Anyone else doing building work during the pandemic?

(27 Posts)
Kateguide Sun 26-Jul-20 21:18:04

Hello everyone, looking for sympathy and any tips on how to get through this

We started building work a few weeks before lockdown. We bought a probate property so quite a lot needed doing, new kitchen, bathrooms, fairly major reconfiguration of the ground floor. We are currently marooned upstairs at the moment so not ideal.

My plan was that we would be able to visit friends at weekends and we would be at work during the week and the kids be at school so would only be affected during the none of that happened!

I have to say after more than 4 months of building, home working and home schooling I am feeling just knackered and tired of it all. I know it will be brilliant when it's done but that's probably going to be October at the earliest. Any advice on how to keep positive and keep the family going (my children are 8 & 5). Thanks in advance

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birdbrained Sun 26-Jul-20 21:25:50

Hey @Kateguide come join us on the extension thread Extension / loft conversion thread 2020 lots of us in the same boat.

Not tips really - it's just hard. But at some point it will be over and it will be worth it.

HalloumiSalad Sun 26-Jul-20 21:31:05

I hear you! I'm living in a tiny hut (think small static caravan size) on a building site. Kids 10 and 7 share a tiny room. We're doing all the work ourselves, have been living in this hut for 2.5 years and expect it to be another year before we get into the house. Dh works full time, I school the kids (I was doing the physical build work while they were at school) and we do the build early mornings, evenings and weekends. It is crazy and I go through phases of hating it... But it will be awesome when done. My only consolation currently is that we're nearer the end than the beginning! 😳

HalloumiSalad Sun 26-Jul-20 22:15:40

The main thing that helps me is to never look too far ahead, concentrate on just the next task that needs doing only. Sometimes easier said than done, but if you can manage it as much as possible you do find yourself creeping towards the end almost without noticing. Immerse yourself in the 'what now'... And stay off social media involving photos, or terrible jealousy of people who have a thing called 'leisure time' will happen. πŸ˜‚

Kateguide Sun 26-Jul-20 22:18:15

@HalloumiSalad wow! I think your situation is a whole different level. Yes thinking that it's over half way is a good perspective.

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Kateguide Sun 26-Jul-20 22:23:17

Great advice @HalloumiSalad

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askmehowiknow Sun 26-Jul-20 22:28:50

Yep. Building work started in October. Meant to be less than 6 months. All good. Then lockdown hit and we were living on a complete building site. It was truly awful. No proper kitchen etc. Finally this month work is restarted but still not at same pace as before.


HalloumiSalad Sun 26-Jul-20 22:36:27

I'm currently really miffed because my entire life revolves around the build I find myself using food just to have something 'nice' to enjoy that doesn't involve overalls and dust, so despite being on the go and using my body a lot I've still become, shall we say, rotund. πŸ₯΄ It's just not fair, I thought I'd be toned with muscles doing this (they're there, just well covered)

HalloumiSalad Sun 26-Jul-20 22:38:59

askmehowiknow are you hiring in all the skills, is that the cause of the slowdown? Or is it materials? I know plasterboard is currently like rocking horse poo. πŸ˜‚ We were very lucky at the start of lockdown as we had just taken delivery of a load of materials so we're able to crack on for a while and we're just running out when the builders merchant opened back up again. Very lucky.

HalloumiSalad Sun 26-Jul-20 22:44:48


*@HalloumiSalad* wow! I think your situation is a whole different level. Yes thinking that it's over half way is a good perspective.

Think of it like the shortest day of the year, every day it goes dark a little later and then the snowdrops etc etc... Without stretching the analogy too far, it's those little signs summer is on the way that helps you keep the gloom at bay.
Oh and we also have a list on the wall and we ceremoniously (with the kids, huge moment with them) cross an item off when it's done... Last thing on the list is... Move In! We're down to one sheet of A4 now which is exciting as we can see those magic words at the bottom of the page now.

askmehowiknow Sun 26-Jul-20 22:47:18

@HalloumiSalad no we have a main contractor. He's really good. But he's been battling against fear of covid/furlough for some of the guys/ lack of building supplies plus associated trades (skips/scaffolding. Etc) still not working.

He's actually been worth his weight in gold trying to co ordinate a fragmented team all coming back to work.

HalloumiSalad Sun 26-Jul-20 22:57:58

askmehowiknow brilliant you have a main contractor who has got your back! That's a rare find. So frustrating that covid has thrown a spanner in the works, but sounds like you will get there in end. I know if a couple of contractors who went bust from putting staff on furlough but then not getting the government money through in time so having to cease trading leaving clients high and dry. 😣 Horrible when the light at the end of the tunnel keeps moving away from you though isn't it.

Canyousewcushions Sun 26-Jul-20 23:04:58

Yup. Also spent lockdown in a self-build building site with small children. It's been hard work to say the least, but nursery is now open, 2 more weeks till school starts back and we'll have everyone out of the house a lot more again. Counting down to that stage.

We hit "rock bottom" during lockdown in terms of mess/lack of facilities, so everything we do now is a step towards making it better again which helps with the optimism!! It'll get there (one day)!

HalloumiSalad Sun 26-Jul-20 23:17:33

Hats off to you canyousewcushions for going through that with nursery age children. Our saving grace was that the kids are old enough to amuse themselves so we could use the weekends for DIY. 😳

BillyAndTheSillies Sun 26-Jul-20 23:34:24

Yup! Our loft conversion was due to start on March 1st, but as our contractor is a subcontractor for DH's building firm he was needed on a bigger client based job so we delayed.

Quite thankful we did now else we'd have been living in a house with no roof for the last six months with a young baby and a four year old.

It finally started the week construction was allowed to return to work and we have maybe three or four weeks left. We've actually just moved in to PIL's as the breakthrough happened last week with the stairs and all the rooms are sealed up. We are also having the whole of the upstairs redecorated so much easier not being there.

It was horrible for the first few weeks because lockdown was still pretty tough, both DS's were at home with me during the day and the noise meant now 10mo DS2 hasn't really napped during the day since June.

Kateguide Mon 27-Jul-20 11:26:09

Blimey, hadn't thought of you self-builders with kids and a project. That must be very challenging.

It's days like today where I'm struggling - builders & electrician downstairs. Fine drizzle outside. Both me & my husband work full time and trying to work from home. Don't really want the kids to watch tv all day in our bedroom as that is the current lounge!

Anyway, I'll stop moaning as I know I will get through this. We have 2 builders who are nice and are doing a good job - they've worked more or less solid through the pandemic. The contractors they bring in seem OK too.

@HalloumiSalad and @Canyousewcushions so impressed with you self building. What are you building? Did you have any building experience beforehand?

@BillyAndTheSillies that's tough with a little one. I remember my DC stopping sleeping through the day and that was shock enough without the building going on

@askmehowiknow blimey your build certainly has gone on a while. Did you have a big team working on it? We've just had 2 main guys who have more or less worked all the way through then they would get a plumber in or an electrician.

@birdbrained thanks for the info on the other thread, I have joined that as well, in the search for hints & tips.

I guess the positives about this, is that we are on hand to answer all the queries the builders / trades people have more or less immediately and that no one has gone off for holidays

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Canyousewcushions Mon 27-Jul-20 11:48:25

We're building an extension which has also involved putting new internal doors in and knocking down walls and changing windows about in much of the rest of the house- I think we have 3 rooms which remain untouched at the minute, and one of those will be having its windows increased in size as part of the project. So really pretty disruptive.

We both work in construction so were way ahead of a lot of plucky self builders in terms of knowledge of materials etc but neither of us have done anything this before, and our day jobs are in infrastructure so very little house building experience.

It'll be worth is when it's done, but the last few months have been really hard work as DH is spending all of his spare time building, so I've had no respite from being on childcare duty.

Our youngest turned 2 during lockdown so really not a good stage to have nowhere to go- too young to have any common sense around the building site too! I'm definitely now getting a bit desperate to have sensible facilities for cooking, and even more desperate to get the dining table back!

Have focussed on trying to see lockdown as a great chance to spend time with the kids, but I must admit it has also been really hard work. And it's definitely helped that we are now past the worst and everything we do now will be an improvement!

HalloumiSalad Mon 27-Jul-20 15:03:37

kateguide "@HalloumiSalad and @Canyousewcushions so impressed with you self building. What are you building? Did you have any building experience beforehand?"

The most I'd done before was paint a wall and a tiny bit of bathroom tiling. No building experience and no one in the family with any. So it is a bit crazy, but, our previous house was very (ahem) ordinary, in an area classed as 'deprived' and we had no prospect of major improvement in where our kids were growing up if we didn't take the leap. The effort will see us jump a couple of rungs (or so) on the property ladder... But we'll have earned it with blood, sweat and, surprisingly, not too many tears! 😁
If all the other pp including yourself could just not mention how your contractors have been brilliant though, that'd be useful, as one of my sanity pills I take is the Maxim that though it's hard work at least we aren't being messed about by cowboys. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜

My place was a fully functioning stone dairy shippon when we bought it and everyone thought we were mad. It now looks much more like a house inside and even my mum can see the potential now. 😍
I would dearly love to hire people to get it all done but y'know the budget doesn't allow.
One saving grace is that I am not living in the build... I really don't envy you that at all. The hut may be tiny, crap and mouldy but it functions and isn't affected by whatever stage we are working on. The kids are old enough to have some sense on a building site and can drive a dumper truck. πŸ˜† Oh and indoor scaffolding makes a great climbing frame, so even with playgrounds shut, or it rains we can have fun.
So, I try to focus on the positives, don't always succeed but have been doing it long enough to know that the dark days come but they also go.
Currently, I am in a dark days spell, hence my interest in chatting here. 😊😊😊

HalloumiSalad Mon 27-Jul-20 15:16:24

canyousewcushions oof! That sounds really tough! I don't think you could do that as a self builder without going mad cos the timeline is so much longer. The harder your living conditions are the shorter the build needs to be! At over 2 years in I am very very grateful for my dining table and kitchen. Small but functional. ☺️
Materials knowledge would be handy but I confess I have Gone Geek and quite enjoy all the research etc I've had to do. There is also a satisfaction in learning new skills and standing back thinking 'i did that'. Just so long as I don't stop to think how much longer we have to go. πŸ˜†πŸ˜†
I've re-slated the roof, installed velux windows (12), repaired my stone walls, mixed and laid my floor slab, installed under floor heating, done joinery... Who knew I could!? Not me.
The question you have to ask yourself is, if I had my time again would I still do this, if the answer is yes then it's ok. And run to your mum's when it's not. Also helps if you turn the grim days into a funny anecdote and tell it to yourself to reframe your attitude.

Kateguide Mon 27-Jul-20 16:25:34

@HalloumiSalad I have so many bad builder stories for you if you ever need a pick me up.
The latest we heard, about 2 weeks ago, one of the teaching assistants at school had spent Β£40k on a builder without any work being done and he has done a runner!!!!

We waited about 18 months for the guys we have and I physically went to 3 previous builds they have done so we will finish around the same time.

Sounds like you will have saved at least Β£150k from doing the work yourself (particularly if it was a fully functioning dairy!) which is just epic and just think of all the skills you will have acquired and amazing life lessons for your DC. I am imagining a gorgeous long stone house in the country - lovely!

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HalloumiSalad Mon 27-Jul-20 20:04:44

Kateguide the poor teaching assistant! That's awful, that's a life changing sum of money - I really hope that doesn't derail her life for years, that kind of misfortune could. Oh my. πŸ₯Ί

I'm glad that you can talk about your great builder after all now! 😱

You are spot on with the long stone house in the country! I'll share a pic 😊

So how about yours, what's the story, does your build work represent the realisation of a long held dream?

Kateguide Tue 28-Jul-20 09:30:16

Detached house in a home counties village, still very much a work in progress. Hopefully our forever home

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Kateguide Tue 28-Jul-20 09:30:46

Detached house in a home counties village, still very much a work in progress. Hopefully our forever home

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HalloumiSalad Tue 28-Jul-20 16:32:56

OoooooOOOooooo, that's an improvement. So nice to feel like you've found your forever place, looks like a great base for life and all the future will bring. I keep imagining what a great place it will be for gc coming to stay.... Getting a bit carried away since my eldest is 10 πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†

Kateguide Tue 28-Jul-20 22:11:41

@HalloumiSalad your house looks amazing. Particularly like the snow shot, it will be nice and cozy

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