A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about some of the jobs I’d love to tackle around our home in spring, both now I’m back at work to move forward with more “renovation” type improvements, and that the weather is warmer and it’s more fun to be outside tackling the garden and giving it a tidy up.
In that post I mentioned that we had some bigger long-term plans that I’d save for another time and it feels like now is as good a time as any to share our renovation journey so far, along with some finance and budget chat that I’ve been doing a bit more of lately both here on the blog and on my Instagram account.
Its been just over 7 years now since we bought our home and I think we’ve both decided that it probably will be our “forever” home, or at the very least for the next 20 years while we’re both still working. We weren’t ever looking for a renovation project and had never tackled home improvements before, me coming from a rental and Pete having previously owned a new build in the countryside.
It’s fair to say the last few years have been a bit of a rollercoaster of learning, expenses and emotions, but when we look back it’s always so rewarding to see that we HAVE made progress, despite it not always feeling that way when you’re stuck in the middle of things.
One of our biggest projects thought still hasn’t happened and that’s our ground floor extension. When we bought our home it was always with the idea that we would extend out into the garden to build a new kitchen, creating a utility room and downstairs toilet out of the existing one. In the beginning though we had no funds whatsoever aside from mortgage repayments and making immediate structural improvements.
Our mortgage started out on a 2-year fixed rate term. When we bought the house, we were connected to a mortgage advisor and broker via the estate agents and honestly, its been one of the best decisions we’ve made having a broker instead of trying to research and navigate all of the different offers ourselves. After our 2-year fixed rate came to an end, we then moved to a 5-year one, and fundamentally I also left full-time employment which really affected our future plans for our home.
So back in 2019 I wrote this post, about why we’d decided not to go ahead with extending after all. This was based on our circumstances at the time, not wanting to overstretch ourselves financially and creating a home that would still add value and quality of life, but hopefully not cost too much to complete. We didn’t know what the future would look like for me being self-employed and there didn’t seem any benefit in putting everything at risk just for a bigger space.
And now here we are – 2 years on and it’s safe to say A LOT has changed, both personally and globally…! I’m now back at work full-time and very happily so. Our 5 year fixed-rate mortgage has come to an end which means we’re paying a bit less each month and we’ve also had some preliminary building guidance, which indicates that our ground floor “reconfiguring” plans wouldn’t have been as cost saving as we thought versus the larger extension project.
So! This is a very long-winded way of saying that we are – hopefully – and with the invaluable assistance of our mortgage broker, going to be moving forward with our original plans to extend in the next couple of years. I think it’s important to be open and honest and share the behind-the-scenes realities of home-ownership because the online world can make things all look very unrealistic and that people can do entire home renovations at the drop of a hat and never make any mention of finance.
In order to finance our extension, we would look to re-mortgage. Our home has gone up a fair amount in value since we bought it, plus we’ve paid a good chunk of the mortgage off, plus our new mortgage rate all combine to mean that we could take the loan that we need without having to pay a huge amount extra each month – ie, still be able to live and enjoy it, rather than it being an albatross around our necks.
It feels really exciting to be able to tangibly think about the future of our home knowing it’s a realistic possibility rather than just a pipedream. We plan to build across the back of our ground floor, creating an L-shaped open-plan kitchen-diner (what a lot of hyphens). Then with our existing kitchen, we have enough space to create a utility room and downstairs toilet by sectioning the space off.
Since the extension will cover most of our existing patio, we’ll then need to do a fair amount of garden work to create a new patio, and really make best use of the space. We have around a 100ft long garden, about 80ft of which is currently laid to lawn – not the most exciting use of space. I’ve drawn up really rough plans to try and section the new garden into thirds where one third is patio/outdoor living, one third is lawn and the back third is for a greenhouse and vegetable garden with our outbuilding and shed at the back.
We think it’s all possible and definitely have time on our side so we just need to stop being afraid of finances, work with our mortgage broker to see what we can afford and finally after a lot of years procrastinating, create the home we only previously dreamed of.
If any of you are in a similar position and maybe need help in calculating a better mortgage or re-mortgaging then I’d definitely recommend talking to an expert. Money is such a taboo subject and this is sometimes how we can get into difficulty. Let’s stop being afraid and start taking control!
Post in collaboration