And so it all began…

by Chris Newson on June 15, 2009

Crikey, so where to start…so much to say, but nobody even knows this blog exists yet…I guess I have to imagine lots of people excitedly hanging on my every word, and hope that one day somebody will come along and read it, and hopefully find it either interesting or useful – either would be nice 🙂

OK, so off we go…it all began when we got the keys at the beginning of September 2008…yes that’s right, just as the UK housing market peaked…but hey ho!

I should introduce you to our baby…she’s a big old Victorian House in Brighton…6 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a cellar with lots, and yes I really do mean lots, of work needed.

In the beginning...there was a lot to do...lots and lots..

In the beginning...there was a lot to do...lots and lots..

You can see from the outside that she needs some love. The previous owners had done a great job of converting the house back from bedsits to a family home. They also redid the plumbing and electrics – saving us two big expensive (and boring!) jobs, but then ran out of steam (or maybe it was money…judging by our depleting bank balance that was almost certainly it).

So what we start with is more than slightly rough round the edges, but at least it still has most of its original plaster cornices, roses, fireplaces, stripped pine doors, beautiful stained glass, sash windows, high skirting boards etc..and it really is a lovely layout, with great open halls and landings, high ceilings and a lovely established garden….. but…..and it’s a pretty big but to be honest…

Pretty much the condition of the whole house...ouch!...

Pretty much the condition of the whole house...ouch!...

As you can start to see from the picture in this post we’re going to have to get rid of those concrete roof tiles which are squashing our baby as each day ticks by, rip out the horrific dormer windows and the dodgy DIY velux (which our surveyor reckons was from an old camperan!), replace the nasty plastic guttering with cast iron ones, repair all the windows, clean off the bricks, overhaul the front garden, recondition the old victorian tile path, banish the concrete drive…and that’s just what you can see from the front of the house!

Once you get inside we’ve got to restore the cornices and rose in the living room – they were lost in a fire – Strip the artex off the walls, remove 120 years of paint from the cornices and ceiling roses, put a proper staircase in between the kitchen and the dining room, make the bathroom on the first floor habitable, move the airing

A fine example of a DIY dormer!

A fine example of a DIY dormer!

cupboard from the landing, put in a decent cooker and kitchen units….in fact we’re going to extend the kitchen – but more on that later.

In fact really the only way you can get a good idea of the scale of what we have to do is through photos – i’ll get snapping. But hopefully by now you have the gist. We have bought a lovely house, but it needs a hell of a lot doing to it.

As we go through the journey, it is my intention to update with the story as it unfolds, and build it into a mine of useful resources for anyone else doing a similar job…we’ve already uncovered hundreds of really useful sites and books that I wish I’d come to know about without quite so much digging. So hopefully you’ll find the end product useful, and I hope it might even give someone some encouragement to take on a similar challenge. Enough for now though…in the words of the immortal Governator….”I’ll be back!”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy August 3, 2009 at 11:25 am

Hi Chris

Just been reading your blog.

I bought a 4 bed victorian place last July. Respect to you as I dont know if it is a project I would undertake again. We are a year down the line and we are still no-where near finished.

You just have to keep telling yourself how beautiful and fantastic it will be when it’s done. I’ll keep watching yours and hopefully get some tips along the way. Feel free to email me.




Chris Newson August 5, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Hi Andy,

Thanks for getting in touch. Sounds like you’ve been having some fun!

Would you like to write a guest post or two on your experiences? I’d like to hear all about them, and share them with other like-minded people.

Let me know if you do, and keep in touch.

All the best



Pam Beck September 16, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Hi Chris

I’m look ing for advice on what to do with the walls of our house about 1840.
The original plaster seems to be crumbling – do we go for textured walls or have we no choice but to have them re plastered?
Have you any advice from your experience?



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