Thursday, 31 August 2017

updating to add value

This post is sponsored by Velux Windows

I love my house. After living in tiny apartments all my adult life my heavily pregnant self thought the four bedrooms and a garden this house offered was just about the height of luxury when we moved in. But as happy as I was with it then (and still am now!) it was never intended to be our forever house. I would love to be able to build our own house eventually, somewhere with a bit more privacy. As great as where we live is for the kids with all the other children around here I don't enjoy knowing my neighbours can probably hear me screeching like a lunatic every time we try to leave the house, and some day I'm going to totally lose my shit with the boys who constantly batter our pathetic fledgling hedge with their ball and then we'll HAVE to move. You know how it is.

So after a year of disappointment, and with time running out for us (I was about to go on maternity leave again, and if the bank found out they would have withdrawn our mortgage offer) we were brutally sensible about picking this one in the end. If it was the right size, in the right area, didn't need structural work and was in our budget we would make an offer on it. We had one ten minute viewing here before making an offer. I've taken longer than that to decide what cereal to buy, it seems crazy! And after three failed attempts to buy that got as far as exchanging contracts before falling through, as well as several other price negotiations that we didn't win, buying this house was ridiculously easy. Plus it was in the perfect area for us and was the cheapest we had offered on. If I believed in anything supernatural I'd think it was meant to be. 

We moved in, I nearly went into labour in Ikea trying to buy a house full of furniture in one trip when I was eight months pregnant, and over the past three years we've been chipping away at it, making it our own. Up until we got the new tiles in the kitchen though, everything we did was very minor and cheap. We knocked a hole in the wall between the kitchen and living room to open it up but other than that it was basically just painting. We didn't have the money to do much else.

Now though, we're able to start making a few bigger changes around here, and we've given a lot of consideration to what will make our lives here easier, while also adding value for the house for when we eventually sell. We bought when the housing market was pretty much at rock bottom, and this is a popular area, so we're hoping to make some money when we do eventually move on.

So while we could make plans to extend, like some of our neighbours have, the cost of doing that just wouldn't be worth it. Our house is a four bed, three bath semi-detached with a decent sized garden, a utility and a playroom. It's about as roomy as most people looking in this area will want. If we were to extend it could only improve the living area downstairs, and would take from the garden. People who buy here generally have young families, a designer kitchen but no garden is not going to impress them.

So we're focusing on improving what is already there, and the first and most obvious contender for a makeover is the spare bedroom. 

Currently it's incredibly dark and a bit cramped, and it's only really used for storage and very occasionally as a place for guests to sleep (I find having three kids under five really limits the amount of overnight guests you find yourself hosting!). It only has one small window on the north facing side of the house, so it's very dark in there. The photos above were taken at midday in summer, with as many camera tricks and editing after as I was able to use. It's still ridiculously dark in there, and impossible to photograph well.

Now, when we viewed the house we were told that there was some extra space that could be gained in the eaves if we pushed the walls right back. The estate agent told us that the walls were placed where they were to keep the square footage of the house at exactly 1300 square feet, as at the time they were built to go over that size brought you into a higher tax bracket. I'm not sure if that's true, but the extra space is definitely there because we did a bit of rooting around after we moved in. 

Read: We took a crowbar to the window sill and spent a happy half hour crawling around in the walls.

So, the plan is to get quotes for pushing the left hand wall right back and putting new Velux windows on that side. This should really be the thing that makes this room something we use on a daily basis because it's the gloominess in there that really puts me off doing anything with it at the moment. The right hand side we will keep as is, and just build the storage right into it. Something like this.....

Photo: David Prince | | recess storage drawers into knee walls to save space

Desk built into attic space. American HomeStyle & Gardening magazine, date unknown.
american home style and gardening magazine

There aren't any struts or anything behind the plasterboard so this shouldn't be a big job and we hope to end up with a lot of storage there, both hanging and drawer space. All in all this should leave us with a much more functional room, not necessarily much larger, but definitely a lot more useable. Once the construction work is done I'll probably style it up as an office/craft room, with lots more free standing storage, a desk and a sofa bed, as the bed takes up way too much space for the tiny amount of use it gets. 

So that's the plan. I'm going to get the same guy who did both the wall between the living area downstairs and the tiles to come and give us a quote for the work on the wall and the carpentry for the actual storage. We've been really happy with his work in the past so I'm sure he'll do a great job this time as well.
His name is Joe Furlong if you're based in Munster and looking for a carpenter.

While we have him I might get him to quote for some built in storage under the stairs as well. Although that little spot is very handy for just rolling the buggy into at the moment so maybe I should hold off on that! It would make the hall much tidier and more attractive though, and I'm sure it would add much more value than it would cost to do so we'll see. When I see things like this though it makes me want to get some custom carpentry in there pronto...

Gorgeous Under Stair Storage look Charleston Transitional Staircase Image Ideas with built-in storage closet closet organizers hidden storage pull-out shelves pull-out storage secret closet stair
I'll update once I have all the quotes, but I'm hoping to get moving on this over the next couple of months. Some extra storage would be great. It's not that we have so much stuff, but I really don't like looking at things lying around! In my ideal world everything would have it's place and the only things on display would be those that I choose to have out.

What do you think? Does anybody have this kind of storage or has done this kind of job? I'd love to hear about it!