House Project Update – nearly ready for planning!

It’s a while since I have updated on the progress of our House Project…it has been ticking away in the background but I didn’t feel I should inflict on you our endless discussions on whether to keep the slate floor (he won, it stays) or whether we need a new oven (I won, we do).

We’re finally at a stage where we can move on to the next big ‘To Do’ item – getting ready to apply for planning permission! As soon as the final set of plans from our architect Nadim arrive, I’ll be making a start on filling out the several billion forms that will no doubt be required, and, assuming we get the planning permission, or a Lawful Development Certificate, or whatever it is we need, things will start to get real. Probably not in the timescale I had hoped for (starting February, done by September) but at least we will be moving forward.

What’s interesting is that if you’d shown me our final plans right at the beginning of the process, I would have rejected them out of hand. I had a very clear idea of how I wanted the downstairs to be laid out, and it’s fair to say that what we’ve ended up with is quite different in several respects. It’s definitely better, and more suited to our needs as a family, but I wouldn’t have liked it at all first off.

This is one of the reasons that I’m really glad we set aside some money to do some work with an architect at the beginning of the process. We did have some debate about this – since we’d already had a consultation through Shelter’s Architect in the House scheme, which had confirmed that our basic ideas were viable, the Husband was of the opinion that we could probably go straight into getting quotes from builders. I think we’re both glad that we didn’t do that now.

Apart from anything else, the design process has been fun for all of us. The kids loved the 3D walkthroughs on the computer (though I still haven’t got the hang of walking through without ending up on the ceiling). Having plans to talk about and pore over, without the time pressure of a builder eager to get the job signed off and started, has meant that we’ve really got to grips with what we want from the project. It’s been a creative and satisfying process – each new set of drawings has identified different issues, which have been ironed out as we go along. There have been some surprises – I did not realise how strongly I felt about having a woodburner until I was told I couldn’t have one with the layout I’d set my heart on; I’d thought that a downstairs toilet was a high priority but when it came to the crunch we sacrificed it for a more spacious living area. And the final iteration was a surprise to all of us – in the words of Nadim, our architect ‘The idea for this didn’t come to me until I’d started drawing’.

That’s what we would have missed out on had we gone straight to the builder stage. We’d have got what we thought we wanted, without being challenged by another set of eyes looking at our ideas; without gently having the flaws in my oh so perfect plans pointed out; without getting the chance to mentally live with and play with different iterations.

I’m a bit sad that this process has come to an end actually – I suspect the next bits won’t be anywhere near as much fun!



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