Home Update – she’s growing – what, why & how we’re doing it

I first talked about my relationship with my home in this feature almost two years ago now; about our love for her and our desire to grow her into a space that would have a little extra breathing room.

In truth, the plans have been imagined many different ways over the years since we moved in 2017 but it was only early this year that, armed with planning permission and a great architect, we moved onto the brief.  That official tender document was drafted and redrafted and eventually our dream was optimistically put forward to various builders.  Then the quotes rolled in…  and overnight we were left feeling, well, less optimistic.

With everything the past few years have thrown at the building industry, costs have risen and risen and our quotes, unfortunately reflected that (at around sixty percent more than originally predicted).  We were forced to explore other options and left with a decision to make –

  • Sell up and move
  • Stay put and make do
  • Scale back the plans
  • Find another way to realise the dream

We explored the possibility of moving but, ultimately, there are too many things we love about this home of ours – the period style, the ideal location, the sun filled garden…  Were there other great options?  Of course.  Were they in the price bracket?  No.

We spent many an evening on the sun patio this summer debating the ‘stay put and make do’ choice – swinging back and forth – heart vs head.  Head said now is not the right time economically; heart vehemently disagreed.

Altering the plans never really entered the discussion.  All or nothing.  The plans give us so much but we could not see a way to scale back and achieve enough to justify, what would still be, significant spend.

And so we landed on finding another way to realise the dream.  Perhaps sitting on that DIY patio (drinking one too many sundowner) with the backdrop of a self build on the plot directly behind had some part to play but eventually a conversation began with the chosen builder that went something like this :

How much would it be if we took on the internal decoration?
What about if we fitted the kitchen and bathroom as well?
How about the flooring too?

And then, finally…
What would be the absolute minimum you could build and how much would that be?

And so we eventually, four spreadsheets later, arrived at our original figure.  The snag?  We are indeed building rather a lot of it ourselves.  We are optimists though, optimists who love a challenge, have a desire to learn and an ambition that we hope will see us through (that and YouTube tutorials).  This wonderful home of ours will be granted a deep and welcome exhale as she expands with us – all whilst the tinies are still small and we can take full advantage of her extension.

Scroll down for the plans…

From the front of the house the extension is rather unassuming – a simple black timber workshop (a small garage) – but the new floor plan wraps around the entire ground floor to give us the open plan living space we have been dreaming of with the addition of a home office (or occasional guest bedroom), a utility and a shower room.

Whilst the new footprint extends into the garden a metre or so, the bulk of the square meterage is at the side of the house, an area we did not use for much anyway and that, coupled with the fact that we will also demolish the original rickety garage (currently in the back garden), means that we should eventually have a bigger home AND a bigger garden.  Internally the spaces are reconfigured to work better – the washing machine will be in the utility rather than half inside the house and half in the outhouse, the freezer will be in the utility rather than at the end of the narrow back hall – you know, the quirks of a period property.

Have a look at the original and new floor plans below…

This project will be a labour of love; already there are many ‘phases’ in the plans and some rooms will not be completed for quite some time.  It will undoubtedly be a very steep learning curve but one we are excited about.  I find myself saying, ‘we can shut the door on the rooms we have yet to finish’ and then remember that there will be no doors until we build them…

Essentially what we are buying is a shell.  Externally the house will be beautiful and complete – internally she will be empty.  We will be undertaking everything from insulation to plaster-boarding, flooring to joinery, fitting the kitchen and utility and eventually the actual interiors.  My head hurts when I think about it all to be quite honest BUT the control freak in me is delighted as every single decision will be mine…  and, by the nature of it, there will be no rush to make those decisions which is comforting considering how many hours I have already spent pondering, and ultimately being unhappy with, window handles.  WINDOW HANDLES.  Truly, who cares?  (Small quivering voice *me*).

Right now, the demolition is well underway, there is no going back.  The journey begins…  and I look forward to sharing it all with you.

P.S.  Any words of encouragement or similar stories welcomed in the comments below.

Drawings c/o AXN Architecture



  1. The Husband
    19 Dec / 10:09 pm

    With you all the way my building buddy xx

    • Thankfifi
      20 Dec / 11:30 am

      Yas hubz – we can do this!

  2. Gaylesbury
    19 Dec / 11:24 pm

    It’s going to be amazing!!!! And I’ll send brownies to keep you going xxx

    • Thankfifi
      20 Dec / 11:30 am

      That is just the kind of encouragement I need!

  3. Jennifer
    20 Dec / 9:59 am

    OMG what a project! Look at your back deck and tree house and know you’ve got skillz (& ingenuity & creativity to spare). You can do it! GOOD LUCK!

    • Thankfifi
      20 Dec / 11:31 am

      Thank you – I think building a house might be *slightly* different to building a patio… but it can’t be THAT different right?!

  4. Yvonne
    20 Dec / 12:02 pm

    You can do it! Looking forward to all the ups and minor downs this will bring. As long as you have a sink and a cooker in the kitchen you can build around it. I built a work bench for the middle of our kitchen and it’s become the most used and loved thing and cost peanuts. It can all be done. X

    • Thankfifi
      20 Dec / 5:15 pm

      That’s so great to hear! I think our kitchen will be VERY rustic for phase one… let’s see how phase two goes 😉

  5. Anne
    21 Dec / 9:15 am

    So excited for you, the plans are amazing and I know that you will make a beautiful home. Thanks for taking us with you on the adventure – and for all the inspiration I know is coming! xxx

    • Thankfifi
      22 Dec / 10:30 am

      Thanks for coming along!

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