2016: A year in DIY

And so goes another year in the house. A year of slightly failing to blog, but actually, not failing at all where DIY and house progress was concerned.

I started this year disappointed with the slow progress we were making with the house, but I end the year feeling very proud of ourselves, and with a sense that we have very much turned a corner and the end is in sight. Which, is a good place to be, finally, after 3 and a half years!

Last Christmas I was lamenting the fact that our upstairs bedrooms were still unfinished. This Christmas we hosted six people, in our three, almost complete, spare bedrooms. Sure, one of them was just painted white and had no floor, but it did have a window that finally closed, a blind that worked and a room for a double bed.

This year was the year that we dug deep into our own DIY skills, (well, hard work rather than skills) and took on as much of the remaining work as we could. Furniture was ripped out, floors pulled up, ceilings and walls were painted and flat pack furniture was put together. Even if painting my first ceiling ended up with me having a face like this:

My face after painting the ceiling

Our own bedroom sadly remains unfinished, for now, (while we prioritised readying the guest rooms for Christmas) but our biggest transformation is in our loft conversion. Badly done in the past, we always planned to redo the whole thing, but time and money told us we probably weren’t going to do that for a long time and so during the May Bank Holiday we just resolved to paint the whole thing white and see what we could make of it. The transformation is remarkable; a room gone from bright pink and purple, with a fogged up window, half a floor and a lime green bathroom, into a clean and serene guest room. A new floor, new glass for the window, ripping out old fitted units, a lick of paint all round and suddenly we have a beautiful space that we almost fought over this Christmas. (See gallery below)

And we finally have a kitchen roof that doesn’t leak! This was the year that we closed our eyes and swallowed the cost of a new flat roof, and thank god we did as the mess our builder found when he pulled it off was unbelievable. Three different layers of essentially a patched roof over the years made it pretty obvious why we’d had so many leaks. A hot week in August saw the laying of a new liquid fiberglass roof. Only marginally more expensive than asphalt but much, much durable – it should last years!

So, without further ado here’s how things have come along this year in the house…

Spare room 1

Loft conversion

Kitchen Roof

Final spare room – still missing a floor

All in all, a lot achieved!

The Christmas deadline pushed us on, but it was worth it that’s for sure. We now have 3 spare rooms! And we filled them with our family. It was busy, noisy, the cats hid under our bed for most of the period, but it was great fun and we loved every minute.

And now, we sit still for a while…

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Merry Christmas!
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And they all had a jolly good time…

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and wishing everyone a peaceful New Year.


What we used/bought:

  • Paint for the first spare room was Green Blue, from, you know it, Farrow & Ball. We just loved this shade.
  • Cornicing was from a great place in Leytonstone. Made to order, fast and fitting available.
  • We must have made a least a dozen trips to the wonderful Webster’s in Forest Gate, for paint and materials. Love them.
  • Our favourite, basic, white paint for walls and skirting became Johnstones, which we bought from Webster’s above. Goes far and great coverage.
  • IKEA provided our daybed for the loft that transformed into a truly enormous king size bed. Comfortable and not too tricky to put together.
  • My good friend saved the day in our makeshift bedroom with a raised double airbed, a lot like this one. It was incredible and I am very tempted to buy my own now!
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When routine filing uncovers the history of your home

On Good Friday we spent the entire day doing household admin. Going through all those piles and piles of paper that we’d moved from drawer to drawer, cupboard to table and back again (while my filing cabinet restoration project has somewhat, halted to say the least) – to see what we needed to keep, what we could shred and what we might have missed.

Here’s a snapshot of what our table looked like during this process and how much recycling we made:

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So much paper
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So much recycling

About halfway through the process we found a folder left for us which contained house documents, certificates and instruction manuals. We’d only ever glanced at it like you do, put in the pile and forgot about it while all of our work was being done. But, now, as we started to go through it we realised it contained something a bit more special…

It contained the transfer deeds for some of the previous owners of this house.

With information dating back to when it was first built.

Beautiful old documents – typed on thick cream paper, with red seals and string threading some together. I was a little over-excited to say the least.

There were some fascinating details that came through in the documents:

1972-1800 land passing hands
1972-1800 land passing hands
  • It looks like the land for our house was transferred between a few vendors between 1872 and 1885, when it was eventually sold by The Manor Park Cemetery Company (of Sebert Road) to a Cattle Dealer, Richard Mallinson from Harrow Road in Leytonstone (ironically where a friend of mine lives now) for £272
The plot that was bought in 1885 for £272
The plot that was bought in 1885 for £272
  • £272 seems to have bought him a large patch of land between Lorne Road and Tylney Road to build houses on Godwin Road. It looks like ten house were built.
  • The sales stipulations on the land state that nothing shall be erected within 10 feet of any road, no house should be built valuing less than £175 and those houses must be of the same elevation as houses in Chestnut Terrace, Chestnut Avenue.
Sales stipulations for building on the land
Sales stipulations for building on the land
  • In 1914 the owner dies and the land passes between his various sons and grandsons until our actual property is sold in 1957 for £1200 to a Printer who lived just down the road.
A mortgage taken out?
A mortgage taken out?
  • In 1962 it looks like the owner mortgaged the house (or freehold?) to the County Borough of West Ham, Essex (which Forest Gate was originally in) for the sum of £675.
Formated of the London Boroughs
Formated of the London Boroughs
  • Next set of docs shows how the property was transferred to the London Borough of Newham from the Essex County Borough of West Ham when London Boroughs were established in 1965.
1979 sale to husband and wife
1979 sale to husband and wife
  • The next sale takes place in 1979 for £16,600 to a husband and wife as joint tenants on the property (the first time I see a woman mentioned at all on the deeds)
  • The last sale we have record of is in 1993 which we think would have been for significantly more than £16,000 I expect!

I have probably misinterpreted some of the documents but I found it completely fascinating to see this little history of our home and its previous owners. Looking around now it’s crazy to think of this area as just land prime for development – where land was bought for £272 and ten homes were built that are still standing today.  I wonder what those original land owners would think of the Forest Gate boom that is happening right now!

Coming from a family of local historians this has prompted to me to start a bit of a hunt for information about Forest Gate in the times when our houses were all being built. The excellent blog E7 Now and Then will be a good place for me to start along with the trusty Google…

If anyone knows anything more about the Mallinsons, who seem to have owned the freehold on this land for over half a century, please get in touch!

 

 

Forest Tavern is open!

Community turnout
Community turnout

So excited that the doors finally opened on the Forest Tavern this evening! And what a turnout. It seemed like the whole of Forest Gate came out to say hello to the new boozer.

First impressions were great! Excellent beer selection, great decor, lots of outside tables and fresh sawdust smell also included. The barman told us it has been ‘hectic’ – to say the least –  to get it open and it would be another few weeks yet before they were properly finished, but either way it was nice they got the doors open.

Seemed genuine enthusiasm and excitement for a new pub in Forest Gate – I’m sure we’ll be regulars. Good luck Antic, and thanks for coming to E7.