25th June: Hello Sunshine

Finally, it’s an absolutely glorious day at the ‘Billy. I can’t help waking up at about four every morning and staring out at the scenery for an hour or so. It’s been really good actually living here so you can see how the sun moves around the plot. Last year I had a taste for it while I was hacking off plaster and burning the walls (!) but left to go back home every evening so never really got the measure of what the light did on and in the house at different times of the day.

Currently, the old cottage has its wide sides facing east and west. It’s probably about four hundred years old – in those days, they didn’t build them sixty houses to an acre, they built them to take advantage of things like the position of the sun, so it would help warm the house up in the winter. It makes me very happy to look at our plans for both house and new extension – and realise that our designs will also enjoy the best of the sun and light throughout the day. Obviously, that was all fully intended and not just a happy coincidence…

When we first came to look round, and before we’d even made it inside the house, we both came to the conclusion that’d it’d be far cheaper to knock down and start again. However, once inside, there’s a special ‘feel’ that you can’t quite put your finger on – I very much doubt it’d be there  if we re-built. It sounds completely bonkers, to be banging on about ‘feel’ in a house with no doors and windows but everyone who’s been to visit has said the same thing. We can’t all be wrong! Also, the house hasn’t been lived in since the ‘40s or ‘50s. It’s not listed (thank you, God) and doesn’t sit within a conservation area. Very basically, if you’re building a new house, the VAT rate you end up paying is 0%. If you’re renovating a listed house, you end up paying 5% (although do it quickly as it’s about to change) and if you’re renovating a house, you pay the full 20%. However, having researched ways of saving some spondoolies (remember, if I come in a penny under budget, I get to build the manege), I discovered a little known VAT gem. If a house has been empty for at least two years, you pay VAT at 5%. If a house has been empty for more than 10 years, you pay at 5% and even claim that back when you move in. Unexpected saving = 20%. On everything on the plans. Good job I put the manege on there, afterall!

Cottage was originally thatched so it’ll be thatched once more – only changes are two small upstairs windows for added light

From a design point of view, the original cottage is largely staying untouched – the exception being two small windows in the upstairs floor (facing the pond) to let some more light into the guest bedrooms. Actually, one window was there historically, but has been closed off so we’re just going to re-open it. Although we’ll be replacing the whole floor, the configuration of the rooms will be staying exactly the same. Downstairs will simply be an open living room – no idea what we’ll do with all that space, I’m sure Rich will manage to fill it with motoring paraphernalia though 😉

We were allowed exposed oak on gable end, but not on sides. Mmm, who’s going to wash the windows?

The new extension will sit on the east-facing side of the existing house, and form a T-shape. It’ll  house the kitchen, hallway, utility room and cloakroom downstairs and our bedroom with dressing room and en-suite upstairs. I like the idea of a dressing room – I’m going for a sliding wall so we can just slide the door open, shove everything in, and make it all disappear.

 By the way, Google Sketch-Up absolutely rocks!

The gable end of the new extension is largely glass to take full advantage of the views – and the sunrise. Downstairs in the kitchen it’ll be bi-fold doors, upstairs it’s a 4.25m window to the world – I’ll be able to look out of that every morning and see the piece de resistence, dun dun der, my stables. More on them and the Man Cave later in the week…





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