If I knew then…

The last eight months since buying the Devon house have been many things – some good, some not so good, and one or two things that should be reserved for nightmares only, but one thing that’s been consistent throughout is the incredibly steep learning curve I embarked on. Here are my top 10 learns, in no particular order:

  1. When it comes to old houses nothing is straightforward, and at least one cowboy builder will have worked their magic somewhere over the years. If you’re really unlucky you’ll employ a cowboy of your very own to add further complications and costs.
  2. Trying to project manage a site while living 100 miles away is neither easy or recommended, add that to trying to deliver a complicated piece of work for a client at the same time and you’ll end up stressed and very grumpy (however without the work you’d also be even more skint than you currently are).
  3. The above-mentioned stress will age you to the point you don’t recognise the tired, worn face staring back at you in the mirror. Not even Botox, let alone mere makeup, can cut through the general fatigue and you will get used to friends opening greetings being “you look tired.”.
  4. Buying a static caravan and living on site would have been the sensible approach, not the desired approach, but most definitely the sensible one (yes, all of you that said I should do this, you were right. I was wrong).
  5. Never assume your builders will either get on with what they’re asked to do, offer you the best advice, or indeed act like responsible adults. It seems most of them need to be managed within an inch of their life and have someone breathing down their necks 24/7. Hence the static caravan comment above.
  6. Whatever your budget is double it. Then add some more, then calculate how much more you can throw in the pot before you need to file for bankruptcy.
  7. Common sense really isn’t common (but then we all know that anyway), and it feels like the idiot is leading the way in the race for world domination. I’m beginning to think Darwin got it wrong and its survival of the thickest not fittest.
  8. You will be offered endless advice on how you should have done things, even if that advice comes from people whose experience of building is limited to putting together Ikea flatpack furniture.
  9. I excel in hindsight, it’s foresight I really need to do some work on.
  10. I never, ever want to do another renovation again…but a new build, well that’s different…

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