Concrete, moats & lots of rain!

So we’ve officially been building for 11 days.  It seems like much longer but cooking on a camping stove can do that to you!

It has taken the builders a week to break up and clear all the existing concrete before they were even able to start thinking about foundations.  I think its not an exaggeration to say that its been a tough job! At times I half expected to find the builder either crying or gone! but its finally done, the offending concrete was collected by a ‘grabber’ on Wednesday and now the fun stuff begins!

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Well I say fun stuff… how exciting can concrete and bricks get! The last few days have been spent marking out the extension and digging trenches for the concrete footings.


Everyone said we timed it to perfection…long, dry days…we would get more work done everyday than if we had started earlier in the year during the shorter darker more likely to rain days.  As soon as the footings were dug the rain started.  As quick as the water drained away, they filled right back up again!

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On Friday the concrete arrived and the trenches were filled ready for the rest of the footings.  Now the water had nowhere to drain to.  Mr Smith has spent a lot of the weekend sweeping and siphoning water, which in my mind was a pointless exercise when it just kept raining! Most of the weekend it was like having our own private moat!  All we needed was a drawbridge!


In all honesty the bricks are where the excitement lies and I have been assured by the end of the week we’ll be out of the ground ready for the bricklayers to start the walls next week!

And that is something to start getting excited about!


Lindsey x





Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Its been just over a week since this journey began and so far so good.

Everyone’s still alive, no animals (including Max the inquisitive kitten, have managed to escape) and cooking in the ‘camping kitchen’ is not causing any issues that we haven’t managed to get over with a bit of thought and reorganisation.


Outside the last 3 days have been spent preparing the ground which has basically meant breaking up ridiculously thick concrete (with the help of a digger) that was laid the whole length of the house to enable the builders to get to the soft ground underneath.


Inside this has meant noise, noise and house shaking noise!  Its fair to say me & Maggie have spent a lot of the builders working hours somewhere other than at home! I’ve been assured there is only a couple more days of concrete bashing, but honestly its not that bad and the noise means we are one step closer to the end so its bearable.  Maggie also manages to sleep through most things (with the help of the radio) so its not been effecting her too much which makes things a whole lot easier.


Thankfully the weather has been kind to us because with the amount of mud that is now surrounding the house I am dreading when the inevitable rain does come and we are living in the middle of a mud bath!


The children only have this week left at school and then I will have to come up with things we can do to spend at least some time out of the house everyday. While the builders are here there is very little access to the garden and being cooped up for 6 weeks may send us all crazy!

At this point its daunting how much needs to be done for us to even remotely have a shell that we can work with but everyday is a step in the right direction and progress, however small, is still progress!


Lindsey x



It’s like Christmas Eve!

It’s like Christmas Eve in the Smith household today! If there was a calendar for events like this, today we would have opened the last window and devoured the final chocolate, counting down the hours and minutes until we could climb into bed making the next morning come as quick as we could! 

 For tomorrow the diggers arrive! I say that? I assume there will be diggers! Surely, they don’t dig footings by hand!! Anyway, let’s assume that there will be diggers…The 5-year-old really hopes there will be diggers! 

The kitchen demolition began in ernest on Thursday…I woke to the sound of the much dreamed about sledge hammer hitting brick in a frenzy! This continued for most of the next 2 days! Concrete blocks, bricks and flat roofs (there were 2, having forgotten a new flat roof was placed over a damaged flat roof at some point previously…the surprise at finding another one under the first went down like erm a ton of bricks!) proving no match for Mr Smith! 



Once it was down the ‘easy’ part began…don’t tell him I used the word easy! He moved every single brick and block by hand, filling 2 skips in the process. He has literally worked like a crazy person and although he says I do not appreciate what he has done, he is actually mistaken and I am in awe at what he achieved all by himself.



By Friday the final skip (there’s been 4 in total) was filled and all that was left was the shed to clear (we’d got rid of the rubbish but had left our camping gear and Christmas decorations in there until we were able to find someone to put them!) and dismantle and all the wood to burn.  So over one if the hottest weekends of the year our garden was hotter than the equator and a bonfire raged for almost all our waking hours!


Despite claiming that Sunday would be a well-deserved day of rest, numerous trips to the dump saw the back of the last of the rubbish and the garden was finally clear.

 The new space is amazing and opening the door into the kitchen and ending up in the back garden is still taking some getting used to.


The temporary kitchen is proving ok (so far but it’s still early days!) and our neighbours have been amazing with food packages! We had lasagna and garlic bread delivered Sunday night which was so welcome as we were both too exhausted to even think about eating (or feeding the children!!) so yes, so far, it’s ok. 

Tomorrow the sunshine is due to make a welcome return, which makes everything happier especially if with it arrives some diggers! Please let there be diggers! 


Lindsey x

Its happening, its really happening!

This time last year we were expecting our fourth (yes fourth) child and we realised that we needed to stop talking and actually make our plans of extending our current 3 bedroom house a reality.

It wasn’t an easy process by any stretch of the imagination.  Don’t be fooled.  For some the planning process is an easy and straightforward one (not at all jealous!) but for many its not and can take months to agree.  We submitted our planning application in January, queue 4 months of dispute with the council about our shared boundary which (very) long, stressful and highly emotional story short, finally resulted in us agreeing to meet half way and at the beginning of June we got the green light to go ahead and build.



Luckily for us we were in contact with the builder we really wanted to complete our work throughout the whole process and also our case officer at the council (who gave us a heads up when the application had been sent to be signed off for approval which gave us a 2 week head start) and we only had to wait 6 weeks from the planning being officially granted before we could start.

So we’ve known for 6 weeks a rough start date but when the builder rang to confirm he would be starting in a week, we hadn’t even begun to be ready!

(yes it is July & yes they are christmas lights! & no we are not growing illegal substances in the front bedroom, they are blackout blinds for the 10 month old!)

Our house has a flat roof extension to the rear which a previous owner had built to move the kitchen, increasing the ground floor space.  Our plans are to extend out sideways and knock this extension down so we can increase our garden at the same time.  Mr Smith (who loves to demolish) agreed to take this extension down before the builder started, to save them time and us money.  This has meant we have had to move our reasonable size kitchen into our rather small dining/playroom, constructing a temporary kitchen which will have to see us through for the next few months.  Even thinking about it gives me anxiety! I can just about cope with a camping kitchen for 5 days, maybe a week max but this is going to be a lot of weeks!  I’m constantly reminding myself how amazing it will be when its finished, if me and Mr Smith haven’t killed each other by then!


 We’re not entirely new to renovating.  This will be our third time in this house alone although nothing before has come close to this. 10 years ago we initially reconfigured the bedroom layout to enable us to move the bathroom upstairs.  We coupled this with a new boiler, radiators and a new kitchen.  We lived at home throughout but with only 2 children is wasn’t too bad and was completed in a matter of weeks.  The next renovation (not even a year later) wasn’t planned and unfortunately was the result of an electrical fire (fridge…quite common apparently) and meant the whole house had to be gutted.  What hadn’t burnt, was damaged by smoke and apart from the walls everything was ripped out leaving us with a shell.  We moved out for 8 weeks while the work was completed and moving back was like moving into a new house.

 That was 9 years ago.  2 children later and the house is not only in need of a new lease of life, we are in need of more space!


So now with only days to go before the builders arrive the excitement (and nervous anticipation) in the house is almost at a fever pitch! My phone is constantly notifying me that our eldest daughter has added yet another pin to her ‘my bedroom’ board in pinterest and our son is excited to have a bedroom back in the house and not in the loft where he has been living since the now 5 year old arrived.


The kitchen units have been removed, with help from my dad, the water and electric have been isolated from the kitchen and Mr Smith is finally wielding the sledgehammer he has been dreaming about!


Its hard to believe that finally we are at this point but its happening.  Its really happening.

I hope you’ll join us on our journey.


Lindsey x