After deciding to move into the bungalow we inherited from my aunt, we had a list of things we wanted to do to the place before we moved in. The top of that list was a new kitchen. The kitchen renovation was a much bigger job than I was capable of, so we would be relying on contractors to do the work. As I mentioned in a previous post about the bedroom renovation, the construction industry has been remarkably busy since the pandemic and the wait time to have work done is at least six months if you’re lucky.
On a visit to Wren Kitchens in July to get some ideas, we were accosted by a salesperson. Before we knew it, we had booked someone to come out and measure the kitchen the next day. We also agreed to an appointment the following Friday for a design session. The consultant was very knowledgeable and produced a design we liked. The problem I had with Wren was the fact their installers only fit the kitchen. They won’t do any of the additional work, like plumbing or electrical work. The also don’t provide flooring or backsplashes. I was eager to get a date booked to start the install, so I paid a deposit.
Change of Plan
The day after the consultation at Wren, we met with a local builder. We didn’t know at the time, but he also worked with Wren Kitchens. Unfortunately, the Nottingham branch and not the one we visited in Mansfield. His colleague managed to get a copy of our design from the Mansfield branch. He quoted us a price to do all the work, including electrical, plumbing, backsplash, and flooring. Even better, he could fit the work in for October.
We cancelled the install with Wren and got our deposit back from the Mansfield branch. We paid the deposit with Wren in Nottingham and got the dates booked in with our local builder.
While he was at the bungalow, I asked him to quote for a few other pieces of work we would need to make the bungalow work for us. This included putting water and drainage into the garage to use part of it as a utility room. He could fit that work in before starting the kitchen.
Finalising the Design
The time of install was rapidly approaching. We had a few calls with Wren to finalise everything ready for delivery. It turns out our original designer had made a few errors with the units and appliances which needed resolving. There were also a few things we wanted to change to improve the balance of the layout and add some smarter storage. After a final trip to Wren in Nottingham to sort these out and paid the outstanding balance.
In October, we were to be on holiday. This happened to be the week in which everything was to be delivered. We agreed with the builder for him to take delivery and we went off to enjoy a break. We hoped work would be starting the week we returned from our holiday. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. When we got back from our break in Scotland, the builder told us they wouldn’t be starting work until the second week of November. November arrived and we had more disappointing news. Due to issues on other jobs and several workmen off or ill, work wouldn’t be starting in November. Our job was now pushed back until December.
The Waiting Game
While we were waiting for the kitchen renovation to begin, we decided to make a start on the hallway. There has already been some work done, the internal door and frames had been replaced. Now it was time to strip the wallpaper and remove all the paint we could, ready to redecorate. We intended to replace all the skirting boards, architrave, and the doors themselves. As well as this, we wanted to do away with the cupboard door above the boiler cupboard and make it into a standard doorway to match the others. This work would have to wait for the builders, but in the meantime, we could get as much of everything else done. At least what we were able to do.
The walls were quite difficult to strip, the wallpaper had been on there for years and painted over multiple times. On the plus side, the paint on the ceiling came off quite easily.
Finally, December arrived, and our kitchen renovation began. The builder told us it would take two weeks to complete, but I didn’t appreciate how quickly the tear out would be. By the end of Monday, all the kitchen units, appliances, tiles and flooring we in a pile at the front of the house. The other thing I underestimated was just how much dust it would generate. During the refurb, I was working from the bungalow on a cellular connection. I tried keeping the door closed, but the effect was minimal.
Everything was ripped out except the extractor which would be done on the next day. The plans were up, and the kitchen renovation could start. First to go in was the electrics and the plumbing. I wanted a fair few updates and changes to both the electrics and the plumbing. Not to mention the wiring for the air-conditioning unit that would be staying in the kitchen. I wanted to remove the wall mounted radiator so I would have space to put a large fridge freezer on that wall, which would also need power. This would be replaced with a plinth heater.
The washing machine had already been relocated to the garage, along with space for a tumble dryer. We had converted a small section to a utility room. This would give us enough room in the kitchen for a dishwasher. Once you’ve had a dishwasher, you never want to be without one! I also wanted to make sure we had sufficient power outlets around the worktop area. We had been using extension leads at the previous house, and I hated them.
The next day, the builders finished removing everything that was left, and it was time to start the installation. First in were the plumbers and electricians. Although the sink unit was going in the same location as the old kitchen, the dishwasher was going into a different location and would require plumbing and drainage. The piping for the radiator also needed relocating to the other side of the kitchen. As I mentioned earlier, there were quite a lot of changes to the electrics as well. This would require all new chases, as well as a few additional ones.
At the end of day two, this was all in place and ready for plastering.
The plastering was all done in one day, if only it dried that quickly. We had to wait a few days for it to dry before the builders could return to start installing the units. First back in to start the install was the electrician. He wired all the electrical sockets and the new light fitting. Once the electrics were finished, the main kitchen base units and wall units quickly followed.
It took just two days for the rest of the kitchen to go in and the flooring to go down, that just left the backsplash and tiling to finish off. Start to finish it took three weeks, which admittedly is a week longer than we expected, but we couldn’t be happier with the result. We have had to push back our moving in date. We were hoping to move in before Christmas, but that’s not going to happen. We’re now aiming to be moved in by early February and out of the old place by the beginning of March.
We still needed to wait for the finishing touches in the hallway before we can decorate it. The door architraves are all in place, we just need the new doors hanging. This would be done in early January and the decorating needed to be finished by the end of January, ready for us to move in. Thankfully, there were no more delays, and it was all completed on time. You can see the finished result below, including a few of the hallway and new doors.
Looking back, I’m glad we decided to wait for the work to be completed before we moved in. The mess and dust were unbelievable, not to mention the periods without water, heating, or electricity. Sadly, with the bathroom still to be renovated we will find out exactly how bad it is living through building works. That however will be another post.