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Knocking through kitchen/utility in Victorian home.

(29 Posts)
LyndseyFHTFH Tue 10-Jan-17 11:11:19

Hi all,

We're currently planning a knock through in a Victorian home to turn the current back hall way, understairs, kitchen and utility room into a larger kitchen(hall, kitchen and utility) and a downstairs bathroom (part of hall and understairs).

We've had a builder round a few times and are no closer to having an idea on price as he says that there's no way of knowing what they're dealing with until they get back to brick.

We will definitely need a steel between the kitchen and utility as it's structural. More than likely will need a second steel to support the upstairs chimney breast which has already been partly removed on the ground floor. The wall between kitchen and hallway probably isn't structural but may be and we'll no doubt need a lintel where we're taking out the door to under the stairs.

The house is a mystery, so I do get why he isn't keen to just throw a figure at us. The upstairs back wall appears to be double brick thickness, the same wall downstairs (which would be being removed) appears to only be single thickness. Bizarre.

He is saying that the best way would be to do day rate for a week to take out the walls and dig the pipework and then provide a more certain quote for the rest of the work that will need doing at that point when it's more certain. I'm not totally against the idea.....I'm just concerned that once we're at that point we can't exactly say "Sorry, but that's an incredible amount of money and I can't afford it!".

Our original budget for the whole thing, including bathroom and kitchen fixtures is about £6k, but I'm definitely getting worried that that isn't going to be possible. We can get a loan and get more, but we're at ceiling price for the street already so as we'd be doing any work just for us (we aren't planning on moving) anything more than 10k seems ridiculous, particularly given that I won't be getting exactly what I want due to structural issues.

Building regs is a minefield and our local Council's web page doesn't really make it easy to work out how to get them to come and look at it, calculate steels and sign off. The last time I emailed them was about 6 months ago and I never received a response.

Has anyone done similar? Did you have any issues? How much did the work (minus the kitchen and bathroom fixtures, which i'll be sourcing myself and will find a bargain) cost you and what did it include?

We're in the midlands and are looking at a day rate of about £160.

Thanks in advance! I'll add plans if I can work out how to post a photo.

LyndseyFHTFH Tue 10-Jan-17 11:12:25

The plan is available here, no idea how to do pictures!

www.instagram.com/p/BLjGiydg00w/?taken-by=firsthousetoforeverhome

Matildatoldsuchdreadfullies Tue 10-Jan-17 11:15:53

I think you need some more builders in to quote. Because, quite honestly, if you start the work without a price you are giving your builder carte blanche to rip you off. He might be honest, he might not. But you need to assume the worst.

Floggingmolly Tue 10-Jan-17 11:16:54

Agreeing to a day rate without any idea of the timescale is a ridiculous idea. Tbh, so is going with a builder who needs to take down walls and dig pipe work before he "knows what he's dealing with".
Did you ask more than one builder to quote?
It's recommended to get at least three.

LyndseyFHTFH Tue 10-Jan-17 11:17:25

We're trying to get some more in but he's the only one that's been remotely interested in the last 6 months sad Seems folk don't need the work round here...if you aren't building a house from scratch it's like pulling teeth to get people to come out and quote for anything.

NewPantsforaNewYear Tue 10-Jan-17 11:22:59

Have any of your neighbours done similar work? Could you find out from them what it entailed?

Matildatoldsuchdreadfullies Tue 10-Jan-17 11:25:39

We had work done last year, and so know how difficult getting builders to quote can be - we ended up with only 3 quotes (oh, and a fourth which came in nearly a year after the builder had visited grin). But it's still essential. Even if it means waiting, just wait. I wouldn't touch your current builder from what you've written. I might, of course, be entirely unfair to him.

LyndseyFHTFH Tue 10-Jan-17 11:31:26

Only our house and next door are the same layout, the rest of the street don't have the kitchen add on, have a one story add on, no utility room or a combo of them. Next door haven't door anything with theirs and are instead knocking through their utility into the outhouse which for a downstairs loo).

I'll try and get the OH to do some more ringing around as I'm sick of being treated like an idiot for being a woman.

The guy that came round seems decent and came recommended by someone my OH works with, as he's currently working on their neighbour's house and has done stuff to most houses on his street.

It's a bloomin' minefield. We've done everything else ourselves and it's hard work, I never thought it would be hard work to get people to do things for money!

Floggingmolly Tue 10-Jan-17 11:46:50

God, I can relate to having to get your oh to deal with tradesmen in order to be taken seriously... It's shit, isn't it? angry

LizzieMacQueen Tue 10-Jan-17 12:08:43

Is that £6k a typo?

Including bathroom and kitchen fittings?

And you have structural supports to put in.

7to25 Tue 10-Jan-17 12:24:46

Sorry to agree with Lizzie
£20,000 might be nearer the mark.
10k might see your building work done with no bathroom fitted and your old units re-used.

LyndseyFHTFH Tue 10-Jan-17 12:30:08

@FloggingMolly, it is the worst!! I'm the one that knows about building regs and does all of the research, yet I'm not qualified to have an adult conversation with trades people because boobs. Go figure!

@Lizzie, yep! That's with a lot of work being done by ourselves, though.

So within that 6k the only work being done by paid for tradespeople would be the structural work and plumbing which I was estimating at <2k. Going on the builders quote that he can get that all done in 5 days for a day rate (£800 total) and cost of steels (£300 max), 2k seems to be a reasonable amount to set aside to get it done plus contingency.

We'll do all of the demo before they come in and all of the clearing away when they're done.

We'll do all decorating.

We have a friend who we can get to deal with gas and rads, friends who can do electric and plastering. We'd have to pay all three, but usually well below market value and occasionally don't mind being paid in beer or IOU promises of labour on little jobs they've got going on. Those three plus building regs should come in <1k

I can do all of the tiling myself if needs be and I'll design and shop around for all of the fittings (was planning <2k for kitchen and <1k for bathroom which from looking seems doable with decent quality fittings and fixtures, helped by the fact that we aren't having any wall mounted cupboards, just lowers).

We can fit the kitchen if we must, but would much prefer not to.

So the variation budget wise would be basically in making our lives easier by getting other people to do things that we can probably do ourselves, minimising how long we're back to living in something resembling a warzone or being inpatient and having one person do the lot rather than waiting on various friends to do bits of the project.

It doesn't seem a big budget on paper as I keep seeing people spending £25k on such things, but like I say a lot of the labour we can do ourselves and I'm shopping around for bargains constantly!!

Matildatoldsuchdreadfullies Tue 10-Jan-17 12:52:52

I'm madly impressed by your diy ability, OP, although you are making me feel a little inadequate.

I think that because you're obviously knowledgeable, you're less likely to be ripped off - you'll know whether that in-drawn breath was necessary, or simply there to be £500 on the final bill.

Good luck.

LyndseyFHTFH Tue 10-Jan-17 13:09:37

@Matilda, don't feel intimidated! We barely knew how to change a lightbulb this time last year, it's all been learnt out of necessity as we're doing everything on a budget and the house needs EVERYTHING! Most stuff isn't that difficult, just messy and exhausting!

namechangedtoday15 Tue 10-Jan-17 13:32:17

Having just had building work, I would say (a) not a chance I would agree to a daily rate and (b) not a chance you'll come under £6k. Sorry, I don't mean to be massively negative but even with amazing DIY skills, I just don't think thats realistic.

Your builder has already put you on notice that he doesn't know what he might find - certainly for us, even with things being relatively straightforward, there were things like uneven floors & ceilings once walls were knocked down, an upstairs wall that had to be demolished and re-built as the builder didn't think it was safe. There is often pipework and electrics to be moved (hidden in wall) and once electrics are involved, then you're talking about an electrician coming and having to certify the work (and potentially new board if they don't want to touch existing electrics).

You have all the plumbing in the kitchen to move, gas / electricity to move for your range, plumbing (waste / water) to install under the stairs where there isn't any currently. A new bathroom will legally require an extractor (that has to obviously go somewhere - is that an outside wall), you potentially have to have (mains wired) smoke alarms fitted with the new space, the list goes on. And having done 2 bathrooms and a kitchen as part of our work, I do not think you will get a decent toilet, sink and shower (plus light / tiles / towel rail, mirror and all the bits that you need) for 1k nor a kitchen for 2k, even if you're using all your old appliances / sink / tap etc if you want quality fixtures and fittings. And I lost months of my life trawling the internet/real life shops for deals.

It looks however that its definitely worth doing to get the flow you want. I think its worth waiting for a decent builder who will quote properly and upping your budget a little. Good luck!

LyndseyFHTFH Tue 10-Jan-17 14:03:15

Thanks and waaaahhhhh :'( @namechanged

We've had a chat and are comfortable with anything up to 10k for the whole job but depending on whether we finance from savings or loan will mean either no wiggle room (and waiting until later in the year when we've saved a bit more) on top of that or a bit of wiggle room (courtesy of savings).

The idea of it ending up in upstairs walls being demolished is scary!!! We've done the spare rooms, but not the bathroom, so I'll cross my fingers that any upstairs issues hit that instead!

Luckily, we have a sink plumbed in in the utility (exactly where it will be in the new plan), the downside being there's also one in the kitchen which is probably a half arsed plumbing job that will need sorting and no doubt cost more money than doing it from new!

We're putting out some more calls today so hopefully we'll manage to hook another builder to come and quote!

ShortLass Tue 10-Jan-17 15:58:18

If you need to put in a steel to hold up a chimney breast which has already been removed from downstairs, would it be time to think about taking the chimney breast out altogether?

She says, not knowing how much these things cost.

Lots of good advice above. I wonder if it would be possible to ask the builder to give you a price range. ie, it will cost between £xx and £xx. You could get him to be more specific: if he finds xxx, then you're looking at spending £xx, but if it turns out it's only xxx, then cost will be £xx.

Sorry about all the crosses!

namechangedtoday15 Tue 10-Jan-17 16:14:36

We did that about 2 years ago - we removed a chimney breast from the wall between the kitchen and dining room (think 1930s standard layout) and we had a choice from the builder - either insert a steel to hold up the upstairs, or remove the chimney breast upstairs and into the loft. There was very little difference between the price of both for us (we paid about £2.5k for the work - we opted for the removal of the chimney throughout). It included moving some electrics from the walls which were demolished, re-siting a radiator, rebuilding the wall upstairs as a stud wall where the chimney breast had been removed and making the floor and ceiling level between the kitchen and dining room.

LyndseyFHTFH Tue 10-Jan-17 16:26:14

@Shortlass. He had a look at the chimney upstairs and said we could take it all out if we wanted rather than support it from below. He didn't encourage us to though because apparently lots of the structural stability in Victorian houses comes from the chimneys which tie in the walls and as ours is single brick on some of the external walls it could do with all the strength and stability it can get. We've still got them in everywhere else in the house and I really like them, so wasn't keen on removing it if we could get away with it (we have an original fireplace attached upstairs).

We've asked for a ball park for "if everything goes perfectly to plan" and worst case "if everything you can think of short of the house falling down" happens, but he said it's a how long is a piece of string type question and he won't know until he gets it back to brick what he's working with.

didireallysaythat Tue 10-Jan-17 19:49:44

To go against the grain, we are currently having an extension on a day rate basis. And yes, it wasn't until the old extension at the back of the house was knocked down that it became clear another steel would be required. Or that the floor levels were different by two inches. So something's you can't factor in. Or rather, if you get a fixed rate the builder HAS to price it like every possible thing that could go wrong will.

We paid for private building regs so there was no delay, plus the structural engineer did new calcs for additional steels in the space of a day and the steel man delivered two days later.

That said, we know the builder, he's done work for us before, and every trade we have used appears to have a least one child at our school so we're comfortable with it.

wowfudge Wed 11-Jan-17 06:59:58

You may have limited budget, but I would spend some of it on getting a structural engineer to take a look at everything and do the calculations for the steels. Find someone local who knows the housing stock as they'll be familiar with the quirks as well as the construction.

llangennith Wed 11-Jan-17 07:33:33

Please don't accept a daily rate quote! I did this 10 years ago and ran out of money long before the job was finished. One of the most stressful periods of my life.
Be patient and get fixed quotes from other builders. It is hard work finding builders let alone good ones.
Good lucksmile

dynevoran Wed 11-Jan-17 07:35:10

I think we already follow each other on Instagram!

We discussed gallows brackets for the chimney breasts a while ago. (By the way we did end up using this. Not because it was massively cheaper but the supported part ended up being very light and it meant less of a space taken out of the upstairs bedroom.)

It's a tough one. It's hard to find a tradesman but at the same time I'd be reluctant to pay that day rate and get stuck in a difficult position if it goes way over. How long have you been speaking to builders? I'd really try and find more and possibly get a structural engineer to do some more work like suggested above so the builder knows what he is dealing with.

Our architect was very keen to get the builder to take responsibility for the project with a fixed maximum budget so if something was harder or longer than expected he bore the brunt of the extra costs and if they were able to make any material savings they get to keep them. So far it has balanced out but I appreciate the architect for pushing that approach as we were already spending more than we envisaged when we bought the house.

dynevoran Wed 11-Jan-17 07:45:06

Or I follow you in any case! grin

Must be your impeccable taste and super DIY abilities!

shovetheholly Wed 11-Jan-17 08:42:40

I don't want to scare you, but my BIL has just done this and it looks gorgeous - but the total cost was something more like £50k+. That was for knocking through a wall, replastering, new kitchen, new flooring - and moving a wall upstairs as well to make the bathroom bigger (+ all new bathroom fittings).

If you do the work yourself/with friends, you will save £££, but you still have to buy materials. The steel alone is going to cost quite a few hundreds.

Perhaps get a spreadsheet and work out what tiles you want, what flooring, rads, kitchen cupboards, fittings etc - literally itemise everything and you'll have a much clearer idea of cost.

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