Monday, 18 April 2011

Project 24


Some years ago I inherited a 2 bedroom bungalow in Essex. Is was my parents home; they bought it new in the mid 50"s and never moved - so some significant memories! For the past 6 years we've been renting out the property and this February the latest tenant left giving Anne & I an opportunity to bring the property up to today's standards. This is the story of one compressed month of intense activity!

This was our very first view as we entered the property in early March. A radiator was leaking all over the parquet floor! Fortunately we'd arranged to meet a plumber and he rose to the occasion:)

Tony (the plumber) advised us to renew the complete central heating system - radiators, boiler and pipe-work! This was not a great surprise as our letting agent had needed to call in their tame plumber several times due to leaking radiators! So although the central heating was relatively new we accepted Tony's advice to renew the system completely.

On the same day we'd also arranged to meet an "odd job" man/gardner and a decorator. They duly came gave us their ideas on what they could do to bring the property into the 21st century!

Some of the other issues we found in the 2nd bedroom was some distinctly dodgy electrics and a hole borred through the wall to vent a tumble dryer - causing some ugly mildew.  We believe these were installed by the tenant before last; therefore an electrician (employed by the letting agents) has passed this as safe when tenants changed.

The garden also left much to be desired!! Despite the Tenancy Agreement clearly saying NO PETS the last tenant had at least one dog. Dog sh*t (poo) littered the back lawn. It took a day for me to clear the lawn of dog excrement!

Also on our first day we had arranged to meet the local rep for Anglian Windows. I was aware that the front door was overdue for replacement, but when I arrived it became obvious that the soffit boards and gutters were needing attention.

So at the end of our first day we'd committed ourselves to;
  • Complete new central heating system
  • New soffit boards and gutters
  • New front door
  • Re Decorate 2 bedrooms, living room, hall & kitchen
We went to bed that night in our campervan "christmas crackered"! Having committed ourselves to some considerable expense - piggy banks will need to be raided!!

March passed with Anne and I making frequent trips down the A1 (300 miles return trip) in our campervan to oversee the work in progress.

Tony the plumber did sterling work getting the new boiler, radiators and pipe work installed in double quick time. However it was a shock when he said that he couldn't plug the new boiler into the electrics:(  But he knew an electrician;)

The electrician convinced me that a complete house re-wire was necessary! This was a significant and unexpected extra expense!

Throughout March the central heating was installed, soffit and gutters replaced, the electrician came, created chaos and left within 1 day - without us even knowing precisely when he would be doing his work! We also found for ourselves a new (better organised) letting agent. The decorator came after the electrician and on seeing the situation immediately increased his price by £1,000!

Now in mid April we are at the end of this project!

At the front we've tided up the garden and had the new front door fitted.

We've worked hard on the back garden so that now it looks respectable and safe to walk around. A tall Holly has been removed and other shrubs trimmed (tamed?). The lawn is now green again.

Inside the property has been transformed. Ugly paint work is now a calm magnolia.

We've increased the loft insulation and cleaned and cleaned yet again!

Lessons learned?
  • Weatherspoons do good economical meals and have free wi-fi.
  • Don't ever let tradesmen work un-supervised!
  • Don't expect tradesmen to clean up after themselves. It took Anne a full day to clean up the mess left by the electrician, and another half day after the decorators. 
  • Letting Agents need to be supervised.
  • Essex is very expensive!

We look forward to a new tenant moving in and some calm returning to our lives.