One Thing or a Mother: Renovating my Worthing home was not for the faint-hearted

Regular readers (hi, family! Oh, and my friend Emma and school-mum friend Kate, two of our most loyal Herald and Gazette readers) will remember me saying I had some building work done a few months ago.

Safe to say we weren't able to cook dinner in there that night.
Safe to say we weren't able to cook dinner in there that night.

I promised you all an account of how we coped with having no downstairs living space with two rambunctious children in the house (bet you’ve all been on the edge of your seats), so, without further ado, here it is.

As well as having the old kitchen gutted and a new one fitted with a completely new design, we had two chimney breasts knocked out, a door boxed in, patio doors installed, ceilings skimmed to get rid of Artex, and the kitchen and lounge painted.

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It started well enough, with rapid progress made in the first couple of days. But then, as seems to be the law with building projects, issues started cropping up...

There were walls and ceilings where the plaster was never going to stick to them due to too many layers of wallpaper (who knew this was a thing?!), so they had to be reboarded at an additional cost.

Then, when they took out the fireplace in the lounge, the water pipes were suddenly in the middle of the room, so had to be moved behind a wall. Another additional cost.

I started to wonder if I didn’t arrive home at the end of the day (this work was done at the end of the summer when we had more/some freedom), maybe the additional costs might magically disappear. Sadly not.

Instead, on arriving home the next day, the builder was proffering a spade in my direction, and asking if I wanted to keep my pet.

Completely confused, I had no idea what he was talking about. Until I looked on the spade and saw a dead pigeon and realised he had pulled it out of the chimney. Gross – I’m Not a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

With both the lounge and kitchen under renovation, it left us with nowhere to eat except upstairs in the bedrooms.

Eating a takeaway curry in bed seems so decadent. That is until you wake up the next morning with grains of basmati rice in your hair.

And nothing says ‘relaxing’ like having a meal on a plastic mat on the floor of your child’s bedroom. The youngest one thought it was hilarious to keep running off, and I got a bad back. (Well, I have a big birthday coming up this year, don’t you know!)

Washing up everything in your bath tub for a few weeks is also ‘great fun’.

Then there was the dust. It gets EVERYWHERE. You vacuum it up and three seconds later, it’s back. What is this strange magic?!

But we survived. And a few weeks later it was done. We had a shiny new downstairs ready for finishing touches like furniture and putting up some shelves.

I took the children to my parents’ house (again, this was the summer, and they were our childcare support bubble, in case anyone was thinking of being mean to me), to get them out of the way (their upstairs pen was getting less and less appealing as the weeks went on) so my husband could crack on with the last bits.

A few hours later, I get a call from said husband, who sounded a bit sheepish as he informed me he’d accidentally drilled through a pipe and hot water was now shooting across our brand new kitchen. You literally couldn’t make this up. Thankfully, we had emergency plumbing cover (if you don’t, think about it – it was so worth it). The leak was fixed, the hole replastered, and the whole thing is but a memory to be used as an anecdote for my column!

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