We have lived in our house for two years now. It is a beautiful old Victorian property with bags of potential. However, having a large family, we really could benefit from a loft conversion. Last year the plans were drawn up, submitted and approved. We were excited to go ahead with the work this summer. Then disaster stuck. An unforeseen problem means that instead we will have to do an unexpected bathroom renovation.
Early in the year we noticed a few tiles in the archway between the kitchen and dining room had buckled. We then found some worrying cracks. After tracing the source we discovered that the chimney that runs through the middle of the house was simply too heavy. It was pulling the adjoining walls down! We had the option of underpinning or removing the chimney entirely. Since it is an internal chimney we would have to dig the kitchen up to do this. This was likely to cost around thirty thousand without accounting for replacing the kitchen.
What was the alternative?
We have opted for the much cheaper option of removing the chimney breast altogether. Luckily we removed the external chimney when we had scaffolding up last year so only had to remove the chimney that ran through the loft, bathroom and dining room. It’s no small feat and will mean an entire bathroom renovation but will still be a great deal cheaper than the alternative.
You cannot just go around knocking chimneys out willy nilly. Consideration must be made of the structure above and below and whether steels will be needed to support the weight. We have 2 lofts and the chimney runs through the second, unused one. This had to be removed before we could deal with the rooms below. This work in the loft has actually turned to our advantage because we plan to board it out and leave the front loft empty ready for our eventual conversion.
Bathroom renovation plans
Although not ideal our current bathroom was perfectly adequate for our needs and there were no immediate plans to change it until the issue with the chimney arose. However, removing the chimney will not only make it bigger it will also make it a more usable shape. We decided if we were having to remove it we may as well do a good job and restyle the whole room. Our plans include a roll top bath, vintage sanitary ware, tongue and groove paneling, period radiators and a waterfall shower. I’m planning shades of heritage green and grey, fluffy towels and ornate floor tiling. It is my idea of bathroom heaven.
In for a penny, in for a pound
Our inital plan had been to just plaster the wall in the dining room after the necessary bricks were removed. Long term I wanted to make the 2 rooms open plan because the diner is quite a dark room. When this was mentioned the structural engineer pointed out that the later installation of steels would cause movement in the bathroom above and ruin our new plaster work. So now we are knocking out the entire wall and adding steels and making good until we are in the position to redo the kitchen. It won’t look great short term but in the long term it will give us a fantastic 27 foot kitchen diner.
A frustrated property developer?
I do wonder if I have watched one too many property programmes because now I have started knocking down walls I cannot seem to stop. I’m sure a little bit of our builders’ soul shrivels up each time I plan a new addition. This week I have already decided to install 3 new doorways, a new wall and 2 new rooms to the house. All I need now is a lottery win or a money tree to fund my ideas!
In the meantime I’d love it if you came back and followed the work as it happens. I cannot promise pretty pictures as the work occurs. What I can promise is dust, rubble and a realistic idea of how to get the best from your renovation projects.
Check out my Instagram stories for snapshots and little videos of the work (that are not pretty enough to go in my main feed 😉 )