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help for house novice please!

(9 Posts)
theory Wed 28-Sep-11 11:50:48

So it looks like we've finally exchanged contracts on a house grin, but DH and I are both completely hopeless at home repair/redecoration.. we've only ever lived in apartments (we're transplanted New Yorkers), where the most we ever did was paint a two-room shoebox, ourselves... AND it took us 6 months to pick the colors!

The house we're buying here is terraced and Victorian, and thankfully, I don't think there's too much to be done. Basically, I'd like to paint and maybe have the floors sanded (and oiled? they look a little stained in parts), remove a tiny WC under the stairs and convert the space into an equally tiny closet, and maybe replace the glass panel over the front door (currently blocked in with what looks like plywood). We've also been told we need to do 'damp remediation' in a small area by the front bay window.

My question to you kind experts: who do I hire to do this kind of work? I understand that there are damp specialists, but in terms of the floors, painting, etc., do I call in a "builder" or does that mean someone more specialized? Do I need to find separate painters/floor people/plumbers? Which job comes first? Thanks for any advice!

lalalonglegs Wed 28-Sep-11 12:38:38

Painter/decorator can decorate and should be able to do your floors. If you want standard glass (laminated but not stained glass or anything fancy), just call the local glazing firm. Damp you will need a DPC company (be careful, many are very dodgy) and a plumber to cap off the loo fittings and remove the santary ware.

You could get a builder in to project manage the whole business but, tbh, apart from dpc work, they are pretty basic jobs and you should be able to employ the trades separately and get them to do the jobs especially as there is no particular urgency on them. Ask around your neighbours to see if they can recommend decent decorators/plumbers etc.

angel1976 Wed 28-Sep-11 14:16:49

Whereabouts are you? You really need recommendations. You can use companies (I know a very good one in SE London) that will be able to get your workmen to do any type of building work, however they will be more expensive than say, an independent builder. We had one in to do some remedial work in our previous home and they were brilliant but that was covered under NHBC. When I asked the company back to quote for a job in our current house, it was probably about 30% dearer than an independent quote but I know they will do the job well and on time so it depends on your priorities too.

P.S. Are you sure you want to remove the tiny WC downstairs? We have one (under the stairs) and it is extremely useful for little kids and also guests who don't want to do a big flight of stairs to go to the loo. smile

theory Wed 28-Sep-11 14:54:42

Moving to west London (Hammersmith). I have one recommendation from an acquaintance for a builder, but I wasn't sure what that meant, really (whether it was a person to manage the work or do it).

The timing is actually pretty key for us, because we have to be out of our rental by the last week of Oct at the latest. I'm also, in addition to being incompetent in home-related affairs, 7+ months pregnant - I'm definitely not going to manage any kind of work well, sad to say.

About that WC, angel1976: I'm not 100% sure about taking it out, but the problem is that there is no place to hang up coats, store shoes etc and the front door opens directly into the living room -- i.e. no entry hall of any kind. I assume there was a wall once, but it's long gone. Given that situation, I feel we really need some kind of coat closet space, even if tiny.

angel1976 Wed 28-Sep-11 15:52:42

theory Used to live around there. In between Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush. Sorry, we are in SE London and builder is local. smile

Do rethink the WC. Honestly. I know potty training seems a long time away but trying to get a toddler upstairs to wee on time can be a nightmare. Also, they go through the stage where they cannot be bothered to go to the toilet if it's too far away... But people do cope obviously, it just seems a waste to take the toilet out if it's already there. It's not ideal to do building work with a baby/toddler but I really recommend living in the house for a few months before you decide to do anything major as what you think works might not be so once you live in the space... Good luck! I am incompetent when it comes to house/DIY stuff but am slowly learning. smile

P.S. Do get tradesmen around to talk about what you want etc and they might have recommendations on what they think should be done and also people to do it. Once you get a few round, you get a better feel of costs, labour, materials involved etc.

theory Wed 28-Sep-11 20:17:30

angel1976- thanks for your help- I'm rethinking the WC idea (DH is against taking it out anyway, but just for money reasons!)

WishIwasCherryMenlove Wed 28-Sep-11 20:22:20

Hello, we have a downstairs loo which is good for wee ing plus we have a coat rack and shoe rack - would that work?

theory Thu 29-Sep-11 09:54:53

WishIwas- the problem is that the coat rack/shoe rack would basically be in the middle of the living room as there's no wall, and the room really isn't wide enough to put up a screen or something like that. Judging by our situation in our current place, where we do have an entrance hallway, it will be a huge mess!

Amaris Thu 29-Sep-11 20:24:29

We have coat rack inside door of toilet under the stairs. Occasionally I wonder whether that's a good idea but not for long enough to do change it! It was there when we moved in. We have a reasonably attractive storage unit for shoes - one of those shelving with basket things I think from the White Company that you could put in a living room at a push, and also a bit of storage under the stairs that is not part of the toilet (at the beginning of the flight of stairs end)

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