The early stages of our flat renovations

For us, buying the flat was a hugely exciting moment.

It was our first place and we had taken on a fixer-upper. Somewhere to put our mark, whatever that might be.

I remember insisting that we spend a night there once we had the keys and we did. We set up an airbed (first-time buyer problem of owning ZERO furniture) and Game of Thrones on DVD, with a take-away from the fish and chip shop over the road. I fell asleep that night with the window open, hearing the waves of the ocean just a few hundred metres away from us. I don’t know about Luke, but I fell asleep happy and excited.

The next morning, reality hit when we discovered the shower didn’t actually work. We tried everything we could think of to get it started, but eventually gave up and returned to our individual family homes to shower. We suddenly realised that a lot needed doing before this place would be liveable.

All early stages in renovation projects are different but what I’ve learned, now we’re onto our second place, is that one thing is the same regardless.

Expect a lot of dust, dirt and tip-runs.

The image above was the original kitchen after just a few days – once we’d started removing cupboards and worktops.

Below is what we ended up with. The photo is slightly hazy because of the sunlight shining onto all the dust floating around the room…

Every home renovation project is going to involve some kind of ripping out. It’s worth investing in some proper builders gloves, a crowbar, hammer, screwdriver and lots of sturdy black sacks to put your rubbish in.

If you’re not keeping what you’re removing, and there’s no chance you can upcycle it or sell it, don’t hang about taking it apart delicately. We had so much to get done, we gradually realised that we just needed to rip some of this stuff out and break it down so we could get it in our car and take it to the tip!

Don’t be afraid to make a bit of noise but if you’re in a flat, do tell your neighbours first and abide by the hours provided by the block. The worse thing you can do as a newbie on the block is to make noise after working hours, when everyone else is trying to have a relaxing evening.

Also, think logically about your property. Are you going to hit everything in one go or work room-by-room?

With the flat, we knew that the kitchen and the bathroom were two major projects that needed ripping out and starting again.

To start with, we focused on one room at a time because it was easier to do that but we had a clear plan of which rooms we needed to tackle first. When we reached a certain stage though, we’d have to focus our attention on one half of the flat because we were moving plumbing and electrics along the back walls. That was fine because we were aware that would happen. Think ahead and try your best to plan a schedule of sorts.

If you are doing everything at the same time, my only advice would be to keep the toilet and a sink for as long as you are able to. No one wants to have to wander into the nearest pub or cafe to use the loo, while dressed in your scruffiest renovation clothes.

Remember though, the start is the fun part where you’re getting rid of the old and thinking about bringing in the new! Once you’ve finished the demolition, you’ll be left with a blank canvas to do with what you will, and not much is more exciting than that!

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