Moving home - thinking about DIY, renovations and energy

  • 16 December 2020
  • 44 replies
  • 324 views

Hi everyone :slight_smile:

This year I was fortunate enough to be able to buy my first house with my boyfriend - and we’re spending the next couple of months doing work on it before moving in. 

Here’s a thread following our progress. I thought it could be a good place to share lots of tips, not only for me (any help appreciated!) but also for any of you who are thinking about your own homes and doing some work. I’m sure between us there’s a lot of knowledge when it comes to DIY, so now’s the chance to share!

Of course, one of my focuses is on our home’s energy, which may be of particular interest in the PP Community :smiley:

 


44 replies

Part 1, of course, is completion day. There’s loads to think about, and it’s reallllyy exciting. 

Amongst all of the excitement, there’s of course some serious stuff too! I’d always recommend taking photos of your gas and electricity meters and readings so you have a record of the property’s energy usage from the day you became responsible for it (yes, it’s not as exciting, but it’s good to do!). 

Our meters are in a cupboard near the ceiling, so up I climbed on our little step ladder… To find we have one SMETS1 electricity meter, and one traditional gas meter. I wonder why the previous supplier couldn’t install the smart gas meter - we’ll find out eventually I’m sure. 

SMETS1 elec meter - I pressed ‘9’ to get our reading
traditional gas meter

Before completion I asked our seller who the property’s energy was with, as you become a deemed customer of that supplier when you take over responsibility for the house. On the day, I filled in our ‘move in’ info with that supplier and set up our account - and made sure to choose a tariff with no exit fees, as I knew I’d be switching to another supplier (no prizes for guessing who:wink:) as soon as that was done. 

We don’t have our final bill yet (this can take 6 weeks), so I’m keeping our meter photos until that comes through. 

Once the bills were sorted, it was on to the fun stuff. AKA destroying shelves, cupboards and lifting up carpets… :grinning:

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Eeek, so exciting Nataly, especially when it’s your first home. Don’t forget the safety glasses when dismantling stuff, it flies everywhere. 👍👍

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🎉🎉   🏡  Congratulations @Nataly and Nat'sBF.  Soooooo exciting to complete on your first home. 

I'm on my 7th and its still a thrill to collect the keys 🔑 

 

Take loads of photos inside and out, its great to look back especially when its a place you're doing up.

Don't forget to let the council know and check your property is in the correct council tax band 😉 

 

Looking forward to following your updates 😀👍 

 

Have you got a garden?

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Agree re photos, Lucky Jo. At the time, you don’t think it’s really worth taking any, you just want to get on. But when you look back, and realise how much you've achieved, it’s lovely as you say. 

Spot on re council tax too 👍

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@Bev @Nataly 

Our current house was built in 1938, when doing some renovations we found the builder had put a newspaper from that year under the floorboards and a note.  It was like finding treasure. We added to the note and replaced it for future owners to discover.  

 

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Oh wow. That’s fab! Adore stuff like that! And I’d sooooo have done same as you’ve done, Lucky Jo. Ah that’s wonderful 👍👏

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What a great adventure. We went from a 100 years terrace to a new build about 6 years ago. The difference is amazing (not just in size).

Insulation and ventalation are key to keeping energy bills down - without getting stuff damp :D

Then start to smart out your home to it’s convenient for you - and energy saving with Smart bulbs etc. and Thermostats.

Or just as us northerners do. Heating on December, off 1st feb :D

I'm good at destroying shelves.

This lot:

Was originally a run of built in wardrobes here:
 


They’d been there for somewhere between 30 and 40 years (long enough for white melamine with red and grey handles to have been popular), and everything was connected inside to out, and outside to in - it was a pain, but not as much of a pain as the kitchen units.
The guy who owned that house before my friend certainly didn’t want them taking out again.

 

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Great pics Gwyndy, is this happening now? 😬

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I have already mentioned to you the importance of decent locks!

No gas smart meter! Welcome to the club. You know of my experiences therewith! It may be the same reason for you.

If the meters are in a silly place it may be cost effective to relocate them now rather than later.

For every room look at it carefully think of what power sockets it needs, what lights are needed. More easily added now than later when all is decorated. I would suggest double sockets in the four corners of the room as a minimum. Same with where the TV may go. May be a good time to conceal the wiring.

Insulation? Is there enough in the loft? 100mm was the decreed amount when my house was built. Now it is 250mm to 300mm. I am at present adding more to bring it up to 300mm and installing loft legs to take loft flooring to make storage easier.

Does the heating need to be changed in any way? I raise it because I am having to consider that now. But now is the time to make such changes. The Government are pushing us away from natural gas and I suspect will make it more expensive now that they have unfrozen the levy on it. I am seriously considering a dry system - electric - with a thermal store as a future proof measure if ever solar panels became viable and they might if Government starts producing grants - there are some already of  coursel just that solar panels are not cost effective looking at the capital costs.

Much to think about when doing up a property but enjoy it.

Others have said “photos” lots!

Make time for yourselves. You can’t go to the pub but you can go for a walk and in doing that reflect on your plans. They will change. If you can’t get out for a walk I am sure you have plenty of wine 🍷 to partake of and ruminate!

Enjoy it all

Take loads of photos inside and out, its great to look back especially when its a place you're doing up.

Don't forget to let the council know and check your property is in the correct council tax band 😉 

Looking forward to following your updates 😀👍 

Have you got a garden?

Agree re photos, Lucky Jo. At the time, you don’t think it’s really worth taking any, you just want to get on. But when you look back, and realise how much you've achieved, it’s lovely as you say. 

Spot on re council tax too 👍

Thanks @LUCKY JO @Bev

Definitely agreed on the photos front - I took lots of pics and a video when we first collected the keys. I’m also trying to remember to take photos at each stage of work that’s being done so we’ll have the complete picture to look back on in future :grinning:

Absolutely, we sorted out council tax, water etc along with sorting out our energy supplier, all on days 1 and 2, great advice:blush:

We do have a garden @LUCKY JO, in fact it was a big selling point for us. It’s actually astroturf, which we’re thinking of keeping (at least for now) as it’s easier to maintain. But as summer approaches I’ll be putting in as many potted plants and herbs (and probably tomatoes) as possible! 

Here’s a pic of the astroturf part...

astro - green, even in Winter!

 

Love the photos @Gwyndy! Our kitchen and utility is resembling them a lot right now! :cold_sweat:

Destroying shelves is definitely a special skill to be admired, ha. 

Or just as us northerners do. Heating on December, off 1st feb :D

Does the heating need to be changed in any way? I raise it because I am having to consider that now. But now is the time to make such changes.

Thank you @Jowl and @G4RHL for the lovely segway into my part 2… heating! 

It’s a big one to think about, especially in Winter. And of course I’m all about saving energy where possible! Our house has a traditional boiler and gas heating system, oh, and no thermostat… and none of the radiators had TRVs… but, due to budget, we’re limited in what we can do to rectify that right now. 

So, as phase 1 of our heating, we’ve installed TRVs on every radiator in the house (when we first went in, every single one was boiling and it was definitely not needed). We had a plumber in for some bathroom work, so he did it while he was over. As part of that he completely drained the system, which has helped kick the radiators back up a gear in terms of efficiency! 

We’ve also read through the boiler manual and set it to come on for a few hours at night and early morning. The closest we have to a thermostat is being able to set the boiler’s dial from 0-5 as to how hot things get. At the moment we’ve got it set to 2.

In future, we’ll look into getting a smarter system in place (or at least getting a thermostat!). 

At least for now we can control to some extent the heating in each room - for example have it set to be warmer in the lounge, and colder in the utility. :relaxed:  Saving energy where possible is key. 

We’ve also inherited a really draughty backdoor complete with even draughtier cat flap, which we’re going to cover with a curtain to try and keep some of the warmth from escaping. Every little counts… 

new radiator valve :)

 

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Oooooh I was going to ask if your lovely cat went with you 👍🐱

Love the AstroTurf Nat 👏👍, and your garden so lovely and long, great amount of space there 👍🤸‍♀️. My parents replaced grass with AstroTurf last year, and they soooooo adore it 👏👍. 

Oooooh I was going to ask if your lovely cat went with you 👍🐱

Love the AstroTurf Nat 👏👍, and your garden so lovely and long, great amount of space there 👍🤸‍♀️. My parents replaced grass with AstroTurf last year, and they soooooo adore it 👏👍

Little Smudge is actually staying with my parents. The cat flap has been inherited from the previous owners!

Though it does set us up nicely for a potential future pet...:zipper_mouth:

This is very important, also try to think about what happens at different times of the year.

"For every room look at it carefully think of what power sockets it needs, what lights are needed. More easily added now than later when all is decorated"

Heidi had the house we were working on completely rewired, now she's cursing the fact there's no socket near the window for the Christmas lights.

Great pics Gwyndy, is this happening now? 😬

It was carried out May to July 2019, unfortunately I have very few photos.

Are you entitled to any help from NEST or s similar scheme for energy efficiency @Nataly

?

Heidi isn't because the previous occupier was supplied with a boiler several years back, so currently she's suffering a lack of loft insulation due to the tight budget, and more pressing repair issues.

We’ve also read through the boiler manual and set it to come on for a few hours at night and early morning. The closest we have to a thermostat is being able to set the boiler’s dial from 0-5 as to how hot things get. At the moment we’ve got it set to 2.

In future, we’ll look into getting a smarter system in place (or at least getting a thermostat!). 

At least for now we can control to some extent the heating in each room - for example have it set to be warmer in the lounge, and colder in the utility. :relaxed:  Saving energy where possible is key. 

new radiator valve :)

 

I believe PP have a few offers of smart thermostats. Getting the boiler under control is well worthwhile.

Such exciting time Nat, enjoy! 😊 😚

 

BTW, make sure at least one radiator is always on as your boiler might become sad if it’s pumping efforts have nowhere to go.

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Sockets and lighting are very good advice (and network sockets if you’re a geek!). In our first house I used to chase the wall out every room we decorated - put in some trunking and Cat5 network cable. I do believe the house was held up by the cable when we left :D

This house is a little easier - but I’ve already moved sockets from the middle of the room (and one behind the TV at wall height. Next time I’d adding another one so both ends of the settee are covered!

I’d say always put in more than you need.

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Hi @Nataly 

It's a pity you haven't got a smart gas meter, you could have put yourself forward for the Geo thermostat trial. If you need a room thermostat and you can't afford the Hive or similar, there are a number of non smart wireless thermostats on sale at our favourite sites. I've got a Salus, it's cheap but it works.

Edit, the thermostat trial is only for PP fitted smart meters, as you know, but the wireless thermostat idea may be worth considering

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HUGE Congratulations @Nataly  - first home together is always exciting.   Looking forward to seeing the progress you make

For every room look at it carefully think of what power sockets it needs, what lights are needed. More easily added now than later when all is decorated.

Sockets and lighting are very good advice (and network sockets if you’re a geek!).

Thanks for the advice RE electrics! That brings me nicely to part 3… 

We think the house is 100 - 120 years old, and the electrics look like they haven’t been touched since it was built :sweat_smile:  so that’s the biggest challenge we’ve taken on.

Sorting out all the wiring… new consumer unit… and getting sockets put in. Currently, the house is rigged up with extension cables from the early ‘90s everywhere. 

utility room - spot the 1993 extension cable!

We went round every room and labelled where we’ll need power sockets, and a light put in to an under stairs cupboard, etc. The kitchen wiring is being completely redone as currently the oven is being run off of a power socket, with nowhere near enough capacity. Just one example of the fun setup the electricians discovered :joy:

It means the house is now full of holes which we’ll be filling in once all’s done, but it’s worth it. 

new sockets!

Clearly the world we live in now revolves around electricity. It’ll be important to turn things off standby mode when they aren’t in use - but overall, making sure the wiring is safe, and getting rid of the very inefficient (and at this point unsafe!) extension cables, will be a dream. :grinning:

And, due to the likelihood of working from home continuing into the future, we’ve had a cat 6 network cable run upstairs into the spare bedroom, which’ll become an office @Jowl :thumbsup:

That’s it now until after Christmas! 
If anyone has any tips on making good/filling in the walls following the electricians, I’d be very grateful :thumbsup:

Are you entitled to any help from NEST or s similar scheme for energy efficiency @Nataly

?

That’s an interesting thought @Gwyndy! I don’t believe we qualify, but it’s definitely something to look into :slight_smile: . Using energy efficiency schemes is something many people don’t realise they can do so we should sit and have a read through of that, definitely. Thank you!

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For every room look at it carefully think of what power sockets it needs, what lights are needed. More easily added now than later when all is decorated.

Sockets and lighting are very good advice (and network sockets if you’re a geek!).

Thanks for the advice RE electrics! That brings me nicely to part 3… 

We think the house is 100 - 120 years old, and the electrics look like they haven’t been touched since it was built :sweat_smile:  so that’s the biggest challenge we’ve taken on.

Sorting out all the wiring… new consumer unit… and getting sockets put in. Currently, the house is rigged up with extension cables from the early ‘90s everywhere. 

utility room - spot the 1993 extension cable!

We went round every room and labelled where we’ll need power sockets, and a light put in to an under stairs cupboard, etc. The kitchen wiring is being completely redone as currently the oven is being run off of a power socket, with nowhere near enough capacity. Just one example of the fun setup the electricians discovered :joy:

It means the house is now full of holes which we’ll be filling in once all’s done, but it’s worth it. 

new sockets!

Clearly the world we live in now revolves around electricity. It’ll be important to turn things off standby mode when they aren’t in use - but overall, making sure the wiring is safe, and getting rid of the very inefficient (and at this point unsafe!) extension cables, will be a dream. :grinning:

And, due to the likelihood of working from home continuing into the future, we’ve had a cat 6 network cable run upstairs into the spare bedroom, which’ll become an office @Jowl :thumbsup:

That’s it now until after Christmas! 
If anyone has any tips on making good/filling in the walls following the electricians, I’d be very grateful :thumbsup:

Gee. An oven off a power socket. Not good! Unless it is a portable low power oven. Reminds me of the days when a 4” nail was used as a fuse! You can never, ever, have too few sockets. Using the ring main to feed them all is best rather than spurs and extensions. It looks like I may be using my ring main to heat the house the way things are going if my boiler dies. Installing electric heating is dearer than replacing my boilers and radiators but in the longer term more efficient and better.

If you are installing internet cable and there is rewiring going on why not install a point in every room? Particularly if  it is a house with thick walls and where Wi-Fi may struggle. One for the TV could be useful. Remember that as you surf the net in the lounge or bedroom you want a decent wifi signal. If you have an aerial in the loft don’t forget a feed to each room where you may have a TV. 

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