Building works in progress

Snapshots; A Life on Hold

Forgive the slightly morose title, but I warn you now – there’ll be more of that in this post, and not much in the way of new interesting things!

On June 1st our building works started. Significant building work – rip out structural walls, make the back half of the downstairs a mega-kitchen, new bathroom, new roof, new everything. Revamp the back half of the upstairs of the house – rip out the existing bathroom and spare bedroom, put in a new master bedroom and en suite.

It sounds awesome, and it was our dream re-plan ever since we bought the house but knew that we couldn’t afford to do it all right away. We’d been thinking about it since then, and it’s almost a year now since we got some plans down on paper. Nine months since we had the first builder have a look and start giving us estimates and quotes. Eventually the quotes came in around what we were expecting, and the time estimates seemed fairly consistent at ~8-11 weeks.

 

Fast forward to today. We’re now at just under 16 weeks since the work started. On that day, June 1st, we transitioned to life on a building site. No kitchen. Builders without sufficient toilet training using our bathroom (wearing shoes indoors now mandatory). A constant layer of dust. Twice-weekly trips to the laundromat. Builders apparently without any skill at forward planning; multiple instances of this, the latest being ‘suddenly’ realising that maybe there would be a logistical issue getting a 7m-long 1-tonne-weight steel beam into the house.

It’s hard to complain too much about some of that – it is what we signed up to, after all. It’s more the constant delays and annoyances that get to me: little things that need resolving, new plans that need approval, a day or a week’s delay because of something or someone, some new mini-crisis that causes us some new stress and anxiety.

 

Which brings me back to the title; it represents what I increasingly feel like, now: that I’m no longer living in a continuous stream of existence but instead resolving life at discrete moments with the bits in between just spent waiting/dreading/hoping for good resolutions at those moments. Like, delay to some miscellaneous building works and we’ll hear an update in two days: two days spent waiting for that update, in a partially-depressed state. Meeting with builder/PM in a few days; those few days hoping for a good meeting and that we’ll see some indication or promise of progress. You get the idea. This is all just exacerbated by the issues we’ve had, where we’ve multiple times gone multiple weeks without seeing any progress and left dealing with unknowns.

 

It’s clearly not healthy, and I’m very aware of that. I know that it makes me grumpy, more distant, less likely to engage, feeling flat, uncommunicative, more likely to want to get lost in something that will leave me less time to think about things. Being aware of it doesn’t make it any easier to actually deal with or change it, though. If things were that easy the world would probably be a more pleasant place to live in for a lot of people!

 

So, now, we find ourselves at the end of September and suddenly the end of the year doesn’t look all that far away. There’s a hell of a lot more work to be done – maybe 10 or 11 weeks, at current estimates – and that would bring us up to the middle of December. And that’s assuming that nothing else goes wrong between now and then. Works running up to and maybe even into the new year is definitely not something that we envisaged when shaking hands over a contract five months ago.

 

I’m sure that it will be worth it in the end, even though I have an unreasonable hatred for the sentiment when people express it. In six months’ time we probably won’t remember much of this stress and will instead be enjoying the results of this (and living a builder-free existence) for the next few dozen years we’ll hopefully be here for. But, we still have to live through this now, and despite essentially inflicting the disruption on ourselves it feels like it’s still an ok thing to complain about while trying to handle it and stay sane.

 

Plus it’s my blog so I can do what I like with it 😉

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