairs design, as the current layout includes a long corridor – which is dark. However, to get the upstairs to be how we truly want it to be would take us over our budget, probably by at least £50,000. The upstairs we can live with however, its downstairs where we won’t make any compromises.
Our planning application was approved and the detailed construction drawings began to be prepared. This was a lengthy process and coincided with us commencing the compilation of our schedule of works document. We had to have this ready before we could even begin thinking about starting the tender process to find the right builder for this project. We shopped around looking for kitchens and decided upon our kitchen layout.
We began to think about the bathroom we want, we’ve both had very differing views on this room! With the spell of good Summer weather we were able to get out into the garden and spent the early May Bank Holiday giving many of the overgrown shrubs a good hair cut. The pond which was choked up and overgrown was then cleaned and new aquatic plants put in place. Colour schemes have been confirmed for the children’s rooms and many items to furnish these have been purchased (my favourite bit of this project!). We have also utilised the knowledge we gained on a recent interior design workshop to plan the layout and interior of the formal living room and our bedroom. So good progress!
Following a recommendation from an interior designer we met with a company called Bright Box, a specialist lighting company. Our thinking being that lighting is one of the most often overlooked aspects of a house project and actually has possibly the biggest impact. So we pootled over to Cheltenham for a chat with them and to learn more about what was possible for our project. Firstly if you haven’t spent much time thinking about your lighting, I strongly recommend you do – we learnt so much and came away very excited about the possibilities. One lighting brand that we now are in love with is Buster & Punch – stunning switches and pendents in heavy metal colours. We commissioned Brightbox to prepare the lighting schematic for our house.
Lots has happened. After what felt like a long time waiting for the architect to finalise plans, these finally were ready. This meant that in early September 2018 we had: a completed schedule of works (list by list of every room and the work required to each room), a detailed lighting schematic, detailed design drawings, structural engineers calculations (which basically tell the building contractors how much of each material is required to undertake the job), building surveyors report and a document which shows visually how each finished room would like – a bit like a mood board). This is more detail than contractors would normally receive but for our peace of mind means we’ve thought about most aspects of the house and will enable us to get a more accurate quote from the contractors.
By this point, we will know the quotes from the building contractors and will have decided who’ll be undertaking the project for us. We plan to move out whilst the work is underway and anticipate the project, bearing any disasters, will take approx 16 to 20 weeks.
So what needs doing to the house?
As the photos show there is plenty that needs doing internally; new central heating, new electrics, replace the plumbing, walls to be knocked down, new kitchen, new flooring, large extension, remove the old water tank and generally bring the house out of the 60s into present day.
If you have any questions or comments about the project please do get in touch.