Monday, 5 October 2015

From Stables To House: #1 Living In A Caravan

Good Day Everyone,

If you’ve seen this post (and I recommend you do before proceeding :o)) then you’ll know that hubby and I are currently in the middle of renovating what was once a horses stables into a house. It’s what we have been spending our time/energy/money (and everything else) on since our return from Japan, earlier this summer.

Some back ground on our building - historically, the two part building was a stables along with a gardener’s house. Together, these two properties belonged to a large estate home with its own fruit orchard and gardens. Unfortunately the large estate home was, at some point, knocked down and replaced with a small apartment block. The land has since been turned into public parks and gardens. All that remains of the original estate are the stables (which we own) with the gardener’s house (which our neighbour lives in), and another building nearby which has been converted into a house. From talking to our neighbour and some of the local residents who have lived in the area for decades, we understand that over the years the stables was used as some kind of storage building, and then a vehicle depot before being left vacant for many years.
The old stables block
The stables building we bought is near the beach, in a conservation area which means that the area, and buildings with in it, are considered worthy of preservation or enhancement because of their architectural/historical interest. What that meant for us was that we had numerous restrictions/conditions on how we could renovate the building and the materials that we could use. One such condition was that before any work could begin we needed to call out the batman to conduct a bat report. Luckily for us no bats or evidence of bats was found, otherwise no work could have begun until the bats were safely removed and rehoused, as bats are a protected species in the UK. Other conditions focussed on restoring the building to the way it would have traditionally been. We've had to replace all of the plastic guttering with traditional cast iron guttering, and all of the windows with traditional handmade wooden sash windows. The local authorities want our building to be preserved as close to its original state as possible, so we couldn’t create an opening for a front entrance. To access our property we have to go round to the back and use the entrance that the horses would have traditionally used.
Our neighbour has the upstairs, whilst we have the downstairs
As you’ll see from the Youtube video below, there is a natural divide between our building and our neighbours due to the height difference, with our stables block being the shorter building. However, our building also came with half of the ground floor space that sits under our neighbour’s bedrooms. It’s quite strange because we now own half of what looks like her downstairs space and she owns the upstairs. Our neighbour has lived here for over 30 years so we assume that this is how the buildings were originally split. Perhaps because traditionally, more of the ground floor space was used to keep the animals, with people occupying more of the upstairs sleeping space? Who knows!

When we bought the building it was very much derelict with just the roof and outer walls. The inside was dirty, rundown, damp and falling apart. On the ground floor there were two stair cases, two toilet cubicles (random!), and the space had been subdivided with some rooms bricked up and partitioned off from others, and some of the windows had been boarded/bricked up. Upstairs there was a large room, and a smaller room with a kitchenette. There was also an old garage in the garden. I have inserted photos of what the inside of the building used to look like in the above video. We bought the property with plans to turn it into a family house. We subsequently gained permission to convert the old garage into living space, on the condition that we matched the exterior to the existing building. We had a little bit more freedom to make changes at the back of the building as it is out of public view, so we were allowed to brick up one of the doors and turn it into a window.
The old garage
The old garage being renovated
We have completely changed the layout upstairs by turning the two rooms into three bedrooms (one with an ensuite) and a family bathroom. The upstairs rooms are built into the roof space with low sloping ceilings and small windows. Luckily we were able to insert skylights into a couple of the rooms as skylights are quite a subtle addition. Downstairs there is an ensuite bedroom/study, a living room and an entrance hallway in the double storey part of the building. At the single storey end (the part under next door neighbour’s bedrooms) is an open plan kitchen and dining area which lead on to the main living area (that used to be the old garage).
Dining area (to be) with kitchen area blocked of by the grey bricks to the left
Dining area with bricks removed to open up the kitchen area
The building work started on the property whilst we were in Japan but when our time came to an end there, we decided that it was an ideal opportunity to come back to the UK and live onsite, so that we could manage the project ourselves. It wasn’t easy to manage the project when we were living on the other side of the world, especially with the time difference. Putting our trust and faith into the hands of strangers doing the work was also quite difficult, especially when it involved all of our life savings and more! Plus, with it being summertime in the UK, we thought living onsite in a caravan wouldn’t be too bad.
We’ve been onsite all summer so far and whilst work has been progressing steadily, the renovation hasn’t been smooth sailing that’s for sure! As is often the case with such projects, there have been delays, unexpected costs and problems that just could not have been anticipated. Needless to say, it is costing a lot more and taking a lot longer than we expected, but with all of the structural work now complete, we are finally getting to the stage where we can actually see the progress. This has been tremendous in giving us the motivation to push on. As the temperature begins to drop, and the novelty of living in a caravan wears off, hubby and I can finally see the light at the end of this very long tunnel :o).

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and vlog of our renovation journey. I will share more as things progress over the coming weeks. Have you ever done a renovation or restoration project? What did you renovate/restore? What was your experience?

Love Sheen xxx

Follow on Bloglovin

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment and you don't have to be a blogger to do so. I love reading each and every one :o)